And what we can do to slow it down
Let’s face it, aging is inevitable. When we start to see lines around our eyes, or our cheeks that slowly sag, we wonder, where has time gone? Can we erase those years to look young again? Well, while we can’t erase years, at least we can erase lines. Let’s find out how skin ages and what we can do to slow it down.
Ever wondered why some look older than their age while others look way younger than they should? This is because aging is influenced by several factors. It could be intrinsic or inherent, caused by the body’s natural degenerative process or deterioration that is also determined by genetics and hormonal changes over time. It is also affected by the body’s exposure to oxidative stress, glycation, and inflammation. Oxidative stress is when there is an uneven amount of free radicals versus antioxidants that can damage the cells, affecting the body and the skin. Glycation is the body’s natural process where sugar molecules bind with fat and protein molecules to form Advanced Glycation End-products (or AGEs). As our body starts to slow down when we get older, more AGEs are produced over time, which is why it can increase free radicals and cause sagging, lines, and wrinkles. Inflammation is the body’s way of responding to harmful things to the body. On the skin, too much inflammation could result to skin diseases and poor skin health that can accelerate the aging process.
If intrinsic aging tells us that we can’t stop aging, extrinsic aging tells us that we can slow it down. Aging could also be extrinsic or affected by external factors such as sun exposure, pollution, or lifestyle. UV exposure and its effect on the skin varies, depending on one’s skin color and how long and often the exposure is. Lifestyle factors, on the other hand, depend on nutrition, sleep quality, stress, smoking, and alcohol. Over time, if these external factors are not lessened or managed, it can accumulate free radicals, causing oxidative stress and inflammation, and lead to skin damage and deterioration, resulting in premature aging.
The good news is, you can still save your skin from aging too quickly with a combination of treatments that your dermatologist may recommend.
• Sunscreen. While sun exposure seems to be a major culprit in skin aging, it is not as bad as long as exposure is limited to 15-20 minutes a day just to get your vitamin D. Always apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF 30 with PA) every three to four hours, whether indoors or outdoors, to maximize sun protection.
• Topical applications. There are a wide range of topical products that you can add to your routine to repair or minimize skin damage. Look for antioxidant-rich skin care products that contain vitamins such as vitamin A or retinol, vitamin B3 or niacinamide, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
• Lifestyle change. Obesity, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle can contribute to more AGEs and lead to excess inflammation. Always aim to sleep earlier, minimize alcohol intake, add physical activity, eat a well-balanced meal, and minimize stress as much as you can. All these may not have an immediate effect but it definitely adds up and can wreak havoc in your health and your skin sooner than later.
• Non-invasive treatments. Lasers, radiofrequency therapy, and ultrasound technology are non-invasive treatments (no cutting or incision) that utilize different energies to help in skin hydration, healing, and rejuvenation. These may require several sessions to achieve desired results.
• Minimally invasive treatments. Botulinum injections and fillers involve making small incisions into the skin. These may cause a bit of discomfort, but the results are almost immediate as they can instantly lift and contour the skin. They can also reduce the appearance of wrinkles, instantly add volume in areas, and help improve skin texture and laxity.
If intrinsic aging tells us that we can’t stop aging, extrinsic aging tells us that we can slow it down.
• Invasive treatments. A surgical face lift is an example of an invasive treatment that require larger incisions into the skin. This, however, may not be for everybody as there is significant downtime and other factors to be considered. Plus, more individuals are now choosing non-invasive and minimally-invasive treatments that are safer yet also offer favorable results.
Intrinsic and extrinsic aging dictates how soon we start to notice the signs of aging, how fast these signs develop, and how extreme these signs appear to be. Since extrinsic aging would depend on how we take care of our bodies and our skin, it is up to us to age slowly, gradually, and beautifully. Who says you can’t age well, right?