What Happens To The Skin As It Ages?
Our skin consists of three layers – the epidermis (the outer layer), the dermis (the complex middle layer) and the hypodermis (which lies beneath the dermis). Inside the dermis is the dermal matrix, which contains collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid. The dermis is what gives the skin with its structural framework and elasticity.
- Collagen is what gives our skin strength and structure, and is constructed of strands of procollagen (fibrils) that twist around each other like a rope.
- Elastin is the protein in the body’s connective tissue that provides our skin with elasticity. Elastin strands form a web-like structure within the dermal matrix, allowing tissues to resume their shape after stretching or contracting.
As skin ages, it appears sagging, less firm and less youthful-looking.
What Causes The Skin To Age?
Skin ageing can be influenced by both, intrinsic factors which occur naturally, such as the passing of time, genetics, metabolic processes and hormones, and extrinsic or environmental aggressors such as UV radiation, smoking, air pollution, diet, stress and sleep deprivation.
Over 80% of premature skin ageing is attributed to extrinsic ageing, with photoageing being identified as the main contributing factor. Photoageing is a result of repeated exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun, which in turn, damages the structure of collagen and elastin fibres due to oxidative stress, causing them to become thinner and more irregular.
Signs of premature ageing can become more evident in certain parts of our body, including our hands, face and neck, where excess exposure to external ageing factors can cause the skin to age faster.