Aging skin is one of the more distressing facts of life. At some point, that smooth, supple surface becomes dry, wrinkled, and saggy. Many outside factors affect the natural aging process. However, three physiological elements women have in abundance during their youth steadily decline over the years – also contributing to aging skin.
Collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid (HA) all contribute to supple, healthy, and smooth skin, but as women age, natural and environmental factors cause skin cells to gradually lose the ability to produce these important elements. All three layers of the skin – the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layers – are affected by the slow decline in these proteins. As a result, the skin begins to thin and become more fragile.
Let’s look at what causes visible signs of aging and what you can do to help protect and improve your skin.
Causes of Visible Signs of Aging
There are dual factors in facial aging – internal (age-related) and external (environmental).
Internal factors are caused by genetics, the decline of cellular structures and processes, and hormonal changes. These factors lead to wrinkles, fine lines, drooping eyelids, hollowed cheeks, jowls, and dry skin. The natural production of collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid is reduced as women age.
External factors include environmental elements that affect the natural aging process, such as sun damage, pollution, smoking, diet, and gravity. Visible effects of these factors include wrinkles, rough skin, blemishes, and pigmentation changes.
Wrinkles and fine lines are initially caused by facial expressions, but starting as early as the age of 20, the body produces one percent less collagen in the dermis layer every year. Frown lines grow along the forehead and fine lines and wrinkles become visible on the rest of the face due to the steady decrease in collagen and elastin, both of which work together to keep the skin smooth, supple, and flexible. Elastin also provides the skin with the flexibility and elasticity necessary to regain form when stretched or compressed.
By the age of 40, these lines deepen, while eyes and cheeks appear hollower and jowls develop because about 50% of all the HA in the body is located in both the epidermal and subcutaneous skin layers. HA plays an enormous role in cell growth and renewal, as it helps retain water and lubricates the movable parts of the body. These actions keep the skin moisturized and hydrated.
Above 55 to 60, all the visible aging effects become even more pronounced.
Tips for Healthy Skin
The sun: mankind has had a very long love affair with it. In addition to bringing and sustaining life, exposure to the sun makes people feel and look good; it gives us the glow of health and vitality – for a short while.
Repeated, unprotected exposure to the sun’s rays actually causes most of the skin changes and damage usually attributed to aging. That warm radiance obtained from baking in the sun (or a tanning booth) actually accelerates the aging process because the ultraviolet (UV) light breaks down the elastin in the skin, causing it to sag and develop fine to coarse wrinkles.
Nothing can completely undo sun damage, although you can boost your skin’s health and the skin can somewhat repair itself, especially with ongoing care and protection. Follow these tips to help protect your skin against the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Always apply sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or greater (for UVB protection) and zinc oxide (for UVA protection) at least 20 minutes before sun exposure and every 2 hours afterward, especially if swimming or sweating. Thanks to new guidelines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it’s easier to choose an effective sunscreen because the new standards prohibit companies from marketing sunscreens as “waterproof.” Labels must now indicate whether a sunscreen protects against UVA rays that are primarily linked to skin cancer and wrinkles.
Fine lines and wrinkles caused by normal muscle contractions in the face and repeated facial expressions can become more pronounced by sun damage. A program* of non-invasive Face and Body endermologie® treatments may help improve the appearance of wrinkles and damaged skin. They include the Cellu M6® endermologie® machine, which treats the face and body, and the portable Mobi M6® for treatments on the face, neck, and hands – all sites that are often particularly affected by repeated or prolonged sun exposure.
Sleep is essential for healthy skin – and not getting enough quality sleep every night actually does make skin look tired and older, especially when accompanied by shadows or bags under the eyes. Poor quality sleep can become a vicious cycle because lack of sleep can cause irritability, anxiousness, and depression, which in turn make it harder to get quality sleep.
Use a daily moisturizer on all parts of the body normally exposed to the sun. Make sure the moisturizer contains an SPF of at least 15. Keep in mind that facial skin is more sensitive to sun damage than the rest of the body, so choose products that contain vitamins and antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful toxins.
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle
Not only does eating right and exercising make you feel better, but it may help improve your skin, too. Studies are showing a correlation between a healthy diet and younger-looking skin, and firming up your muscles with exercise may help your skin appear tighter, as well.
Too often, people forget to protect sensitive spots like the tops of the ears, the hairline, the “V” of the chest, nose, and hands. And yes – even the scalp can get sunburned. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, nearly 80 percent of skin cancers occur on the head, neck, and hands, so try to remember a hat when outdoors for any length of time – preferably one made of a tightly woven fabric such as canvas rather than of straw.
Avoiding the sun, even on cloudy days, is unrealistic, but going out well protected is half the battle – the other half is choosing the right program of skin care.
*Face and Body endermologie® employs Mécano-stimulation, a non-invasive, non-aggressive, safe technique that can significantly improve skin trophicity.