Studies have shown that aging, and to be more precise, the signs of it, is because of two main things – extrinsic and intrinsic factors. Unfortunately, this means that there are certain factors leading up to aging that are completely out of your control. Fear not, however, there are still things that you can do to beat the aging process, and all it takes is to be smart!
Intrinsic aging is the stuff that you cannot change; the things that you have no control over. That is, of course, unless you consider surgery, but that’s for another time perhaps. Within intrinsic aging, you will find three main sub-categories, and these are:
- Cellular decline
- Hormonal changes
- Genetic factors
Starting with cellular decline, this is the process of aging itself. As you may have guessed, you cannot change the way that your cells decline, and therefore age. After all, aging doesn’t just happen at skin level; it goes much deeper than that – right into the individual cells on your skin. The wrinkles that you wake up and find one day, and the sagging around your eyes; these can be cleverly masked with makeup, or slowed down with various creams and lotions, but the cells that go much farther down than just skin deep are declining, and there is not an awful lot that you can do about that!
Hormonal changes apply mostly to women, of course, and it has been studied in great depth. The results of these studies have shown that women going through the menopause or just after, show aging much more, mainly due to the various hormonal changes that are taking place. The bones become much weaker in structure and therefore lead to increased risks of osteoporosis, lessened amounts of estrogen lead to a sharp decline in skin health, and even collagen production, (the stuff that helps the skin and supports it) is reduced at such a rate that you will literally wake up one day with wrinkles!
Genetic factors, as you may have guessed, are those irritating little factors that lead to aging that you can do pretty much nothing about. If your Mother had wrinkles, there is a good chance that you are going to get them too. Watch how your parents age; if their decline was much slower, you may just be one of the lucky ones that nature allows to grow old gracefully!
Now we come to the things that you can change with aging. These are the little factors that you are possibly already aware of – exposure to the sun, smoking, and pollution from the air around you, and even general wear and tear on your body.
Sun exposure, as we already know, is very bad for your health. The damaging UV rays from the sun triggers a reaction from your body that creates things called “free radicals” – cells that are out of balance; missing an electron, and therefore can damage your body. They will run around looking for electrons to “steal”, and have actually been linked to many of the greatest killers of our time, such as cancers, strokes, and heart disease. These free radicals are very bad for your skin, (despite the fact that your body actually produces them naturally, however, your immune system will normally sort them out in small quantities) because they will “steal” the collagen that is produced, leaving your skin in a deficit.
Scientists believe that most of the aging that happens to your skin is done so by excessive exposure to sunlight; in some cases, up to eighty percent! Unfortunately for the older ladies out there, most of the damage is actually done in the younger years, but this is not to say that you cannot stop exposing yourself to the sun and reaping the benefits later on.
Smoking is something that, of course, will hurt your health massively, especially when you are looking at aging, and the damage it can do to your skin. When you smoke, your skin will lack many of the essential nutrients it needs in order to look and feel good – you are likely to have graying or “lifeless” looking skin, wrinkles at an early age, sagging, grooves, and much more.
Smoking pretty much strangles your skin; you will be starving it of the essential oxygen that it needs, in some cases, as much as 30%! The blood vessels in the skin are constricted, meaning that nutrients won’t be flowing around as they normally would, and on top of this, you are blocking the in-out motion, so waste products cannot be removed. Again, we come back to those free radicals again – smoking increases production of them, which leaves your skin in bad condition.
The bad news is that you don’t even have to smoke in order to suffer the effects of smoking. Passive smoking has been shown to have the same effects on your skin, although not quite as much, as first hand smoking.
Air pollution is not something that you can do an awful lot about, but you can protect your skin from the deadly toxic waste compounds that are floating around you. In the same ways that smoking and sun exposure can damage your skin; air pollution creates free radicals, restricts the in-out motion of the blood and oxygen, and even depletes it of vital nutrients.
There are many things that you can change in order to avoid these extrinsic aging factors – look after your skin so it doesn’t suffer with too much wear and tear, for example. This means dabbing your face dry with a towel rather than rubbing it, taking your makeup off, using products that are kind to the skin, and even just making sure that you are drinking enough water to keep it sufficiently hydrated, especially in hot climates.
What about the Men?
Of course, we cannot talk about aging in women without a quick mention for the men too! Let’s be honest; men tend to age much more gracefully than women do. Without sounding unkind, men have skin that is 25% thicker than women, which means the signs of aging will happen much slower for them. It has also been shown that men have a higher production of collagen than women too. Men actually don’t suffer with as many hormonal changes as we do, so the decrease in collagen and other compounds is lessened – men only have a decline of collagen at a rate of 1% per year!