A Skin-Deep Review of Age-Related Processes in the Body.
People say it constantly, “I never realized how much time has truly passed until I started to notice the changes of my face in a mirror, or looking back at an old photo.” Our skin is mighty, and it does a lot for us without us realizing - and it’s where we can see aging the most.
But what is the aging process for skin? What can we do to address this process? What is changing underneath the surface, and when in our lives do these changes happen? The largest organ in our body, our skin, has many jobs, including: regulating body temperature, keeping our other organs close and safe from the outside world, and protecting us from bacteria, toxins, and UV damage, all while simultaneously secreting waste from the body.
Most people want to slow down the aging process as much as possible. So, how do we do that? To understand how we can minimize or slow down the effects of aging, we must first understand the different layers and jobs throughout the skin. We also must know how the job each layer performs changes overtime. Keep reading to learn what we can individually do to stop or speed up visible aging!
What Are the Different Layers of the Skin and Their Jobs?
The epidermis is the top of the three layers of the skin. This is where we can visibly see damage that had occurred in the deeper layers of the skin. This top layer is then broken down into five other layers that have their own jobs.
Stratum Corneum: the outermost shield. Protects us from UV, extrinsic aging, pollution, and bacteria. Protects water from leaving the skin. This area is where the desquamation process starts, and the cell cycle to reach the top layer of the epidermis is about 20-40 days, depending on age.
- Stratum Basel: the bottom layer of the epidermis. Where "new" skin cells (aka keratinocytes) are created and begin the journey upwards.
The layer that we can see and touch is the is the stratum corneum. This layer is made-up of sebum, compacted keratinocytes, and sweat, which also make up our acid mantle. Our acid mantle is important to keep balanced so our skin isn’t being compromised by having water escape. It also helps to make sure products are working effectively on the skin. The stratum corneum is the last stop for skin cells before being shed off the body.
The four other layers of the epidermis have other jobs equally as important as the stratum corneum. They hide just below the surface, and have jobs ranging from: creating a water-resistant barrier, working to maintain moisture, preventing bacteria from entering the body, and/or releasing cells to attack infection. We have different cells in this layer that help these jobs, such as Langerhans, Merkel, and Melanocytes. The bottom layer of the epidermis is called the stratum basal (or the basal layer). This is where Merkel cells and keratinocytes originate and start their journey up towards the surface. This cell renewal cycle takes on average about 25 to 35 days to complete, and slows we age. In addition to helping with collagen production, vitamin c helps reduce the oxidative stress our cells experience, which keeps them healthy for efficient cell turnover.
Onto the middle layer - the dermis. This layer of skin is responsible for sensing temperature, pressure, and pain, as well as producing the dermal ridges on our fingerprints. This layer also contains blood vessels, oil and sweat glands, and our hair follicles, but you probably hear the most collagen or elastin - and rightfully so, since they makeup the majority of the dermis (80%).
In addition to holding over 60% of our skin and body's water, the dermis is also where we store and build our collagen and elastin fibers. With the help of hyaluronic acid, the dermis becomes the skins' water reservoir. Making sure that we properly support the dermis means we are creating a solid structure and foundation.
So how do we do this? How does every part of the skin connect within itself? Collagen fibers give our skin structure and strength. Elastin fibers give our skin pliability and bounce back. The volume in our skin comes from our fundamental grounds' (aka our skin's internal matrix) substance, which is made up of Glycosaminoglycans, or “GAGs”, and are water binding molecules that can hold up to 1000 times their weight. In sum, the GAGs help to retain moisture and nutrients. For example, Hyaluronic Acid is considered a GAG. Think of your dermis as a balloon, and collagen and elastic are the plastic structure that is referred to as a balloon, whereas the GAGs is the air that fills it up. All three of these systems need to be addressed to achieve either proper prevention or correction of aging in the skin.
Dermal Epidermal Junction
What is our dermal epidermal junction? Also known as the DEJ, it is located, you guessed it, between the Epidermis and Dermis. This junction establishes a solid connection between these two layers and provides a resistance to physical stress, ensures good communication between the cells of each layer, regulates melanin synthesis, and houses stem cells. These stem cells go into our epidermis or dermis and provide regeneration. The stem cells located in the epidermis turn into keratinocytes, which then turn into our skin cells. In contrast, our dermal stem cells turn into fibroblasts, which later become collagen. With aging of this junction, we see reduced quality and quantity of stem cells that help with our self-renewal capacity.
