The 6 Signs of Aging Skin
Skin (like most things) changes over time. What exactly happens to our skin as we age depends on external factors (sun damage, pollution, and lifestyle choices) and intrinsic factors (genetics and DNA makeup)—meaning aging skin can look different for everyone. Still, there are some common concerns that occur as we grow older—beyond just fine lines and wrinkles. Read on for our complete guide to the most common signs of skin aging, why they show up in the first place, and what to do about them.
Wrinkles and Fine LinesProbably the most talked-about sign of aging is wrinkles. These creases can appear on any part of the skin, but often show up on our consistently exposed areas, such as the face, neck, and hands. Crow’s feet, smile lines, and tech neck are some examples of wrinkles that can be caused by a combination of the natural aging process and repeated movements of the skin (squinting, smiling, and staring down at a screen, respectively).
The primary cause for wrinkles, however, is the degradation of collagen and elastin. Collagen is a fibrous protein in the body (in fact, it’s the most abundant—80% of the skin is made up of collagen). Another protein, elastin, is responsible for maintaining the structure of our skin cells. This, as it sounds, is what gives skin its elasticity—the ability to stretch and bounce back to its original form. While these two are essential for keeping skin plump, firm, and strong, they naturally decrease as we age. In fact, studies show that after the age of 20, collagen production decreases by 1% each year. Without as much collagen and elastin, the structure of the skin weakens and sections of the epidermis begin to sink inwards, resulting in wrinkles.
Quick note: The topic of collagen is a bit controversial, particularly as creams and powders designed to “boost collagen production” have become a trend as of late. Because collagen is a protein, you can get sources of it from your diet or by taking supplements (like hyaluronic acid). But let’s be clear: No matter what skincare products you use, your body’s ability to synthesize nutrients will still decrease as you age. And collagen is a complex molecule—there’s limited research as to whether products even contain a version that’s small enough to penetrate deep down into the skin’s dermis. Lastly, if you’re eating a well-balanced diet, it’s likely you’re getting enough nutrients for your body to produce the amount of collagen it needs naturally. That being said, skincare that works to prevent damage from the sun and more—which can cause premature degradation of collagen—is effective. The best form of protection? Wearing sunscreen daily. Fermented purple tea, found in our Recovery Mode Advanced Night Cream, can also be used to fend off free radicals that otherwise cause premature fine lines.
Thin, ‘Crepey’ SkinAs we age, our skin becomes more fragile. It may appear thin, delicate, and ‘crepey’—a wrinkled, papery-like texture. This change occurs as a direct result of the loss of collagen and elastin we mentioned above. Collagen and elastin keep skin smooth and supple; as it depletes, skin will begin to thin out. On top of that, the fatty tissue found in our skin (which are evenly distributed when we’re young and contribute to skin’s plumpness) loses volume over time. This may cause some areas of the skin to appear sunken-in. Adding extra calories to your diet will not restore skin’s fatty tissue, but you can keep skin healthy and strong by fending off damage that can prematurely weaken the skin's barrier and accelerate thinning. Besides using ample sunscreen, incorporate more antioxidants into your routine. Plentiful in our Antioxidant Oil-Serum, these neutralize damaging free radicals that can otherwise break down collagen.
Sagginess and Loss of FirmnessAging skin loses its elasticity and firmness, causing some areas (such as ‘turkey neck’ or undereye bags) to sag. In addition to the degradation of elastin and collagen, which keep skin firm, our muscles weaken as we grow older and the fat stored within starts to droop.
Loss of firmness is one of the main reasons many turn to professional procedures and fillers, but if you’re looking for a non-surgical option, incorporating microalgae—which, formulated in Auto-Save Advanced Restoring Serum, delivers an instant, 24-hour lift to skin—can help restore that structure. If you’re hyper-focused on loss of firmness beneath the eye area, lightly tap on the peptide blend (amino acids that make up collagen) found in Zero-G.
Dullness and Age SpotsWhile dullness and hyperpigmentation can appear at any age, the changes skin undergoes as it grows older can cause these skin concerns to become even more prominent. Skin may lose its luster and damage to the outer layer of the skin, such as acne scars and age spots (which are just dark spots specifically tied to aging skin), may take longer to fade. This is all due to a slower cellular turnover rate.
The life cycle of a skin cell (the amount of time it takes a cell to move from the deeper levels of the epidermis to the surface before eventually flaking off) lasts around 28 days for the average middle-aged adult. But this timeframe slows down as we age. Teenage skin actually has a life cycle of just a few weeks, while older groups can last 45-90 days; when the rate of their turnover slows down, skin isn’t able to shed its old, dead skin cells as quickly and recover from damage. Fresh, new skin cells are what allow our skin to maintain a youthful, rejuvenated appearance; a lack of these (along with an excess of old ones) can cause skin to appear dull and lackluster.
Using active ingredients that work at the cellular level to turnover skin cells more quickly, such as retinol, can help. Since aging skin can be fragile and easily sensitized, however, it’s important to use a retinol that won’t irritate the skin. Press Restart uses encapsulated retinol, along with two retinol alternatives, to deliver the ingredient deep beneath the layers of the skin without any irritation. Consistent exfoliation to dredge up those dead skin cells and reveal the younger ones beneath is also key.
DrynessThe fact that skin may experience more dryness as we grow older is not a sign of aging that often gets much attention. Dryness (not to be confused with dehydrated skin) can result in yes, dry skin, but also flakiness and itchiness. Because most of our oil glands are located in areas like the neck, chest, face, and scalp, this is where you may notice it the most. No matter where it occurs, however, this uptick in dryness happens because the skin produces less oil and loses more moisture as we age.
The skin’s moisture barrier, part of the outermost layer of the skin, plays an important role when it comes to aging skin. Not only does it protect the skin from environmental damage, such as pollution and UV rays, but it also prevents moisture loss. But because of the degradation of collagen and elastin in the dermis (which supports this outermost layer, the epidermis), our barrier becomes compromised, more easily prone to damage, and less able to hold in moisture.
At the same time, our sebaceous glands produce less oil each year we age (except, of course, when hormones in our teens cause a spike). While this may sound ideal for oily and acneic skin types, moisture is key when it comes to a smooth, supple, younger-looking complexion. And while dryness doesn’t cause wrinkles per se, a lack of oil can make them appear more pronounced. Because of this, oily skin types are rumored to not age as quickly as dry ones. While fine lines may not be as apparent on the forehead, neck, and chest on oily skin (where the sebaceous glands live), they may still experience wrinkles elsewhere. Skin Soak, which can be used as a day or nighttime moisturizer depending on skin’s level of dryness, uses squalane and vitamin E to restore this loss of moisture and benefit aging skin.