Nowhere do we witness the physiological impact of aging more than in its effects on our skin and hair. As we age, the outermost layer of our skin (the epidermis) thins as its cellular concentration decreases. Beneath this, collagen and elastin in the skin layer known as the dermis begin to degrade, reducing our skin’s flexibility and contributing to the thinning of the epidermis. Also in the dermis, the sebaceous glands responsible for the creation of sebum — the protective oil that moisturizes and guards our skin — become less active. This results in skin that is less thoroughly lubricated and therefore more prone to dryness and wrinkling over time.
Besides the natural aspects of aging, there are also many environmental factors that we tend to lump into this process and consider inevitable, even though they can be effectively managed and their impact minimized. Chief among these is certainly the damaging effects of the sun. Over time, exposure to UV radiation can penetrate deep into the dermis and damage the collagen structures within (a process called photoaging). This results in an eventual reduction in skin elasticity and the development of wrinkles. In addition, the alteration of these collagen structures can weaken the tiny blood vessels that are supported within them, making the vessels more likely to rupture and lead to discoloration as well as decreased circulation.
However, diligent use of sunscreen as well as a daily moisturizer capable of replenishing essential oils lost to the sun, can go a long way towards helping skin withstand many of the external causes of aging.
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