Take a look at your torso or inner arm area and compare the skin you see to the skin on your face & hands. How do you compare the condition of your skin in these two areas? This comparison tells you the difference between what is called intrinsic versus extrinsic aging.
In the area where there has been less sun exposure (extrinsic) you will see the skin condition is significantly better, but this is just small part of a complex picture of why and how our skin ages.
What are some of the characteristic of aged skin?
- presence of wrinkles, sun spots and skin tags
- sagging skin
- dull skin
Aging is a natural phenomena that starts as soon as birth. How fast and how you age is pretty much dictated by your genetic code, but there are other factors that can impact this process. Things like exposure of the skin to environment (sun, wind temperature), life style (sleep, diet, health), and natural movement of skin (frowning, laughing). Managing how we live is truly the only control that we have on how fast we age. The example of chest vs face skin area shows you the impact of sun on your skin. Lack of sleep, bad diet and your overall health also all have a great impact on your skin. It is not possible to seperate the genetic directive for our skin cells from the external factors as they are both happening at the same time.
The key learning here is that well before you see the visible changes to your skin, aging is already happening beneath the skin. At the tissue level (such as the movement of subcutaneous fat deposits) and microscopically, with changes to the biomolecular components of the skin beginning at the most basic level: skin cell DNA.
Here is a diagram again to remind you of our skin structure.
Let's see how our skin changes throughout time. Keep in mind these are broad level changes.
In your 20s your skin is full of life. The epidermis is thick and you are shedding a lot of skin at the cellular level without much help from your skincare routine. This process stimulates new cell production and therefore produces a healthy looking skin. This healthy external skin layer provides fantastic barrier protection and hydration for your skin. Your skin is also producing a healthy level of UV protecting pigments, called melanin, in your epidermis which provides protection for the skin against UV damage.
Deep within your skin the Dermis, which provides skin’s scafolding and nutrition, is operating in an optimal mode. The fibroblast cells, which produce the skin scafolding proteins called collagen and elastin, are present in abundance. They also produce a healthy dose of skin moisturising factors (such as glucosaminoglycans). All this keeps the deep wrinkle formation in check.
This stage in your life is the key turning point where the aging process can be managed to some extent. Someone in their 20s now can proactively maintain a good skincare routine which will determine how their skin will look and behave years later.
Steps that prevent dermal skin cells from oxidative free radical damage are things such as minimising skin tanning, wearing sunscreen, exfoliating on a regular basis, using mild cleansers and using treatments that enhance and boost skin motorisation. Taking all of these steps will help in setting up a good foundation that will serve you years later.
We are now in our 30s;
In our late 20s and early 30s, some facial wrinkles start to form. Expression line wrinkles are very common. Dynamic wrinkles and coarse wrinkles on forehead, crow’s feet around the eyes and laugh lines around the mouth start to appear. Part of this is because the genetic aging which operates on a cellular level is happening in the background. This ultimately results in skin not being able to bounce back after each muscle movement.
Skin starts to thin down. The quality of your scafolding proteins start to change. Sleep, diet and skin maintenance can help these genetic changes. A basic skincare routine at this stage is a must and part of the routine must include exfoliation. Our hormonal changes during our 30s, especially for women during pregnancy, use of oral contraceptives or taking any hormone therapy may contribute to prominent discolouration of the skin such as Melasma. Excessive UV exposure can contribute to uneven skin tone. The cells that produce our UV fighting melanin start to reduce in numbers and each decade of aging can reduce these cells by a factor of 20%.
Moving to our 40s;
At this stage your skin colour and texture has gone through significant changes. A loss of fat layer and a change in muscle tissue brings about a change in your facial shape. Some may experience dropping of the cheeks and jowls. The loss in production of new cells and degradation of the key proteins in the dermis has a serious impact on the skin. As new cells are produced at the base of the epidermis, the outer cells of the stratum corneum slough off and create a fresher outer surface.
The replenishment of the epidermis initiated by new cell production also begins to slow during aging (the cell turnover decreased by 50% between 30s and 80s and new cell transition from the dermis to the epidermis takes longer to get to the top layer.
While the skin is slower to rejuvenate, wounded or damaged skin is even slower to heal. Taking into consideration the reduction of melanin and the decrease in the thickness in older skin, the skin becomes more susceptible to oxidative damage, moisture loss, and broken capillaries.
At this stage it is so important to boost up the cell renewal process by effective and yet controlled exfoliation. Chemical and non-chemical peels, physical scrubs, or dermabrasion and derma planing techniques are all used at this stage to boost the cell renewal process. We think we have the perfect balance with our gentle exfoliator for sensitive skin, our BOA Exfoliant. This exfoliation step should always follow with a healing and soothing treatment. One advantage of the BOA exfoliant is that it is impossible to over-exfoliate with it. Incorporating antioxidants, peptides, healing vitamins, anti-inflammatory masks, and soothing moisturizers into your daily routine is a must.
On a cellular level the number of fibroblasts (the unique dermal cell responsible for producing the scafolding proteins) reduces. The fibroblasts become less productive, leading to a reduction in the biosynthesis of the various skin collagens and the water-binding glycosaminoglycans. While production of elastin does not decrease, it does become irregular, thickening and losing its snap-back properties. The reduction of collagen leads to a weakening of the key molecular scaffold in the skin as the existing collagen matrix, which naturally oxidises and deteriorates, is not replaced.
As the skin is stretched and contracted, the instantaneous folds that appear in the skin become permanent as the skin is weakened by the loss in collagen rigidity and organisation. The less flexible elastin is unable to quickly relax the skin back to its original position.
Permanent folds, such as deep wrinkles, are enhanced by a decrease in dermal hydration directly resulting from a reduction in glycosaminoglycans. Hyaluronic acid and other glycosaminoglycans bind water and are the molecular component of the extracellular matrix. This is why they are so popular in any skin care routine.
The loss of oestrogen hormone because of the onset of menopause accelerates the aging process in women (more so than men).
The hypodermis (sits beneath the dermis) and is primarily made up of fatty tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. It is integral to cushioning the body, regulating body temperature, and binding the dermis to the underlying organs. Special connective tissue composed of collagen and elastin fibers attach the dermis to the hypodermis.
When this fatty tissue starts to reduce it leads to an increase in wrinkles and skin sagging, as well as less cushioning for the small blood vessels. With less protection, the small blood vessels tend to rupture and cause bruises. The impact of bruising is enhanced as the skin thins, becoming less opaque and more translucent.
The real secret to smoother skin at this stage is to simply use products, or take steps, that improve skin texture, tone and softness. There is no need to make your skincare routine any more complex. You only need 4 steps for an effective skincare routine, however it is key to maintain consistency in your routine rather than jumping around trying too many different products. This consistency will have a major impact on the final result - having beautiful skin.
The 4 key steps you need to take are:
Exfoliation helps with:
- minimising the appearance of wrinkles
- clarifying dull, uneven skin tone
- smoothing rough, bumpy skin
- unclogging pores
- increasing hydration
The type of exfoliant is important. We like AHAs and BHAs but we think BOA exfoliant is great on its own or in conjunction with a BHA, like salicylic acid, to help with your blackheads, white heads, some non infectious acne or any other skin bumps which result from clogged pores.
If you are using BOA exfoliant then make sure to do your exfoliation before cleansing (unless you wear heavy make up which means you need to get rid of heavy foundation to allow the BOA exfoliant to do its job). If you are using BHA then apply it after your cleansing and before your treatment. If you are using both, do a BOA exfoliation first, then cleanse and then apply your BHA.
Consistently following these 4 steps can see your skin visibly improve.
Reference, Based on an article by Gul Zone.