Aging – it is one of life’s inevitabilities. A complex biological process caused by both internal and external factors that starts to show in our early twenties, aging will affect all of us in some way. As our body’s regenerative functions begin to slow down and the aging process accelerates, we can often see these changes manifesting in our skin.
As we get older, the skin typically becomes significantly thinner. Due to a decrease in the cells responsible for skin pigmentation, it also often appears paler, and the risk of age spots and other hyperpigmentation increases. Reduced sebum production can leave the skin feeling dry and itchy, and the lessening of facial fat deposits combined with a reduction in elastin and collagen (the fibres responsible for skin elasticity and support) causes sagging, drooping and wrinkles.
Luckily for us, only about 10% of skin aging is caused by intrinsic factors like our DNA and gene expression. The other 90% is affected by external factors which we have some control over. This means that with proper care, we can slow down age-related skin changes, reducing the visible signs of aging.
GET SOME ZZZ’S
With how busy and stressful our lifestyles are today, getting enough quality sleep is often easier said than done. Many of our skin’s natural regenerative processes occur while we are sleeping, and poor sleep has a direct impact on our skin health - even a single sleepless night affects the skin’s moisture levels and impairs the protective barrier, often causing flaking and itching. Lack of sleep also dulls the complexion, reduces elasticity and increases the visibility of pores. Where possible, it is recommended to get at least 7 hours of sleep a night to allow your body (and your skin) to repair and renew... there’s a reason we call it ‘beauty sleep’!
If you wear makeup, remember to take it off before heading to bed to prevent dirt, sebum and environmental pollutants from becoming trapped in the skin, creating further skin issues.
One of the most important anti-aging commandments is to always use an SPF, even in winter or on overcast days as UV rays are present year-round. The majority of extrinsic aging is caused by UV exposure – as the UV rays hit our skin, they cause damage to the cell DNA, depleting and deforming the collagen and elastin in the skin, degrading it much more rapidly.
It is essential to use a broad spectrum sunscreen, which protects against UVB and UVA rays. UVB rays have a shorter wavelength, and cause the outer layers of the skin to burn, but UVA rays have a longer wavelength that allows them to penetrate into the deep skin layers and cause significant long-term damage. Photo-aging is cumulative, and the effects of early damage are often not apparent until later in life, so the earlier you can get into the habit of wearing sun protection, the better.
KICK THE HABIT
Smoking is a huge contributor to premature skin aging. Tobacco smoke contains thousands of chemicals that damage the skin in a variety of ways. Smoking increases oxidative stress, resulting in insufficient oxygen being supplied to the skin cells. It reduces the moisture content in the skin cells and depletes Vitamin A and C reserves within the body, which are vital for correct cellular function. Smoking slows down cell turnover, decreases natural collagen synthesis, and narrows the blood vessels within the skin, all causing the visible signs of aging to occur prematurely.
The positive effects on the skin become apparent very quickly after quitting smoking – within 24 hours, microcirculation in the skin begins to improve, delivering essential nutrients to the skin more easily. The complexion becomes visibly brighter in the first few weeks, and skin vitality is restored after 6 months, preventing further damage from occurring.
Skincare science has come a long way, and there are a variety of professional treatments and homecare products designed to minimise the visible effects of aging. Paramedical treatments such as dermal needling and IPL, specialty anti-aging facials, and targeted skincare products with clinically-proven active ingredients can all help to improve the appearance of your skin and slow down age-related changes.
If you’re concerned about your skin health or appearance, talk to one of our beauty team about the products and treatments that are right for you.