Skin Science

Experiencing Aging Skin? There's No Reason to Panic

by Jenn Sinrich
March 17, 2020

From a young age, most of us are conditioned to avoid the signs of aging skin. It's not hard to find people hoping to stop the hands of time, and showing even subtle signs of age can be a source of concern — especially if they feel young at heart!

This might explain why more individuals than ever are turning to cosmetic surgery. Last year, almost 18 million people underwent surgical and minimally invasive cosmetic procedures in the U.S., according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.

There's no denying the fact that aging is difficult on a physical, emotional and mental level. When you look in the mirror and no longer see the same sprightly, energetic person you feel you are on the inside, it can be alarming and a bit disheartening. This is totally understandable! Fortunately, there's no need to panic.

How the Face Shows Signs of Aging

Marnie B. Nussbaum, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist, explains that aging can actually change the shape of the face. This can sometimes result in a noticeable difference in appearance.

"Our facial shape starts out as an inverted triangle, with the cheekbones as the base and the chin as the point. However, as we age, the shape changes to a right-side-up triangle, with the jawline being the base and the nose jutting out as the point," Dr. Nussbaum says. "This is due to facial volume loss caused by loss of fat pads and drooping due to weak ligaments that cause the facial skin to drop and create jowls, flat cheeks and a heavy jawline."

The brow region also becomes heavier with age, an effect that can make the eyes appear sunken. After the age of 30, the rate of collagen production typically begins to decline, often causing sagging. The rate of cellular turnover also starts decreasing around this time and can leave skin looking dull and uneven.

How to Address Aging Skin

The good news is that adopting an anti-aging skincare routine early on can help fight signs of aging and keep your skin healthy for a long time to come! A crucial step in your daily regimen should be applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, as this is your best defense against collagen breakdown, hyperpigmentation and skin cancer.

Dr. Nussbaum also recommends using a light moisturizer that boosts hydration and minimizes breakouts at any age, as well as a hydrating eye cream. In your late 20s, you should add in vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that helps prevent free radical damage and gives the skin a healthy glow. "Since collagen production and cellular turnover decline after the age of 30, adding retinol, a vitamin A-derivative that decreases fine lines, dullness and pigment production, is vital to the anti-aging process," she notes.

Another great addition to your anti-aging toolbox is a chemical exfoliator containing an alpha hydroxy acid — such as glycolic acid or lactic acid — on a weekly basis. This will clear away dead cells so your pores can tighten and your skin can boost its collagen production.

Why Aging Skin Is Nothing to Fear

While there are plenty of things you can do to keep your skin looking youthful, it's important to remember that there's nothing wrong with aging! It's a normal, biological process that everyone goes through. It should be considered a badge of honor — a sign that you've seen the beautiful things in life and thoroughly experienced them. After all, even if you're not a fan of smile lines, they're a reminder of every funny joke you heard and every grinning photo you took with your friends and family. Aging shouldn't be feared or avoided.

It's a good idea to understand the underlying mechanism of an aging face so you can adjust your approach to skincare and keep your skin healthy as it changes over time. Ingredients you reach for now might not be what's best for your skin in a few decades.

"For instance, slowed cellular turnover can cause skin cell buildup, clogged pores and inflammation, which causes redness, dullness and uneven texture and tone," Dr. Nussbaum says. "Hormones also change, which can affect hydration, inflammation and pores."

By experimenting with different products and consulting a dermatologist, you can find a skincare regimen that meets the needs of your evolving appearance and keeps skin healthy. After all, one thing is easy to agree on — healthy skin at any age is undoubtedly a great goal to have.

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Skin Science

Jenn Sinrich is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist with a passion for all things beauty and health.

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