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 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?
Skin ageing is caused by two main processes; intrinsic and extrinsic. They both contribute to the visible signs you may see on your skin, such as fine lines, wrinkles, loss of firmness, and discolouration.
Intrinsic ageing, also known as chronological or natural ageing, is largely driven by genetics, and is the natural process that takes place within the body regardless of outside influences. The visible signs appear most commonly as dry skin, wrinkles, loss of firmness, and increased pore size. 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 fibres 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.
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. While there are many external factors that contribute to skin ageing, research has shown UV and pollution to be primary causes. Both of these atmospheric factors create free radicals that ‘eat away’ at skin’s collagen and elastin, and reduce healthy cell turnover, resulting in skin roughness, wrinkling, and sagging. Persistent or constant exposure to the sun’s rays also affects skin’s natural production of melanin causing discolouration, most commonly found on the face, neck, chest, arms, and hands. Unlike intrinsic ageing, it can be controlled to an extent as it is a result of external factors.
How to care for ageing skin
A good anti-ageing skincare routine can make a huge difference to how the skin ages. Protection from the sun and pollution are key first steps to battle extrinsic ageing. 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. Using a topical vitamin C antioxidant serum and a sunscreen every morning helps prevent and protect skin from direct UV damage as well as damaging free radicals that cause premature skin ageing. Anti-ageing skincare products can also be incorporated into your routine to help improve the appearance of existing signs of ageing, such as fine lines, wrinkles, skin discolouration, dehydration, loss of elasticity, and more. For optimal effectiveness, a SkinCeuticals skincare professional can create a customised anti-ageing regimen based on your skin’s needs and your goals.
Anti-ageing skincare routine
Vitamin C is one of the most effective and extensively studied antioxidants available in skincare today, it is favoured by skincare professionals for its preventative and anti-ageing benefits on skin. However, there are many different forms of vitamin C. For optimal free-radical protection, look for pure ascorbic acid (l-ascorbic acid) on the ingredient label. In addition to neutralising free radicals and preventing premature ageing, l-ascorbic acid has anti-ageing benefits that include improving the appearance of wrinkles and loss of firmness. Additional antioxidants that also provide prevention against premature ageing and anti-ageing benefits are ferulic acid, vitamin E (in its alpha-tocopherol form), phloretin, and resveratrol.
Dr Stefanie Williams, a leading dermatologist and Medical Director of Eudelo Dermatology & Skin Wellbeing in London, has a holistic philosophy when looking at all the factors affecting ageing. At SkinCeuticals, we also have some useful tips for ‘achieving youthful skin overnight’ with ways to achieve ‘better tone and glow’ and ‘younger-looking skin’ while you sleep.
We firmly believe that an effective skincare regimen is based around five fundamental principles: cleansing, prevention, correction, hydration and protection.
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 photodamage such as fine lines and wrinkles.
3. Correct - H.A. Intensifier
A multi-functional corrective serum proven to improve the appearance of 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 photoageing and environmental damage.
What anti-ageing aesthetic procedures or treatments can help improve visible signs of ageing?
While effective skincare is the basis of any anti-ageing regimen, advances in aesthetic procedures and treatments offer the ability to powerfully transform skin’s appearance, in the form of lasers, chemical peels, injectables, like neurotoxins and soft tissue fillers, and more. We recommend consulting with a medical aesthetic practitioner who can create a customised treatment plan according to your needs, goals, and budget.