Image: Pedro Ribeiro Simões
Aging is a normal process that we all go through. As we advance in age, there will be noticeable changes both in our body and on our skin.
Considered as the largest organ of the body, the skin covers approximately 1.73 square meters of the body. It protects the bones and the flesh and plays a significant role in regulating the body temperature.
Despite its toughness, the skin isn’t free from the damages brought by certain environmental factors and of aging.
Effects of Aging on the Skin
Aging causes the following changes on the skin:
Wrinkles, which may be coarse or fine, are depressions on the skin’s surface. Their depth may vary as well as location. These lines may appear on the forehead, outer corners of the eyes, and on the sides of the mouth.
The appearance of wrinkles are considered normal in the natural aging process. They are the result of the reduction in skin thickness and elasticity. They can also develop as a result of genetic factors, smoking, and unprotected sun exposure.
Skin discoloration, also known as age spots, is another unpleasant effect of aging on the skin. The hyper-pigmentation can develop on the back, on the face, and on the back of the hands. These are benign lesions that often result from accumulated exposure to the harmful UV rays.
Although there are several causes of skin sagging, aging is the most common.
As we age, our skin loses collagen and elasticity. They are the structural proteins produced by the dermis that play an important role in keeping the skin supple, smooth, and elastic. So, when we start to lose them, our skin starts to sag and and loses its youthful, plump look.
Aging also causes the skin to bruise easily. It happens as a result of the thinning of the layers of the skin – the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous layer. The skin becomes more prone to injury as we age because it loses the protection it naturally gets from these layers.
Skin dryness is common as we age. Aside from skin flakes that may detach from the skin, skin may become itchy, and sensitive.
The drying of the skin results from the loss of natural moisturizing oil which can be partly due to hormonal changes. Skin dryness can be exacerbated by changes in the weather. Being in a very cold and windy environment may deplete your skin’s moisture and further cause skin dryness.
Older people have noticeable skin thinness which often appears as almost translucent. Skin thinning is common on older people because aging causes the loss of the fat beneath the skin’s outermost layer. It also happens because of slower skin cell regeneration.
Reducing Effects of Aging on the Skin
We may not be able to prevent aging but there are habits that we can develop to reduce its effects on the skin. Some of these include the following:
1. Wear sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen before heading outdoors especially when the sun’s rays are the strongest (between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.) is one of the most important ways to reduce the effects of aging on the skin. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using broad-spectrum sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor of 30 or higher.
2. Have a healthy lifestyle
Having a healthy lifestyle contributes greatly to the prevention of skin aging. These include avoiding or quitting smoking and having a healthy diet.
Avoiding or Quitting Smoking
Smoking is a contributing factor to skin aging. This is caused by smoking decreasing blood flow to the face, how it changes the elastic fibers of the skin, and how it reduces skin moisture and vitamin A.
The best foods for the skin are those rich in vitamins A, C, and E. Most of these foods can be found in fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, and carrots.
3. Practice facial exercise
Proponents of facial exercise believed that when facial muscles are ‘worked out’ regularly, skin sagging and other effects of aging on the skin can be avoided or reduced. This is because facial muscles are just like other muscles of the body. When you do not move them, they can lose their natural tone.
There are several facial yoga routines that you can try just like this routine for improving the jawline.
Unlike other means for reducing skin aging, facial exercise can be done anytime and anywhere. You can even do it within the comfort of your own home. And the best thing about it, it isn’t invasive.
All of us undergo the process of aging but this doesn’t mean that we should look like a typical aged person. Try the suggestions above and see how they can help keep your skin healthy and young-looking.