The natural aging of the skin is a process that no one can escape entirely. However, as shared by those who understand the art of skin care, this journey can be slowed. To stand resilient against the flow of time, the skin must carry out its essential tasks: nourishment, hydration, self-renewal, breathing, and safeguarding. Let’s delve deeper into this subject that holds concern for all.
There exist two sets of elements that usher in skin aging: those from within (endogenous) and those from without (exogenous).
Ancestral legacy, a force beyond current resistance. The passage of years, leading to broader shifts in metabolism and consequential alterations in skin constitution.
Exposure to the world around us, where the chief adversary is the ultraviolet rays. These rays birth free radicals that assail skin cells and resilient fibers, hastening the aging process significantly.
A multitude of other origins of free radicals, including air impurities, smoking, alcohol, certain medicines, and an unwholesome way of life, among others.
In 1963, Leslie Orgel posited that aging arises from the accumulation of mishaps at the cellular level. According to this viewpoint, a medley of external and internal forces triggers the emergence of irregularities in the genetic code, gradually deranging cellular functions. Over time, the accruing of these irregularities culminates in a steady cessation of cellular activity, marking the onset of aging, and ultimately, the conclusion of the organism’s journey.
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Whether this is a verity or not, biological aging unfolds with time, guided by internal factors; it is aptly named “true aging,” for it is an irreversible process.
It unfolds slowly, gradually, commencing at a tender age. Some scholars even posit that aging sets in the moment we draw our first breath. Yet, from the perspective of beauty care, our interest primarily lies in the emergence of signs of skin aging, which, more often than not, make their debut post the age of 20.
None have managed to fully evade the natural aging of skin thus far, but according to skin care experts, this march can be tempered. To effectively counter the biological aging process, the skin must dutifully perform its fundamental roles: nourishing, hydrating, rejuvenating, breathing, and shielding.
In youthful, robust skin, elasticity is abundant, hydration is ample, and new cells are born every 28 days. As we age, metabolic processes slow, setting the stage for natural aging.
Mechanisms of Genuine Skin Aging:
- Diminished pace of cell division in the basal layer of the epidermis. Consequently, the layer of expired skin cells expands, dampening skin elasticity and fostering the proliferation of wrinkles.
- Diminished moisture content in the intercellular matrix of the dermis, leading to a sluggish metabolism of hyaluronic acid.
- Weakening of the lipid barrier’s restorative capabilities, accompanied by an elevation in skin permeability.
- Decreased proliferation (repair at the site of injury) of macrophages and Langerhans cells, comprising the body’s foremost immunological barricade.
Alas, halting the biological aging of skin is a near impossibility. Nonetheless, in the present day, there exist methods to slow this tempo. To address this, one ought to turn not only to cosmetics, but also to the guidance of medical experts.
In current discourse, the phrase “premature aging” gains increasing traction, signifying aging set in motion by external factors. These external influences shoulder up to 80% of the blame for premature aging. Two chief culprits: adverse environmental conditions and an unhealthy way of life.
Presently, tanning enjoys great popularity and is deemed a symbol of well-being. Yet, researchers have quantified that over the past decade, owing to the thinning of the ozone layer, the intensity of UV radiation has escalated by an average of 1% each year. Hence, the stance of physicians, especially cosmetologists, towards “healthy tanning” is growing ever more cautious.
Of course, minimal doses of UV radiation are essential for human existence. However, tanning itself constitutes a defensive response of the skin to injury. According to modern understanding, the initial creases emerge precisely due to an affinity for tanning.
The role of sunlight in the process of early skin aging is so profound that scientists have coined a new term – photoaging.
Indicators of photoaging:
- Thickening of the outermost skin layer (solar keratosis).
- Appearance of pigmented patches (lentigo).
- Accumulation of aberrant elastin fibers in the skin (elastosis).
- Degradation of collagen.
- Skin subjected to UV rays undergoes aging, yet many signs of photoaging can be reversed.
A free radical is a molecule possessing a vacant space for an electron. Consequently, it is exceedingly reactive and endeavors to snatch the missing electron from other molecules. When this endeavor succeeds, the impacted molecule oxidizes and transforms into a free radical in its own right.
Oxygen, crucial as it is to our well-being, possesses a potent oxidizing potential. Even more potent oxidizers are oxygen’s free radicals.
For instance, conventional collagen fibers lack the capacity to bind with one another. Yet, collagen molecules turned free radicals, upon encountering oxygen radicals, become so active that they merge, resulting in what is known as a dimer. This form of collagen is less pliable than regular collagen, hence, the accumulation of collagen dimers in the skin culminates in the emergence of wrinkles.
The process of free radical formation unfolds as a chain reaction. This sinister progression, dubbed oxidative stress, sparks alterations at both cellular and tissue levels, ultimately leading to the onset of diverse pathological processes and an accelerated aging of tissues. To shield cells from oxidative stress, the body houses an antioxidant system.
Antioxidants are molecules capable of impeding free radical oxidation processes by diminishing oxidized compounds. This is why the human body requires vitamins E and C, along with beta-carotene – they are antioxidants. In the present day, no multivitamin complex or anti-aging remedy is complete without these substances. In addition to the customary antioxidants, bioflavonoids, selenium, superoxide dismutase, and a host of other substances, whose names frequently grace the labels of cosmetics and dietary supplements, have swiftly become integral to our lives.
Nonetheless, despite the formidable protection offered by antioxidants, free radicals continue to exert a rather destructive influence on biological tissues, particularly the skin. Presently, we stand on the cusp of an era marked by a new breed of cosmetic products, boasting natural active components (algae, essential oils, vitamins). Among them lie fresh “antidotes” against free radicals.
Yet another adverse external factor expediting skin aging, particularly on the countenance, is smoking. The visage of a smoker assumes a pallid hue, tinged with a grayish undertone, and facial features bear the etchings of deep-set wrinkles. Smokers accrue wrinkles five times swifter than their non-smoking counterparts of the same age. Cigarette smoke exerts the same deleterious impact on the skin as UV radiation.
Beyond the constant exposure of our skin to cold, winds, heat, and sunlight, a pivotal aspect in the aggressive affront to our skin is environmental contamination at this juncture. We refer to the release of byproducts of chemical compounds and industrial waste into the atmosphere, upsetting the natural composition of our life-sustaining environment.
As the 20th century drew to a close, an irrevocable acknowledgment crystallized: environmental pollution renders the skin susceptible and prone to an array of unwelcome processes, particularly aging.