Skin ageing is caused by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors are related to our genetics, hormones and the normal ageing process. These include: decrease production of collagen, elastin, Hyaluronic acid and oil, poor circulation, inflammation, slowing of the healing process. Extrinsic factors include: sun exposure, pollution, allergies, rough treatment of the skin, smoking, drinking, lack of exercise, our diets, etc.
To prevent premature skin ageing we need to know what these factors are and what can be done to minimise the damage to our skin.
1 – Sun Exposure and Skin Ageing
Ultraviolet light is the major cause of premature skin aging. Repeated sun exposure over the years breaks down the collagen and elastin fibres and makes the skin loose its elasticity. With the loss of elasticity the skin starts to sag, wrinkles appear and any bruises or tears take longer to recuperate.
Most of the sun damage is done during the earlier part of our lives. The ultraviolet rays penetrate to the deep layers of the skin causing damage to the cell’s’ DNA, pigmentation, wrinkles, lines, and skin cancer. We may not see these changes when we are young because they are deep under the surface.
As we age, however, the progressive damage becomes evident. Fortunately it is possible to reverse some of the damage:
The first step is to protect yourself from the sun: use a SPF15+ broad spectrum sunscreen on exposed areas everyday. Even on cloudy and winter days. And don’t forget to reapply every few hours or if you are sweating or swimming. Even if the sunscreen is water resistant it will get rubbed off with the towel or clothing. Wear a broad brimmed hat when outdoors.
Applying antioxidant rich cosmeceuticals will help protect the cells and reverse some of the damage. Vitamin A is the only vitamin that can repair damaged DNA. Vitamin C will help reduce pigmentation and even skin tone.
Of the Salon treatments available, IPL Photorejuvenation is the best one for reversing photo aged skin. IPL Photorejuvenation stimulates the production of new, healthy collagen and elastine. It also evens skin tone and removes pigmentation and broken capillaries. Reduces pore size, fine lines, wrinkles and any skin blemishes.
2 – Free Radicals
Atoms or molecules that contained unpaired electrons are called free radicals. The normal state of atoms is with paired electrons in all the orbits. When an atom loses an electron in any orbit it becomes unstable and will try to acquire the missing electron from other atoms or molecules. This can cause a chain reaction culminating with a damaged molecule and in turn damage to the cell that contains it.
This chain reactions caused by free radicals can cause cross-linking of DNA resulting in cancer or premature ageing. Cross-linking of fat and protein molecules leads to fine lines and wrinkles.
Free radical occur naturally within our body processes. When we breath, eat, exercise, we are producing free radicals. Other free radicals are produced by pollutants in the air and when the UV rays hit our skin.
Antioxidants counteract the effect of free radicals because they can donate electrons without becoming unstable. Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Grape seed extract, Lycopene, Lutein, Flavonoids, Anthocyanins, Selenium, etc are great antioxidants that help combat the effect of free radicals.
A diet that includes vegetables and fruits rich in the above antioxidants will help prevent premature ageing, cancer and other diseases. However, every time you are in the sun, the UV rays depletes your skin of antioxidants in just a few minutes and it takes up to 7 days to replenish through food. On the other hand, vitamins applied to the skin will replenish its antioxidant levels in just 3 hours. Hence it is vital that you use vitamin rich skin care products twice a day.
3 – Smoking
Cigarette smoke has a threefold action on your skin:
- The carbon monoxide and nicotine in cigarette smoke displace the oxygen and reduce the blood flow which in turns dries the skin.
- Other poisonous substances which are found in cigarettes kill the skin cells and break down the collagen and elastine.
- The constant pouting of the lips create deep lines around the lips.
4 – Glycation
Sugars in the blood stream cross link with the collagen proteins creating new molecules which are called Advanced Glycation Endproducts (AGEs). The new molecules are stiff and brittle causing sagging skin and wrinkles.
To avoid Glycation reduce the intake of sugars and processed carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta. Studies have also found the Antioxidants such as Vitamin A, C, E and Grape seed extract help inhibit Glycation.
For more information visit: Collagen Glycation.
5 – Pollution
Chemical pollutants such as insecticides, herbicides, cleaning products, dishwasher, bleach, and many others, found in the air, water and everyday use products penetrate the natural barrier of the skin, the stratum corneum and damage the skin cells and collagen fibres contributing to premature ageing.
Avoid direct contact with cleaning products. Protect your skin with vitamin rich skin care.
6 – Decreased production of Collagen & Elastin
With age the production of collagen fibres and elastin decreases. There are a few things you can do to boost the production of collagen:
- Foods such as blueberry, green leafy vegetables, garlic, avocado, eggs, carrots are rich in vitamins and amino acids that boost and support the formation of collagen.
- Radio frequency treatments heat the deep layers of the skin and contract the collagen fibres, they also increase circulation and lymphatic drainage which in turn help produce healthier cells and boost the production of collagen.
- Photo Rejuvenation treatments heat the water and proteins in the skin stimulating the formation of new, healthy collagen.
7 – Decreased production of Hyaluronic Acid
The key feature of a youthful skin is its water content. Hyaluronic Acid is the medium win which the skin cells and collagen fibres live and have a unique capacity to bind and retain water molecules.
With age the production of hyaluronic acid decreases, hence the skin becomes dryer and loses its capacity to moisturise itself.
You can increase the production of hyaluronic acid by increasing your intake of hyaluronic acid rich foods such as soybeans, red wine, sweet potatoes, and fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and magnesium.
Use of a good cosmeceutical skin care rich in vitamin C and A
8 – Repeated muscle contractions
Frequent frowning, raising our eyebrows, puckering of the lips, squinting your eyes, and other facial expressions, over time, will cause lines and wrinkles. Avoid things like smoking, drinking from a water bottle (instead poor the water in a cup whenever possible), and frowning.
