Look Good For Life: The Science Behind Maintaining Youthful Skin
Aging is an inevitable part of life, and while it brings wisdom and experience, it also entails changes to our skin that many of us would
rather avoid. However, there’s more to maintaining youthful skin than just serums and anti-aging creams. To fully understand the aging process, it is important to look beyond the visual aesthetics and understand the science behind it all.
The Skin: The Body’s Largest Organ
Before exploring the science behind aging, it’s important to appreciate the complexity of the skin. Comprising three main layers – the
epidermis, the dermis, and the hypodermis – the skin is more elaborate than you may initially think! The epidermis is the outermost layer of our skin and acts as a protective layer against the environment, often battling harmful elements likeUV rays and pollution.
The epidermis is also responsible for retaining moisture and hydration. Beneath the epidermis lies the dermis, where collagen production
takes place. The dermis contains cells known as fibroblasts, which are in charge of producing elastic fibers and collagen. Also within the dermis lies the extracellular matrix, which is made up of collagens and other proteins that keep your skin supple and plump.
Collagen and Elastin: The Youthful Elixirs
At the core of youthful skin lies collagen, an important protein responsible for your skin’s strength and firmness. When you’re young,
collagen production is at its peak, keeping your skin smooth and supple. Similar in importance is the protein elastin, which gives your
skin its structure, elasticity, and bounce. Unfortunately, as time goes on, collagen production after age 30 drops staggeringly without
stimulation and our elastin levels decrease. (Enter: dreaded wrinkles and sagging skin.)
The Aging Process: A Scientific Perspective
Now that you know more about the skin’s anatomy, let’s delve into the aging process itself. Aging occurs due to a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic aging is genetically determined and begins in our mid-20s. Variations in genetic background account for the different rates at which individuals age, including aspects such as cellular turnover rate. Extrinsic factors accelerate aging of the skin, these include UV exposure, pollution, poor nutrition, lack of hydration, smoking, and stress. Over time, exposure to these environmental elements and lifestyle choices ultimately damage collagen and elastin