The Complete Guide to Anti-Aging [Part 1/5] – How Our Skin Ages Over Time

It has been a buzz word for so long now that ‘anti-aging’ has lost some of its meaning, but if you break it down, it tends to be used to mean one of two things:

  1. Something designed to slow the appearance of aging; or
  2. Something to slow the actual process of aging.

In other words, ‘anti-aging’ refers to a product or regimen that will help you look more youthful (and for longer) than you otherwise might have. It is complicated, of course, by the fact that we all age in different ways and at different rates, but in this series of blog posts we are going to take on the idea of ‘anti-aging’ and share what we know about aging and your skin and how that knowledge informs and inspires our skincare products and ingredients.

Vanessa Megan sees ‘anti-aging’ as much deeper than just looking younger; we see it as deep care for your skin that not only slows some of the visible signs of age, but makes your skin more resilient, stronger and healthier, so that it ages more healthfully.

We age whether we like it or not, so we don’t see this as “fighting age,” but rather as a loving, long term investment in feeling and looking the best we can.

Before we can talk ‘anti-aging’ products, it is important to understand the way skin ages and what happens to it as the years pass.

INTRINSIC VS EXTRINSIC AGING

We begin with understanding the structure of healthy skin: healthy skin has a strong outer layer called the epidermis that protects your body from water and damage from the environment. This outer layer will be smooth with an unblemished, even tone and colour - think “baby skin.”

In this healthy skin there are several important components:

  • Collagen, which provides firmness;
  • Elastin, which keeps your skin elastic and bouncy; and
  • Glycosaminoglycans, which keep it hydrated and moist.

There is a certain amount of change that will happen to skin over the years no matter what outside influences you face. This is called “intrinsic aging”. After the age of about 20, the average person will produce about 1% less collagen each year.

This results in skin becoming thinner and more fragile as you age. You will also produce less glycosaminoglycans and elastin and your sweat and oil glands stop functioning as efficiently as they once did. The resulting lack of “bounce” and moisture is why we form wrinkles over time, particularly in areas of the face that get used a lot (smile lines, crinkled eyes, etc).

‘Extrinsic aging’ is slightly different; it occurs on top of intrinsic aging. This sort of aging is the result of environmental damage to your skin- things like the sun, exposure to pollution, smoking and a lack of nutrition or hydration. This aging manifests as a thickening of the epidermis, lesions, skin cancers, freckles, sun spots and an even greater loss of collagen, elastic and glycosaminoglycans than would normally occur with intrinsic aging. Generally, it means that the skin will look uneven, patchy and may have either deep wrinkles or a thin crêpe-like appearance.

THINGS THAT CAN S-L-O-W AGING

The good news is that we can do something about both types of aging. It is important to keep both in mind because as with any health concern, prevention is far, far more effective than trying undo damage.

Sun protection is your first and most important port of call – it cannot be overstated how critical sun protection is to the prevention of skin problems and the maintenance of healthy skin. A close second is consuming the healthiest diet you can manage, including LOTS of hydration.

On top of these things though, you can build the strength and resilience of your skin with regular use of high-quality skincare. Not only will these products look after your skin, they will help your skin look after itself. But not all skincare is created equal – there are plenty of products that will do absolutely nothing or may even cause more environmental damage.

This is where it becomes crucial to read your ingredients listings. It is important to look for active, natural (and organic if at all possible) ingredients targeted towards replacing and stimulating collagen, strengthening, hydrating and protecting the epidermis and encouraging your skin to heal itself more effectively.

Aging is natural. Working hard to slow it down can be, too, and if you understand how your skin ages and changes, it is entirely possible to support your skin to be the healthiest and strongest it can be, no matter your age.

Up next in our Anti-Aging series: Anti-Aging Skincare that Actually Works!