Saturday 05 December 2009, 00:28

Skin aging: is it inevitable?

Causes of skin aging and measures that can help prevent premature skin aging

Skin aging: is it inevitable?

Is skin aging an inevitable process? Well, the simple answer is yes. Research has shown that there are actually two kinds of skin aging: intrinsic aging and extrinsic aging. 


Intrinsic aging (or natural aging process) is driven by genetics. It begins at about 20 years of age and continues throughout life. From that age onward, collagen production slows, elastin fibers lose their elasticity and skin cell turnover decreases. Although this process begins early in life, visible aging signs (such as fine wrinkles, skin dryness and thinning, loss of skin firmness, hair loss, etc) appear a few decades later.


Extrinsic aging is caused by environmental or behavioural factors, that often act together with the natural aging process to cause the skin to prematurely age. The main factor causing premature skin aging is sun exposure. However other external factors may play a role, such as repetitive facial expressions, sleeping positions and smoking.


Although the intrinsic aging process cannot be stopped or slowed down, premature aging can be prevented by controlling the external factors: for example by protecting skin from UVA and UVB rays, quitting smoking and avoiding facial exercises.


People who are stressed out by visible signs of aging may choose among a variety of surgical or topical cosmetic treatments. Injectable fillers, facelift, dermabrasion, chemical peeling, laser resurfacing are only some of them.


The market of anti-aging products (age-fighting creams, gels, serums and other topicals) is increasingly popular. However not all the products that claim anti-aging properties are effective. Dermatologists agree that sunscreens and moisturizers are the most beneficial age-fighting products on the market. Moreover science has shown that certain active ingredients can effectively treat signs of aging. They include retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, some growth factors, salicylic acid, hydroquinone, azelaic acid and some peptides. Therefore the best advice when choosing anti-aging products is to check the list of ingredients and be wary of marketing claims that sound too good. 


By Chiara De Carli

Category: Health

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