Understand and Prevent Skin Aging

For as long as one can remember, it has been the pursuit of many to keep their youthful looks, even at great costs. In this day and age, the trend has not changed. Now more than ever, methods, techniques and treatments meant to retain that "youthful glow" proliferate everywhere. As skin is the most telltale sign of getting old, anti-aging goods and services account for billions of dollars spent in the hopes of delaying the onset of skin aging. Unfortunately, many have been and are misinformed on how and why skin ages misleading these same people into buying products that only offer short-lived, if not unsuccessful and disappointing, results.

It is, therefore, smart to know just how the skin develops over time. Only when you understanding the hows and whys of aging skin, can you develop the correct habits and source the best treatments necessary to retain youthful looks for as long as possible. Firstly, there are two types of aging for the skin. Genes together with the condition of your body determine the intrinsic, or internal, aging process; and extrinsic (external) aging, which is caused by factors outside one's body, such as sunlight and lifestyle. Aging is a natural process and our genes determine how we will go through the process. From the age of approximately 25 years, the skin will show signs of deterioration.

As we age, the skin's ability to snap back to shape (elasticity) starts to decrease. That is because skin cells do not regenerate as fast as they used to - resulting in tougher, older skin. Although internal aging begins in our 20s, the typical signs of wrinkles and sagging skin do not appear for about a couple of decades more. Other factors which produce adverse skin effects are the loss of proper body cooling, achieved by sweat production, thinning, dryness and loss of firmness. Extrinsic (external) aging factors are those outside one's own genes that accelerate skin aging. Lifestyles and habits have further impact on why aging skin occurs more prematurely in one's lifetime.

Sun exposure is an important consideration. With the present condition our atmosphere is in, harmful rays from the sun pass through in ever increasing amounts, causing damage to the skin and hampering its ability to repair itself. It does not take much to damage your skin; even a short period of regular exposure to the harmful UV rays of the sun is enough to promote rough skin, freckles and age spots. An even graver symptom would be the onset of skin cancer.

Dermatologists call this effect "photo aging", in reference to the sun's rays that reduce the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein found in connective tissue that allows skin tissue to maintain elasticity and resume its natural shape and to retain its youthful appearance. Collagen diminishes as people age. One's susceptibility to "photo aging" is determined by the amount of pigment in the skin as well as the frequency and duration one spends under the sun's rays.

Given these factors, fair-skinned individuals and those who spend long periods under the sun stand to have more pronounced effects of photo aging compared to those who are darker-skinned and spend more time in the shade. Facial exercises have sometimes been fashionable. Ironically, the routine once prescribed to prevent facial wrinkles is actually one of the causes of that very thing one aims to avoid. Facial exercises cause the muscles on the face to fold and crease the skin.

As the skin's elasticity decreases, the skin starts to take on the creases more permanently causing deep wrinkles on the face. Cigarette smoking not only causes harm to the body internally but externally as well. The clearest signs are judged by the appearance of the skin. Smokers suffer faster break up of skin cells, and other harmful effects, with the absorption of nicotine into the body system. In comparison, someone who has smoked for several years will look noticeably older than a person who has never smoked. In addition to wrinkles, yellowish discoloration of the skin has been observed in smokers.

Stopping smoking, will produce noticeable improvement in the quality of the skin within quite a short time. The actual amount of time will vary from person to person, depending on the level of damage that has occurred. Obviously it's vital to be careful what you eat.

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, drinking lots of water are just the basics. This is covered more fully elsewhere. Perhaps the best solution is to understand the aging process and not view it as a disease, but rather see it as another stage of development the body undergoes.

However much we try to delay the process, it is inevitable that the signs of skin aging will inevitably show up on everyone at one point or the other. Fortunately, many products and treatments are available to delay the outward symptoms.

There's lots more you can learn about skincare by downloading a free e-book at: Do it now, before you forget. Nutritionist Joy Healey wrote this article especially for people like you, who are interested in skincare. Joy qualified at the famous Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London in 2000

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