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July 04, 2010

What's happening to my skin? - Aging explained

 

We all know that, if we're fortunate, we'll reach old age. And with that, our appearance will change; in particular, that of our skin.

But why? What actually happens when the skin ages? 

Our skin changes constantly from infancy as a result of both internal and external factors. As we mature, we are faced with specific structural and functional changes that occur both within the epidermis (the outer visible layer) and the supportive dermis layer of the skin, as well as changes induced by our surrounding environment and the products we use in our skin care regime.

Biological Factors in Skin Aging

Biological aging is a natural process engendered by hormonal changes and genetic factors.  Broadly speaking, the skin’s natural functions and metabolism decline with age, causing a reduction in circulation and a decrease in the oxygen and nutrient supply to the skin. Over time, skin cells become unable to replenish themselves properly and as a result, the skin gradually loses its natural oils, weakening its protective hydro-lipid film. This translates into a complexion prone to dryness, wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and sensitivity.

Visible aging of the skin commences around the age of 25, with the normal regenerative processes beginning to slow down. The skin replaces old cells more slowly, and turnover of the surface skin cells is less rapid. Wound healing also slows down. After the age of 45, the skin begins to thin – rendering it vulnerable to damage caused by surface-abrasion and increasing its sensitivity to environmental factors and allergens.
With age, collagen and elastin; the two main proteins that contribute to elasticity, texture and tone; become damaged, corresponding to a loss of skin strength and elasticity. At the same time, the moisture-carrying compounds in the skin (proteoglycans and GAGs) naturally decrease and the sebaceous glands responsible for oil-production become more sluggish, further contributing to dryness and a loss of tone and elasticity.

The Role of External and Lifestyle Factors in Skin Aging

As if all that wasn't more than enough, there are a host of external and lifestyle factors that can exacerbate skin aging. Many signs of aging, such as dry skin, roughness, blotchiness, uneven pigmentation, brown spots and wrinkling, are due to factors such as poor diet, prolonged stress, excessive sun exposure, environmental pollutants and poor quality skin care products. The good news, of course, is that these external and lifestyle factors are totally within your control. A reduction in, or elimination of any or all of these factors can decelerate the aging process and protect the health and beauty of your skin. This is also why it's so important to carefully consider what you choose to use on your skin, and how you treat it - polution and airborne toxins, as well as topically applied skin products, are absorbed systemically. This means that a certain proportion of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream. Using skin care that contains toxic or harmful synthetic ingredients is likely to be detrimental to your skin not only on the surface level, but from inside as well - not to mention the multitude of other health risks that can result from various toxic ingredients being absorbed into our bloodstreams.

So - stick to 100% natural skin care and do your best to be kind to your skin, and your body. It's the only one you've got; and like one of my favourite quotes says: "It's home to your incredible soul." :)

Article retrieved & edited from eco-beauty.com - find the original article here.

Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren at 70. Just incredible!!


Eve :)

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