Why does the appearance of our skin change as we age?
From the moment we are born, our skin starts to age. And, in all honesty, this is no surprise. As we get older, we all notice physical changes in the appearance of our skin. During puberty, we suffer breakouts, and as we get older, fine lines appear which eventually turn into wrinkles. Through all these changes, there are a wide array of creams, serums, and cleansers which claim to minimise the impact of aging. But ultimately, we must all accept, that just like the rest of our body, our skin will change as we age. Instead of feeling down about these changes, we should appreciate the beauty of ageing. To appreciate these changes, we find it important to understand how and why our skin changes as we age, which is what we will discuss today.
Walking through the ‘anti-aging’ section in beauty stores, collagen is a popular name that will appear. This is because collagen is a core structural protein in our body which, amongst other uses, provides our skin with structure and is involved in the restoration of dead skin cells. Unfortunately, as we get older, especially when we reach 60, collagen production in our body significantly decreases, causing notable wrinkles and loosening of the skin. As discussed, part of this collagen decrease is an inevitable consequence of aging, but certain factors can accelerate this decline. For example, smoking is a known factor which inhibits collagen production.
Sun damage, or photoaging, is a well known extrinsic factor causing skin to age. As much as we all love to tan in the sun, we must also remember that UV rays from the sun cause damage to the skin. In fact, up to 80% of visible skin aging is attributed to UV light from the sun. This is because the sun damages the elastin in the skin, leading to the eventual loss of elasticity in the skin, causing sagging and wrinkles. This may paint a gloomy picture. We are exposed to the sun everyday, so it would be easy to assume that nothing can be done about sun damage. Whilst the science on reversing sun damage is not completely conclusive, there are preventative measures we can take. For starters, sunscreen should definitely qualify into your daily skin care routine. Also, certain ingredients in skin care products can further prevent photoaging. For example, Niacinamide is said to increase the elasticity of the skin and prevent wrinkles, Azelaic acid reduces the appearance of dark spots caused by sun damage, and certain retinoids are known to reduce hyperpigmentation.
Ultimately, the aim of skincare as we age should not be to look younger. Instead, we should focus on looking after our skin in the stage we are in our lives. Through environmental, and biological factors, our skin will change. But by adopting healthy lifestyle habits like using sunscreen, and stopping to smoke, you can ensure you have healthy skin, even as you age.