Skincare 101: How your skin adapts and evolves to environmental and physical changes

Throughout life your skin is exposed to a series of environmental and physical changes that contribute to its deterioration in health and appearance. Your skin can tell so much about you: how old you are, if you're stressed, sick, or even if you are not getting much sleep.

Skin cells are constantly growing, living, dying and sloughing off to make way for new skin cells to emerge. Your skin is a responsive organ. With the right blend of raw ingredients and lifestyle choices, it can adapt and evolve to environmental and physical changes, and return to its native state of health.

How your skin ages

Skin aging is a complex biological process influenced by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic factors include genetics, cellular metabolism, hormone and metabolic processes, while extrinsic factors are things like chronic light exposure, pollution, ionizing radiation, chemicals and toxins. These factors cause progressive changes in each skin layer and alter your skin’s appearance, particularly on the sun-exposed areas. *

Skin that has been untouched by the elements looks perfectly pristine, naked, raw. With the exception of some exaggerated expression lines, intrinsically-aged skin is beautifully preserved. In direct contrast, extrinsically-aged skin, such as that found on our face, hands and legs, is wrinkled, sallow in color and has areas of hyper and hypopigmentation.

Prolonged exposure to the elements also contributes to loss of tone and elasticity, increased fragility, blood vessel weakness and the appearance of keratoses and skin tags. At the cellular level, discreet changes can be seen in the collagen and elastin levels, which appear fragmented and thick. *

Collagen is a protein that gives skin its resilience and strength, while elastin gives it its elasticity.

Your skin's response to damage

Facial skin responds to the damage caused by extrinsic factors by increasing its cell turnover rate but the skin’s ability to repair itself depends on aging. *

The repair potential of facial skin is maximal in younger individuals and gradually decreases with age, independently of geographical region, ethnic origin and seasons.

Skin is typically exposed to high environmental damage in your twenties due to unhealthy habits like excessive sun exposure, lack of sleep, drinking and smoking. But early-twenties-skin can easily repair itself and it’s very capable of hiding the damage.

Collagen production begins to decline around the age of 25. A decrease in collagen leads to the appearance of wrinkles, scarring and sagging skin. However, in your twenties, one of the most common symptoms of early aging is the appearance of sunspots.

As you approach thirty, collagen and elastin fibers start to become depleted, and skin changes become more visible and harder to hide. *

Your approach makes a difference

In your thirties, skin care choices and lifestyle factors begin to play a more important role in how your skin ages, as cells’ regenerative powers slow down. You should focus on optimizing your skin’s performance with nutrient-rich products.

Instead of slathering moisture on the surface of your skin, where it can only be marginally effective, choose nutrient-rich products that help your skin produce and retain more of its own natural moisture, both on and below the surface.

A healthy diet is also crucial for healthy skin cell development. The National Institutes of Health recommends a balanced diet that includes vitamins, in particular B3, minerals, and lots of water. One of the most important thing you can do for your skin is getting a great night's sleep. Your skin needs sleep to rejuvenate and repair itself and to help new skin cells be created. *

Sources
Skin anti-aging strategies
Structural Changes Associated with Aging Skin
Facial skin fluorescence as a marker of the skin's response to chronic environmental insults and its dependence on age
Aging Skin: Decade by Decade
How to Create New Skin Cells Naturally