Spoiler alert – sun protection is a huge factor!
Can’t wait for the summer sun? We can’t either. But don’t overdo it or your skin will feel – and show – the effects!
Just in time for beach season, here’s the lowdown on why your skin ages, what effects the sun can have and how to keep your skin happy.
Skin, aging and the sun
The largest organ in the human body, skin is comprised of a complex network of tissues, cells and proteins. Aging of the skin is a natural process affected by genetic factors, diet, environment and lifestyle choices. Normal aging leads to thinning of the skin, diminished elasticity, reduced ability to repair itself and decreased performance of essential functions like vitamin D conversion.
Photoaging is premature aging of the skin due to chronic exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. Changes include fine lines and deeper wrinkles, pigmentation, a rough, leathery texture and loss of elasticity. Photoaged skin has a higher tendency toward the formation of small facial blood vessels and classic brown age spots. Repeated sun exposure results in reduced collagen production and restoration, as well as mitochondrial damage.
How your skin changes as you age
Aging isn’t very evident, even with all the late nights, smoking, alcohol and sun exposure. Mid-20s is when collagen production starts to decline. Sunspots are an early sign of the aging process.
Fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear along the forehead and around eyes as collagen and elastin production decreases. Sun damage from exposure in your teens and 20s starts to emerge in the form of brown spots and uneven skin tone. Skin can become drier and less smooth.
More prominent lines and wrinkles appear and maturing skin starts to show areas of deflation in the cheeks. Hormonal changes in both men and women cause the skin to appear dull and uneven. Perimenopausal changes often result in drier skin and loss of elasticity.
A significant decline in collagen occurs, evidenced by the sunken appearance of your eyes, cheeks, temples and chin region. Loss of fat and bone recession in supportive facial structures further contribute to the appearance of wrinkles. Skin may start to develop benign and pre-cancerous tumours. Menopausal dryness often exhibits as itchiness.
Skin starts to thin and take on a drier appearance. There’s more fat loss and depth to wrinkles. “Bags” under the eyes and deeper nasolabial folds (the lines at the outer corners of the nose down to the mouth) are more noticeable.
Your 70s & 80s:
Skin continues to thin, resulting in increased fragility. Decrease in subdermal fat and further bone changes (e.g. tooth loss or gum recession) continue to contribute to wrinkling and sagging. Bleeding into the space between the dermis and epidermis occurs more frequently, causing purple, bruise-like appearances, particularly in the arms and legs.
Tips to keep your skin looking youthful
1. Sleep, eat and drink (water!) Keeping hydrated helps plump up your skin cells. Avoiding smoking, excessive alcohol and excessive caffeine intake can also support skin health and hydration. Ensure you get enough sleep – a restful seven or eight hours is great – but sleep lying on your back to avoid creases in your face and the breakdown of fat that occurs with constant pressure in one position. Finally, an antioxidant-rich diet can be beneficial at the cellular level. Speak to your Copeman dietitian for a list of foods high in antioxidants.
2. Stay active Regular exercise aids in circulation of blood and maintenance of healthy, glowing skin.
3. Slap on the sunscreen Liberal and frequent application of sunblock (SPF 30 or higher) can prevent harmful UV rays year-round (even on cloudy days). Avoid long periods outdoors during peak UV exposure times between 10 am and 4 pm, or wear a hat and long sleeves.
4. Say no to tanning beds Self-tanning beds release harmful UV radiation and increase your risk of melanoma by 75 per cent – especially if you’re using them before the age of 35.
5. Talk to your doc Topical administration of retinoids appears to reverse many age-related changes in sun-protected skin (such as the inner thigh) and has partial benefit in photodamaged skin. Numerous cosmeceuticals on the market have anti-aging benefits, such as those containing antioxidants like vitamin C. Your Copeman physician will let you know which options are available.
Important! If you think you may have pre-cancerous spots on your body, your health practitioner can discuss treatments such as liquid nitrogen or new anti-neoplastic creams. And if you have concerns about irregular moles or other skin issues, make sure to have them looked at.
Go ahead and have fun in the sun, but be smart about it. To find out more about skin health, get in touch with your Copeman Healthcare team today.