As mentioned before, the dermis houses over 60% of our skin's water. Overtime, our skin becomes less capable of trapping water and keeping damage out of our skin due to this junction becoming thinner with age. The best way to maintain a healthy DEJ is to protect it from the outside in, and avoiding a tricking down effect of issues. How? Keeping a strong, supported stratum corneum and epidermis. This is one of the reasons we have so many different skincare products. Each lotion and potion is formulated for a specific age range and skin condition, as well as accounting for lifestyle and texture preference. A few of our best-selling products that focus on strengthening the stratum corneum and epidermis are Yonka Lotion PG and PS, Yonka Elastine Jour + Elastine Nuit, Phytomer HydraSea Night, Phytomer Creme 30, Phytomer XMF Serum, Yonka Excellence Code and Yonka Cellular Code. I offer product recommendations based on age ranges later in the article.
Our subcutaneous layer of our skin also known as the hypodermis. This layer provides padding and protection to our inner organs, while also acting as an energy reserve and helping with thermoregulation. In this layer you can find collagen, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and fat. Blood vessels bring nutrients and oxygen to the skin. Lymphatics vessels work together with blood vessels to secrete toxins and waste. We will have a post of the lymphatic system coming out later, so keep an eye out! While many companies tout the ability to ingest or inject collagen, Bellini's values being self sufficient. That's why we carry products that stimulate your own natural collagen, and continue to stimulate the processes that produce it. As a result, your skin is naturally plumped overtime - without the help of needles. Some products we carry that do this are Skinceuticals vitamin c serums, Vie Chrono Lines moisturizer, and the Phytomer Oligoforce Advanced serum.
What Are the Different Kinds of Aging?
I like to think of intrinsic aging as things that are happening out of our control. These would include hormonal imbalances, your DNA and genetics, stem cells, muscle aging, and glycation.
- Hormonal imbalance- Hormones affect everything from brain function, to sleep, reproduction, immunity and metabolism. If you guessed that hormones have a huge impact on our skin health, you would be right! For example, different imbalances in our testosterone and estrogen can cause dryness, acne, increase discoloration, and inflammation. Hormone levels starts to settle in our 20's, and rise gain during any pregnancies. During our 40’s is when hormone levels diminish, which affects collagen and elastin production. Hormone changes can also happen after having some sort of surgical intervention, such as a hysterectomy.
- DNA - Your inherited genes determine your skin color, skin thickness and strength, cellular processes and possible disease or disorder impart. Signs of aging in the skin are directly affected by your genetics. While you cannot change your genes, you can improve the overall health of your skin through lifestyle and diet changes.
- Diminished Stem Cells – As mentioned about earlier, stem cells help cell renewal processes. By the time we are 60, we have 10x less stem cells than we did at 25. Protecting dermal stem cells fights against the signs of aging.
- Myo aging- Did you know that our muscles can age? Think about how many muscles move on your face to form a single expression. From facial expressions to working out, our muscle health will fluctuate based on how we are fueling our body.
Glycation – An aging factor that lives in both intrinsic and extrinsic aging. Glycation is when sugars in our body start to attach themselves to our collagen and elastin fibers, thus making them brittle. This cause damage and leaves the skin unable to create strong connections and structures. The result creates more sallowness and slackening within the skin. It also increases the amount of MMP’s (matrix metalloprotease) in the skin, which is an enzyme that breaks down collagen. Glycation appears on the skin as many thin, fine lines throughout the skin. You would most commonly see it on the chin and cheeks.
Extrinsic aging is considered your environmental aging, and are within individuals control. These things include UV exposure, smoking, alcohol intake, as well as stress, diet, and climate. Glycation is also an extrinsic factor as it is tied to our diet.
- Stress - wreaks havoc, mentally and physically. It causes a complex chemical response in the brain. Chronic stress can directly affect the bodies functions, from affecting wound healing, to causing hair loss, acne, and pigment. Our bodies will release cortisol into the body which can affect our oil production. Skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis can worsen.
- Diet - Maintaining a healthy balanced diet is key to a healthy body. Making sure our body is receiving the nutrients to run at optimal function is our goal. Understanding how a poor diet can have an impact on skin health can help you to make better choices in the future. Refined sugars, processed foods and saturated fats can lead to inflammation, poor wound healing, vascular issues and increased signs of aging. Sugars and processed foods lead to glycation, so limiting or avoiding these is best. Consuming a wide variety of veggies can help us with our natural antioxidant intake, thus helping minimize oxidative stress. Finally, make sure to are drink at least 90-125 oz of water a day.
