The question of how to avoid signs of aging is, ironically, an ageless question that health and beauty experts have been exploring for years. At Preveda Health & Aesthetics in Asheville, we’re proud to offer a variety of laser and aesthetic services to keep your skin glowing, smooth, and healthy for as long as possible. We know just how important one’s appearance and health can be to their confidence and well-being, and we want to assist you in enjoying your best self by providing you with the knowledge and expert service you need to get the most out of your body. In today’s blog, we’ll discuss the different types of aging that affect the health and quality of your skin, and steps you can take to minimize the effects of aging and enjoy youthful, healthier skin for longer.
The Basics Of Skin
Before we discuss the types of skin aging, let’s briefly go over the basic layers of skin and their functions, since each will be impacted by aging differently.
The surface layer of your skin is called the epidermis. The epidermis is rich in keratin, a protein that provides this layer with toughness and resistance to water, as well as melanin, the pigment that determines the color of your skin. Melanin acts as somewhat of a natural sunscreen: when your skin is exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time, your epidermis will produce more melanin as a defense mechanism against sun damage. This is how people achieve suntans!
The second main layer of skin, lying underneath your epidermis, is the dermis. The dermis is a much thicker layer of skin than your epidermis and is composed primarily of nerves, fats, blood vessels, and collagen and elastin forbes. Those last two components are critical, as collagen controls the production of new, youthful skin cells to replace the cells that die and shed off your body naturally every day, and elastin helps your skin stay pliable and smooth. The epidermis is the layer of skin that you damage when you sustain minor cuts and bruises.
Underneath these two main layers lie several layers of what we’ll call subcutaneous skin. These layers of skin are unimportant to our discussion of skin again, as they’re primarily composed of fat and function simply to keep your internal organs insulated and in place. It’s typically not damaged unless you sustain a major injury.
Types Of Skin Aging
Now that we’ve reviewed the primary layers of your skin, let’s discuss how aging impacts them. There are two main types of aging: intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic aging describes the aging effects that come naturally with time, or those that are intrinsic to human nature. Unfortunately, this type of aging is impacted solely by genetics and time, and cannot be influenced by external factors. All you can do for this type of aging is hope your genetics are coded in such a way that your skin ages at a slower rate than average.
Intrinsic skin aging begins slowly in your twenties and continues at an increasingly accelerated rate throughout your life. Once you’ve entered your twenties, you can expect your body to naturally begin producing less collagen and elastin, and for your body’s natural exfoliation process to slow down, which will necessitate more regular and thorough cleaning of your skin to remove dead skin cells.
Extrinsic aging describes the skin aging effects that are due to environmental factors. In essence, this is the type of skin aging you can control through your actions, habits, and lifestyle!
Extrinsic aging most often appears as a thickening of your epidermis or a roughening of the surface skin you can feel. It can also be seen in precancerous changes, like the development of moles, skin cancer, the formation of freckles and sunspots, and significant losses of collagen and other chemicals that are paramount to your skin’s health and youthful appearance. Overall, extrinsic skin aging contributes to making your skin feel rougher, appear more wrinkled, and look more uneven in tone.
Extrinsic aging effects are primarily caused by changes at the molecular level within your body, driven by free radicals, electron-hungry molecules and atoms. Free radicals are most often generated by environmental factors in your life and surrounding environment, such as smoking, pollution, and UV damage from the sun. There are several types of nutrients, like antioxidants and vitamins C and E, that can protect your body from absorbing free radicals, but they cannot stop the free radicals that make into your body from causing damage to it.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are far and away the most common and dangerous of threats to your skin’s health and the largest generators of free radicals. Your skin is your body’s primary shield from sun damage and free radicals, so it follows that it takes the brunt of damage and exposure to free radicals of any part of your body. Therefore, the sun is one of the biggest factors in extrinsic aging and the acceleration of your skin’s natural aging and wrinkling. Even tans themselves can be damaging — despite your body producing more melanin to protect your skin against UV damage, that skin often becomes drier and rougher as a result of continual exposure to sun rays.
How You Can Protect Your Skin From Aging
If you’d like to avoid extrinsic aging to your skin, there are many adjustments you can make to your lifestyle and diet to avoid exposure to the free radicals that cause extrinsic damage.
The sun’s UV rays are by far the biggest factor in the premature aging of your skin. The free radicals that UV rays generate can penetrate your skin, damaging your collagen and elastin, and potentially leading to precancerous changes in your skin, like moles and freckles.
If you want to enjoy youthful-looking skin for as long as possible, you should strive to protect your skin from the sun as much as possible. You can improve your sun protection habits beyond the typical sunscreen routine by using moisturizers that contain sunscreen in them. Doing so will provide you with a basic level of sun protection at most times.
Food And Drink
Your diet can also have a great impact on your skin’s health and condition. Keeping your skin in pristine condition through your dietary and lifestyle choices can help minimize the impact of aging. When evaluating your diet for skin health, there are a couple general principles to keep in mind:
Avoid artificial sugars. Refined sugars and carbohydrates, such as high-fructose corn syrup and the flour used in many boxed foods, break down into sugar when digested by the body. These sugars feed bacteria in your stomach, which can lead to inflammation, acne, and aggravation of any skin conditions you may have.
Cut salt as much as you can. Salt greatly contributes to dehydrating you and drying out your skin, and although it’s important to get a little bit of salt in your diet, many people consume more than necessary. To avoid consuming too much salt, avoid canned foods and processed meats.
Focus on fruits and vegetables. Focusing on the basics will give your skin the vitamins and nutrients it needs to maintain healthy growth and the balance it needs to sustain its production of collagen and elastin.
Coming to terms with aging and the effects it can have on the body can be a difficult task for anybody. But at our Asheville medical spa, we offer a suite of laser and aesthetic skin care services to help you clear away unwanted blemishes and ensure clear, smooth, youthful skin for longer. From our laser services and our AquaGold Fine Touch skin care treatments to our dermal fillers and cosmetic injections, we have a variety of skin care solutions that can treat skin aging on a number of levels. Call Preveda in Asheville and make an appointment today!