Botox injections can help by decreasing the strength of the facial muscles and allowing the skin in the affected areas to recuperate. Skin serums rich in peptides can also have the same effect.
9 – Alcohol and Skin Ageing
Drinking alcohol dehydrates the skin cells. Alcohol removes all the moisture from the skin increasing flaking of the skin and wrinkles. It also causes inflammation and redness of the skin.
10 – Not enough vitamins
Vitamin A, C and E are great at protecting the skin from free radicals and helping the skin cells regenerate. Vitamin A is also the only vitamin capable of repairing damaged DNA. When the skin is exposed to the sun the vitamins get totally depleted in a few minutes and it takes 7 days to replenish them from the food supply. However, it only takes 3 hours to replenish when applied topically on the skin.
A moisturiser rich in vitamins will help reverse the effect of the sun.
11 – Slowing of the healing processes
With age cell turnover and healing slows down. Treatments such as skin needling, radiofrequency, Photo rejuvenation, and light therapy stimulate the body’s healing mechanism, increasing the repair of damaged collagen and DNA.
12 – Poor circulation
Good circulation is important for healthy skin cells. A good circulation means better nourishment for the cells as well as the quick disposal of waste and toxins. When the lymphatic drainage is not working properly toxins accumulate and cause damage in the skin and other organs.
There are natural supplements that are great for the circulation such as grape seed extract and other flavonoids.
Radio frequency treatments heat up the deep layers of the skin increasing circulation and lymphatic drainage.
13 – Inflammation
Chronic inflammation can accelerate skin ageing. Inflammation is an essential part of the body’s healing process. It manifests a redness, swelling, and a sensation of heat when the immune system fights bacteria and regenerates damaged tissue. Normally once the infection is over and the tissue has been repaired, the inflammation disappears. However, sometimes the immune system overreacts and the inflammation persists.
Inflammation can cause fine lines, blotchiness, wrinkles and flaking of the skin. To prevent chronic inflammation eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and veggies as well as omega 3 fatty acids.
Vitamin supplements will also help fight free radicals that can cause inflammation. Topical skin care high in vitamins also have anti-inflammatory properties.
14 – Lack of exercise
Exercise can make your skin look and stay healthy. Research has shown that it helps reverse skin ageing by diminishing wrinkles, laxity and dullness.
Aerobic exercises increase circulation and oxygenation to the skin, this in turn helps nourish the skin cells and increases collagen production.
Better blood circulation draws toxins out of the skin. Sweating also helps unclogging the pores and drawing out any dirt, oil and toxins that were accumulated inside. This effect can improve acne and problematic skin.
Exercise also relieves stress and helps you sleep better. Stress reduction helps reduce cortisol levels in the blood. Too much cortisol causes acne and breaks down the collagen in the skin. Also with a good sleep the skin has more time to repair itself.
15 – Rough treatment of the skin
Physical actions such as:
- rubbing your skin with the towel instead of pat drying
- rubbing your eyes with your hands
- using too much makeup that is not mineral
- not removing the makeup when you go to sleep
- scrubbing your skin too often
- using harsh chemicals and alcohol
- frequent dermabrasion treatments
Will also cause wrinkles and premature ageing over time.
16 – Washing your skin improperly
Washing too often, scrubbing too much, using the wrong products can help age your skin.
Wash only twice a day, morning and night with a cleansing lotion, don’t use soap. Soap will strip all the natural oils of the skin and dry it.
Exfoliate only once a week. Chemical exfoliation with Alpha or Beta Hydroxy Acids is better that a mechanical exfoliation with a scrub that has microbeads, crushed kernels or any other physical abrasive. Chemical exfoliation is more thorough and even, with less risk of overdoing.
17 – Using the wrong skin products
There are many toxic and harsh chemicals that are being used in cosmetics and skin products.
Chemicals such as Parabens, Fragrance, colours, Phthalates, Triclosan, Sodium Lauryl sulphate, Formaldehyde, PABAs, Propylene glycol, and Toluene, can cause cellular damage, cancer, immune system toxicity, disrupt the endocrine system, and irritate and dry the skin.
All these translates to cellular DNA damage, collagen breakdown and premature ageing.
18 – Decrease in the skin’s oil production
As you age, sebaceous glands reduce the production of oil. In women this occurs gradually after menopause, in men at around 80 years of age. Oil lubricates the top layers of the skin and help maintain hydration. With less oil the skin becomes drier and tends to scale and itch.
Moisturising twice a day with a good cosmeceutical product will counteract this natural progression.
19 – Allergies
Skin disorders such as contact dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis causes inflammation of the skin and leads to premature ageing. Certain foods can also cause allergies that affect the skin.
Whenever possible treat skin conditions with natural products. Finding and eliminating external agents that trigger the immune reaction is the first step. Keeping the skin hydrated and well nourished also helps to decrease and eliminate the condition. Vitamin rich oils such as Environ A, C, and E Body Oil, are great for treating eczema and dermatitis.
20 – Indoor heating and weather changes
The temperature as well as the humidity in the air highly affect our skin.
Dry weather will make your skin dry and flaky accumulating dead skin cells. You may need to use a humidifier, use facial mist, moisturise more often and exfoliate. Indoor heating in winter and air conditioner in summer have the same effect and will dry your skin.
Humid environments with low sun are ideal for the skin because your skin will keep hydrated and supple.
Hot weather will also make your skin more oily, remove the excess oil with a blotting paper or tissue.
Climate changes can also cause eczemas and dermatitis and exacerbate other skin conditions.