Dear Asian Youth,
“Asian Don't Raisin.”
Ever heard of that phrase? Take a look at Constance Wu, Sandra Oh, Daniel Dae Kim, and Kumail Nanjiani and you'll know exactly why. These people look half their age and still have that youthful glow so many people strive for. It is no secret that Asians generally look younger than they actually are.
To many, aging can be stressful. Many experience weight gain, wrinkles, changes in hair color, reduced joint mobility, and worsened memory. However, in the context of Asians, many of these physical symptoms are reduced or occur later in life. Now, I’m not just making these claims because I myself am Asian — there’s an actual science behind this.
One of the first signs of aging appears in the skin in the form of dark spots and lines. It has been proven that more melanin (the pigment that determines skin’s sensitivity to light) signifies less photoaging (damage caused by the sun’s rays). Melanin works by blocking ultraviolet (UV) radiation and preventing DNA damage. Excessive exposure to the sun can cause melanoma, sunburns, and different types of carcinomas. Due to the lack of melanin, in naturally light skin, you can often find fine lines caused by photoaging earlier than their darker-skinned counterparts. Similar to Asians, the saying “Black Don't Crack” is analogous. The baseline principle is the more the melanin, the later the signs of aging.
In parallel, the same principle is applied in terms of hair. You can often find people dying or plucking out grey hairs; this greyness is caused by a lack of pigment. As aging occurs, the cells begin to die, and so does the amount of melanin. So when the hair begins to grow back, it is less pigmented, thus grey. In Asians, there is a considerable amount of melanin in both hair and skin, so the reduced pigmentation appears later in life.
Not only are Asians less susceptible to wrinkles and greying, but the aging process’ quintessential skin sag is less frequent. Because of the unique bone structure many Asians have, it acts as a preventative measure. The skin droops under the eyes, around the cheeks, and on the neck. To explain why Asians seem to still have that youthful *snatch* years later, we must understand the composition of the face. Speaking generally, the face is made up of bones, muscles, and soft tissue. When aging occurs, especially in women after menopause, bones lose their density (due to the lack of calcium and other bone-building minerals), and the soft tissue deteriorates. The result is the “raisin,” or wrinkly skin that is commonly associated with older age. But in the case of Asians, there is generally a wider bone structure that allows for more time before soft tissue deterioration is visible. This means that Asians have a longer time with taut skin. (Thank evolution for that bone structure and those rosy cheeks!)
However, despite the advantage Asians may have, we should still take precautionary measures to lessen the signs of aging.
Here are some preventive measures you can take to reduce your signs of aging:
Listen to your Asian mother! Sunscreen, hats, long sleeves — protect yourself from that photoaging
Eat a balanced diet
Cleanse your face gently and often
Moisturize to keep your face hydrated
We often think of aging to be something so restricting and scary. We like to think that we could have done something different when we were younger, but growing older shouldn’t be limiting. Don't let age define what you can and can't do; it is merely a natural part of life. And when the time comes, embrace the greys!