10 Sep Skin Aging Through the Years
Your skin, it goes through a lot in life. Sun, Hormonal changes, weight fluctuations, medications, disease, different diets, and stress. All the things that can affect our skin as we grow old. But besides internal and external factors that can affect your skin, the skin itself changes on it own as the years go by. And understanding how the skin can change with age is a great starting point to learning how to care for it.
First off I’d like to point out that great skin comes with ongoing care and prevention. Very much like staying active and eating healthy. Just like the rest of your body, you skin is a living thing that takes a little love and attention. It is not going to “bounce back” if ignored for years, to what it could have been if you started healthy habits in the first place. Very similar to the way teeth don’t “bounce back” from being ignored for years. Its not a good practice with almost anything in life to wait until something is a problem before treating it. Just as you would maintain your car before it breaks down and costs you thousands of dollars.
So where and when to start? Sooner than you would think. Skin actually starts to age very early. And so healthy skin habits should start early as well. I still hear the, “Well what if you start strong products now, what will you use when you really get old?” Your will be taking care of the skin in a similar way as you get older. But you will have far, far less damage to repair. Would you wait for skin damage or disease to appear, or intervene to prevent it from happening?
The Prime Years (age 1 until pre puberty)
There is a reason people are always wanting that “baby soft” looking skin. That because it is the best our skin will ever be. Pore-less, sun damage free, plump, a baby or child’s skin is pretty free from any flaw or damage. There is no chronic inflammation to cause aging and sensitized skin. Skin has yet to acquire accumulated sun damage. Cell turnover, the time it takes for cells to mature and reach the surface of the skin, takes 2-4 weeks. This means skin heals fast, looks smooth, and has that healthy glow. Dryness is not an issue as the skin’s ability to retain hydration is unburdened.
The biggest thing to concentrate on at this stage is a healthy habit of using SPF protection and starting to introduce gentle PH balanced cleansers and oil free hydrators.
The Start of Aging (puberty to 30 years)
Yes it is shocking, aging starts at puberty. And the reason? Oil production. This increase of oil causes the dreaded teenage acne, but also increases general inflammation and pigment issues.
Acne is caused by a build up of oil and dead skin cells leading to clogged pores, white heads and blackheads. The bacteria Propionibacterium acnes that occurs naturally in the skin, accumulates in the plugged pores, and causes inflammation. This will cause the formation of cysts and pustules, and eventually acne scarring.
And no, acne is not just a teenage problem. Adult acne is very much a problem for many people, and likely is a response to stress, hormonal fluctuations, or simply your skin’s response to an increase in oil production or the bacteria that can cause acne. Take control of the Acne now versus waiting for your skin to grow out of it. A little investment in medical skincare, medical aesthetic treatments, and a talk with your doctor about prescription options, will save you thousands of dollars in scar treatment down the road.
In your 20s is when you will start to see a loss of that fullness or baby fat. Skin will start to take on more of a defined and oval shape. You will also start to see a build up of pigment from all that past sun exposure. This is the age in which you will likely start to see sun damage leaving its mark on your skin. Any freckles you where not born with, yup that’s sun damage. Get serious about sun protection. The more you avoid the sun now, the less aging you will see in your skin latter on. Most of the damage we see as skin professionals is from sun exposure. Even if you do not experience a burn, UVA, Infrared and Blue light from your computer can cause deeper damage leading to wrinkles, larger pore size and laxity. Prevent damage with full spectrum SPF products, reapply your SPF often and simply try to keep that beautiful face shaded.
You will also start to see the formation of expression lines. These are lines that occur from muscle movement happening over and over. This will start to appear as a crease in the skin, most usually showing up in the brow or forehead area. This is why I love my “ahead of the problem” clients that start treating lines with preventative botox. Less muscle movement, less creasing development.
Inactive Skin Phase (30s to 40s)
“Inactive”, aggressive sounding isn’t it. This is what Dr. Obagi, the creator of our beloved ZO Skin Health, calls this stage of aging, and it has always stuck with me. This is the age to get serious about your skin care. Skin can be weakened, slow to heal, textured, pigmented and have a harder time staying hydrated.
Cell Turnover will also slow down, now taking six plus weeks. This can create at dull appearance, as well as a slow healing response. The easiest way to increase cell turnover and brighten skin is with exfoliating daily and introducing cell stimulating ingredients such as peptides, growth factors and of course retinol.
Skin is likely to have more defined expression lines at this age. In addition to creases in the forehead, you will likely start to see lines between the brows and around the eyes. Botox becomes an even more enticing option to soften current lines, and prevent them from getting deeper.
Depending on the individual, some may start to see laxity and fatty tissue movement in the skin. In order to see that lift, filler can be placed strategically to fill or lift up areas that have started to look lax or hollow.
Sun damage may appear more prominent if not addressed earlier, and may start to also affect skin texture. In addition to regular sun damage, you may want to look out for Melasma. This is a type of hormonal pigment, that looks more like dark patches on the cheeks, forehead or above the upper lip. This stubborn skin condition can develop because of hormonal fluctuations, medication, or pregnancy, and can get darker with heat and sun exposure.
The Golden Years (50s and up)
In your 50s your sun habits will become more noticeable. If you have been careful with sun protection, you will look much younger than your peers, I promise. If not, you may see darker larger spots, a permanent red/brown coloring, deeper lines, as well as a breakdown of the structures of the skin including collagen and elastin.
You may begin to see more drooping or laxity in the skin, visible around the jowels, nasal labial folds and neck. This is the prime time to start getting more serious about skin tightening and resurfacing treatments. Filler can be used to create a slight lift to the skin, and fill in areas of lost fatty tissue, resulting in a younger more rested look.
Skin may start to look less dense, becoming more translucent with visible veins. These weakened veins can appear on the legs and arms as well as on the face. Rosacea if not treated earlier in life, will cause the skin to look significantly red, and consistently flushed. If visible veins are becoming troublesome, they can be treated with a range of treatments including laser.
Collagen production goes through a huge decline, up to 30% in the first five years of menopause. This decrease leaves skin thinner and less firm. Don’t fret, as so many medical aesthetic treatment can be use to boost collagen, as well as taking collagen internally.
Dryness becomes more of an issue as skin’s natural barrier function begins to decrease. It is important at this stage to not just apply a heavy moisturizer to try to fix the problem, but choose medical strength products that rebuild the skin’s ability to hold onto hydration from within.
No matter your age you can always find a way to feel more confident in the skin you have. Being knowledgable about what your skin needs, and being proactive can be a powerful tool. Learn to respect the aging process, but take control of your skin health along the way.