Skin Ageing

Understanding causes and risk factors for skin ageing is critical to effectively prevent and treat ageing skin.

Ageing is a natural process that everyone goes through, and your skin is no exception. Whether it’s the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, or decreased elasticity, skin ageing can present in various ways. This guide aims to provide you with a comprehensive understanding of skin ageing and the factors that contribute to it. We believe this is essential in learning how to prevent it and in effectively treating skin ageing.

Causes of Skin Ageing

Several factors contribute to the process of skin ageing. These can be broadly categorised into two types; intrinsic and extrinsic.

Intrinsic Ageing

This is also known as chronological ageing. This is the natural ageing process that begins in our mid-20s. As we get older, our bodies produce less collagen and elastin – the proteins responsible for maintaining skin’s elasticity and firmness. This results in thinner, drier skin, and the eventual appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

Genetics play a significant role in how we age, including how our skin ages. Our genes control how quickly the normal ageing process unfolds. A variety of genetic factors affect skin ageing. For example, skin type, whether it’s dry, oily, or combination, is largely determined by our genes and can influence how susceptible we are to certain signs of ageing. Dry skin, for instance, may be more prone to wrinkles while oily skin might be more prone to enlarged pores or acne scars, which can give the skin an aged appearance. Our genes also determine our skin’s natural antioxidant and regenerative abilities, which can protect the skin from damage and delay the onset of ageing signs. They also influence our skin’s response to environmental stressors, such as sunlight and pollution, which contribute to “extrinsic ageing.”

Biological sex also plays a role. Women often experience a sudden decrease in collagen in the first five years after menopause, which can lead to a significant decline in skin thickness and elasticity. Race can also determine our skin’s resilience to ageing. For instance, people with more pigmented complexions often show signs of ageing later than those with lighter skin. This is because melanin provides some protection from sun damage.

There are also some genetic disorders like Werner syndrome and Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome can cause accelerated ageing, including premature skin ageing. Understanding the influence of our genetics on skin ageing can help us make informed decisions about our skincare and lifestyle habits.

Extrinsic Ageing

This results from environmental and lifestyle factors that can prematurely age our skin. This process is often referred to as “photo-ageing” due to the significant role that sun exposure and damage plays in ageing skin. Smoking, pollution, stress and lack of sleep are all external factors that also contribute to this.

Appearance of Ageing Skin

One of the first signs of skin ageing is the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, particularly around the eyes and mouth. Over time, these lines deepen, and more may form on the forehead and other parts of the face. Another common sign is a loss of skin elasticity and volume loss in the face. This leads to sagging and drooping, particularly around the cheeks, jawline, and neck. You may also notice changes in skin texture, with the skin becoming rougher and pores becoming more visible. Additionally, ageing skin often shows signs of photoaging due to prolonged sun exposure. This may manifest as hyperpigmentation in the form of melasma or age spots or a combination.

How to Prevent Skin Ageing

Skin ageing is a natural process. Whilst you can’t do much about the intrinsic factors, there are a few extrinsic factors you can control to reduce the severity of it. Here are the best ways to prevent it:

  1. Sun Protection: Protecting your skin from the sun is the best way to prevent premature ageing. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, wear protective clothing, and seek shade when the sun is at its strongest.
  2. Healthy Lifestyle: Eat a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to nourish your skin. Exercise regularly to maintain healthy circulation and immune function, contributing to youthful skin. Avoid smoking and limit alcohol intake as these accelerate skin ageing.
  3. Good Skincare Routine: Keep your skin moisturised and look after its barrier. Use products containing antioxidants like vitamin C as well as anti-ageing ingredients like exfoliating acids, retinoids and peptides to resurface the skin and boost collagen production.

While it’s impossible to completely halt the process of skin ageing, these preventative measures can help slow it down and manage the visible signs. Remember, taking care of your skin is a lifelong commitment, but it’s one that will keep it looking youthful for longer.

Anti-Ageing Treatments

There are a variety of treatments available to address skin ageing. Over the counter products like niacinamide, Vitamin C, Arbutin, Retinol and Hylauronic or Polyglutamic acid can all help as part of an anti-ageing skincare routine.

Prescription creams containing active ingredients like Tretinoin or hydroquinone can be particularly effective. Tretinoin is a powerful retinoid that works by promoting cell turnover and stimulating collagen production. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It also improves texture and elasticity as well as fades age spots. Hydroquinone, on the other hand, is commonly used to treat moderate-to-severe hyperpigmentation. It works by decreasing the production of melanin, thereby reducing the appearance of age spots and uneven tone. These products can be used alone, together and alongside other active anti-ageing products such as acid exfoliants, Vitamin C and peptides. You can access these prescription anti-ageing skincare through a dermatologist or a virtual prescription skincare service like our online skin clinic.

There are of course also non surgical anti-ageing treatments such as Botox anti-wrinkle injections, hyaluronic acid dermal fillers as well as boosters like Profhilo and Volite. Professional skin treatments like lasers, chemical peels and microneedling or RF microneedling can also be very beneficial in smoothing and building up the skin. The mainstay of surgical options is face lifts, fat grafting and isolated procedures like blepharoplasty and lip lifting.

Frequently asked questions

The first signs of skin ageing usually include fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, a decrease in skin elasticity, dryness, dullness, and visible pores.

While you cannot entirely reverse skin ageing, you can significantly reduce and manage its visible signs. This can be achieved through a combination of a healthy lifestyle, a well-tailored skincare routine, and in some cases, dermatological treatments.

Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light accounts for approximately 90% of the symptoms of premature skin ageing. UV light damages the elastin fibers in the skin, causing it to sag, stretch, and lose its ability to snap back after stretching.

Smoking can accelerate the skin ageing process. The toxins in smoke can damage collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion.

Hydration is crucial for maintaining skin health, but drinking water alone won't prevent skin ageing. However, keeping your skin hydrated can help keep it looking fuller and more radiant.

Yes, diet can significantly impact skin ageing. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and proteins can help combat oxidative stress that contributes to skin ageing.

Anti-ageing creams can help reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots. Look for products that contain proven anti-ageing ingredients such as retinoids, vitamin C, peptides, and hyaluronic acid.

Dermatologists typically recommend starting an anti-ageing regimen in your 20s, as this is when the production of collagen starts to decrease. However, the most crucial step, regardless of age, is sun protection.

It's never too late to start a skincare routine. While prevention is ideal, many skincare products and treatments can help improve the appearance of your skin at any age.

For more info:

Authored by:

Dr Amel Ibrahim
Aesthetic Doctor & Medical Director
Founder City Skin Clinic
Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of England
Associate Member of British Association of Body Sculpting GMC Registered - 7049611

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