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Why Does Skin Age?

anti-aging

Source: flickr.com user diongillard

With all the talk about anti aging skin care products, I thought it might be useful to get to know our skin a little better to understand why it ages and how we can prevent and correct the damage.

First, let’s go over the structure of the skin. Our skin is made up of three layers: epidermis, dermis and fat layer (subcutaneous). Each layer has specific responsibilities as it provides protection for the body.

Three Skin Layers

Epidermis: The thin, tough outer layer of the skin made up of cells called keratinocytes. These cells originate in the deepest layer of the epidermis and move upward toward the surface. They are constantly replacing themselves. The epidermis also produces melanin, which filters UV radiation and darkens the skin tone.

Dermis: The layer beneath the epidermis. It’s a thick layer of fibrous and elastic tissue comprised of collagen, elastin and fibrillin. It gives the skin its strength and flexibility. It also contains nerve endings, sweat glands, oil glands, hair follicles and blood vessels, which regulate the body’s temperature and provide nourishment and lubrication.

Fat Layer: Found below the dermis, this layer insulates the body, provides protective padding and stores energy. Fat cells are held together by fibrous tissue and vary in thickness.

Two Types of Aging

Chronological Aging: As we get older, the skin renewal process begins to slow. It usually takes 4 to 6 weeks to shed old cells and replace them with new ones, which results in thinner, drier skin. Thinner skin receives fewer nutrients and has a hard time removing damaged cells (free radicals).

Fewer nutrients also mean slower collagen production, and as gravity adds pressure, the skin produces radicals and enzymes that break down collagen even more. The skin becomes loses flexibility and strength, resulting in skin wrinkles and sagging.

Photo-aging: This type of aging is caused by sun exposure. UV rays contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin through oxidation and enzymes, resulting in wrinkling. UV rays also lead to hyperpigmentation, which is when the skin overproduces melanin to protect itself from burning. This excess melanin manifests itself as brown spots.

Anti-aging Skin Treatments

Most anti-aging products work in three ways: they speed up the skin’s renewal process, they deliver nutrients to the skin and they provide protection from the sun and free radicals.

Exfoliants: Chemical and physical ingredients that assist the skin with shedding dead skin cells. The most popular chemical exfoliant is glycolic acid, which works quickly to dissolve dead skin without causing excessive irritation. One of the most popular glycolic acid-based brands is M.D. Forte.

Nutrients: These can be a variety of ingredients. Some of the most popular are peptides and growth hormones, which have been proven to get down into the dermis layer of the skin and improve collagen production.

Protection: Skin treatments protect in three ways: sunscreen, antioxidants and moisture. Look for all three to keep your skin healthy and younger-looking.

For ideas on a anti-aging skin care regimen see what our online esthetician told this DermStore customer.

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3 Comments

  1. Kay
    Posted October 18, 2009 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    In regards to tanning beds, please be careful. Both my sister and I used them quite a bit in the early 80′s and we both have had problems with skin cancer recently, on our legs, back and my face. I am in my 50′s and she is mid 40′s.
    Both of our dermatolgist’s have told us that it was highly probable due to use of the tanning beds.

  2. Jacqueline Cheney
    Posted October 19, 2009 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Kay,
    Thanks for sharing that info. Yes, tanning beds can definitely contribute to skin damage and skin cancer. Tanning beds use UVA rays to give people a deeper tan without burning. On average, these rays are three times more concentrated than the UVA rays you would get from the sun. Plus, UVA rays are the “aging” rays, which means they cause wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, as well as a breakdown in collagen and elastin. We suggest going for a faux tan instead with self tanners. Some of our favorites are Sun Labs and Mystic Tan.

  3. Loriann Artz
    Posted December 8, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Awesome writing style!

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