It's going to happen to all of us! We can't prevent it, but we can definitely minimise pre-mature aging. To me, aging gracefully means having healthy radiant skin (laughter lines and all) and minimising damage caused by the environment.
Aging of the skin consists of intrinsic (genetically determined) factors, and extrinsic (environmental) factors. While we may not have much control over intrinsic factors, we can definitely minimise the effect from environmental factors.
As we age, the fibres and cells in our skin change. Skin becomes thinner, more fragile and inelastic. When we laugh, blow our nose and even sleep we stretch the skin on our faces. Fine lines and wrinkles start to appear as the skin loses its ability to bounce back. It even loses the ability to defend itself from UV damage. The sun can cause aging skin to become thickened, hyperpigmented, rough and deeply wrinkled.
Collagen and elastin work together to maintain the flexibility of the skin and prevent fine-lines and wrinkles. There are different types of collagen, such as Type I which makes up up to 90% of your skin. Fibroblasts in your skin are responsible for the production of collagen and elastin and hydration of the skin barrier. We really want to look after our wee fibroblasts (especially as we age) so they can keep doing their magic.
Collagen production begins to slow from early adulthood. Actually, its from 20 years old. Yip, 20. And from the age of 30, we start to see a decrease in production. The rate of production decreases even further as we navigate menopause.
Anti-pollution and UV protection products will reduce free radical oxidisation which damages our skin cells (including our precious fibroblasts). So, anti-oxidants are very important in slowing the rate of damage caused by oxidisation.
Peptides, retinoids, vitamins (like vitamin C), omega fatty acids and hydroxy acids (eg. AHA's) all support our fibroblasts and help to maintain the maximum possible production of collagen and elastin.
Craft, J.A., Gordon, C.J. (2019) Understanding Pathophysiology. Elsevier Australia
Reilly DM, Lozano J. Skin collagen through the lifestages: importance for skin health and beauty. Plast Aesthet Res 2021;8:2. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/2347-9264.2020.153