Updated: Dec 2, 2020
When you think of aging skin, what comes to mind? Is it wrinkles, fine lines, or crows feet? Maybe you think of sagging skin, age spots, or dryness. In the western world, culture pressures us to have perfect skin. We are all about quick fixes. We want the fastest solutions, and if we don’t see results right away, we often give up. Harsh products promise to get rid of wrinkles and make us look years younger than we really are. While it is okay to take preventative measures and treat aging skin, we can still accept that aging is part of life. Instead of picking ourselves apart for our appearance, let’s explore ways we can support and take care of our skin as it ages.
Two processes are at work as our skin ages. Intrinsic aging is our skin’s natural aging process. Our genetic composition largely affects how our skin ages. It’s what we cannot control. Our skin type and pigmentation play a role, too. For example, oily skin types tend to wrinkle less. Likewise, fair skin is more prone to sun damage. Additionally, over time our skin produces less collagen, which is a protein responsible for skin elasticity. As a result, our skin loses some of its ability to bounce back to shape, and wrinkles begin to form. The second factor in skin aging is called extrinsic aging, and it’s what we can control. Extrinsic aging is the deterioration of skin due to sun exposure, smoking, too much alcohol consumption, poor diet and exercise, and lack of good skincare routine.
To have beautiful skin on the outside, we must take care of our bodies on the inside. This means eating a healthy diet full of whole, unprocessed foods, vitamins, and antioxidant-rich plants. Antioxidants found in certain foods are very effective in preventing cancerous growths and free radical damage caused by environmental pollutants and UV exposure. You can incorporate antioxidants into your diet by eating colorful fruits and vegetables and eating foods like fish as well as drinking green tea and coffee. Taking a collagen supplement may also help slow down aging skin by reducing wrinkles and dryness. Regular exercise has also been shown to slow down the effects of skin aging and can improve already aging skin. Exercise improves the cellular function of the skin as well as increases the amount of blood flow to the skin – great for total skin health!
Not surprisingly, the number one factor in extrinsic aging is sun exposure. Skin that is constantly exposed to the sun can begin to structurally change. Hyper-pigmentation, fine lines, wrinkles, and loss of elasticity start to show. While some damage is permanent, measures can be taken to prevent further damage. Daily commitment to a good mineral sunscreen or a moisturizer with SPF, rain or shine, will provide protection against free radicals. Additionally, exfoliating on a regular basis (one to two times weekly) will help keep skin smooth and slough off dead skin cells. If you don’t already use a retinol, now is the time to consider introducing this type of product - note that not all skin types can tolerate retinol, but can be very beneficial for those who can. Retinoids or vitamin A based products are known for reducing fine lines and wrinkles by increasing the production of collagen. Look for products containing antioxidants, and consider using richer or creamier products as skin tends to get dryer as we age. Treat yourself to regular facials that incorporate massage or microdermabrasion which will help lift the skin, stimulate collagen production, smooth out fine lines, and decrease hyperpigmentation. Also, pay attention to any new or changing moles on your body, and ask your doctor to take a look if you see anything abnormal. With the right information, we can age gracefully by preventing further damage and properly caring for our skin.
~Amanda Wettstein, Esthetician, Licensed in Microdermabrasion