There’s no getting around it – skin is bound to age.
While some may accept this with grace, most try to prevent the onslaught of aging. We all know those telltale signs: wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, pigmentation.
These indications of age are particularly bothersome when they come prematurely, causing us to look older than we act and feel.
Although we can’t freeze time, we can slow down the clock.
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A wide range of factors contribute to the different kinds of wrinkles that everybody’s skin acquires over the years. Some stem entirely from our own life choices, while others are totally beyond our control.
By far the single most significant cause of wrinkles, the UV radiation in sunlight directly damages the framework of collagen and elastin that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. Enzymes are produced to fix the damage, but the repairs are never perfect, with collagen fibers forming an uneven matrix of solar scars that eventually lead to wrinkling. Read more about it.
Aging is innate—our physical development is partly preprogrammed from conception through to old age. Over the years, the DNA molecules that make up our genes deteriorate, preventing more and more cells from replicating, which leads to wrinkled skin. But not everyone experiences this process at the same pace. For example, lighter-skinned people suffer more damage from sunlight and develop wrinkles more quickly.
The reduction in estrogen levels during menopause often represents a significant turning point in the condition of a woman’s skin; this is why women generally tend to experience more wrinkling than men.
It should be no surprise by now that smoking is unhealthy, but it’s only just becoming clear how badly cigarettes can affect the appearance of the skin. Cigarette smoke contains many hundreds of active ingredients—some trigger enzymes that damage collagen and elastin within the skin. You can read more about in our blog about the harmful effects of cigarettes.
Free radicals are atoms or molecules (typically oxygen) with unpaired electron bonds that can set off harmful chain reactions within the body. Free radical intake is increased by exposure to UV light and environmental pollutants; upping your intake of natural antioxidants offers some defense from the harm they cause. But because free radicals are also produced within the body as part of natural metabolic processes, the damage they do—known as oxidative stress—cannot be completely avoided.
Understanding how wrinkles are caused is the first step towards preventing them. Even though some of the causes are unavoidable, knowledge is still the best preparation for defending against threats to the condition of your skin.