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Slowing Down the Skin Aging Process

Wrinkles, dry skin and age spots are some of the things that make aging physically unattractive. With the desire to maintain a youthful look, it is not surprising that people stress about the visible signs of aging. Unfortunately, aging is an inevitable part of life. While everyone dreams of catching the fountain of youth, reality tells us that nothing can put on hold the physiological aging process.

Though you can’t escape growing old, there are ways to delay experiencing the effects of skin aging. To prevent or slow down the skin aging process, you need to stay on top of your lifestyle, diet and skincare habits.

The Aging Process

There are two processes of skin aging: intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging.

Intrinsic aging is the inevitable process of chronologically physiological change. Your genetic background, declining physiological factors, health status and weakened defense are said to influence intrinsic aging. These intrinsic factors will contribute to the development of visible lines on the face, skin dryness, and skin thinning. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it from happening.

On the other hand, extrinsic aging are caused by external factors like smoking, excessive alcohol intake, poor nutrition, and too much sun exposure. It causes skin dullness, sagging, wrinkles, and overall dull appearance. Given that it is influenced by your habits and lifestyle choices, extrinsic aging can be prevented or slowed down by consistently practicing some preventive measures.

Physical Changes Caused by Skin Aging

Regardless of the cause, skin aging will surely bring out noticeable changes on your skin. As people grow old, skin appearance and texture can change dramatically.

One of the salient features exhibited by skin aging is dry skin. As you age, your skin barrier function degrades and the recovery of damaged barrier function slows down. This causes your skin to experience dryness. Additionally, aged skin exhibits increased transepidermal water loss, which makes your skin more susceptible to developing dryness in low-humidity environment.

Aside from skin dryness, aging can cause other skin problems like wrinkling, roughness, paleness, hyperpigmentations, hypopigmentations, loose skin, fragility, and easy bruising. Likewise, skin aging may cause the development of skin tags, cherry angiomas, seborrheic keratoses, sun spots and sebaceous hyperplasias, among other lesions and skin alterations.

Ways to Slow Down Skin Aging

Maintain a balanced diet

The cliché “Prevention is better than cure” is true even when it comes to working against extrinsic skin aging effects. The best strategy to prevent the harmful effects of free radicals is a well-balanced lifestyle which includes a balanced nutritional diet. Likewise, regular consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals can significantly contribute in achieving young-looking skin.

Exercise

A study conducted by researchers at McMaster University showed that exercise could keep mice’s outer layer from changing with age. The researchers made a separate study to test if exercise can also prevent skin aging on humans. They discovered that, after age 40, participants in the study who exercised frequently had thinner and healthier stratum corneums, as well as thicker dermis layers.

Maintain a skincare regimen that includes sun protection

External aging is influenced by various external factors, but sun exposure is considered to be the most harmful to the skin. In fact, 80% percent of facial aging is said to be due to chronic sun exposure. That’s why it is important to incorporate sun protection in your daily skincare routine, alongside cleansing and moisturization.

To protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun, it is recommended to apply sunscreen daily. Choose broad-spectrum sunscreen products with chemicals such as avobenzone or benzophenone, titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, which protect against both UVA and UVB rays.

Quit or don’t start smoking

Studies suggest that smoking cigarettes is one of the causes of facial aging and wrinkling. The literature shows that people who smoke have higher risk of developing premature facial wrinkling compared to non-smokers. So if you want to delay the appearance of wrinkles on your face, quit smoking or don’t attempt to make it a habit.

Consider antioxidants

There is a theory that free radicals are partly responsible for age-related skin damage. When there are more free radicals generated than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can cause damage to your DNA, fatty tissue, and proteins. The accumulated damages caused by free radicals can result in age-associated functional losses.

Neutralizing these free radicals is the role of antioxidants such as carotenoids, tocophenols, flavonoids, and vitamins (A, C, D and E). These antioxidants, which can be obtained from food, are known for promoting skin health and beauty. There are also several topical skin care products that contain antioxidants including vitamins C and E, co-enzyme Q10, ferulic acid, green tea, idebenone, pycnogenol and silymarin.

Apply topical retinoids

Chemically resembling vitamin A, retinoids are used for the treatment of aging. Among retinoids, tretinoin is the most potent and best-studied. Topical application of tretinoin is said to prevent the degradation of collagen and improve epidermal thickness. Thus, even intrinsically aged skin can also benefit from the topical application of retinoids.

Consider non-invasive laser treatments

Aside from a healthy lifestyle, there are modern treatments that can help maintain your skin’s youthful appearance. Among these are non-invasive laser treatments. Instead of breaking the skin’s surface, a non-invasive laser procedure heats up the skin below the surface to promote new collagen growth and help restore the natural firmness and tone of the skin. While non-invasive lasers work more gradually than ablative lasers, these treatments have lasting results for skin tightening and generally require no downtime. Moreover, there is a low risk of adverse effects when the procedure is performed by a qualified provider.

While you may never find the fountain of youth in this lifetime, you can always do something to keep your skin protected against extrinsic skin aging. A healthy lifestyle coupled with the right skin treatment can help you look forever young.

References
Fighting against Skin Aging
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6047276/

Skin aging and its treatment
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Leslie_Baumann/publication/6599888_Skin_aging_and_its_treatment/links/5a689a0c4585156abd0098cf/Skin-aging-and-its-treatment.pdf?origin=publication_detailhttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Leslie_Baumann/publication/6599888_Skin_aging_and_its_treatment/links/5a689a0c4585156abd0098cf/Skin-aging-and-its-treatment.pdf?origin=publication_detail

Uitto J. Understanding premature skin aging. N Engl J Med 1997;337(20):1463 – 1465.

Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC, William J. Cunliffe Scientific Awards. Characteristics and pathomechanisms of endogenously aged skin. Dermatology. 2007;214(4):352–360. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]

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Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/

Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699641/

The Effect of Smoking on Facial Aging Among Females in Saudi Arabia
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f6f5/0b9da55e6afe4b90c9d40368ee881f4c92a2.pdf

Younger Skin through Exercise
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/younger-skin-through-exercise/

An Expert Opinion by:

Dr Mary Anne Luciano-Amon
Consultant Dermatologist
Makati Medical Center
Makati City, Philippines