Your skin does many things. It protects you from the environment, helps control your body temperature and fluid and electrolyte balance, and contains nerve receptors that allow you to feel sensations such as touch, pain, and pressure. To understand the aging process of skin, you need to know what skin is essentially made up of.
Although skin has many layers, it can be generally divided into three main parts:
Each layer also contains connective tissue with collagen fibers to give support and elastin fibers to provide flexibility and strength.
New cells form from the lowest level of the epidermis, which gradually rise upwards towards the outer layer (the stratum corneum). It is here where they are worn off through the environment, with newer ones already below to replace the old cells from beneath. This skin cycle is typically 21 to 28 days in most healthy individuals. As we become older the cells that are being made at the lower level are dividing and replacing themselves more slowly. Therefore healing time is lengthened, along with a decrease in the production of more new skin cells. This reduction in new cells causes some of the visible ageing of the skin, as the skin becomes thinner.
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Melanin producing cells also decrease with time, so that the skin is at a higher risk of being damaged by the sun since there is less pigment to protect the skin from ultraviolet light. Therefore it is extremely important to wear sunscreen whenever you are outside for your entire lifetime which in turn slows down the visual effects of aging. It is something that doesn't require much time to apply each day, but the results of wearing sunscreen throughout your life will show benefits as you age.
Over time collagen within the dermis becomes more stable. This may sound positive, but it's not, because the skin loses its elasticity. The skin which was once supple and firm during youth, when aged, loses its elasticity, and does not 'snap back' as it would when young. The collagen in the dermis of your skin also gradually loses water, further causing the skin to lose its elasticity and flexibility.
Aging also causes the fatty deposits under the dermis to lessen resulting in less cushioning to the outer layers of the skin. Therefore skin can bruise more easily, as the blood vessels within the dermis are not as protected as before.
These changes within the underlying fat cells and the changes within the dermis are the main contributors to deep wrinkles and sagging skin.
If you practice good skincare throughout your younger years you will have more chance of maintaining healthier, younger looking skin through life.