Anyone who has left the teen years behind is probably already growing familiar with the realities of aging skin. In fact, many people assume that it isn’t possible to prevent aging entirely. They are right in some respects. That’s because there are actually two types of aging. Intrinsic aging occurs naturally as we grow older and is largely a product of heredity. Extrinsic aging is based almost entirely on external factors. Understanding the different types of aging allows us to discover ways to prevent aging and maybe even find out how to look younger.
Intrinsic Aging Skin
Intrinsic aging is the inevitable decline of the skin’s elasticity and functionality. Much of the effects of intrinsic aging are based upon heredity. In other words, if your parents possessed younger looking skin well into their mature years, then chances are fairly good that you have a good shot at maintaining a similar appearance.
Even with good genes intrinsic aging is the more inevitable of the types of aging. In addition to heredity, hormone production also plays a key role in how much you are affected by this first of the two types of aging. Women going through menopause experience a drop in estrogen. This hormone fluctuation causes significant changes in the skin. Less estrogen generally means losing collagen, and that means losing the skin’s support structure. This loss is signaled by loose, sagging skin and more prominent lines and wrinkles.
Another factor affecting intrinsic aging is cellular recession. At a basic level, the body simply doesn’t function as efficiently as we age. Cell turnover is slowed and so is metabolism. Our skin cannot generate new skin cells as quickly as before. The result is often dull skin that is completely without the glow that is typically associated with youth.
Intrinsic aging by itself is a natural process. It happens to everyone, but it is only one of the types of aging skin. Heredity largely determines the intrinsic aging process, and we have little control over how it affects us. Extrinsic aging is a different story entirely.
Extrinsic Aging Skin
Extrinsic aging occurs because of external factors. Smoking, poor diet, lack of sleep, environmental pollution and sun exposure are all examples of factors that can speed the extrinsic aging process. While intrinsic aging is also sometimes called chronological aging, the commonly accepted alternative term for extrinsic aging is photoaging. Photoaging refers to the damage caused by the sun, the number one determining factor when it comes to extrinsic aging.
When it comes to losing younger looking skin, the sun is the number one culprit. In fact, researchers have estimated that exposure to harmful UV radiation is responsible for as much as 80% of the appearance of aging skin. Accordingly, those are who genuinely interested in how to look younger must take steps to reduce their exposure to the sun and find ways to minimize the damage that has already occurred.
That our main source of light and life should also be so dangerous seems illogical, yet UV exposure is responsible for everything from dark spots to potentially life-threatening skin cancer. Another fact that’s hard to come to terms with is that by the time you’ve reached your 30s or 40s, the sun has already left its permanent mark. The fact is that most sun damage occurs in our younger years when our cell regeneration rate is high and our collagen levels are optimal. When the effects of sun damage begin to be visible in the decade of the 30s, most people don’t know that their sun exposure habits beginning in their youngest years are finally becoming apparent.
Unfortunately, most people don’t become aware of the dangers of photoaging until long after the damage has already occurred. The appearance of aging skin may also be exacerbated by other external factors like smoking. Doctors often refer to a phenomenon called “smoker’s face.” Several characteristic changes take place after many years of smoking including a distinctive pattern of wrinkles and a certain sallowness. These changes are wrought by the decreased flow of oxygen to the skin that’s caused by smoking. Free radical production also gets a boost from the habit of lighting up. These free radicals attack and break down collagen, leading to the proliferation of wrinkles and sagging skin.
Even air pollution can derail your quest to prevent aging. Rather like smoking, exposure to environmental pollutants can mean higher levels of free radicals. Other factors, like poor nutritional habits and living with unreasonable amounts of stress, can also exacerbate the effects of extrinsic aging.
Reducing the Signs of Aging
The two types of aging are quite different. While we have little control over the intrinsic aspects, we have some control over extrinsic aging. That’s good news because of the two types of aging, extrinsic tends to be the more troublesome.
If you want to reduce the signs of aging, then wearing sunscreen every day is imperative. Sunscreen belongs not only on your face, but also on other parts of your body that are frequently exposed to UV rays like your neck, chest, hands and forearms. Wearing sunscreen today will be highly beneficial for your skin tomorrow. However, it cannot correct the effects of extrinsic aging that you are already experiencing.
When it comes to discovering how to look younger, a consultation with your dermatologist is indispensable. Your dermatologist can present you with a multitude of options for reversing the effects of the different types of aging. In fact, if you want to reduce the signs of aging, you don’t need to look any further for an ally. A board-certified dermatologist has an arsenal of tools and treatments that can be used to achieve younger looking skin.
Your dermatologist can recommend a moisturizer that can make your skin look younger within just a few days of beginning to use it. He may also provide tips regarding what types of cleansers to use and how to perform beneficial exfoliation treatments in the comfort of your own home. Based on recommendations from your dermatologist, you may also want to try some effective in office treatments that are designed to minimize the effects of aging.
Chemical peels are another powerful tool utilized by an experienced dermatologist. Undergoing regular chemical peels can make lines and wrinkles appear fainter. With a brighter complexion and smoother skin, most patients experience a glowing, more youthful appearance.
Other treatments that lead to younger looking skin involve lasers. Resurfacing treatments effectively soften or remove the signs of aging skin. These minimally invasive approaches provide great results. Your dermatologist can also make recommendations about fillers and injectables, two medically proven treatments that have been effective for millions of patients.
There may be two different types of aging, but you don’t have to accept the ravages of either kind. Enlist your dermatologist to explore various treatments that can prevent aging.