Human skin is the largest organ in the human body. The skin’s primary function is to provide a protective barrier against environmental insults, such as heat, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, infection, injury, and water loss. 

Aging of human skin can be caused by the passage of time (intrinsic aging) or environmental factors such as light, heat, cold, etc. (extrinsic aging). 

Skin Changes That Come With Age

Undeniably, as we grow older, we experience changes to our skin. You will notice:-

– Skin becomes rougher
-Skin becomes dryer 
– Skin becomes slack, hang loosely
– Skin becomes more fragile
– Skin becomes more easily bruised
– Appearance of fine lines and wrinkles 

Aging is induced by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic aging is an inevitable physiological process that comes from inside of us, is also known as ‘natural aging.’ The aging effect is the passing of time with changes occurring within the body. This is to say our skin will start to sag over time, and naturally, our skin will lose its elasticity. Extrinsic aging results from external environmental factors such as air pollution, smoking, poor nutrition, and sun exposure, resulting in coarse wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and rough-textured appearance.

We have very little control over intrinsic aging. The good news is that only 3% of aging factors are caused by intrinsic, and what you think of skin aging is mainly attributed to extrinsicNotably, long-term exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation, also referred to as photo-aging, is the primary factor of extrinsic skin aging. Exposure to UV radiation is the primary factor of extrinsic skin aging; it accounts for about 80% of facial aging.

Aging is not just causing the increased thinning, roughness, or fragility of the skin, but also the changes in skin colouration and the slow breakdown of connective tissue. Collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid are responsible for the connective tissue, which keeps our skin looking youthful. Collagen and elastin are connective tissues that support the dermal layers and give them their elastic ability. Hyaluronic Acid acts as a lubricator between layers of tissue to eliminate friction, attracts water, and binds moisture to the skin, helping to keep our skin hydrated and moisturized. 

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Free Radicals and Skin Aging

The aging process, both intrinsic and extrinsic, is believed to be influenced by the formation of free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). Human beings are made up of free molecules. These molecules are made of atoms, and atoms are made of pairs of electrons. When an atom is missing an electron, oxidation takes place, the generation of free radicals. 

Free radicals damage the skin by trying to grab an extra electron from atoms in the skin. When atoms are taken away from molecules in the skin, it damages our skin’s DNA that can speed along skin aging. Skin damage done by free radicals may appear in several forms. They range from changes in skin colour (i.e., brown spots) to weakened skin that looks loose and saggy due to damaged elastic fibers. Free radicals can also break down the skin’s collagen and create wrinkles.

Human matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs)

When exposed to UV radiation and free radicals hit the skin, they cause chronic inflammation. In response to any inflammation, whether acute or chronic, our body will release certain enzymes called Matrix Metallo Proteinases or MMPs. MMPs, when activated, control tissue degradation in the skin. Collagenase is a group of enzymes responsible for breaking down the different types of collagen and elastin. Collagenase destroys collagen, causing less support for the skin and more sagging. Less skin elasticity means deeper wrinkles and more fine lines.

Although UV is the most important factor causing extrinsic skin aging, other factors such as smoking also contribute to skin aging through induction of MMPs.

Prevention is Key

As now we know that natural aging only accounts for 3% of the skin-aging processes, we can take preventive actions to slow down premature aging caused by environment and lifestyle. 

Primary prevention:

The sun plays a significant role in prematurely aging our skin. It is important to protect our skin from the sun every day from overexposure of the sun. You can protect your skin by seeking shade, covering up with clothing, and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, SPF 30 (or higher), and water-resistant.

Secondary prevention:

1. Stop smoking as smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages. It causes wrinkles and a dull complexion.

2. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables may help prevent damage that leads to premature skin aging. Avoid a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates, and these food can accelerate aging.

3. Drink less alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the skin, and in time, damages the skin. This can make us look older.

4. Exercise regularly. Moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system. This, in turn, may give the skin a more youthful appearance.

Tertiary prevention:

1. Cleanse your skin gently. Gentle washing helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin. Do not scrub your skin clean as scrubbing can irritate your skin. Irritating your skin accelerates skin aging. 

2. Wash your face twice a day and after sweating heavily. Wash your face once in the morning to remove wastes your skin generates during sleep, and again at night to remove bacteria, oils, makeup, dirt, and any other residues that collect on your face during the day. Sweat can irritate the skin, so you want to wash your skin as soon as possible after sweating. 

