We all know that as we get older there are dramatic changes in the way our ageing skin looks. One of the reasons why the skin of a child looks so healthy is that the epidermis is so highly translucent – reflecting light and making it look bright and healthy. More importantly at this age, there should be little or no obvious damage to the dermis from the effects of the sun – although this is the time at which potential damage is done and the effects will become visible within a few years.
Damage starts to appear
As we grow out of childhood our skin naturally ages. During teenage years, hormonal changes account for an increase in the production of sebum. This leads to the development of spots and possible acne. As we continue to age the rate of loss of old skin cells from the stratum corneum slows down. Also, the epidermis becomes less translucent and doesn’t retain moisture as efficiently. In addition, as most people are exposed to UV radiation over the years, the ‘damage’ to the dermis becomes visible through the thin and dry epidermis.
Collagen production slows
Usually from the age of about 29, the amount of collagen and elastin renewal considerably slows down. In women, pregnancy in their 30s or perimenopausal women in their 40s notice significant changes in their skin. Fluctuations in hormones can cause the onset of acne or rosacea, even if they have never suffered with their skin.
More significant for most people are the external factors that cause extrinsic ageing – factors such as smoking and in particular; UV exposure. These changes affect the dermis and result from changes in the chemical structure of the collagen and elastin, and the quality and quantity of proteins and natural acids in the skin. Understanding the changes that occur in the cells and layers of the skin with intrinsic and extrinsic ageing help us to understand why skin looks as it does and how to protect or alter this appearance. With this in mind, it is important to remember that prevention is better than cure and so it is better to start using an anti-aging moisturiser in your early 30s. Ingredients such as AHA’s, glycolics, retinol (vitamin A) or hyaluronic acid will boost collagen and elastin production and never forget sunscreen! Minimum SPF 30.