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How Skin Ages

As we grow older, our skin ages in two ways: intrinsic and extrinsic. 

Intrinsic aging is what naturally happens to us, with genetics playing a primary role in how quickly the aging process occurs. As we age, the epidermis (outer layer of skin) produces new skin cells more and more slowly; our skin cell layer actually decreases in thickness from a wall that is twenty cells deep to one that is only two skin cells deep. At the same time, the proteins in our skin that give it firmness and elasticity diminish; our bodies make less collagen and the elastin in our skin loses strength and resiliency – resulting in skin that is thinner and looser.

Intrinsic aging can be affected by external factors, known as extrinsic aging. Smoking cigarettes, for example, constricts the blood vessels to your skin, which results in less oxygen and fewer vitamins getting where they need to be.

Another contributor to extrinsic aging is sun exposure. Dermatologists call the effects of too much sun on your skin Photoaging. Wrinkles, pigmentation and changes in skin texture are a natural part of intrinsic aging, but they are made decidedly worse and their occurrences are accelerated by absorbing harmful UV rays.

 

How Our Skin Ages: Decade by Decade

Age 20 Loss of skin moisture and first fine lines
Age 30 Skin produces fewer lipids, first forehead wrinkles
Age 40 Skin becomes dryer and thinner, first wrinkles around the eyes occur
Age 50 Diminished supply of nutrients, more pallid complexion, reduced elasticity, flabbier contours
Age 60 Reduced density and thickness, contours become blurred, pigmentation marks occur
Age 70 Extremely dry skin, extended and visible blood vessels, age spots in the face, on the neck and on the back of the hands

 

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