Skin Aging 101


Are you tired of looking tired? There are so many factors that affect how skin behaves over time. Genetics and the environment definitely play a major role, and in today's column we will dig deeper to know more about skin aging--when it starts, what causes it, and finally, how we can delay it!

WHEN DOES SKIN BEGIN TO AGE?

Skin aging occurs at different rates among different individuals since each person has a unique genetic makeup, exposed to varying amounts of external factors such as smoking, lifestyle changes, and excessive sun exposure.

Skin starts to age from the moment we are born, but it becomes progressively noticeable when the individual reaches his/her 20s. Pigmentary changes are more prominent in Asians or people with darker skin because they have more pigment (melanin) in the upper layer of their skin. The Asian or darker skin types also has greater capability of melanin synthesis, making it prone to tanning and PIH (Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation). For Caucasians or people with lighter skin types, wrinkles are more predominant.

Other common changes on the skin besides pigmentation and wrinkles include sagging, loss of fullness, skin growth, dilated blood vessels "broken veins," skin fragility, loss of translucency, loss of elasticity, and sallow color.

WHAT CAUSES SKIN AGING?

Skin aging can be classified into two processes: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic aging is influenced by the natural passage of time (chronological), skin phototype (genetics), and hormone production (endocrine). Extrinsic aging, on the other hand, is produced by factors outside the body such as weather, ultraviolet radiation, and lifestyle.

THE FOLLOWING EXTERNAL FACTORS CAUSE THE ACCELERATION OF SKIN AGING:

1. Chronic ultraviolet (UV) light/ Photoaging: These are the invisible rays that come from the sun. UV light produces an enzyme (metalloproteinase) that breaks down collagen, hastening the thinning and wrinkling of the skin and promoting pigment production. This is why cumulative sun exposure is the single major factor in aging skin.

2. Smoking: This produces free radicals (molecules that damage and destroy healthy tissue) and promotes production of proteins that break down collagen (connects skin tissue together and keeps them strong and firm) and elastin (helps keep skin tight and flexible). It also decreases moisture and vitamin A levels in the skin.

3. Years of facial expression on the skin: As an individual uses more of his/her facial muscles, this results into wrinkles that become permanent in time. …

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