We all know that aging is a part of life and our skin ages right along with us. As we get older, our aging skin changes. Some changes are minuscule, some changes occur deep under the skin’s surface, and other changes are highly visible when you look in the mirror. While what we look like on the outside does not need to reflect how young we feel on the inside, age-defying skin treatments and preventative measures certainly help with self-confidence and self-esteem.
How and why our skin changes are fascinating concepts and occur on multiple levels. Let’s explore the science behind skin aging.
What Causes Your Skin to Age?
First, a little biology lesson. Your skin is made up of three different layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. Each layer of skin undergoes intrinsic changes as we age. The combined result is physical signs of skin aging. Deep in the skin, the subcutaneous tissue contains lipid-storing cells and fat. As we age, these cells naturally shrink, resulting in skin sagging.
The dermis houses nerves, blood vessels, and the very important elements of elastin and collagen fibers. Elastin and collagen contribute to our skin’s elasticity. They work together to support smooth and youthful skin. However, by your early to mid-20s, your body’s collagen production begins to decline and continues to do so as you age. As these skin-building blocks begin to decline, the skin is more prone to fine lines and wrinkles. This is why lines such as smile lines, brow lines, and crow’s feet start to become more visible in your 30’s. Not only that, but the connections that support the epidermis in this level begin to fray and break down, causing the skin’s physical support system to break down as well.
Then we have the epidermis, or skin’s surface, which relies heavily on hyaluronic acid production. This naturally occurring carbohydrate can hold a thousand times its weight in water to retain moisture and prevent moisture from evaporating back into the air, giving skin a full and supple appearance. You guessed it, as we age, we produce less hyaluronic acid. This can make the skin’s surface rough and dry, while also more prone to sun damage.
Internal Causes of Skin Aging
Hyaluronic acid, elastin, and collagen production all contribute to intrinsic skin age changes. Yet there are also some internal causes of skin aging to consider. The most obvious being genetics. Our genetic makeup has a lot of influence on how our skin ages over time. For example, if you have sensitive skin, your skin may age prematurely.
Hormones are another internal cause of skin aging. In women, estrogen is considered an “instruction-giving” hormone. The amount of estrogen produced declines as women age. Therefore, the communication between cells can break down, paving the way for skin aging effects.
As we age, we’re at a greater risk for cardiovascular disease. With that risk comes the potential for reduced circulation and a weakened blood supply to the skin. Our skin requires nutrients and oxygen to maintain its youthful radiance. When blood isn’t reaching our skin’s cells properly, the skin can appear dull and also impact the walls of our blood vessels.
External Causes of Aging Skin Changes
External causes of skin aging are highly preventable. The biggest culprit by far is the sun and its UV rays. Sun damage can lead to photoaging, which is visible skin damage and premature skin aging. The sun can dry the skin out, causing it to look leathery and uneven. Unprotected skin is at risk for hyperpigmentation, sunspots, and blemishes as well as skin cancer.
Smoking is another external cause of skin aging. Nicotine has a whole host of free radicals that can negatively impact your skin and expedite the aging process. The same is true for pollution.
Signs and Symptoms of Aging Skin
There are many different signs and symptoms of aging skin (and thankfully many ways to treat each symptom). Problems of aging skin include but are not limited to:
- Loose skin around the neck, jawline, under the eyes, and cheekbones as fat cells shrink and skin loses elasticity.
- A dull or translucent appearance of the skin due to the thinning of skin tissue.
- Eyes that appear sunken in due to the combination of loose and thin skin.
- Deep wrinkles including smile lines, brow lines, and crow’s feet that occur when your face is static.
- Thinning of the lips as your skin loses volume. (A telltale sign of this symptom is when lipstick starts to bleed on thinning lips)
- Hyperpigmentation of the skin creating age spots on different parts of the skin.
- Prone to bruising or injury as the body’s skin cell reconstruction systems struggle to repair damaged skin with low collagen and elastin production. This also occurs when the skin’s blood vessel walls thin over time.
- A breakdown of cartilage around the nose creating a drooping effect with the tip of the nose.
- Dry, scaly, or leather-like skin caused by sun damage or a decreased production of hyaluronic acid.
- Skin tags, benign skin growths that are harmless and painless but can occur on the face, neck, chest, eyelids, or underarms.
- Additional skin lesions.
How to Care for Aging Skin Changes
While we can’t completely reverse our skin age, there are plenty of preventative measures, lifestyle changes, and skin treatment options available to slow down the visible signs of skin aging and turn back that clock. The better you feel, the more radiant you will glow. Some of the best ways to care for aging skin changes include:
- If you haven’t started using adequate sun exposure protection, start. It is true that your skin will suffer damage at your very first sunburn, but you may not see the aftereffects until years later. Limit your time in the sun. Wear a high SPF sunscreen, a hat, and cover your skin with breathable layers. If you must be in the sun, try to avoid the afternoon when the sun’s UV rays are at their highest. Sun damage is the leading cause of premature skin aging, and it is 100% preventable. Along these lines, cease tanning immediately. Instead, opt for spray tans or tinted moisturizers, which will not contribute to photoaging of the skin.
- Step up your nutrition. Food rich and antioxidants can filter out free radicals from pollutants in the air. Be sure to include healthy fruits and vegetables such as carrots, apricots, blueberries, leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes, and beans, in your daily diet to reap the skin rewards from your daily meals.
- Drink plenty of water. Water intake and skin health are closely related. Water helps filter out toxins in the body and hydrates our cells so they can work at an optimal level. Water can also help restore your skin’s youthful and supple glow.
- Get moving. Want to increase blood circulation and blood flow to your skin’s blood vessels? A good cardio workout will do the trick. Exercise is paramount for overall health and your skin health is no exception.
- Quit smoking. We all know how dangerous smoking is to your overall health. It can impact your lungs, your teeth, and even your skin. Look into a comprehensive smoking cessation program and take a step in reclaiming your overall health and wellness.
- Reduce your alcohol intake. Alcohol can dehydrate the skin, leading to premature aging and also deteriorate your skin health.
- Develop a basic skincare routine. From your 20s on, your skin will benefit greatly from a basic skincare routine. This includes a gentle face wash or cleanser, toner, eye cream, exfoliation, serum, and moisturizer.
- Support your skin when it needs you most. Now that you know how time and aging can reduce elastin, collagen, and hyaluronic acid production, you may want to invest in ways to maintain or boost the production of these skin building blocks. This includes microneedling (collagen induction therapy), hyaluronic acid supplements, and even platelet-rich plasma (PRP) treatments.
- Consider an anti-aging program. Not sure what products are right for you? A complete anti-aging program contains all the tools you need for a skin care routine that produces glowing results.
Now is Better Than Never
Regardless of where you are on your skin care journey, it is never too late to start revitalizing and nourishing your skin. Remember, there are many different treatment and maintenance options available to help you feel radiant and love the skin you’re in. Skin treatments are designed to support skin integrity, enhance its appearance, and relieve skin conditions.
Curious? Schedule a consultation with one of our knowledgeable and compassionate practitioners at First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic. We would be happy to discuss your skin care history and overall skin care goals while providing you with options to achieve the results you want.
Take heed of the preventative measures you can practice to slow down the signs of aging and explore the skin care options that best suit your needs. This combined approach can knock a few years off your skin age. After all, you deserve to look and feel your best and most beautiful self. You’re worth it.