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Understanding my skin
Skin ageing factors (and how hydration prevents this natural phenomenon)
Ageing is a continuous process that is expressed in different ways. Dozens of years pass between the time when the first wrinkles appear and when they have deepened into furrows, when the face loses volume and when it sags.
However, the face does not age in the same way as the body because the facial skin is subject to facial expressions and the law of gravity. The constant movements of the skin are responsible for facial ageing, especially when the skin has been weakened by sun exposure, smoking, a poor diet and its intrinsic genetic qualities.
We now know more about the factors that cause ageing and have discovered how to slow down this natural physiological process — and even how to correct certain aspects.
Ageing is a gradual slowing down of the skin’s metabolism that begins around the age of 25 to 30 in women and slowly evolves over time. One observes a change in skin texture and colour and wrinkles begin to firm. The skin is thinner and dryer, becoming less resistant to damage.
It is also less flexible because the hydrolipidic film decreases as sebum secretion declines. Like all organs, the skin ages according to a genetically-programmed chronological process. But this phenomenon is also influenced by our lifestyle, our diet, the toxins we are exposed to and our stress levels.
The skin is particularly vulnerable to exterior agents because it acts as a wall between the body and the surrounding environment with all the aggressive agents it includes, such as UV rays and free radicals.
We now know that the skin is subject to two types of ageing:
This is chronological ageing, a consequence of the passing of time that affects the entire body and depends on genetic, physiological and sometimes even pathological factors.
This ageing is linked to lifestyle, primarily sun exposure, but also smoking, stress and even pollution.
The various clinical signs of skin ageing are:
Loss of radiance
Wrinkles and fine lines
Loss of firmness
Along with these two processes, we have to deal with oxidative stress, a major cause of skin ageing. This biological phenomenon is generated by free radicals that damage the structure of cells like those in our DNA, membranes, proteins, etc. Our body naturally produces free radicals and our cells normally have a defence mechanism. With age, an imbalance grows between the external stressors (oxidation) and the body’s defence capabilities (antioxidants).
The number of potential stressors increases with age and life experiences (UV radiation, pollution, smoking, etc.), the body’s defences are overwhelmed and ageing accelerates… This is why antioxidants play a crucial role in fighting ageing. They are molecules that inhibit free radicals, either by trapping them (vitamins C and E) or by strengthening the skin’s anti-free radical systems (selenium, zinc, coenzyme Q 10 and superoxide-dismutase). They limit the harmful impact of oxidative stress on the skin’s cells, which is responsible for cutaneous ageing.
The Role of UV Radiation
This is another major cause of skin ageing. All you need to do is look at how the areas usually exposed to the sun, such as the neck, cleavage, forearms and back of the hands, have aged compared to unexposed areas to understand the sun’s harmful effects. The skin becomes wrinkled and marked and various cutaneous lesions may develop due to UV rays. UV rays cause major direct damage to the epidermis and dermis. Resistance to the harmful effects of UV rays varies dramatically depending on the phototype. The skin of blonde-haired subjects with a fair phototype ages far more rapidly than that of the subjects with olive or dark skin. The intensity and duration of sun exposure also determine photoageing, which starts in childhood, as the skin “remembers” the UV rays received over an entire lifetime.
The Role of Smoking
This is another main factor in ageing, due to its direct toxicity and its indirect toxicity through its vascular action. It damages the skin’s elastic fibres and increases the production of free radicals. Simply look at the face of a smoker exposed to the sun and you’ll understand the impact of these two factors combined!
The Role of Diet
The quality and balance of our diet is extremely important. An imbalanced diet low in protein, fat, vitamins, trace elements and antioxidants does not give the body the tools it needs for defending and regenerating tissues. Therefore, follow the advice widely promoted through prevention campaigns.
Give your body vital foods such as water, trace elements, vitamins, proteins, complex carbohydrates, fats rich in omega 3 and omega 6, etc.
. Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
. Eat a variety of foods (animal and plant proteins, oils, etc.)
. Don’t eat too much fat or sugar…
In short, just common sense!
The Role of Stress
From a biological standpoint, stress affects skin ageing just like it affects the rest of the body. This means that stress uses up a lot of energy and produces many free radicals. On the face, it mostly causes muscle tension and therefore constant skin tension and ageing due to tightness. Moreover, a lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep reduces the body’s ability to regenerate and defend itself. If you want to slow down ageing, it is important to live a healthy life: get enough sleep, eat well, limit toxins, etc.
Are we all equal when it comes to ageing?
No, we are not all equal when it comes to ageing! Some people have skin that becomes "marked" more and more quickly than others. For example, fine, dry skin becomes wrinkled more easily than thick, oily skin. People with white skin develop more wrinkles than people with black skin. Genetics and our lifestyles influence the skin’s ability to regenerate itself.
In all cases, you should already be protecting young skin from environmental factors likely to weaken it (sun, pollution, free radicals, etc.). Then, you can use an anti-ageing treatment at any age to maintain your skin’s suppleness, radiance and tone.
The skin is a tissue that fully renews itself every 28 days in normal conditions. These products work to restart the biological mechanisms that slowly lose momentum as we age: the epidermis renews more slowly, skin becomes thinner, exchanges between the dermis and the epidermis decline, skin components break down, etc.
Mature skin has a harder time rebuilding itself. It needs specific treatments that will create optimal conditions to help it regenerate. This tissue regeneration process is essential for fighting skin ageing because the skin is a highly sophisticated barrier that protects us from our environment.
It is easy to understand that the better it is cared for, the stronger it will be to combat various stresses and the less marked it will be. The skin is like a wall: it should be both supple and resistant. Proper tissue regeneration maintains it and keeps it in its optimal state.
Avoid all external sources that promote ageing by changing your lifestyle as much as possible:
Eliminate sun exposure, always apply a good photoprotection product;
Stop/don’t start smoking, eat a balanced diet, drink enough water to moisturise skin sufficiently;
Take care of your emotional health, regulate stress, get enough physical activity, lead a healthy life and create the conditions for good sleep.
More than ever, facial hygiene must be thorough, regularly removing make-up and cleansing with gentle products that do not damage the epidermis.
Exfoliation can stimulate skin renewal, as long as it is done under the right conditions. People with sensitive and/or allergy-prone skin must be especially careful. Their skin is extremely reactive and easily inflamed when products with certain ingredients are applied, especially irritating agents like exfoliants, fruit acids, preservatives, fragrances, etc.
They need high-safety products specially formulated for sensitive skin. Watch out for scented products and organic products that contain plant-based active ingredients that are often responsible for contact eczema. Organic cosmetics do not protect sensitive skin! Ideally you should choose natural products that contain substances found naturally in the skin.
In addition to essential sun protection products, several other strategies are recommended, depending on your age. The older your skin, the dryer it becomes and the more it needs hydration and nourishment.
Starting at the age of 30, anti-ageing products help slow down facial skin ageing by filling wrinkles and fine lines. Later in life, products improve the face’s firmness and volume, as well as fighting facial sagging.
Regenerating products are more active at night and people with mature skin should focus on using night treatments, as confirmed by new findings in chronobiology. The human body is a wonderful machine that adapts to its environment. During the day, it fights to survive, and overnight, it recovers and rebuilds itself! The same is true for the skin, and sleep is critical for tissue regeneration.
The more your skin is cared for and regenerated, the better equipped it will be to combat attacks.