As a person ages, the skin undergoes significant changes. The cells divide more slowly, and the inner layer of skin (the dermis) starts to thin. Fat cells beneath the dermis begin to diminish. In addition, the ability of the skin to repair itself diminishes with age.
The underlying network of elastin and collagen fibers, which provides scaffolding for the surface skin layers, loosens and unravels. Skin then loses its elasticity. The sweat- and oil-secreting glands atrophy, depriving the skin of their protective waterlipid emulsions and their ability to retain moisture. The skin becomes dry and scaly. Frown lines and crow’s feet start to develop because of permanent small muscle contractions. Habitual facial expressions also form characteristic lines. Gravity exacerbates the situation, contributing to the formation of jowls and drooping eyelids.
Other factors, including sun exposure, free radical damage and cigarette smoke, are other major contributors to how your skin ages.
- Sunlight damages collagen fibers (the major structural protein in the skin) and causes accumulation of abnormal elastin (the protein that causes tissue to stretch). In response to this sun-induced elastin accumulation, large amounts of enzymes called metalloproteinases are produced. The normal function of these metalloproteinases is generally positive; to remodel the sun-injured tissue by manufacturing and reforming collagen. This is an imperfect process, however, since sunlight-induced metalloproteinases also degrade collagen. The result is an uneven formation of disorganized collagen fibers called solar scars. Repetition of this imperfect skin rebuilding over and over again causes wrinkles.
- Cigarette smoking produces free radicals, which are known to accelerate wrinkles and aging skin disorders and increase the risk for nonmelanoma skin cancers. Studies also suggest that smoking produce higher levels of collagen-degrading metalloproteinases. Smoking also greatly depletes your body’s levels of vitamin C, the vitamin which is responsible for the formation of structural collagen.
Free radicals are another major contributor to prematurely ageing skin; these come from toxins in the foods we eat, air pollution, traffic pollution and other nasty toxins. The best way to combat free radicals is to eat a diet that is rich in antioxidants! Using natural skincare products containing ingredients such as vitamin A, C and E (powerful antioxidants) is good protection for your skin too.
What ingredients should we be looking for to protect our skin from wrinkles and premature ageing?
Vitamin A; this promotes epithelialization, meaning skin cells are regenerated at a high rate and new skin cells are replacing old damaged skin cells. Pullulan (SkinTight AP), this stimulates collagen synthesis and tightens skin. Coenzyme Q10 is involved in energy production meaning your whole body is functioning at optimal levels. It also stimulates collagen synthesis and is a powerful antioxidant. Ceramide-3 (Lacto-Ceramide), this replenishes skin ceramides. Metalloproteinase Inhibitor (Collagen Protector), as the name suggests, it protects collagen and prevents it from degradation. Hyaluronic Acid deeply moisturizes skin, helping your skin lock in crucial water to keep it looking firm and plump. Hydroxyproline Acid, Palmitic Acid (SkinLift DPHP) and Tripeptide-5; these beauties stimulate collagen synthesis, helping skin stay strong and smooth. Argireline and Pentapeptide-3 (Vialox) relax skin muscle nerves, meaning less wrinkles created by repeated facial expressions! Soy Peptides & Yeast Enzymes improve skin microcirculation; increased circulation to the skin means more nutrients are brought to the area (such as antioxidants to fight free radicals!).
As well as looking for these key ingredients in your skincare products, eating a diet rich in colourful vegetables will provide you with a whole bunch of antioxidants. Healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, coconut oil (both cold pressed extra virgin), eggs, salmon and raw nuts and seeds keep skin plump and youthful. Eating a ‘clean’ diet (free from highly refined carbohydrates and sugars) is also very beneficial to your skin, because these ingredients damage your skin and cause inflammation.
Remember to look after your skin and stay balanced! Drink plenty of water, exercise daily, laugh, smile, practice mindfulness and eat well – the keys to natural anti-ageing!