The number one cause of fine lines and wrinkles is Collagen loss. Collagen is the main supportive, structural protein found naturally in our bodies. It supports not only the skin but bones, blood vessels, tendons and the digestive system.
In the skin collagen is found within dermis. It is tangled together with elastin fibres to form the structure of the skin, giving it strength and flexibility. Hyaluronic acid, a sugar molecule, is the 'buffer' in the centre of these fibres providing hydration and 'plumpness'.
So why do wrinkles occur?
At around 21 years of age we start to loose 1- 2% of collagen each year. This can lead to sagging of the skin plus fine lines and wrinkles.
Additionally, at this age the skin cells start to become sluggish resulting in reduced production of new skin cells being pushed upwards to the surface. This means that the dead cells on the surface of our faces (which form the protective barrier) could have been hanging around for 2-3 months before being shed! This can lead to dryness and dehydrated skin, which worsen the appearance of wrinkles and can lead to hyperpigmentation, thinned skin, loss elasticity and rough texture.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the number one cause of controllable skin aging. Exposure to UV rays causes DNA damage to the cells that produces collagen.
On the inside; inflammatory diets that are high in sugar and carbohydrates activate the immune system which promotes inflammation throughout the body. This response leads to hardening and fragmentation of collagen, causing weakening of the skin foundation.
I'm sure we are all aware of the numerous health risks associated with smoking, but did you also know that it causes premature aging? It does this by decreasing the amount of oxygen delivered to tissues which inhibits the tissues ability to regenerate and is therefore more likely to become damaged and die.
Stress is also a major contributor towards skin aging. Stress causes an increase in hormones like cortisol, which in turn can decrease the production of collagen.
Your sleeping position can affect how quickly your skin ages. Sleeping on your side or front results in pressure damage to the skin tissues which leads to deep set wrinkles and reduced facial volume.
How can we prevent or improve wrinkles:
- SPF40 or above daily to protect against UVA/UVB daily.
- Take a daily collagen supplements (studies have shown certain supplements to be effective in promoting collagen production).
- Lifestyle interventions - smoking cessation, increase water intake, eat a balanced 'rainbow' diet, ditch the sugar and processes foods, reduce alcohol intake.
- Remove make up properly with a microfibre pad and gentle cleanser every night.
- Sleep on your back, try a V Shape pillow to help with this.
- Medical grade retinol, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid facial serums.
- Resurfacing treatments such as chemical peels to improve skin tone, texture, hydration and radiance.
- Collagen induction therapy such as microneedling to induce collagen and tighten the skin.
There's a plethora of studies showing the positive anti aging effects of vitamin C and Retinol. BUT it needs to be at the right concentration, formulation and molecular size to penetrate the skin barrier.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant which means its protects your skin from free radical damage caused by UV radiation, smoking and air pollution. It also synthesises collagen production along with retinol. It's brightening, reduces pigmentation and has anti-inflammatory properties which also makes it effective at treating acne and rosacea.
Retinol speeds up cellular turnover, giving you hydrated, healthy, youthful skin. It exfoliates at the dermal level improving skin texture, tone and thickness.
Hyaluronic Acid (HA) is the 'gel' buffer between collagen and elastin fibres that gives skin its 'glow' by drawing in water. This reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Lastly always remember to wear a zinc oxide SPF 40 or above daily as a minimum to protect against further UV damage.
I hope you found this guide helpful :)
Laura Barnes BSc (hons) Independent Nurse Prescriber