If there’s one thing in life that’s inevitable, it’s aging. Some of us examine our reflections daily, looking closely for those first delicate signs of aging to appear. However, for most of us, the way our skin ages is very subtle, and no matter how closely you look every day, the signs of aging tend to sneak up and catch you when you’re least expecting it.
Contrary to what many believe, the effects of aging skin can appear long before you might expect. For many of us, the very first signs of aging skin happen somewhere around the age of 25, with at least a couple faint fine lines, discolorations or minor loss of volume being visible by the time the 30th birthday roll around.
Over time, your skin will age. However, you are not completely at the whim of the hands of time. There are things you can do to prevent premature aging, slow down the aging process, and possibly even reverse some of the damage that time has caused. Doing this all begins with an understanding of how your skin ages.
The Breakdown on Aging Skin – Why It Happens
Like with every other part of your body, the passing of time affects the skin as well. In fact, the very first signs of aging you ever notice will likely be skin related. The aging process is complex, and it’s one that’s constantly underway. There are physiological changes that occur that are the result of genetics and your natural aging process. This is the part of aging that you can’t do much about.
Fortunately, there is plenty about the how the aging process affects us that we can control – this includes lifestyle and environmental factors. Take for example how sun exposure contributes to premature aging, especially in people who are habitual sun worshipers or frequent tanning salons.
In addition to environmental and lifestyle factors, repetitive facial movements can also wear down the supportive structures of the skin. This means that yes, there is a degree of truth to the term “smile lines” but honestly, finding things in life to smile about will help you both feel and look younger in the long run, so don’t hide that smile for the sake of avoiding a few fine lines.
Factors like exposure to ultraviolet rays (the kind that comes from the sun and tanning beds), stress, diet, environmental pollutants, and cigarette smoke, among other things, can all accelerate the aging process.
So, we have genetics, lifestyle factors, and environmental influences that all play into how significantly the hands of time show themselves on our skin. What you really want to know is how it all happens. What’s going on beneath the surface that leads to the changes that we can feel and see in the mirror?
How Your Skin Ages
While you might notice the first signs of aging appear on the surface of your skin, by the time you’re seeing the signs, the process has been going on below the surface for quite some time. Your skin is made of several layers, all of which help support the skin and keep it healthy in a unique way. Each of these layers is also affected by the aging process differently. These layers of the skin are called the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue layer.
The epidermis is the layer you’re most familiar with. It’s the layer that you’ve developed a personal relationship with after years of caring for it and watching its progress in the mirror. The epidermis is rich in a substance called keratin, which helps this layer serve as a protective barrier. The epidermis is also where you’ll find all the activities associated with melanin production going on, which is why it’s so important to protect this uppermost layer before you head out into the sun.
The epidermis is susceptible to the environmental factors of aging. Exposure to UV rays, chemicals, toxins, and weather can disrupt the balance and make the epidermis less resilient against aging.
Go one layer deeper, and you’ll find the dermis. The dermis is thicker than the epidermis, and it’s also where collagen and elastin are housed. Both collagen and elastin are important to support structures that play a vital role in your skin’s elasticity and firmness, as well as its ability to hold up against stress.
The epidermis is also where you’ll find sebaceous glands, which are the tiny glands that produce oils that are important for keeping the skin moisturized while adding an additional layer of protection against abrasions and trauma.
As we age, these oil glands slow down their production. This happens along with a natural decline in collagen and elastin, and the effects of gravity, which is why our skin becomes drier, thinner, and loses its structural firmness as we age.
Finally, the subcutaneous layer is the deepest layer of the skin. This layer is composed of a support network of connective tissue and fat. This layer of skin helps the body maintain proper temperature and protects your internal organs while keeping everything snug and in place.
Caring for Your Aging Skin
All things considered, how you care for your skin has a tremendous influence on how it ages. While it’s true that genetic factors may be of your control, it is possible to minimize the effects and reduce the impact of lifestyle and environmental factors with good skincare.
It’s never too early, or too late, to invest in yourself with a quality skincare routine Like our Anti-Aging Skincare Regimen that you commit to regularly. This includes a gentle cleanser that’s formulated for your skin type. This is important because aging skin isn’t always dry, so you want to pay attention to your individual skin type when choosing skincare products. Look for ingredients like vitamin C and hyaluronic acid, which help support collagen and elastin production, while healing the upper layer of skin and encouraging a proper moisture balance.
Aging skin (all skin, really) demands the daily use of a moisturizer, along with specialized moisturizing products for targeted trouble areas – such as the fragile undereye area or the delicate skin on the neck, both of which can be among the first areas to show signs of aging.
The Most Important Part of Caring for Aging Skin
Finally, taking care of yourself is one of the best proactive measures you can take against prematurely aging skin. Get plenty of good quality sleep, spend time in nature but always use sunscreen, take time to nourish your body, and nurture your soul.