As we age, our skin undergoes natural wear and tear , just like the rest of our body. But much of what we think of as natural aging is actually due to exposure to factors such as the sun . That means it can be prevented , and it's never too late to start.
Normal aging of the skin: Collagen, elastin and skin slackening
Under our skin is a fiber network of collagen and elastin , which are proteins that keep the skin firm. When the skin is stretched, this protein matrix snaps it back into place. As we age, the fiber network weakens and the skin sags as it loses its support structure. Other unavoidable forces also contribute to skin aging:
- The skin becomes thinner with age and loses fat. The softness of our skin as a child is replaced by a rougher texture.
- Gravity pulls incessantly on the weakened skin, causing, for example, the cheeks or the skin under the arms to droop.
- Our genetic code also invisibly contributes to this process. In some people this contributes to skin that still looks 50 at 80, and sadly the reverse in others.
None of this so-called "intrinsic aging" of the skin can be avoided. But did you notice that we haven't mentioned wrinkles yet?
Prevent skin aging: Sun damage
In fact, most of the skin changes associated with aging are avoidable. And most of them are due to one cause: sun damage . The ultraviolet rays of the sun penetrate the skin. There they damage the elastic fibers that keep the skin firm, which can cause wrinkles. Sunlight is also responsible for age spots or "liver spots" on the hands, face and other areas exposed to the sun.
The amount of wrinkles that develop and how noticeable they are largely depend on a person's lifetime exposure to the sun . While we can't go back and slather sunscreen on our carefree ten-year-old selves, we can stop the damage that's happening now:
- Stop intentionally sunbathing. Any brown color means that the skin is damaged.
- Always wear sunscreen. Choose a product with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or higher. The hands and face are the most exposed, so cover them as much as possible.
- Wear a hat with a brim that protects you from the sun.
- Avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the rays are strongest.
Even with perfect use of sunscreen, wrinkles cannot be completely prevented. Some wrinkles are hereditary , and a certain amount of wrinkles is natural with age.
The relationship between diet and skin
The skin is in constant battle with the sun and constantly repairs and regenerates itself . Your skin needs the right nutrition to keep looking young and healthy. If you eat a lot of junk food, you also give your skin junk food. Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, as well as vitamin A and the B vitamin biotin are particularly important for healthy skin. You can find them in fruits and vegetables or take them as a supplement.
Our parents gave us many gifts genetically. Maybe the genes for good skin were yours. But no matter what kind of skin you've inherited, you can take action to protect and keep the skin you have healthy .
Pharmacist Dirk Christiaen
Founder of Metis Supplements