As much as we would love to maintain our youthful appearance forever, the natural make-up of our body, unfortunately, does not function like that to remain the same over the passage of time. Changes to our appearance are unavoidable as we grow older. Wrinkles, fine lines, sagging skin… all these issues are entirely natural and not something we can completely prevent from occurring. In this article, we will explore the signs of premature ageing and the ways you can prevent them from happening.
What Happens to Your Skin as You Age?
You might be wondering, “Why do these ageing symptoms appear as we grow older?” Well, let us take a closer look at what goes on within the layers of our skin as we age.
Loss of Collagen
Our skin is made up of three layers: the epidermis (outermost layer), dermis, and subcutis (innermost layer). Each of these layers is made up of different components, with each one serving unique purposes. The component that is responsible for keeping our skin firm and elastic can be found in between the epidermis and dermis. Between both layers exist a complex fibrous network of collagen and elastin — proteins that provide strength and elasticity. As we age, however, our body creates less collagen, thus weakening the support structure between the epidermis and dermis. With a weaker support structure, there will be a loss of firmness and elasticity, which will then cause the skin to sag as well as lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
What are the Signs of Premature Ageing?
In the previous section, we have described the normal ageing process of our skin. Thankfully, there are various ways to delay these ageing symptoms (these would be discussed later in the article) as well as the implementation of treatments that improve their appearance to a certain extent.
While we have to understand that it is only natural that our skin would lose the firmness as we grow in age, the ageing process can actually be accelerated if we are careless in our actions like excessive alcohol intake, picking up the habit of smoking and having poor sleep. This can lead to a phenomenon known as premature ageing, in which the signs and symptoms develop way earlier than they normally would.
And what are these signs, you ask? Keep on reading to find out more.
If you notice flat brown spots appearing on certain areas of your face and body, then you might have what is known as sunspots. Also known as solar lentigines or liver spots, sunspots are a type of skin damage caused by excessive exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays. When you spend time in the sun, its UV rays will trigger the production of melanocytes. Melanocytes are the cells responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour. Therefore, with an increase in the number of melanocytes, there will be excess levels of melanin as well. This leads to a discolouration in the form of sunspots on areas that are most exposed to the sun such as your face, arms, and the backs of your hands. The good news? These spots are benign and will not pose any harm to your health, but they can make you look older than your present age.
2. Fine Lines
It is normal to develop fine lines as you age. As mentioned previously, the body naturally produces less collagen as we grow older. This will lead to a loss of firmness and elasticity, which will then result in the formation of fine lines. In addition, the natural process of collagen loss can be accelerated by many external factors, one of which is smoking. Studies have found that smokers are generally deficient in certain nutrients such as calcium, zinc, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Vitamin C, in particular, plays an important role in collagen synthesis; it allows other chemical compounds involved in this process to produce collagen. Therefore, a lack of vitamin C will impair this synthesis, which will lead to a decrease of collagen in the body. From the drop in collagen levels, the skin’s structural support will weaken, resulting in the formation of fine lines.
Wrinkles can be divided into two categories: static and dynamic. Static wrinkles are a result of a loss in elastin and collagen, while dynamic wrinkles form due to repeated facial movements such as smiling, laughing or squinting, and can turn into static ones overtime. To offer an example, if you have a tendency of squinting your eyes, the temporary wrinkles in that area can grow deeper and appear more prominent, resulting in what is known as crow’s feet — wrinkles on the outer corners of your eyes. As for static wrinkles, the loss of elastin and collagen can be caused by environmental factors such as excessive exposure to the sun and air pollution. Both these factors make the skin more vulnerable to free radicals, which are molecules that damage collagen and elastin. When these two proteins are destroyed, the layers of skin will lose their strength and elasticity, causing them to lose the ability to stay taut, thus forming wrinkles.
4. Sagging Skin
When you are filled with the elixir of youth, the collagen and elastin between the epidermis and dermis allow your skin to remain taut, thus maintaining the structure of your face. However, when the collagen and elastin are damaged, the bond between the epidermis and dermis will be compromised. With less strength and elasticity, your skin will begin to lose its tightness. This usually occurs around the jawline and cheeks, though the area around your eyelids may also begin to droop if you squint often.
3 Ways to Forestall Signs of Premature Ageing
As much as we wish, there is unfortunately no treatment — whether at-home or professional — that can completely prevent signs of ageing from appearing on our face and body. The ageing process that happens internally will affect our external appearance no matter what, and all we can do is to embrace the changes that come with this process and accept them as part of who we are.
