Skin aging is divided into two categories – intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic aging comprises age-related changes that are not under your control, like genetic factors. Extrinsic aging includes factors that you actually can control, like exposure to sun. Here is a brief but very beneficial overview of these factors that will give you important clues to what you can do today to keep your skin young longer.
Key Factors of Intrinsic Aging
Your genetic factors dictate the rate at which your aging process progresses. Paying attention to how your parents’ skin was aging can be very useful. If one or both of your parents had youthful skin well into the old age, chances are you could inherit same characteristics.
The most dramatic changes in woman’s appearance take place around menopause years, when estrogen drop causes considerable loss of collagen, which is an important protein that makes up most of the skin’s supportive structure. As a result, wrinkles appear and skin hangs loosely. (For tips on how to stimulate collagen production see Tips for Collagen Stimulation.)
The process of aging originates on microscopic level, i.e. on level of each individual cell. When the numerous functions on the cellular level are impaired, the cell cannot perform the metabolic and regenerating activities that promote health of the skin. This results in such visible signs of aging as wrinkles, skin sagging and furrows.
Key Factors of Extrinsic Aging
Fortunately the factors that have the biggest impact on your skin aging are extrinsic, i.e. you can control them to enhance the look of your skin and keep it young for longer.
There is no single factor of premature skin aging that has greater influence than sunlight. According to estimation of researchers, damage caused by ultraviolet rays of the sun is responsible for up to 80 percent of skin aging.
The main reason why the sunlight is so harmful to the skin is that it triggers free radicals production in the skin. Free radical is an atom or molecule that bears an unpaired electron and is extremely reactive, capable of engaging in rapid chain reactions that destabilize other molecules and generate many more free radicals.
Excess of free radicals is related to increased risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer and stroke. When produced in skin, free radicals attack its collagen. As a result, skin loses its resilience and develops wrinkles.
Most of the sun damage happens in early part of our lives, when our cheeks are still glowing with freshness of youth, but the results do not appear until we are in late thirties or forties.
“Smoker’s face” is a term used by doctors to describe the characteristic changes that happen to the faces of many people who smoke. The general appearance is of accelerated aging of the face, with a characteristic pattern of facial wrinkling and sallow coloration.
Smoking decreases the flow of oxygen to the skin by as much as 30 percent. Fine blood vessels in the dermis of the skin constrict, which cuts off the supply of nutrients that are necessary for constant self-regeneration of the skin and removal of waste products. As a result skin begins to look gray and dull.
Smoking also triggers the production of free radicals in the body. Besides upsetting balance of bodily tissues and organs, the free radicals attack collagen of the skin making it lose its elasticity and resilience.
Similarly to cigarette smoke, air pollutants restrict the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the skin and trigger excess free radical production. It is important to note, however, that free radicals are a byproduct of normal metabolic activity and are always present in the body. When they are present within the healthy norms they are neutralized by built-in mechanisms of the body before wrecking havoc in your bodily tissues. The real problem begins when such external factors like sunlight, cigarette smoke and pollution cause them to increase to the levels that your body is incapable to neutralize.
Wear and Tear
Wear and tear is also a factor of skin aging. These are expression lines that appear on your face when you smile or frown. Over time this leaves permanent stamp on your face due to constant mechanical challenge. It is pretty hard to avoid, but there is still something you can do about it. SeeFacial Exercises – Nonsurgical Facelift for more information.
Such factors like your eating habits, how much sleep you get, the degree of stress to which you are exposed, amount and type of exercise you engage also affect your skin.
Healthy habits slow progression of aging of your whole body as well as your skin. Introducing simple changes in your daily routine has a great potential for improving the condition of your skin.
in Face & Body