- Alcohol- Drinking large amounts of alcohol dehydrates the body, increases our blood flow (due to being a blood thinner) and histamine response, as well as cause liver diseases and vitamin deficiency. This can cause many visible signs of aging in the skin, such as increased flushing, broken capillaries, itching, and redness. This can make the skin can feel rough, dry, and congested. You may even notice a yellow hue to the skin when your liver is having serious issues.
- Smoking - Smoking has many negative effects on the skin. Some examples being decreased blood flow to the dermis, decreased immune response, increased vitamin deficiency, increased MMP’s, and increased glycation. How does this affect our skin's appearance? Everything from broken capillaries, dull and rough skin, redness, poor healing, a thicker congested epidermis, and discoloration of yellow and gray.
- Pollution - Contributes to skin aging as well as overall skin health. Being in a large city with lots of exhaust, chemical plants, and secondhand smoke can lead to the oxidative stress in the skin. Smog and pollution can cause dry and irritated skin, redness, improper healing, and can lead to lack of oxygen in the skin. Making sure we support the skin to keep these toxins out is extremely important.
Sun exposure has been found to cause up to 80% of our facial aging. This is referred to as photoaging. Photoaging can increase MMPs. UV exposure doesn't just happen while laying on the beach or going to a tanning bed. The biggest component of UV exposure is what we call Passive Sun Exposure. Some example are when the sun beats down on your arms while driving in your car, or while walking around a park. Making sure you're properly protected from the suns UV rays can make a huge difference in the aging of your skin. You can read more about SPF and finding the right product for you in our sunscreen blog post here. Not having proper protection can decrease skin immunity, desquamation (cell turnover), and lead to increased pigmentation.
Inflammaging (pronounced in-flam-aging) is a result of oxidative stress and mitochondrial damage, and leads to excessive aging. Oxidative stress is when the cells become overwhelmed with free radicals and do not enough antioxidants to defend themselves. This stress can come from diet, injury, UV, and/or pollutants. This then leads to inflammation. Inflammation in the body, on a small level, is not a bad thing; however, having too much inflammation for too long can cause more harm than good. When the body is in a constant state of stress, the cells become damaged and then multiply with damaged DNA and mitochondria. This chronic inflammation can break down the collagen-elastin network and diminish stem cells.
When Does This Happen? What Does It Look Like, And How Do I Slow It Down?
You grow into your body during childhood, and this is when your body is producing the mass amounts of cells needed to grow. In addition, your body's cell cycles are much faster during this time, making healing much quicker. You simply have spent less time exposed to extrinsic and intrinsic aging factors. A child should have an even skin tone, have a quick vascular response, and no real texture over top. During this time, we are just trying to prevent as much damage from getting deeper into the cells and DNA. The best thing we can do for our children is making sure that they are wearing sunscreen and protective clothing while they're outside as well as giving them and well-balanced diet, exercise, a solid sleep schedule, and minimize stress. The best SPF is one you'll use, so check out our guide to finding your perfect match here. Remember we are preventing not correcting
Your skin condition will remain roughly the same from age 12-13 to age 25. This stage we are simply referring to as puberty, because your hormones are changing your skin. This time period is focused on trying to find a balance between how your skin reacts and how to treat it. The skin also has more exposure to extrinsic factors like UV - remember, this is one of the biggest aging factors for the skin! Fluctuation in hormones may contribute to seeing more acne and oil, more pigmentation in areas, and more hair on the body. During these years, we are also learning how to maintain healthy diets, and ideally not begin to smoke or drink in excess.
Our main job during this time is to help support and keep the skin balanced, as well as making sure we minimize oxidative stress. Once our cells start to have damage at a DNA level, they will start replicating these damaged cells. We can prevent this by providing proper skin care and regular cleanings. Regular facials help clear out pores and prevent them from being clogged or impacted, as well as hydrate the skin for dry or dehydrated skin. A common problem during this time is finding your true skin type (normal, combination, dry, or oily). It is very common to have a hard time knowing what your true skin type because the hormones in the body are constantly fluctuating, which also makes picking the correct skincare products even harder! Coming in for monthly maintenance facials not only keeps your skin balanced, but will also educate you on how to properly care for your unique skin.
