Our skin is as individual as we are, and skin ages differently depending on our genetics and lifestyle, but for most of us general skin aging starts to affect the way our skin looks and feels from around the age of 30. Fine lines usually appear first, followed by wrinkles. Over time we experience a loss of volume and a loss of elasticity. Skin’s firmness and radiance reduces, and wrinkles deepen.
Skin aging is a natural process, and much of it is brought about by factors we cannot control (such as our genetics). There are, however, external factors at play too, and many of these can be influenced positively. Certain lifestyle choices (such as the amount of sun we expose our skin to and our diet) can speed up skin aging and cause skin to age prematurely. Making sensible decisions, and giving skin the protection it needs, can help to keep it looking and feeling younger for longer.
What causes a loss of elasticity and radiance?
Skin changes as we age: fine lines and wrinkles appear first and deepen over time. As we continue to mature skin’s firmness, radiance and, later on, its elasticity all gradually reduce. The loss of elasticity, combined with the appearance of deep wrinkles, is a primary aging concern for women with mature skin.
Loss of firmness, and deep wrinkles
Dermal tissue is strong in young skin and has a plentiful supply of collagen and elastin – together they help to keep skin firm and smooth. As we age, collagen and elastin levels decline (collagen by 1% annually). This disrupts the dermal tissue arrangement, causing skin to lose strength. It feels less firm and wrinkles deepen.
Another key factor behind a loss of firmness and deepening wrinkles is the declining production of Hyaluronic Acid. Produced naturally by young skin, it surrounds cells helping them to bind in water. As we age, production of Hyaluronic Acid slows down, skin becomes drier and loses its full and firm feel.
Loss of radiance
Microcirculation in the dermal layers reduces with age and the delivery of nutrition and oxygen to the skin’s surface becomes less efficient. This leads to a decrease in the rosy glow enjoyed by youthful skin.
What internal and external factors influence skin elasticity?
A loss of firmness and deepening wrinkles are, to some extent, an inevitable part of skin aging. Skin aging is a natural process, much of which is caused by internal factors which we cannot influence. However, there are several external factors which have a major influence on skin aging and many of these can be addressed to prevent skin from aging prematurely:
Our biological age determines the structural changes in skin and the efficiency of cell function, and this slows down with each passing year.
Hormones act as messengers in the skin, stimulating the production of substances such as collagen that give young skin its firm structure and smooth texture. During the menopause, hormonal activity slows down and collagen levels decrease.
Oxidative stress, which causes skin to age prematurely, is accelerated and triggered by a variety of lifestyle factors:
The sun’s UVA and UVB rays affect skin in different ways. UVA rays are most commonly associated with photoaging (premature skin aging caused by the sun) as they contribute to the breakdown of skin components such as Hyaluronic Acid, collagen and elastin that are key to the firmness and elasticity of skin. UVB rays can cause immediate damage such as sunburn and long-term damage such as skin cancer.
Pollution triggers the release of free radicals and accelerates oxidative stress in the skin.
Tobacco smoke is a major source of skin damaging free radicals. Smoking weakens skin and contributes to wrinkles by:
- Impairing skin’s microcirculation system, causing oxygen supplies and nourishment to decrease.
- Damaging collagen and elastin: the fibers that give skin its strength and elasticity.
The food you eat plays an important role in the overall health of your skin.
Lack of sleep
Skin needs sleep to repair and regenerate.
How can I tighten skin and improve elasticity and radiance?
All healthy skin will age, but certain active ingredients – when combined with a holistic approach to your overall wellbeing – have been proven to strengthen skin, improve elasticity, plump deep wrinkles and add radiance.
Skincare products that improve elasticity
Look out for formulas which combine the following ingredients:
Arctiin is a naturally-derived active extracted from the fruit of the Burdock plant. It stimulates the repair of weakened connective tissue in the cell walls. Arctiin also accelerates the collagen renewal process in skin cells which slows dramatically as we age.
Argan Oil (also known as Argania Spinosa kernel oil) is oil expressed from the kernels of the argan tree. It contains up to 80% essential fatty acids (Omega-9 and Omega-6). The body uses fatty acids to produce and repair cell membranes and strengthen skin so it is able to perform its vital function of protecting the body. Argan Oil is also rich in Vitamin E (a powerful anti-oxidant), has anti-inflammatory properties and makes skin smoother and softer.
Hyaluronic Acid is formed by skin cells and is part of the connective tissue of the skin. One of its key functions is to retain moisture, and it has the ability to bind in between 1,000 and 10,000 times its own weight in water (i.e. one gram binds between one and ten liters). As we age, the skin’s natural ability to produce Hyaluronic Acid depletes and wrinkles start to form and deepen.
Milk Thistle Oil
The oil of the Milk Thistle plant (also known as Lady’s Thistle or Silybum Marianium) is a common ingredient in anti-aging skincare. It contains Linoleic acid (an Omega-6 fatty acid) and is known to nourish skin and improve radiance.
Silymarin is extracted from the fruits of the Milk Thistle plant (also known as Lady’s Thistle). It is a powerful antioxidant, protecting collagen and elastin from oxidative stress, and helps to strengthen skin’s microcirculation system at a cellular level.
Vitamin E (also known as Tocopherol) is a powerful anti-oxidant that protects skin against the free radicals that cause oxidative stress and helps to support its natural resilience.
A holistic approach to wellbeing
Healthy lifestyle choices help you to feel in control of the aging process and help your skin to look and feel its best.
Protecting your skin from the sun is the most important step to preventing premature skin aging. Even on cloudy days, the sun’s rays can cause premature skin aging.
A good skincare routine is an essential part of a holistic approach to treating all signs of aging and caring for maturing skin. A skincare routine should consist of three steps: cleanse, care and sun protection. You can read more about a holistic approach to skin health in factors that influence skin and about how to care for your facial skin in a skincare routine for facial skin.
Giving up smoking will help to improve the appearance of skin.
A healthy, balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, will give your body the anti-oxidants and vitamins it needs to limit the damaging effects of free radicals on the skin. Variety is important, but some foods are known to be high in anti-oxidants: leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow fruit and vegetables (e.g. carrots and apricots), blueberries, tomatoes, beans and other pulses, nuts and oily fish (e.g. salmon).
A good night’s sleep gives your skin the time it needs to regenerate and strengthen itself.