Is Your Skin Prematurely Aging?
You look into the mirror in the morning, lo and behold, there is a new wrinkle in the corner of your eye. You frown and realize that you’re furrowing your brow, causing wrinkles there too. You start to panic and scan the rest of your face. Is that a liver spot or a mole you just never realized was there? Does your skin look duller than usual? It’s happening, you’re aging…
But hold on just a second. Perhaps you are seeing early signs of aging, and while that is cause for concern, it might be a sign that your lifestyle and habits are accelerating the aging process. Do you spend a lot of time in the sun? Do you wear broad-spectrum sunscreen regularly? Have you started incorporating anti-aging products into your skincare regimes such as exfoliators and retinoids? If you haven’t given the aging of your skin much thought before and are now beginning to worry that you’re prematurely aging, read on to find out the real signs of premature aging and how you can prevent it from doing more damage!
How Does Lifestyle Affect the Skin?
There are two processes occurring simultaneously when your skin ages. One of an internal process that is totally natural and unpreventable. Our bodies have a time limit and so does the skin. As we get older, some functions in the skin begin to degenerate and stop functioning. Some of the notable processes are the halt of collagen production in your forties and the slowdown in the skin’s natural exfoliating process. But let’s talk a bit more about the other process, the external aging process that is a result of your environment and lifestyle.
The external aging process is what we have more control over. It is known in science as extrinsic aging. Extrinsic aging occurs due to environmental factors that are damaging to the skin. It manifests in various ways such as the thickening of the outermost layer of the epidermis, which is known as the cornified layer, loss of collagen, sunspots, skin cancer, and freckling. These are all caused by free radicals that pull electrons from molecules in the skin, resulting in biological alterations to the cells. Skin proteins are damaged and as a result, skin becomes more brittle and less elastic. Overexposure to the sun is a major cause of accelerated aging, as are detrimental habits such as smoking.
Other causes that can lead to premature aging include very simple everyday habits. Not removing your makeup and cleansing properly is another reason. It is crucial to cleanse your skin at night, especially when you have been wearing makeup and skincare products all day long in addition to being exposed to dirt, dust, and grime as you go through the day. Cleansing your skin properly is necessary to clean out all the residue and help your skin function and repair itself naturally. All kinds of products will settle into fine lines and wrinkles if you do not remove it before going to bed. It is a good idea to double cleanse. Remove your makeup with an oil or cream-based cleanser as these are the most effective in dissolving and removing products before using a gentle cleanser, preferably one that doesn’t foam to remove the rest of the residue. You might also not be getting enough hydration. Dehydration is detrimental for your overall body and health and has implications on the skin too as it means the skin functions are impaired.
Signs that Your Skin is Prematurely Aging
If the above habits don’t sound familiar to you, maybe it will be clearer by providing a checklist of signs that will tell you that your skin is aging:
1. Your skin is dry and dull
As mentioned above, a decrease in the skin’s natural exfoliation process is part of the aging process. This results in a buildup of dead skin cells on the skin surface, which contributes to a loss in the trademark luminosity and glow of young skin. If your skin looks dry and dull, it might be a tell-tale sign of early aging.
2. Liver spots
Liver spots are some of the most obvious signs of aging, and well, it’s in the name! Age spots are the result of discolored skin and are also known as age or sunspots. They manifest as small, dark spots on areas exposed to the sun, especially the face, hands, and arms. If you are a young person who spends a lot of time in the sun you are highly likely to develop to sunspots.
3. Crow’s feet and wrinkles around the eyes
Crow’s feet are wrinkles that are etched in the corners of eyes. Crows’ feet tend to be more pronounced than other kinds of wrinkles and can be particularly obvious when you smile. Loss of collagen and elasticity are the main causes of crow’s feet, and UV exposure can also be a cause. Crow’s feet tend to be one of the first signs of aging and can even appear as early as in the mid-20s. This is due to the fact that the skin around the eyes is thin and tends to lack in oil glands like the rest of the skin. This makes the area more susceptible to the diminishing of elasticity and hence crow’s feet are more likely to form earlier than later. Wrinkles around the eyes occur for the same reasons that crow’s feet do. The thinness of the skin in areas such as the eyelids and between the eyebrows mean that wrinkles will likely form here as well. Under Eye wrinkles and eye bags are another sign of aging. Too much frowning and repetitive facial expressions that scrunch up the face can also cause early wrinkling.
4. Loss of facial structure and sagging
This is another immediate sign of aging. This is attributed to a loss of firmness and elasticity in the skin structure. It is caused by the loss of collagen as well as the thinning of the epidermis. Collagen is what keeps the skin looking young and firm by providing structure to the dermis, which is the thickest layer of the skin. When collagen production stops in the forties, it is only normal that the skin will lose structure and begin to sag. The shrinkage in fat cells is another reason for this loss of structural integrity in the face.
5. Veiny hands
If the veins on your hands are more prominent than before, this may be a sign of aging too. The hands are a very overlooked part of the body as we mostly pay attention to the skin on our faces. The skin on the hands is very thin and delicate, and so by the same logic of crow’s feet and wrinkles on the eyes, this part of the body is very vulnerable to sun damage and hence aging. Especially since we don’t pay attention to this area, we probably do not apply sunscreen to this area or actively moisturize the area. Overexposure to UV will result in all other aging signs such as sagginess, spots, and discoloration on the hands as well as more pronounced veins.
Don’t forget that the skin is an organ and not limited to your face! Although we pay the most attention to our facial skin, we might be neglecting other parts of our body that are equally or even more susceptible to aging. Remember to protect all parts of your body with sunscreen and try to stay out of the sun as much as possible. Remember that sun exposure is responsible for 90% of skin aging, so consider that before you go to the beach to suntan!