Everyone’s skin is susceptible to changes that come with age. We often overlook how quickly our skin can age over time because we associate it with the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines that naturally appear after a certain age. However, a plethora of external factors can influence how fast your skin ages and how quickly you’ll begin to see those visible signs. The environment, certain personal habits, genetics, diets, and skin care products all play a role in the aging process of our skin. Yet, is it possible to slow down your skin’s natural aging process? Should you start caring for your skin when it’s starting to show visible signs of aging? Before we answer these questions, it’s important to understand what our skin is and what happens to it as we age.
The skin is the body’s largest organ and naturally regenerates approximately every 27 days. It is made up of many components like proteins, lipids, minerals, and water. It also has 3 main layers: the epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis. The thin outer layer (epidermis) hosts many different types of cells, such as the ones responsible for producing melanin and keratin. The middle layer (dermis) contains collagen and elastin, two crucial proteins that keep skin plump and wrinkles at bay. The subcutaneous fat layer (hypodermis) is the main structural support for our skin and the reduction of this layer can cause sagging and, you guessed it, more wrinkles.
As we age, though, our skin changes and we start to see visible signs because of the following:
Skin Becomes Thinner. Our skin slowly starts to thin out and its automatic regenerative process becomes a lot slower. Since collagen production diminishes, the skin is less capable of repairing itself to uphold the demands of our everyday lifestyles. Also, certain hormonal changes, like a gradual lack of estrogen in women, can factor in and cause further regression in the production of collagen.
Skin Loses Elasticity. Aside from losing collagen, the production of highly elastic proteins, or elastin, which helps the skin bounce back and maintain its form, also decreases and causes the skin to dangle and droop. The lack of sufficient elastin production also results in more pronounced wrinkles and expression lines on the forehead, eyes, and mouth.
Skin Becomes Dry. The aging process also affects our skin’s ability to create, absorb, and retain moisture. Sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing natural oils that help lubricate and moisturize our skin, produce less oils, resulting in dryness and wrinkles. Absorbing and retaining moisture are also affected and often cause severe dehydration in common areas like the hands, face, and neck area, where the skin layer is naturally thinner.
Skin Darkens and Becomes Uneven. Aging causes skin to lose brightness and become opaque and dull. As our epidermis becomes thinner, Melanocytes, or the cells responsible for producing melanin, become unbalanced and may increase or decrease production in different areas of the skin once we reach a certain age. The result? Skin starts to look patchy and, depending on the amount of sun exposure, develop brown spots.
Skin Becomes Less Productive. Our hardworking organ slowly starts to lose its capacity to perform the way it did. Aside from regenerating less frequently, our skin’s capability to produce vitamin D and other crucial vitamins decreases. Likewise, the skin’s lack of performance capacity causes stress, and, like every other part of the body, it becomes inflamed and physical deterioration advances a lot quicker and delays potential skin recovery.
It’s no doubt that the skin is one of the most adversely affected by our biological aging process, and knowing what happens to it overtime can help you better care for it. We know that outside factors can influence how our skin ages, and, though we can’t necessarily reverse these effects, it is possible to slow them down. It’s important to evolve your skincare routine to match your current environmental and personal circumstances at any age. This means that the skin should be cared for and maintained even if there are no visible signs of aging.
Keeping your skin hydrated, moisturized, and protected from the sun can help deter premature aging. Additionally, using all natural skincare products as opposed to the chemical-based industrial products can make a huge difference. Finally, adopting healthy personal habits and diets will ultimately help beautify your skin from the inside out and leave you looking younger for longer.