The Science Behind Aging Skin
5 undeniable, unavoidable truths about aging skin and
how they'll make you an uncommonly smart skin care shopper.
Try as you might to defy it, there are a few inevitable things that will happen to your skin as you age. Start with a little sagging, add in drying, dehydration, wrinkles, and rough spots and you’ve got all the ingredients for aging skin. That’s because aging slows down everything, including how your skin functions. And we can’t forget about your aging arch nemesis—the sun.
While you can’t completely stop the tick tock of aging, advances in skin care can actually turn back the skin’s clock. Which is why the market for anti-aging lotions and potions has skyrocketed—and with it a whole lot of misinformation.
This guide will walk you through what's actually happening to your aging skin on the inside—at the cellular level—which in turn affects how it appears on the outside. With so many anti-aging skincare products on the market, you’ll now be armed with facts instead of marketing hype to help you make the best buying decisions.
Why it happens: Decrease in collagen and elastin production
It’s a drag to sag. No question about it. But every year, after about age 30, you start losing 1 – 3% of your skin’s collagen and elastin. Collagen and elastin are the protein fibers in your skin that, among other things, are responsible for firm, “bouncy”, elastic skin. The less you have, the more you droop. Because collagen adds strength and toughness to your skin, having less of it results in weak and easily torn skin. And, elastin, like it sounds, gives your skin that elastic bounce we all covet. Without it, your skin tends to thin and sag. Sad, but true.
DRY, DEHYDRATED SKIN
Why it happens: Decrease in lipid production.
If lipids aren’t part of your daily lingo, don’t worry. All you need to know is that lipids, often called protective oils or essential fatty acids, are essential to youthful skin. That’s because lipids create a protective barrier that does two important things: it holds moisture in and keeps the elements, like sun and wind, out. Unfortunately, the older you get, the fewer lipids you produce, and that makes your lipid barrier way less effective. The result: you’re left high and dry and dehydrated. And in that state, wrinkles are more visible, skin is more prone to irritation and you’re more susceptible to skin disorders like eczema. Sorry.
Why it happens: Protein fibers get weaker.
95% of surface wrinkles are caused by sun damage, so prevention through sun protection is key. (See How Sun Exposure Ages Your Skin) For the remaining 5%, wrinkles are simply a natural result of aging, as your skin gets thinner, drier and less elastic. Protein fibers, like collagen and elastin, are largely to blame. These fibers are kind of like scaffolding for your skin, providing a supportive structure that holds up your epidermis or outermost layer of skin. But with every birthday these protein fibers become weaker, more brittle and less able to literally support the skin above it. Over time, your skin begins to lose its smoothness and wrinkles appear.
ROUGH, IRRITATED SKIN
Why it happens: Cell turnover rate slows down.
Skin cells have a big job. They’re responsible for making the top layers of your skin look perky, pliable and plump. Unfortunately, as you age, your cell turnover rate slows down—from an average of 28 days to about 30 – 35 days. This means old cells on the surface of your skin are sticking around longer because they aren’t being replaced by new cells as quickly as before. This results in dead skin cell build-up, which leaves skin looking duller and rougher and more prone to irritation. And, if that’s not enough bad news for you, you may also see more hyperpigmentation (or uneven darkening of the skin) and an increasing number of enlarged pores.
Why it happens: Declining levels of hylaluronic acid and collagen.
Thin may be in when it comes to fitness. But for your skin, the opposite is true. When you’ve got thin, almost translucent skin, blood vessels appear more prominent and the microvasculature becomes more visible. When this happens, the skin also shows more evidence of existing sun damage, like liver or “age” spots. And, to make matters worse, you skin bruises more easily. If you’re looking for a culprit, look no further than hylaluronic acid and collagen…or lack thereof. Every year, your skin produces less and less hyaluronic acid, which gives the skin volume, plumpness and tons of protective insulation. Likewise, your collagen production decreases over time, which you know, if you’ve read this far, isn’t great news for your skin.
More skin care questions? Please let us know if there’s a skincare topic you’d like to learn more about by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org