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For youthful appearance, snake oil or sex?

When I interviewed Michael Aziz for this week's "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy" column about whether lack of sleep leads to obesity, he mentioned that having sex can help you sleep better. That better sleep might in turn help regulate key hormones that govern your weight, arming you against obesity.

Plus, as he writes in his book "The Perfect 10 Diet," "Research indicates that people who have sex regularly have increased sex hormones, have improved immunity, stay younger, feel happier, and live longer."

I was just sitting down to blog about that little nugget when I got a press release from Consumer Reports noting the publication this morning of its May issue, which features assessments of popular age-defying products such as anti-wrinkle serums and hair-growth drugs. Seems if we can't actually stay young, many of us are interested in buying stuff that might help us at least look younger.

Unfortunately, with the exception of hair dyes, which CR says do a fine job of masking gray hair, wrinkle-erasing serums and hair-growth formulas to combat baldness are pretty much a waste of money. And some of them cost lots of money indeed.

The magazine tested nine wrinkle serums (which, CR explains, are thinner and more fluid than creams and soak into the skin more readily) and found that none effectively improved the appearance of wrinkled skin. The magazine suggests that we use moisturizers and sunscreen to prevent wrinkling in the first place. Otherwise, CR says, see a dermatologist for a prescription retinoid topical treatment.

As for the baldness cures, CR looked into drug treatments such as Rogaine and Propecia and also at the pros and cons of hair-graft surgery. The drugs can have unpleasant side effects, including depression and impotence, and while some modestly improve hair growth, that ends when you go off the drug. Surgery received high marks as a baldness solution from nearly half of the CR readers the magazine surveyed, but it's really expensive -- in the neighborhood of $10,000 -- and can cause infection and scarring. Many readers who'd suffered hair loss opted to wear wigs. CR's tips for drawing attention away from a bald head include dressing better and getting in better physical shape.

For those of us whose remaining hair has gone gray, CR found that the 13 home hair dyes they tested did a fine job of reinstating brown color -- for as little as $13.

So, if you're feeling your age, you might want to skip the serums and baldness remedies. Go ahead and dye your hair. And, oh: Don't forget to have sex. (Bonus: It's free.)

Do you have little tricks for fighting the effects of aging? Or are you happy to let nature take its course and look your authentic age? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, and do take today's poll:

Too old to tweet? No way! Look for me and the other Local Living writers at @wposthome/local-living. And keep track of my "Me Minus 10" effort to lose 10 pounds before I turn 50 at twitter.com/jhuget.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  |  April 6, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Obesity , Sex , Sleep , Stress  
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Comments

The poll should allow more than one choice.

My wife buys about $200 in skin care products a month. She thinks it helps but they don't make a damn bit of difference. She looks fine and doesn't need to do anything. Oh well.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | April 6, 2010 8:14 AM | Report abuse

I don't do anything. Yet.

My Granny is my role model. She was mostly grey by 35 -- and instead of dying her hair back to dark brown, she went completely silver. And she is pretty well-wrinkled now (well, heck, she is in her 80s). But I noticed as a teen that they were laugh lines; she would crack a grin and her eyes would crinkle up, her cheeks would wrinkle, etc. That struck me as a badge of honor -- a way to proclaim a life well-lived to the world.

The one thing I am struggling with is my color fading -- my hair is getting lighter as it gets more grey, my eyes are getting a little lighter blue, etc. My vanity may yet overcome me, and I may take to a little hair dye eventually. But at least my crinkles come out when I laugh, and not when I frown.

Posted by: laura33 | April 6, 2010 9:02 AM | Report abuse

Jennifer, just read the column, and question for you. You say: "Avoid what are commonly called complex carbohydrates and "sugary stuff" at that meal or at bedtime. Such foods will bump up insulin production." But then you recommend whole-wheat crackers and bananas instead. Do you mean avoid simple carbohydrates (a/k/a the "sugary stuff")?

Posted by: laura33 | April 6, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

To Laura; the author is suggesting that you substitute more complex carbohydrates; correct! However if you have any insulin resistance or you’re trying to lose weight even complex carbs are better eaten during the day with protein; never “alone”. Now back to the topic; yes indeed I agree with the comments about sex. But as far as saying that NOTHING works on wrinkles, etc is incorrect. I have found products my patients LOVE which modulate 135 genes and were just released recently; not reviewed by Consumer Reports. They take about 10-15 years off of a 50 year-old face; and as a doctor in Florida I sure have a lot of happy patients who, like MOST Americans would prefer NOT to look or feel their age. Am I right about this or not?
Kim Crawford,M.D./Anti-Aging Mind,Body,Skin Care
http://kimcrawfordmd.com

Posted by: doctorkim1 | April 6, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

No one should be talking about six and how having six makes one feel younger and sleep better. It is disgusting to bring up six in the first place.

Far too many people are having six and the resultant out of control, out of wedlock birth rate is one of the variables keeping the Black community down.

It is irresposnsible for the Washington Post to bring up six as though it is a topic worthy of discussion.

Posted by: jnrentz@aol.com | April 6, 2010 5:02 PM | Report abuse

No one should be talking about six and how having six makes one feel younger and sleep better. It is disgusting to bring up six in the first place.

Far too many people are having six and the resultant out of control, out of wedlock birth rate is one of the variables keeping the Black community down.

It is irresposnsible for the Washington Post to bring up six as though it is a topic worthy of discussion.

Posted by: jnrentz@aol.com | April 6, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

I don't object to the discussion of sex as a way to feel younger, but I think it's always good to emphasize SAFE sex. Contracting HIV or cervical cancer won't make you feel younger, or live longer.

Posted by: Nutmeg2 | April 6, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

You should have added sex to the list of options on the poll. I have sex as part of my plan to stay fitter and feel younger and healthier.

Posted by: JoStalin | April 6, 2010 7:20 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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