Ever notice how quickly a child’s skin repairs itself after it gets a cut or scratch? A child’s skin metabolism is running full force. In just a few days you might not even find a trace of where that injury was. Unfortunately, our skin starts aging as early as in our teens, when environmental factors like sun exposure decreases the skin’s ability to repair itself. This accelerates in our early 20s when cell production begins to slow down, and further slows in our thirties when a decrease of growth hormones means our bodies can’t quickly repair assaults upon the skin.
Our skin is a dramatic indicator of how we age. Subtle changes take place over the years that take us from the young, beautiful, plump, well hydrated skin of a child through the frustrations of teenage problem skin, to the hormonal pigmentation problems of pregnancy, the fine lines of middle age and the deeply etched wrinkles of our later years.
We’re all going to age, but how and when our skin shows the signs of aging is subject to four major factors. Luckily, science is discovering that we do have the power to influence these factors and slow the visible effects of aging.
#1. Genetics is responsible for more than just your blond hair and blue eyes or your olive complexion. The DNA that’s passed on to you also contributes to whether or not you have oily skin or are prone to breakouts, and it sets your biological timeline. Look at your parents for clues as to how your skin is going to age. The good news is that genetics only effects about 20% of how your skin visibly ages. Environmental factors play a much greater role. Given your biological predisposition, you are not destined to live with inherited imperfections. If you understand your skin type you can treat your skin accordingly. There are treatments and products available to influence their development and to minimize them if you so desire. So while skin type is inherited, you can still work to change what you’ve been given.
An example is skin thickness, which is inherited. Those with thinner skin types will benefit from adding a few drops of argon oil (FijiGirl Facial Oil) to their moisturizer to protect this delicate skin type from harsh environmental aggressors. Thicker skin types should focus on creating a balanced exfoliating program that combines retinol, AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids), and a physical scrub (EcoSmooth) to keep their skin soft, smooth and supple.
#2. Hormones have a major impact on the skin at just about every stage of life. When they start surging in adolescence, they can cause acne. Later, some birth control pills can cause breakouts, while others can help clear up your skin. Pregnancy often results in hormone-related hyperpigmentation.
Then, at menopause estrogen levels drop. This means skin becomes thinner and drier. Because estrogen plumps the skin, its decrease causes a loss of elasticity and tone. And, since estrogen is a natural anti-inflammatory, the skin may become more sensitive: more likely to develop rosacea or reactions to products and environmental irritants.
When we speak of hormones, we tend to think of the sex hormones such as estrogen and testosterone, but there are other hormones such as cortisol, which is elevated by stress and can cause breakouts or thinning of the skin (which exacerbates aging). Your esthetician can teach you good diet and lifestyle habits to help you counteract these hormonal changes.
It’s important to match your products and treatments to your hormonal stage of life. Young skin should avoid super active anti-aging products. These products are meant to stimulate skin’s metabolism. Since younger skin’s metabolism is already active these products may cause clogging or breakouts. As skin matures, skin metabolism slows down and needs to be revved up. Ergothioneine and CoQ10 are two examples of effective skin energizing ingredients (REVITALIZE Cell Therapy).
#3. Free radicals are disruptive chemical reactions that occur within the body and in the skin. Free radical damage is one of the main culprits involved in rapid skin aging. Free radicals are highly unstable and reactive molecules that can damage all living cells. The most common way that free radicals are created is as a by-product of the normal burning of fuel (even more so when exercising) that occurs in every cell of the body every day. Your skin is also especially vulnerable to free radical damage from external sources such as ultraviolet light from sun and pollutants that are all around you every day.
There is a certain type of oxygen molecule that causes a chain reaction of free radical damage (called oxidation) to your cells.
The antidote to oxidation is appropriately called “antioxidants.” Antioxidants are associated with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals found in the deep pigment of fresh fruits and vegetables. Generally, the deeper the pigment the more antioxidants it contains. For example, deep green leafy vegetables and rich colored berries contain mega doses of antioxidants. The Free Radical Theory of Aging suggests that free radicals are associated with inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to free radical damage that results in premature aging. Therefore, be gentle with your skin and remember that antioxidants not only help slow aging by diffusing inflammation but they also calm and soothe sensitive skin.
While a healthy diet including plenty of fruits and vegetables helps fight free radical aging, antioxidants can also be applied directly to the skin. Serums based on stabilized Vitamin C (C & E Antioxidant Serum) or super fruits (Sunrise Solution) are a great way to protect and promote cell recovery through topical application.
#4. Lifestyle choices can be a major cause of free-radical damage; from too much sun, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol, sugar consumption and exposure to environmental pollutants. It can also be caused by other environmental challenges, such as intense wind, heat or cold. Chronic stress is also a major factor, causing free radical damage that breaks down the skin and contributes to aging.
The important thing to remember here is that prevention is key. Avoid these aggressors as much as possible. Daily use of a broad-spectrum sunscreen (Advanced Protection SPF 30) is your number one anti-aging product. If you’ve had past sun indiscretions start wearing your daily sun protection today. Science shows you can actually reverse some of that damage when you begin regular daily use of sunscreen.
At Elizabeth Renee Esthetics our master estheticians are specially trained to help you manage skin aging by recognizing the needs of your individual skin type. Wherever you are located, it would be wise to seek out an experienced esthetician for regular facials, which include valuable advice on how to minimize aging. Before you resign yourself to the thought that you’re “just aging” and you can’t do anything about it, consider all that affects what is making your skin look it’s age and start looking “ageless.”