Ageing Skin

Ageing Skin
Are you brave enough to find out how skin really ages...?

To understand the aging process of skin, you need to know what skin is essentially made up of. There are 3 basic layers, the stratum corneum, the epidermis, and the dermis. The very top layer is called the stratum corneum, which is the top part of the epidermis. The stratum corneum is what people tend to call the 'dead layer of skin.' Within the epidermis is melanin. Melanin is what gives each one of us our skin pigmentation; this pigmentation helps to protect us from the sun's rays. Underneath the epidermis is a much larger layer called the dermis. It is within the dermis that blood vessels, sweat glands and collagen fibers reside. These layers make up what we refer to as the skin. Underneath the dermis is what is referred to as adipose tissue (otherwise known as fat). This fat is healthy and gives the skin an even shape especially on our faces.

New cells form from the lowest level of the epidermis, which gradually rise upwards towards the outer layer (the stratum corneum). It is here where they are worn off through the environment, with newer ones already beneath to replace the old cells. As we become older, this outer layer of the epidermis becomes slightly thinner, and the cells that are being made at the lower level are dividing and replacing themselves slowly. Therefore healing time is affected, along with a decrease in the production of more new skin cells. This reduction in new cells cause some of the visible ageing of the skin, as the skin has becomes a lot thinner.

As you get older the melanin producing cells also decrease, so that the skin is at a higher risk of being damaged by the sun (as there is less pigment to protect the skin from ultraviolet light). Therefore it is extremely important to wear sunscreen whenever you are outside for your entire lifetime which in turn slows down the visual affects of ageing. It is something that doesn't require much time, but the results of wearing sunscreen throughout your life will show.

As you age, the collagen within the dermis becomes more stable, now this may sound positive, but it's not. It gives a person a look of stiffness in the face, and in general the skin is less pliable. And through this, the skin loses its elasticity. The skin which was once supple and firm during youth, when aged, loses its elasticity, and does not 'snap back' as it would when young.

Ageing also causes the fatty deposits under the dermis, to lessen, resulting in less cushioning to the outer layers of the skin. Therefore skin can bruise more easily, as the blood vessels within the dermis are not as protected as before.

These changes within the subcutaneous tissue (the underlying fat cells), and the changes within the dermis are the main contributors to deep wrinkles and sagging skin.

Well that's all pretty depressing. All I can say is, stay well out of the sun, as that is one way to combat the aging of skin. Also be aware of skin creams that carry huge promises, they may help a little, but there is not much that has been found in reducing the problems of sagging wrinkled skin (other than a face lift and a injection of collagen or fat into the face). If you practice good skincare throughout your younger years you will have more chance of maintaining healthier, younger looking skin through life.

- Louise Ganey