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Nature or Nurture? Is it possible to prevent premature ageing?

Published: Thu May 10, 2018
Categories: The Myth Minx

Skin ageing is attributed to a number of factors that can be divided into 2 dominant groups:
1. The passage of time (otherwise known as intrinsic or biological ageing)
2. Environmental (extrinsic ageing)

The ticking clock (intrinsic ageing)

This form of ageing is undeniable and relates to each individuals genetic makeup. Here we see the slowing of cell, tissue and organ function gradually taking place; these changes are internally driven and incorporate:

  • Slowing of collagen and elastin production
  •  Increase in enzyme activity that may prematurely breakdown healthy collagen
  • Slowing of cell turnover (dead skin cells will not shed as quickly)
  • Degenerative effects of free radical damage on cells and tissues
  • Fat loss in certain regions of the face (resulting on hallow eye sockets and cheeks)
  • Diminishing bone density and bone shrinkage (skin can start to sag as the bones shrink away)

Because these changes take place at an incremental pace, they do not become evident for some time. Hypothetically, if you only experienced intrinsic ageing and were not exposed to environmental elements that would exacerbate, as you reach your twilight
years your skin would be relatively smooth and unblemished; your complexion would be pale and dry, characterised by fine lines and some occasional exaggerated expression lines.You would expect that your skins’ elasticity and density would be reduced.

These are the age related changes we can hold our mothers and fathers culpable for, our genetic blueprint. However, these changes only constitute a portion of the ageing typically
seen on the average Australians face.

Environmental (extrinsic ageing)

The most preventable factors for premature ageing reside in environmental influences and our lifestyle habits.

Skin that is extrinsically aged (via external factors) by contrast to intrinsic ageing will possess more deep, course wrinkles in conjunction with mottled hyperpigmentation and a considerable loss of elasticity and recoil. It’s these changes that are somewhat avoidable if not, diminishable.

The dominant environmental factors causing premature ageing are:

  • Sun exposure (photoageing)
  • Cigarette smoking

To a lesser extent diet, health, pollution, repetitive facial movements (frowning/squinting), sleeping position, temperature and humidity will play a contributing role in extrinsic ageing.

The easiest and most significant way to reduce premature ageing is the cessation of cigarette smoking. This one element has been found to have a resounding effect on the elasticity of the skin in addition to the colour (both pigmentation and red spots on the skin becoming prominent). Essentially, frequent cigarette smoking will decrease blood flow initiating oxygen and nutrient depletion to the skin. A smoker’s skin will be slack and hardened with reduced elasticity.

Living in a warm, subtropical climate may be fantastic for an active outdoors lifestyle but when it comes to skin health this is wreaking havoc on the biological ageing process. An astounding 80-90% of visible skin ageing is now believed attributable to sun exposure
(especially for fairer skin types). Recent data shows that typical Western Caucasians show clinical signs of skin changes in their early 30’s. Signs of photoageing include:

  • Changes in colour (eg. yellow colour with loss of skin translucency, hyper or hypopigmentation)
  • Solar lentigines (aka ‘age spots’)
  • Dilated capillaries
  • Changes in texture (eg. rougher texture)
  • Lines and wrinkles

Continual exposure to UV light from the sun will create both short and long term skin changes at all levels within your skin (epidermis and dermis) and even have a resounding detrimental effect on your cellular DNA. Not only is the sun attributed to the majority of
aesthetic skin ageing, its carcinogenic risk exemplifies why this should be the first external factor we consider when addressing premature ageing.

Langton AK, Sherratt MJ, Griffiths CEM, Watson, REB. (2010). Review Article: A new wrinkle on old skin: the role of elastic fibres in skin ageing. International Journal of Cosmetic Medicine: 32,5 p330 -339.

The below images highlight the difference our environment can play in the ageing process. Images A & B are identical twins aged 63. Here the genetic make-up is the same, yet the external environment resulted in one twin experiencing considerable skin ageing.

Image C & D are fraternal twins (non-identical) aged 71 years. These changes show that ageing is influenced by genetics (as the twins have similar but not identical DNA) yet once again the external environment has largely contributed to advanced skin ageing.

Image sourced: Gunn DA, Rexbye H, Griffiths CEM, Murray PG, Fereday A, et al. (2009) Why Some Women Look Young for Their Age. PLOS ONE 4(12): e8021.

Lifestyle Intervention

We understand that we cannot intervene with biological/intrinsic ageing, this is a fact of life and everything wears out over time. However, the rate at which our skin (and our body) will deteriorate can be worsened and accelerated by external environmental factors. To reduce the effects of extrinsic ageing consider the following:

  • Wear SPF 50+ every day (regardless if you intend on having sun exposure or not)
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses when outdoors (to protect from UV light and minimise squinting)
  • Avoid sunbaking
  • Quit smoking
  • Exercise regularly to encourage circulation, oxygen production and elimination of toxins
  • Reduce sugar intake (this can lead to glycation exacerbating lines & wrinkle development)
  • Eat an antioxidant rich and balanced diet loaded with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit plus vitamin C rich foods (vitamin C is required for collagen production)
  • Avoid sleeping on your side or on your front (anywhere your face would be pressed into the pillow)

Can Skincare help with either intrinsic or extrinsic ageing?
Skincare and ingredient technology has greatly evolved over the years. Traditionally, skincare ingredients were used to hydrate and protect the more superficial layer of the skin (the epidermis); however with advancing ingredient technology we have come much further. Now specific skincare ingredients, such as biomimetic peptides, are an important consideration for treatment of the dermis because this is the “living” layer of the skin. Biomimetic peptides mimic the function of peptide growth factors as messengers in the skin, allowing the epidermis and dermis to communicate more efficiently. By this rationale, we can particularly target extrinsic and some level of intrinsic ageing using the ideal ingredient composition.

Ultra Firming Eye & Neck Cream – A radical approach to skin care; two problem areas, one solution

Through the use of biomimetic peptides and clinically proven ingredients Skinstitut’s Ultra Firming Eye & Neck cream has been designed to address signs of visible skin ageing, sun damage, fine lines and wrinkles. Formulated using the peptide Matrixyl 3000 (among others), this ingredient works to smooth wrinkles, improve skin tone and elasticity and ultimately, restores skin’s metabolism of youth.

Clinical trials using Matrixyl 3000 showed after 2 months of usage:

  • Crows feet decreased by 33% (by repairing photo-aged skin and fragmented collagen network within the dermis)
  • Photo-induced ageing was delayed by 5.5 years (via repairing UV damage-prone papillary dermis)
  • Surface occupied by deep wrinkles was reduced by 45%
  • Skin’s tonicity increased by nearly 20%

To achieve the best result out of any anti-ageing regime a 5 step approach is always recommended:
1. Cleanse
2. Exfoliate
3. Correct
4. Hydrate
5. Protect

Ultra Firming Eye & Neck cream would be used as a high intensity Corrector in conjunction with the other 4 steps.

So while the natural biological ageing process is unavoidable; our daily habits will indisputably contribute to extrinsic ageing culminating in the prominent signs of visibleageing. Nature or nurture? You decide.



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