As we age, our bodies begin to change with us. One of the primary ways that we show signs of age is the appearance our skin.
Throughout our lives, as our largest organ, our skin protects us from harm. However, over a lifetime, damage from the sun, poor diet, old age, and the environment around us can slowly wear away at our skin.
For some people, this can have a big effect on self confidence, making them feel much older than their age. While we cannot fight the aging process, there are plenty of things that we can do to age more gracefully.
In order to do this, it is important to understand:
I wrote this guide to help you understand each and every one of these key factors, and provide some treatments that will help mediate and prevent some of the signs of aging skin. This will help you restore your youthful looks and confidence.
I. What Causes Skin to Change as We Get Older?
The skin is our force field, our protection from the world around us. Every day, it protects us from things like:
Our skin is in fact our largest organ. As we grow older, it can become damaged from all of the work it must constantly do to protect us.
1. Age - This Really Is Just A Natural Process
As we age, the body reduces its production of a few key elements that keep us looking younger. The most important of these is collagen which is responsible for providing support to the skin and keeping it firm. Once you reach 50 years old, your body only produces half of the college in it once did.
Loss of collagen can result in:
There are collagen supplements you can take to help up your body’s production, however, you should expect a certain amount of collagen loss as you grow older.
Treatments also exist, such as collagen injections, facelifts, liquid facelifts, Botox, dermal fillers, and more. Each of these can be used to help fight the visible signs of aging skin on your face and body.
2. Genetics - How Well Did Your Parents Age?
Most people know that genetics influence things like height, eye color, even personality, but not everyone realizes that genetics also contributes to skin. Your genes impact numerous skin qualities, such as:
While there is not much you can do about how your genes affect your skin, there are still plenty of natural ways that you can improve your diet and lifestyle in order to improve your skin’s feel and appearance.
3. Sun Damage - Wear Sunscreen!
Prolonged exposure to a high rate of UV rays will cause exterior signs of skin damage such as spots, wrinkles, and discoloration. Under the skin, sun damage can result in skin cancer.
Skin damage from the sun can accumulate throughout the course of your life without you even noticing. This can come from a lack of wearing sunblock a few days in a row, to getting multiple sunburns in the same spot over time. People with outdoor jobs, or even jobs as drivers often find that one part of their body which faces the sun more often can show much more severe signs of aging.
In order to prevent sun damage, you might want to consider:
Each of these tips will help you to combat the signs of old age, especially if you start practicing them at a young age.
If you do have skin damage from the sun such as:
It may be worth considering some non-surgical treatments for aging skin, such as:
Each one of these treatments offers a non-surgical way to treat the effects of sun damage on the skin, providing a more youthful look.
4. Stress - Internal to External
Stress is natural and to a limited degree, it can be helpful in motivating us to get out of bed in the morning. But in high doses, stress can be very harmful to the skin. Too much stress can result in:
Sometimes stress can be due to hormonal imbalances as we age. As our bodies, both men and women, produce less hormones which regulate processes in the body.
5. Environment - Location, Occupation, Climate & More
Your environment influences your skins appearance very heavily. Living in a crowded city with high levels of pollution or allergens can cause early skin aging. Extreme climate changes, regular drug or alcohol consumption, and allergens can all contribute to skin problems.
In order to keep your skin looking young as you get older, it is important to be conscious of your environment and how it affects your skin. If you are working in a shop, or dirty workplace, it may be beneficial to exfoliate more often and take care of your skin.
Likewise, if you work outside, you should be sure to moisturize in cold, windy weather, and wear sunblock in the summertime.
II. What Are the Signs of Aging Skin?
So we have learned a bit about what causes skin to age, but what are the different signs of aging skin? What changes can you expect in your skin as you get older?
1. Sagging (Especially in the Face & Neck)
Sagging skin is one of the first signs of old age. As the body reduces the amount of collagen it produces, that natural tight skin from our youth starts to diminish.
This sagging usually shows most in the:
As we age, the nasolabial folds (folds around your mouth) start to deepen causing what are called marionette lines.
As the skin under the jaw and neck begins to sag, it creates jowls and can cause what is called turkey neck, or excess skin flaps that accumulate and sag right beneath the chin.
2. Volume Loss (Less Tissue & Collagen Below Skin)
Similarly, your skin starts to lose volume with age. We all struggle from time to time with this volume loss, resulting in a hollowed appearance around different bones and joints in the body.
Most commonly volume loss leads to:
Some people choose Botox treatments or dermal fillers in order to get a bit of the volume back in their cheeks, brow, jaw, and lips.
3. Lines & Wrinkles (Forehead, Under Eyes & Cheeks)
Sun damage manifests in the form of lines and wrinkles. Sun damage in particular leads to:
As we age, the skin throughout the body changes in similar ways that it does around the face. The skin is frequently dry as it gets older, which can draw more attention to other symptoms of age, like sunspots and age spots or discoloration in the skin.
Blood vessels appear more prominently as the skin gets thinner and thinner, our cells no longer reproduce at their original speed to keep the skin vibrant and repair any damage. Long term, this can lead to benign growths and skin disorders.
III. How Can I Take Care of My Aging Skin?
Because your skin plays such a large role in both your health and appearance, it is important that you do what you can to take care of your aging skin. This includes doing things like:
1. Preventing Signs of Old Age
Too much UV radiation will destroy the collagen and elastin necessary to keep your skin firm. So always wear sunscreen. In addition to protecting your skin from sun damage, avoid smoking.
The 4,000 known toxins in cigarette smoke destroy your collagen and elastin while simultaneously inhibiting blood flow necessary to keep your skin healthy. Staying away from smoke will keep your skin looking much younger as you age.
