Aging. She's a cruel mistress, but we all endure her just the same. There's no escaping aging and there's no cure for time. All we can do is look in the mirror, accept our fate, and move on with our lives.
Or so we thought. Understanding the fundamentals of aging seem like a pointless task, but when it comes down to it, comprehending the science behind the aging process gives us better insight into how we can counteract it. Sure, we can pile on concealer and inject a little Botox to get rid of pesky wrinkles, but what if there was a way to holistically attack aging to the point that the cells began to, well, produce new cells, younger and healthier cells.
It seems like fantasy sci-fi, but it's actually a quite simple concept to grasp. So let's dive right in.
Why Do We Age, Exactly?
Our bodies, our cells - they weren't meant to last forever. They decline over time. Their functions slow. This includes organs, nerve cells, skin, hair, etc.
There are two types of aging: intrinsic vs. extrinsic. But what's the difference between the two?
Intrinsic aging, also known as chronological aging, is the inevitable genetically determined process that naturally occurs within the body. Intrinsic ageing is determined by individual genetics and is affected by the degenerative effects of free radicals and the body's inability to repair damage over time.
Over time, the skin’s strong, fibrous and elastic structure begins to break down and weaken, inhibiting skin cell turnover and contributing to hyaluronic acid, elastin and collagen depletion. As these essential elements begin to disappear, the skin loses strength and resilience. The result? A loss of a healthy and youthful complexion.
Extrinsic aging refers to the impact our environment and other preventable factors have on our skin's aging process. Sun exposure, smoking, hydration, skin care products, and diet are all examples that contribute to extrinsic aging.
Fun fact, intrinsic aging contributes 10% to our aging process, but extrinsic aging contributes a whopping 90%.
That means outside forces, whether it's the sun, your diet, skincare products, smoking, or stress, are all contributing to your aging more than your own genetics.
Why We Lose Collagen and Elastin Over Time
Collagen and elastin fibers thin out and loosen over time, making the skin less elastic. This makes us susceptible to wrinkles, sagging, and aged looking skin.
Again, there is nothing to be done about intrinsic aging factors, but when it comes to extrinsic, there is a lot we can be doing.
Taking a look at your habits is a good start. Are you drinking enough water? Are you participating in habits that might be increasing the number of free radicals in your body? Are you ingesting an unhealthy amount of fatty foods? Do you spend an ample amount of time outside in the sun without proper SPF? Are you using harsh skincare products with toxic chemicals and fragrance?
When you take a step back and analyze your habits and what might be considered an extrinsic aging factor, it's easy to pickup patterns and switch habits that could be contributing to why you're losing collagen and elastin. It also lets you make those changes to slow down this process.
The Hazards of the Sun
Out of all the extrinsic factors mentioned, it's important to stress that the sun will age your skin faster than anything else mentioned here. Why?
Also known as photoaging, the sun's rays pack a heavy punch. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation causes DNA changes in the skin that can lead to premature aging and even some types of skin cancer. There are two kinds of UV light:
UVA light. This form of solar radiation damages skin on all levels and harms the skin from its surface layer (epidermis) all the way down to the dermis, where collagen fibers become damaged.
UVB light. This type of solar radiation destroys the outer layer of the skin. UVB damages DNA in the epidermis and can even cause precancerous cells (actinic keratoses) to form.
Wearing a proper SPF sunscreen is an absolute must if you're going to be spending a good amount of time outdoors. SPF not only protects you from aging, but more importantly, it protects your skin cells from harmful radiation that could be causing catastrophic damage underneath the surface to your health and to your DNA.
You Are What You Eat
Research shows that eating ultra-processed foods can speed up the aging of your cells. How? These foods contain high levels of hydrogenated oils and are full of trans fats which can lead to inflammation that can breakdown and age your cells.
Not only this, but if you're not getting the proper nutrients into your skin, you're not doing your skin any favors. Fun fact, our bodies cannot produce their own Vitamin C, so we have to compensate by getting it from our diet.
Vitamin C, for instance, plays an important role in maintaining skin health and can provide antioxidant protection against UV-induced photodamage. It also protects your collagen, induces more collagen production, and overall keeps your skin looking and feeling healthy.
But this is only one example of a vitamin your skin needs. Think about it holistically, how many vitamins and nutrients you may need to counteract other extrinsic aging factors, and you'll begin to see the bigger picture as to why diet is so important.
So let's break down some of the worst foods that actually contribute to aging:
- sodas and energy drinks
- frozen dinners
- processed meats and foods
- fried foods
- white sugar
- high fructose corn syrup
But what are some great anti-aging foods?
- foods high in fiber
- whole grains
- lean proteins
- berries and fresh fruits
- dark, leafy greens
It might not be as simple as just cutting out the bad foods and incorporating the good foods. Everyone's body is different and so it's important to make healthier choices and keep track of how your body feels and your skin looks.
Stress Kills More Than Your Mood
Feeling stressed is a part of life. It'd be silly to believe that you'll navigate life without any ups or downs. But prolonged and chronic stress actually begins to have some negative physical effects on the body after a while, and that means accelerated aging and other problematic signs.
When stressed, our bodies release a stress hormone known as cortisol. High levels of cortisol prompt the skin's sebaceous gland to produce more sebum (oil), possibly resulting in clogged pores, irritation, acne and not only that, but high levels of cortisol have been known to excite and magnify other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.
Stress can weaken the immune system and slow down your body's natural processes. Not only that, but high amounts of cortisol can break down the skin's collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles. Surprisingly, collagen and cortisol levels are deeply connected.
Replenishing Collagen With Dermarollers
Microneedling and dermarolling are used interchangeably. They refer to the same action: using a dermaroller to create clean, microscopic punctures in the skin.
So why is microneedling a fantastic tactic against aging? When rolled along the skin, dermarollers create micro-punctures; essentially microscopic wounds in the skin which serve to trigger the body's healing response. This translates to boosted collagen, elastin, and circulation. Key factors in anti-aging.
High quality dermarollers are a must, and that's why I recommend my very own 192-Real Needle Dermarollers by Gin Amber Beauty.Understanding Aging as a Whole
The more you know, the more you're prepared to take the steps you need against the aging process. By categorizing things into intrinsic and extrinsic aging factors, you've already won half the battle: awareness.
Anti-aging doesn't have to be a grueling, dragged out process. It's a lifestyle that incentivizes you to live a healthier life, make healthier choices, and care about your appearance and longevity.
Comprehending these basic aging factors is the first step towards more youthful energy and more youthful skin. And that, in itself, is pretty powerful stuff.
Thank you Amber Babies for yet another blog post and as always, stay in touch and feel free to leave feedback and comments. Also, don't forget to visit me on TikTok, as well as on IG, @ginamberx, where I go over insanely effective skincare tips, trends, and topics!