Skin ages just as the rest of the body does. But, while there are some elements of the skin ageing process that cannot be prevented, there are ways to slow the appearance of the visible signs of ageing with care and attention.
What happens to skin when it ages?
To understand how skin ages, it’s important to understand how skin is configured. The skin is made up of layers - the epidermis, dermis and subcutaneous tissue - which all age in different ways. The epidermis is the skin’s outermost layer and provides a protective barrier. This layer is rich in keratin that provides toughness and water-resistance. It is where melanin (the dark pigment responsible for giving skin colour) is produced and where dead cells are shed. The dermis, or thicker middle layer, contains collagen and elastin, which provide strength, firmness and elasticity. It also contains blood vessels, immune cells, nerves and glands that produce sweat and oil. Finally, the subcutaneous layer is composed of connective tissue and fat, which keep the body warm and holds the internal organs in place.
As the body gets older our skin doesn’t retain as much moisture and epidermal cells don’t slough off as quickly. The collagen and elastin in the dermis break down and as a result skin is less firm and elastic.
Gravity is constantly pulling the body down and as skin becomes less elastic - much like an old rubber band - it is less able to resist this force and starts to sag instead of bouncing back. Thus fine lines form around the eyes, on the forehead and around the corners of the mouth. The jaw and neck slacken and become looser, to form jowls.
What causes ageing?
These ageing processes happen due to both intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
1. Intrinsic Ageing
Intrinsic ageing is the natural process that takes place within the body regardless of outside influences. At around 20, collagen production starts to fall resulting in skin becoming thinner and more fragile as the years pass. Additionally, the skin’s exfoliation process decreases, causing dead skin cells to accumulate and stick together for longer periods of time.
In the thirties and forties skin suffers from the effects of advanced glycation end product (AGE's) caused when collagen and elastin fibers gradually break, thicken, stiffen, clump together, and lose their elasticity making the skin appear duller and less plump.
Finally, in the fifties, skin becomes dry because the sebaceous (oil) glands produce less oil. In women, menopause causes a decrease in oestrogen levels, leaving the skin drier, thinner and less toned.
2. Extrinsic Ageing
The second cause of the visible signs of ageing is known as extrinsic ageing and occurs as a result of environmental factors such as sun exposure, pollution and smoking. But unlike intrinsic ageing, it can be controlled to an extent as it is a result of external factors. Extrinsic ageing shows up as thickening of the cornified layer, freckles and sun pigmentation. Extrinsic ageing can also be responsible for excessive loss of collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans (GAG's). These processes give the skin the appearance of roughness, uneven tone, brown patches, thin skin and deep wrinkles.
How to care for ageing skin
A good skin care regimen can make a huge difference to how the skin ages. Protection from the sun and pollution are key first steps to battle extrinsic ageing. Application of a high SPF, broad-spectrum UVA and UVB sunscreen is crucial all year round. Regular cleansing both in the morning and evening will help to shift the effects of pollution and encourage the skin to shed dead skin cells.
Your recommended regimen
At SkinCeuticals we believe that an effective skincare regimen is based around five fundamental principles: cleansing, prevention, correction, hydration and protection.
1. Cleanse/Tone - Gentle Cleanser and Equalizing Toner
This comprehensive cleansing ritual, lifts impurities and prepares skin for optimal product efficacy.
2. Prevent - C E Ferulic
This serum, containing concentrated vitamin C, strengthens the skin against environmental aggressors, which can sap moisture from the skin. It helps to reduce the appearance of visible signs of photo damage such as fine lines and wrinkles.
3. Correct - H.A. Intensifier
A multi-functional corrective serum proven to improve skin plumpness, firmness and texture by amplifying skin’s Hyaluronic Acid content.
4. Hydrate - Triple Lipid restore 2:4:2
Formulated with an optimal concentration of lipids: 2% pure ceramides, 4% natural cholesterol and 2% fatty acids, this moisturising cream has been scientifically proven to improve the visible appearance of skin smoothness, laxity, pores and overall radiance.
5. Protect - Ultra Facial Defense SPF 50
This high factor sunscreen helps to protect against the visible signs of photoaging and environmental damage.