3. Apply a facial moisturizer every day. Moisturizer traps water in your skin, giving it a more youthful appearance.

4. Use products that consist of anti-aging ingredients. Any topical products contain natural anti-aging ingredients, can help stimulate the production of new connective tissue to improve the overall health state of the skin. 

Natural Ingredients that Prevent Aging

To tackle the concerns on damage caused by free radicals, increased thinning, roughness or fragility of the skin, changes in skin colouration and the slow breakdown of connective tissue, you can create organic skincare. Including high-performance extracts and ingredients that can have benefits of improving skin appearance by its ability to affect the structure and function of the skin.

Emollients and occlusives

To strengthen the skin’s barrier function, it is important to moisturize the skin. Our very top layer of the skin is lipophilic (oil-loving), which means to prevent water loss due to external factors or keep your skin healthy, you will need to give your skin its essential fatty acids. Plants oils contain both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, which play an important role in keeping skin inflammation in check. Furthermore, their occlusive nature makes it hard for free radicals to pass through to attack your skin cells. 

Argan Oil can help combat the drying effects that aging has on the skin, effectively reducing the appearance of wrinkles and improving its elasticity which then encourages a more youthful appearance. 

Avocado Oil is very nourishing with Vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E, a superb emollient that penetrates the skin well and restores flexibility and elasticity to the skin. Vitamin D content is particularly valuable in anti-aging that is under stress or sensitive. 

Pomegranate Seed Oil is a rich source of Ellagic Acid, a natural phenol antioxidant that revitalizes the skin tone and minimizes fine lines and wrinkles. This natural combination of Punicic Acid and Ellagic Acid makes the oil very regenerative and even helps to stimulate collagen production forming the skin.

Rosehip Oil is rich in vitamins A and C, both of which are necessary for collagen production. Rosehip also inhibits the creation of MMP [ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4655903/ ], rich in both polyphenols and anthocyanin, which help to reduce inflammation.

Sea Buckthorn Oil has an innate ability to revive skin cells due to the moisturizing fatty acids that buckthorn oil contains. The high content of vitamin E and C reduces the gravity and length of wrinkles while alleviating tough skin. 

A very comprehensive list of vegetable butters and oils and its comedogenic scale for each skin type

Humectants

Hyaluronic Acid is naturally found in your skin as well as the connective tissue in your body. It presents itself in the body wherever moisture is stored or acts as a lubricator between layers of tissue to eliminate friction. The reason why Hyaluronic Acid is so good for your skin is that it retains your skin’s hydration and even out fine lines. Lack of moisture is one of the main culprits of aging skin, so using Hyaluronic Acid (sodium hyaluronate) helps repair your skin’s moisturizer barrier. 

You can also get fantastic results from other humectants like honey, urea, squalene, aloe, glycerin, hydrolyzed protein, sodium PCA, ceramides, colloidal oatmeal, and AHA’s like glycolic and lactic acid.

Antioxidants 

Antioxidants do not treat skin aging, but instead, they prevent premature aging. Once antioxidants have access to free radicals in the skin, they can neutralize them and prevent the chain of free radical damage continuing. 

– Some well-known antioxidants found in plants like polyphenols in pomegranate, catechins in green tea, resveratrol in grapes, or anthocyanins in many colourful plants and vegetables, and fruits. 

– Coenzyme Q10, also known as Ubiquinone, another potent antioxidant, and cellular energizer.

– Herbs and botanical extracts/powders like turmeric, gotu kola, ginseng, horsetail, milk thistle, mulberry, burdock, aloe, wild yam, ginger 

– Licorice, an anti-inflammatory agent that has several times the free radical fighting power of vitamin C, plus the ability to erase hyperpigmentation

– Retinoids are chemically similar to vitamin A, which can suppress the expression of MMPs and preventing the degradation of collagen. An increase in epidermal thickness is observed, and intrinsically aged skin may also benefit from the topical application of retinoids. 

– Essential oils also help prevent the damaging effects of everyday environmental stresses and restore a fresh, supple, energized appearance. Some of these essential oils with therapeutic effects: 

There is no right time to when to start using these ingredients and anti-aging skincare. Prevention is always better than cure. Start using early for any products or ingredients to provide conspicuous results, and you should use them as suggested diligently.

More Skincare Guides

You might find these Skincare Essential Oil Guides Useful

This 1-page printable table lists essential oils that can be helpful for specific skin types. You can use the recommendation to help you choose which oils you want to try in customizing your skin-care products.

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This 1-page printable chart is perfect for essential oil users as it covers the basic applications with recommendations to help you choose which oils you want to try in customizing your skin-care products.

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