The winter months often seem to usher in a natural time of renewal for a self-care routine.
And, most especially, a skin care routine and renewal.
You might wonder why our skin changes so drastically as we age.
There are two main reasons:
- First, it gets down to how our skin cells actually function—and lose function — over time.
- Second, aging is a true reflection of how much care we take to correct underlying damage and prevent ongoing damage with a quality and consistent skin care routine.
The Science of Skin Aging
Up until about 18 years of age the different types of skin cells are all working together to keep skin looking youthful.
- Keratinocytes (which make up close to 90% of the cells in the epidermis) make their way from the basal layer of our skin to the top, (the stratum corneum layer) and then slough off.
- Melanocytes (melanin-producing cells), are making a nice, even skin color.
- Fibroblasts (connective tissue cells) continually produce an abundant amount of collagen, elastin and glycosaminoglycans (or GAGs), making our youthful skin firm, elastic and plump.
The Changes Begin
But, soon after our 18th birthday the changes begin.
Keratinocyte turnover declines, and these cells can begin to show accumulated damage from pollution, sun and even second-hand smoke.
Melanocytes may become overactive, leading to melasma or sunspots and freckles.
Fibroblasts begin to produce about 1% less collagen, elastin and GAGs per year, making skin thinner, looser and drier.
Our skin’s ability to heal from injuries also slows down as we age.
So, what can be done to reverse some of these changes?
Well, one non-organic option is to retain a professional for in-office procedures. They often address what is commonly known as the Four R’s:
- Relax overactive muscles with neuromodulators, such as Botox/Dysport
- Refill lost volume with soft tissue fillers or autologous fat augmentation
- Resurface skin (to address sun damage, wrinkles, scars) with a peel or laser procedure
- Re-drape lax skin with non-invasive tightening or surgical lifting procedures
Self-Care — Your Own Renewal
Even if you benefit from in-office rejuvenation procedures you’ll still need to take care of your skin with your own Renewal and Maintenance program.
Post procedure, it’s important to keep your skin renewing itself in order to maintain the results you achieved.
Renewal consists of a well-designed skincare regimen that keeps the keratinocytes turning over properly, controls the melanocytes to normalize skin color and stimulates the fibroblasts to produce collagen, elastin and GAGs.
Your Renewal Toolkit
A well-designed skin care regimen should contain the following ingredients:
Retinoids to increase keratinocyte turnover, improve the distribution of the melanocytes within the epidermis and stimulate the fibroblasts to make collagen, elastin and GAGs.
Antioxidants to protect against the constant attack on skin cells by environmental pollution, smoking and all forms of light (ultraviolet radiation, high energy visible light, visible light and infrared radiation). These harmful rays cause oxidation within the cells, which contributes to aging.
Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) and Beta-hydroxy/salicylic acids (BHAs) to help gently exfoliate dead skin layers and stimulate skin turnover. They also break the bonds between keratinocytes allowing topical agents to better penetrate into the skin.
Broad-spectrum sunscreens with iron oxides, antioxidants and active mineral ingredients to protect against damaging light rays.
There is no quick and easy way to slow down the effects of aging. It takes consistency and diligence.
Your skin care regimen is the most obvious and perhaps the most important aspect of your overall anti-aging plan.
If your skin feels rough and is not feeling firm, consider, first, that your skin care regimen might need a tune-up!