Many women notice the first signs of aging in their mid to late 20s, when fine lines (crows feet) start to appear around the eyes. By their 40s, the first deep lines around the mouth and eyes appear as the skin loses its elasticity. See skin structure and functions to learn more about how the skin works.
What Happens To The Skin As We Age
In Your 20s: The skin starts to settle down after the hormone upheaval of the teenage years, although oil (sebum) production may still be high. You may still suffer from spots in your early 20s, but towards your mid-20s your skin will show the first signs of dryness. Dryness is a mixed blessing, on one hand, it reduces the risk of spots, acne, and blackheads, but on the other hand, it promotes the first fine lines around the eyes and mouth.
In Your 30s: Collagen and elastin levels in the skin tissue start to break down and the skin becomes thinner and less plump. Complexion tends to become dryer, and many women report problems with sensitive skin. Age spots on the hands and broken capillaries on the cheeks may start to appear. Skin pores become larger due to sun damage. Skin under the eyes becomes more delicate – eye puffiness in the morning takes increasingly longer to subside.
In Your 40s: Lines around the eyes and mouth deepen, and a furrow can appear on the forehead. The skin is losing its bounce-back factor due to loss of elastin. While skin becomes increasingly drier, some women experience menopause skin problems – namely more sensitive skin, with the occasional outbreak of adult acne. These temporary problems are probably linked to declining levels of estrogen. Read about the effects of estrogen on the body.
In Your 50s and 60s: In your 50s skin tone is likely to become increasingly rougher, with an increase in the number of sunspots (large freckles). Wrinkles and fine lines will have ‘settled’ so the skin acquires true character. In your 60s, the jaw and eyelid may start to sag and droop, an effect of a lifetime of exposure to gravity. See, what is a wrinkle?
How Do We Age?
This is a natural form of biological aging that occurs in the skin and is unrelated to lifestyle factors (such as sun damage, smoking cigarettes and stress). All organs of the body (including the skin) become intrinsically aged as time goes by. Cells become structurally changed and less efficient. The dermis and epidermis (layers of the skin) become thinner (by the time we hit 80, our skin is 30 percent thinner than it was when we are 18). Genetics are an important factor when it comes to intrinsic aging. If your parents aged well, chances are you will too.
Extrinsic ageing is ageing that occurs as a result of outside influences, such as sun damage and smoking. Extrinsic aging is also referred to as photoaging and usually only starts to show from the age of 60 onwards. It is estimated that as much as 70 percent of wrinkles are caused by photoaging – that is, caused by avoidable factors under your control. Exposure to pollution (traffic fumes for example in large cities) increase the skin’s exposure to free radicals which speed up the aging process. Studies confirm, however, that the No.1 cause of extrinsic aging is exposure to the Sun.
There are two types of sun rays that cause damage to the skin – UVB and UVA ultraviolet rays. UVB rays are the type that causes sunburn – they are most intense in the middle of the day. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and it is less dependent on the time of day or season. When choosing a sunscreen product it is important to choose one that protects against both types of rays (a broad-spectrum product) which also has an SPF factor of at least 30. Additionally, you should choose a moisturizer with antioxidants (to protect against free radicals).
Some important antioxidants include green tea, caffeine, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), resveratrol, genistein, and silymarin. Read about the ingredients in face creams.