Everyone’s skin ages eventually, regardless of how young you look today. It’s an inescapable fact of life. But why does skin age? What are the biological and environmental factors that contribute to skin aging?
In this two-part series, we’ll discuss the whys of skin aging, as well as what you can do about it. First, let’s talk about the why part.
The Basic Parts of Your Skin
To appreciate skin aging, you first need to understand your skin layers and how they work together.
Your skin’s three layers consist of the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. Its outer layer is the epidermis. In addition to being water-resistant, the epidermis provides a tough protective layer over the rest of your body. Dead skin cells fall off the epidermis and new ones grow in their place. The epidermis also holds melatonin, a chemical that determines your skin coloring.
The dermis is your skin’s second layer. It is much thicker than the epidermis and contains blood vessels, fat, nerves, and collagen fiber. The latter provides elasticity that allows your skin to stretch. The deepest skin layer, the subcutaneous fat, protects your internal organs in addition to keeping you warm.
Skin Aging Starts as Early as Age 20
It’s surprising but true. Your skin starts an internal process of aging after just two decades on earth. This is the year when your dermis starts producing collagen at a rate of one percent less per year. This pattern continues throughout your twenties. Your skin’s elastin fibers and collagen become thicker during this decade as well. The increased thickness causes your skin to become brittle and less elastic. These changes take place regardless of external circumstances and eventually lead to wrinkles and sagging skin.
Your skin’s exfoliation process also decreases in your twenties, so you can expect the accumulation of more dead skin cells that stick together rather than replenish themselves. Your skin no longer produces collagen by your fourth decade of life, resulting in aging lines and wrinkles. People in their fifties tend to bruise easily and have more problems with dry, damaged skin. This occurs due to a decrease in the size of oil glands.
Extrinsic Aging is in Your Control
The second type of skin aging skin occurs due to environmental and lifestyle factors such as sun exposure and smoking. The typical signs of extrinsic aging include rough, uneven, and wrinkled skin due to free radicals. These are molecules and atoms that induce chemical changes when they interact with electrons. Have you ever seen someone who has been a 20-year smoker? Lines and wrinkles are more pronounced, and skin has a “harsher” look to it. That’s what free radicals can do.
So what can you do? Well, if you’re a smoker, remember it’s never too late to stop. In addition, making sure you get enough Vitamin C and Vitamin E, applying sunscreen each day and using a Retin-A anti-aging cream are some things you can do to minimize the impact of extrinsic aging. A good dermatologist can give you advice and help with this.
In our next blog, we’ll discuss some of the products and services we offer to slow the process of skin aging, and even reverse some of its signs at any stage of life. After all, who deserves beautiful skin more than you?
Dermatology Associates offers a full spectrum of leading edge medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology services from offices in Savannah and Vidalia.