Some easy things you can do to prevent skin damage are:
Overall, using these helpful tips to look younger will not completely put a stop to the physical signs of aging skin, but it will greatly improve the health of your skin, and keep it looking younger than your age.
2. Maintaining Healthy Skin
When it comes to maintaining healthy skin in old age, it is important that you understand and apply the following tips:
a) Maintain a Healthy Diet - You Are What You Eat
Junk food is not just bad for your gut, it's bad for your skin. Processed foods, alcohol, and refined carbohydrates destroy the good bacteria in your stomach and can cause inflammation of the skin. Adding more foods to your diet that contain vitamins and are natural helps to repair your skin and make it stronger.
b) Get Good Sleep to Reduce Stress Levels
Given the detrimental impact of stress on your skin, make sure you get enough sleep. With adequate sleep, you allow your body enough time to recover from all the stresses of your day. If you don't get between 7 and 8 hours of sleep, you will literally miss your beauty sleep.
c) Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise pumps your blood throughout the face which helps to deliver healing properties to all areas of the skin. It also reduces inflammation which helps to promote smoother skin. Lastly, sweating has actually been shown to emit oils, which help the skin to rejuvenate itself, and stay healthy.
d) Take Care of Your Skin
Make sure to commit to a good skin care regimen which exfoliates your skin regularly to remove the dead skin cells. Exfoliation with a scrub brush can help you to remove any clogs in your pores without drying out your skin.
Another way to combat dry skin is to stay hydrated. Drinking water regularly will flush toxins from your body, and keep your cells hydrated as well, leaving your skin looking healthier and younger.
3. Natural Treatments for Repairing and Rejuvenating Old Skin
When it comes to improving aging skin, you should always look to natural treatments first. Some of the best treatments to help you look younger are:
Antioxidant serums that have vitamins like vitamin C to provide you with extra protection in the fight against wrinkles and sun damage.
Using eye cream helps to reduce Crow's Feet under the eyes. This is one of the first signs of old age in the skin. Unless you have really sensitive eyes, you can use facial creams with retinol in them up to your lower eyelash line.
Use soaps and cleansers with hyaluronic acid, which is a nutrient that your body needs to retain water beneath the lipid layers of your skin. Some of the newer soaps and cleansers actually have ceramides, which release over time and help to ensure your skin stays moist throughout the day.
Look for soap with plant-based oils or gylcerin. If you are prone to oily skin then you should find cleansers with salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide.
Try to use skin creams that contain antioxidants. This will help to prevent free radicals from building up in your body and damaging the cells responsible for keeping your skin healthy and young. You should also make an effort to find creams with niacinamide.
Use skin lightening creams which have kojic acid or licorice extract. This helps to reduce the signs of aging in the skin by affecting melanin production, to give your skin a brighter skin tone. Note that the FDA only allows 2% hydroquinone in over the counter products.
IV. Medical & Cosmetic Treatments for Aging Skin
If you have tried some of these natural treatments, but are not seeing the results you are looking for, you can always consider a number of non-invasive cosmetic treatments for old skin. The results can make you feel years younger, and really gain back confidence you haven’t felt in years.
1. Treatments That Lift & Tighten Sagging Skin
In order to lift and tighten sagging skin, there are non-surgical and surgical options at your disposal.
Non-surgical options include things like:
These procedures are typically quick, and involve injections. When administered by a professional, they can be extremely successful, and have near perfect results.
Surgical options include procedures like:
These procedures focus on making incisions and then removing excess fat, and tissue in order to tighten and lift the skin. Some procedures also include moving of the muscle and tissues in order to make the skin tighter and more contoured.
2. Treatments That Restore Lost Volume
In order to address lost volume in old skin, the non-surgical options you have at your disposal include:
This helps to fill spaces beneath your skin with injectable fluids, in order to create more volume under the skin, creating volume, tightness, and a more youthful appearance.
For restoring lost volume in aging skin, surgical options include:
This is a procedure where fat is transferred from one part of the body to another, in order to replace lost volume.
With each of these procedures you can also opt for restructuring or contouring to a slight degree, changing the face so that it appears rounder or shapelier.
3. Treatments That Repair & Resurface Damaged Skin
In order to treat damaged skin, there are many options you can use individually or in tandem.
Prescription medicines for the skin (topical and oral) can help to stimulate certain production in the body that will help resurface and repair your skin.
Chemical peels offer a more severe form of natural exfoliation to remove damaged top layers of the skin and reveal the beautiful, bright layers underneath. The same is true of treatments like microdermabrasion and dermabrasion.
To target things like age spots and discoloration, intense pulsed light treatment can restore a balance color to the skin. Laser skin resurfacing can achieve similar results.
Botox injections can be used to treat more serious conditions of damage to the skin with simple injections which inhibit muscles from functioning to the degree they do currently, thereby reducing the visibility of things like wrinkles around the mouth, eyes, and forehead.
VI. Is Cosmetic Surgery Best for Your Aging Skin?
Have you tried everything to hide the signs of aging on your face or body, and just can’t seem to make any progress? Or, have you wondered how cosmetic surgery could help you feel more confident about your age?
You're not alone. My name is Dr. Larry Fan, I am a Board Certified Plastic Surgeon, and owner of 77 Plastic Surgery in San Francisco, CA. For 10 years in a row, I have been awarded One of America’s Top Plastic Surgeons.
My passion is helping people look and feel their best, even as we get older and begin to show signs of our age. If you feel that you have done everything to look younger, but still do are not confident in your figure, it may be time to consider your cosmetic options. Everyone deserves to feel amazing about how they look.
This self evaluation will help you take the first step to finding out which treatment or surgery is the right fit for your goals. If you want to learn more about natural ways to keep your skin healthy, no problem, our blog is a great place to learn more. If you have very specific questions, and would like to speak with me directly, simply send me a message for personalized help.