While we have to accept that these changes are normal during our elderly years, we can all readily agree that we would rather these ageing signs appear later rather than sooner. Fortunately, there are several ways to delay the onset of the signs of premature ageing. Curious to know what these options are that would push back the time on your ageing skin? Read on to find out more.
1. Be Diligent with SPF
This is by far the number one rule every beauty aficionado lives by. Protection with sunscreen is extremely important, whether rain or shine. Even if are only stepping outdoors into the sun for a few minutes — what’s known as incidental sun exposure — the sun’s ultraviolet rays still have the potential to break down the collagen and elastin in your body. The general rule of thumb is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor, or SPF, of at least 30 every day. On days when you intend to spend a few hours outdoors, then up your sun protection game to SPF 50 and constantly reapply. By doing this, you prevent new sunspots from appearing as well as keep any existing ones from getting darker.
2. Incorporate Collagen-Boosting Skincare Products
You should know by now that the signs of premature ageing develop mainly due to a loss in collagen. As the production of collagen in your body begins to slow down when you reach your 20s, it is important for you to combat this natural occurrence by other means. One way is to use products with ingredients that increase the amount of collagen in your body. Some of these ingredients are niacinamide, peptides, retinol, and glycolic acid. Niacinamide, for instance, is a form of vitamin B3 common in the beauty industry due to its powerful anti-ageing effects. Whether applied topically or ingested via supplements, niacinamide will reduce the activity of enzymes that cause the breakdown of collagen, thus helping the body to maintain its collagen levels.
3. Kick the Smoking Habit
The toxic chemicals found in cigarettes have the negative effect of reducing the amount of nutrients in your body. One of these nutrients, vitamin C, plays an essential role in ensuring the precursors in collagen synthesis are able to function properly. When there is a lack of vitamin C, these precursors will be affected, which will then impair the process of collagen synthesis and cause the production of collagen to drop. Therefore, if you have a habit of smoking, consider quitting completely to stop the signs of premature ageing from developing. Afraid of going cold turkey? For a start, try reducing the number of cigarettes you puff a day; it will help delay the onset of these signs to some extent.
3 Treatments to Reduce Signs of Premature Ageing
Now, what if you already have some of the premature ageing signs described previously? The good news is that there are beauty treatments offered by aesthetic centres in Singapore to help with them. It is advised to be patient since a few sessions would be needed till you start noticing signs of improvement to keep these signs at bay. Here are three treatments that are regularly offered to help you gain back your youthful appearance.
1. Intense Pulsed Light
This non-invasive treatment uses high-intensity pulses of light to target a specific area without causing damage to its surrounding. These pulses of light energy are absorbed by melanin, which is the pigment responsible for giving our skin its colour. When the pigment absorbs the energy, they then break down and rise to the surface before they are sloughed off. This makes the Intense Pulsed Light treatment a suitable procedure to get rid of discolourations such as sunspots.
This minimally-invasive procedure uses a wand applicator to gently exfoliate the skin. There are two types of microdermabrasion technique: crystal and diamond-tip. Crystal microdermabrasion involves extremely fine crystals that are transferred through a tube to the wand applicator, after which the crystals are sprayed onto the skin and are exfoliated together with the dead cells. In contrast, the diamond-tip microdermabrasion uses a wand applicator with a gem-encrusted tip to exfoliate. Both these techniques excel at getting rid of dead cells to reveal a brighter and more radiant complexion. This would make a great alternative to remove sunspots. In addition, the procedure triggers the body’s healing response — which involves the production of collagen — and that would help reduce fine lines and shallow wrinkles.
This non-invasive procedure uses concentrated ultrasound energy to target a specific layer of your skin known as the subcutaneous musculo-aponeurotic system, or SMAS. By targeting the SMAS with energy, it triggers the production of collagen and results in a tightening effect. Ultherapy can be used to treat the following areas:
- Undereye area
- Upper neck area
As with any concerns regarding our complexion, the signs of premature ageing such as the ones discussed above can be prevented or delayed when you take the right precautions. Be sure to protect your skin every single day by instilling good habits such as the daily application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen and using skin-friendly products. Your lifestyle habits play an important role too in the onset of premature ageing symptoms. For instance, if you smoke, try to quit completely or reduce the number of cigarettes you smoke in a day for a start. Do not underestimate the small steps you take to ensure your complexion stays looking its best.
Next, you can also consider the different treatments detailed above to delay the signs of ageing from appearing. Aesthetic centres like Geo Aesthetics have experienced and knowledgeable specialists that can dispense customised advice to better your skin. Your skin is a long-term investment and the actions you make now will eventually pay off in the future.