Again, the main focus during this time is preventing not correcting. How do we do that? Making sure we maintain a healthy diet, drink lots of water, wear proper sun protection, and exercise. In addition to wearing sunscreen everyday, the #1 thing you can do is start wearing vitamin c every day. In conjunction with SPF, vitamin c prevents 100% of UV rays from penetrating the skin.
The biggest change during this time is adding a cleansing step to your skincare routine! Making sure our skin is properly cleaned as we get into puberty and our hormones become more active will help to minimize acne, effects of pollution, and scarring. Some cleansers I recommend for this age group are:
|Normal||SkinCeuticals Simply Clean|
|Dry||Yonka Lait Nettoyant or Phytomer Perfect Visage|
|Oily||Yonka Gel Nettoyant or SkinCeuticals LHA Cleanser|
Again, the number one anti-aging practice you can do while you are child and in puberty is wear sunscreen! Make sure that you use a sunscreen that is at least 30 SPF, and reapply every 75 to 90 minutes.
25-35 Years Old
The aging process really starts during this time. This is where we are beginning to see any damage that has occurred during childhood and puberty. For example, UV damage takes about 15-20 years to make its way to the surface of our skin. We can also start to see the beginning of wrinkles, as myoaging (muscle aging) can occur as early as this time frame. However, you still have lots of time to prevent and correct any more damage from occurring! Starting to focus on correcting any issues now will lessen the amount of damage visible then if you were to start later.
Support the skin during this stage by making sure to properly clean the skin, continue to use and reapply SPF, as well as making sure that to change skincare products to ones that focus on supporting skin function and our new skin needs. I recommend trying out Phytomer's Souffle Marin cleanser during this time.
Make sure that the epidermis is strong and functioning during this time is pertinent to anti-aging. My favorite way to do this is with specific moisturizers. Keeping the epidermis strong will help to protect the precious cells beneath in the dermis. The goal now is to minimize any damage to collagen and elastin fibers, support those connections, and minimize oxidative stress. You can target many of these concerns by using antioxidants, such as using a vitamin c to help prevent more UV damage (if you're not using one already). If you're unable to use vitamin c for any reason, a great alternative (or complimentary product to traditional vitamin c) is SkinCeuticals Resveratrol, which is a nighttime antioxidants derived from grapes. Some moisturizers I would recommend for this age group are:
35-45 Years Old
Hormone levels change if you've gone through pregnancy, which will again throw your skin out of balance. The last three decades of UV exposure, diet and exercise levels are showing on the skin way more than when we were 20 - especially if we haven't been taking care of it. This is the first sign of real wrinkles, but it's more superficial wrinkles while in motion. The best way to think of this is you have wrinkles in motion when you're smiling, laughing, or making a certain face. By the time you were the age of 30, your collagen production has dropped down by 40%. Again, collagen is the substance in our skin that gives us our strength and a lot of structure. If you have been taking care of your skin, you will be doing minimal correction.
Regardless, the main focus during this time to to keep the epidermis as thick as possible. As early as 30 years old, we can see slackening and sagging of the skin, more prevalent sun damage throughout, as well as defined wrinkles and lines. As we get into this age, our cell renewal cycles will slow down. In our younger years and 20s, the average cycle is about 25 to 30 days. In our 30s and 40s, that bumps up into being about 35 to 40 days. During these years, we want to support the epidermis with collagen-boosting products -- such as Vie's Mesoforce or Yonka's Elastine Jour and Elastine Nuit, which specifically focus on regenerative elastin fibers. --, while also starting introducing more stem cells to replace the cellular activity that we lost over time.
Due to the decreased efficiency of the skin's cell cycle, an extra layer of dead skin cells can accumulate, giving the skin an uneven or dull tone. It can also show pigmentation. Overall, lackluster in the skin or radiance. Making sure that we get proper exfoliation during this time will help to minimize these symptoms. The main regime during this time is focused on continual SPF use, maintaining as healthy a lifestyle as possible, using effective antioxidants, and starting to support the dermis.
|Rapid Exfoliant||Yonka Glyconight or SkinCeuticals Glyco 10 Renew Overnight|
|Moisturizer||SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal, Yonka Elastine Jour + Elastine Nuit, Yonka Phyto52, or Phytomer Creme 30|
45-55 Years Old
Women who are going through menopause are dealing with the hormonal changes yet again. Go women! Some of the bigger hormonal changes currently is that our body starts to slow down estrogen production. Without estrogen, the body has difficulty lubricating itself, the dermis thins, and sensitivity and hair growth is increased. The aging process speeds up in our 40's even more than when we were 25. At this age, the epidermis can be four times thinner than it was at 25. The functionality of the epidermal dermal junction is also compromised.
