Evoking Emotion: Perceiving Aging Mentally and Physically


Read the full article in the April 2021 digital edition. . .

Skin care adds a new dimension to well-being by evoking positive emotions through scent, texture and feel. Advances in neuroscience have deepened our understanding of how emotions can help to prepare the body for action, guide decisions and help to prioritize what should be attended to and remembered. It can be difficult to turn off or ignore negative emotions and many meditation tutorials, books and apps attempt to help us do just that.

When negative emotions last for a long time, disorders such as depression or anxiety ensue. These emotions are central to everyday functioning and well-being. While with age, physical health, strength and the cognitive mind typically decline and our social networks shrink, with healthy aging, our emotional well-being may, surprisingly, improve. This is because older individuals tend to refrain from highly negative emotional states faster, and are less physically and emotionally reactive to interpersonal stress than younger generations.1

Self-care in terms of emotional well-being also becomes more important. People use anti-aging skin care with an expectation either to look younger or “the best for their age.” Perceived age by oneself and peers is a factor that can influence self-esteem and social interactions. Intuition tells us that a smile makes us look younger, versus a sad facial expression, which is perceived as older. In particular, middle-aged people, in their 40s and 50s, are perceived as either younger or older based on their emotional expressions. Interestingly, people sometimes judge others of a similar age better than other age groups. The first assessment of the face typically entails the quantity and depth of wrinkles, skin texture and face shape.2

The globally devastating effects of COVID-19 impact our interaction and communication as well, particularly with the advent of mask-wearing and increasing virtual interactions. The mask has become a semi-permanent accessory to the face, blocking our ability to express and perceive each other’s facial expressions. It truly divides the face into a visible top and invisible bottom half that significantly restricts our ability to accurately interpret emotions based on facial expressions. Additionally, it strengthens our perceptions of negative emotions produced by frowning.3

The Complexity of Innovation

“The mind-body-beauty connection has never been more pronounced in cosmetics R&D,” states Rachel Grabenhofer, the managing editor of Cosmetics & Toiletries in the January 2021 editor’s note. Our understanding of the science behind the skin microbiome; aging in terms of inflammation, glycation and autophagy; and the inside-out approach of nutricosmetics is linked to body health and wellness. Furthermore, body health and wellness include the circadian rhythm, mental well-being and emotional stress, and daily habits of sun and blue light exposure. All of these factors have drawn great interest from the industry to improve product performance and consumer satisfaction.4

. . .Read more in the April 2021 digital edition. . .


  1. Mather, M. (2012, Mar). The emotion paradox in the aging brain. Ann NY Acad Sci 1251(1) 33-49. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3395773/
  2. Hass, N.C., Weston, T.D. and Lim, S-L. (2016). Be happy not sad for your youth: The effect of emotional expression on age perception. PLoS One 11(3). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4814130/
  3. Nestor, M.S., Fischer, D. and Arnold, D. (2020, Sep). “Masking” our emotions: Botulinum toxin, facial expression, and well-being in the age of COVID-19. J Cosmet Dermatol 19(9). https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32592268/
  4. Grabenhofer, R. (2021, Jan 1). Editor’s note: Mind-body-beauty. Cosmet Toilet 136(1) 6. https://www.cosmeticsandtoiletries.com/marketdata/segments/Editors-Note-Mind-Body-Beauty-573492241.html
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