The signs of aging on our skin are unmistakable: wrinkles, fine lines, dryness, dark spots, sagging, and a dull-looking complexion. When they start to appear, it can shake our confidence and hurt our self-esteem. We will all experience some or all of these visible signs of aging on our faces and bodies sometime in our lives.
But do you ever wonder why these changes happen?
Underneath the surface, our skin cells undergo slow and steady changes in their capacity to function as time creeps forward. While we can’t completely avoid these changes, knowing why we develop them sets the foundation for slowing or minimizing their appearance.
In this blog post, we’ll look at what’s actually happening in our skin to cause the signs of aging to appear. You’ll learn five primary causes of aging skin that have the most significant effect. Then we’ll cover all the things you can do to naturally combat these processes that lead to the visible evidence of age.
1. Collagen and Elastin Production Declines
One of the most notable changes our skin undergoes is the slowing down of collagen and elastin production. Collagen, which our cells make from amino acids, is the primary structural protein that gives skin its firmness. Elastin is responsible for our skin’s ability to bounce back after being stretched. As we age, our cells become less efficient at making these proteins. Without as much structural support, we end up with saggy skin and wrinkles.
Collagen has become a hot topic in health and skin care lately because we know much more about its role in our bodies. We also know more ways than ever to increase collagen in our skin and improve our skin’s appearance. Here are a few things you can do to fire up your collagen-making mechanism.
The number one way to keep your skin happily churning out collagen is to eat a healthy diet containing the proper nutrients. What are the right nutrients? For starters, high-quality meat, fish and eggs are excellent sources of collagen. You can also get collagen from bone broth and gelatin.
However, if you’re vegan, plant-based foods can help boost your collagen production. For example, non-meat protein sources, such as legumes, nuts, seeds and soy, provide many amino acids needed to make collagen.
Also, a diet high in fruits and vegetables can supply your body with loads of vitamin C, zinc and copper, vital nutrients supporting your collagen-making capacity. Add in some leafy greens for their chlorophyll to get even more support!
Some scientific evidence supports that supplementing with collagen will help your skin stay young. However, supplements containing collagen are sourced from animals. So if you don’t eat meat, you won’t want to take these. You can take vegan collagen-boosting supplements, though, as these products will contain just the nutrients your body needs to produce collagen and elastin.
Protect Your Skin
Another way you can preserve your collagen is by avoiding unhealthy habits that lead to losing it too quickly. One way to do this is by staying out of the sun or wearing a full spectrum, mineral-based sunscreen when you're in the sun.
Sleep is another crucial element to maintaining collagen in your skin since our skin does most of its regenerating overnight. So, if sleep is a challenge, try to find out how to correct it and ensure you’re getting enough sleep.
Also, taking steps to prevent or reduce stress will keep cortisol levels from escalating, preventing damage to your skin and inflammation caused by this fight-or-flight hormone.
2. Circulation Is Reduced
The cells in our body become less efficient at circulating blood as we age. Because of this, oxygen and other nutrients our skin needs to fully function at its best don’t get delivered as quickly or easily. This contributes to wrinkles, saggy skin, and a dull complexion. So how can we make up for this?
One way is to try different methods of mechanically stimulating your skin to increase circulation. Exfoliating a couple of times a week for your face and body can help keep the blood flowing.
You can also try massaging your face through a variety of methods. Handheld tools for massaging your face, like face rollers and gua sha, have become quite popular recently for improving your skin tone. But you can also perform facial massage the old-fashioned way with your hands!
Another option for improving blood flow to your face and your body is dry brushing. Dry brushing is an ancient ritual that’s made a comeback lately. The technique has been performed by many cultures to improve the overall health of the skin. Improved blood circulation is one of the many claimed benefits of this self-care practice.