Our skin has a hard time communicating to itself, leading to the skin no longer being able to trap hydration or give nutrients. Now is when wrinkles become deeper, and can be seen in motion as well as in rest. Increased loss of volume and sagging will become apparent if you were a heavy drinker or smoker previously. The elastin fibers are not as strong and plentiful, and can use assistance from products like Yonka's Advanced Optimizer Serum and Advanced Optimizer Cream, as well as Phytomer's Structuriste (moisturizer or serum). Along with all these hormonal changes, the effects of the sun and our lifestyles will be apparent. We have now had 40+ years of UV exposure, and if you're not properly protecting your skin from the sun, you will start to see more pigmentation and sagging, and the skin can look leathery and feel tough.
This becomes a tricky time to make sure that we are correcting the damage that has been done to our skin from our lives, as well as supporting the new needs of losing or having fluctuated hormones. It is extremely important to address myo aging during this time. We can't exercise our skin besides using certain equipment and usually only for brief times.
So how do we reverse that aging at home? Our favorite way is by changing up technologies in our skincare products. One of the reasons Bellini's carries so many different skincare products is for this specific reason. The three main elements of our skin structure are strength, volume, and bounce back (AKA elasticity). We must switch up products to support the dermis, stem cell production, and cellular communication. Some products I recommend during this age are:
|Serum||Phytomer Structuriste, Phytomer Oligoforce Advanced, or Yonka Cellular Code|
|Masque||Phytomer XMF Creme-to-oil Masque|
55+ Years Old
We are done with menopause our hormones are at a new normal level. By the age of 60, you will also have 10 times less stem cells in your skin than at 25. Meaning your constant cells regeneration is going to slow down. Again, what does this mean? This means that stem cell activity is not going in and creating keratinocytes well as fibroblasts. At this point in time, our goal is not about prevention, but all about correction. Correcting and supporting the skins needs as we need.
Many people after menopause say that they start to feel dry once a client who have had oily skin their whole lives and up, we usually being able to use products and had. Experiences with their skin that they would have never imagined, example, not many break outs. We have to find the new balance for the skin as well as still correcting any damage from the years before. This time is all about cell communication. Making sure the telomers are working properly. One thing most people are unaware of is that we have only a certain amount cell lifecycles. And once these cycles run out we will start to have death in areas of the skin, poor activity, etc. Making sure we keep the cells supported healthy and communicating is going to be the biggest help in the skin as its losing its natural resources and we are having to feed it something new.
|Serum||Phytomer XMF Radiance Retexturizing Serum, Yonka Cellular Code, or Vie Time Control|
|Masque||Yonka Excellence Code|
|Moisturizer||Phytomer Creme Supreme, Yonka Excellence Code Cream, or Vie Time Control|
- This article was written by Advanced Aesthetician, Jillian Conover
Acid mantle - a slightly acidic film on the surface of human skin that protects you from bacteria, viruses, and external aggressors.
Collagen fibers - dense connective tissue.
DEJ - connective tissue that joins the epidermal and the dermal layers.
Desquamation - the process replacing skin cells in the epidermis
Elastin fibers - provide connective tissue elasticity and resilience.
Fibroblasts - connective tissue that produces elastin and collagen.
Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) - complex compound that drives cell behavior.
Hypodermis - The bottom layer of skin, also called Subcutaneous Tissue.
Keratinocytes - a cell in the epidermis that produces keratin.
Melanocyte cell: produce melanin, the pigment that gives your skin and hair color.
Merkel cell: located in Stratum Basal, these calls are receptors that send messages to your brain that get translated as your sense of touch.
MMP’s (matrix metalloprotease) - A family of peptides.
Passive Sun Exposure - Day-in and day-out exposure to UV rays that contribute most to UV-related aging.
Stratum Basal (also the basal layer) - the base level of the epidermis.
Stratum Corneum - the top layer of the epidermis.
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