3. Free Radical Damage
Much of the skin damage we experience comes from our internal and external environment. Free radicals are unstable molecules formed internally by the metabolism of what we consume and externally by outside stressors. These free radicals are the scavengers of our skin, going around stealing electrons from healthy cells and leaving them damaged and depleted. Our bodies can manage a certain amount of this damage, but eventually, we can’t keep up.
The best ways to deal with this type of damage are to prevent free radicals from forming in the first place and to arm ourselves with antioxidants to fight off the damage. So how do we do this?
To help prevent free radicals from forming, we must protect our skin from the outside elements as best as we can. The sun is the most damaging element we encounter, so wearing sunscreen or avoiding it altogether when possible will go a long way. Pollution is another major source of free radical formation, so it is helpful if you can avoid toxins in the air.
Also, sticking to a healthy diet will reduce the number of free radicals formed in our bodies. We can also use a healthy diet to increase the number of antioxidants we have available to fend off oxidative damage after it happens.
The most powerful antioxidants are vitamins C and E, carotenoids (like beta carotene and lycopene), and polyphenols (like quercetin and resveratrol). To maximize antioxidants in your diet, be sure to include plenty of fruits and vegetables that are a variety of different colors. You can also take supplements containing antioxidants.
Another way to use antioxidants to boost skin health is to apply them topically by using skincare products that contain high amounts of these skin superheroes. Check out our Vita C Repair Cream for a powerful blast of highly effective antioxidants!
4. The Skin Barrier Weakens
Another normal (yet undesirable) process related to aging is the weakening of the skin’s moisture barrier. The skin barrier consists of the top two levels of the epidermis and protects you from bad things getting in and moisture getting out. The integrity of this barrier is crucial to healthy, well-hydrated skin.
Besides aging, many factors affect the integrity of the barrier. For one, the sun and other environmental elements like wind and air pollution can damage its structure. So, this is yet another reason to wear sunscreen and protect your skin from the elements whenever possible.
Lifestyle factors also play a vital role in the strength of the skin’s barrier, including your diet, how much water you drink, alcohol and caffeine intake, and sleep. Changing these habits can help preserve the quality of the barrier for longer, keeping your skin healthy and young.
Your skincare routine has a significant effect on the integrity of the protective layers as well. Using products with all-natural, high-quality emollients, humectants, and moisturizers will help repair the damage so your skin can maintain its softness and suppleness.
Ingredients such as aloe vera, avocado oil, borage oil, marshmallow root, olive squalene, shea butter, and slippery elm are some of the best for healing and fortifying the skin’s barrier. We use these ingredients in many of our products, so take a look at our ultra-hydrating face care and body care lines!
5. Oil Production Slows
Another change is that dry skin becomes more likely as we mature. Some of this has to do with our skin barrier weakening and other changes to our skin’s structure. But a primary reason for this is that our cells produce less sebum. We can thank the fluctuation of hormones for this difference.
Luckily, we can compensate for the slower oil production in a few ways. First, we can look at our skincare routine to figure out if it provides enough moisture for our skin to feel soft and smooth. If your skin feels tight or rough in texture after cleansing and moisturizing, you should upgrade to gentler, more hydrating products.
Sometimes products that claim to be hydrating don’t work for our skin. They may have ingredients that are just too harsh. So you might need to experiment a bit to find the right combination. You can also consider adding an oil-based serum to deeply hydrate and nourish your skin after cleansing.
Some other things to try are being more conscious of sun exposure and either reducing it or using sunscreen more regularly to avoid sun damage. Staying hydrated and eating more fruits and veggies will also boost moisture retention in your skin. Plus, using lukewarm water to wash your face and choosing all-natural, toxin-free and fragrance-free products is helpful.
You can also try using a humidifier while you sleep to fend off dry, indoor air, especially in winter.
These five age-related changes can be a tough pill to swallow. But we all experience them. And with a little tweaking of our daily lifestyle habits, we can take control of them and not let them ruin our day. Knowing what your skin needs to age more gracefully can put our minds at ease and keep us feeling healthy and happy!