Our skin is tied up in our sense of beauty and health, so many strategies have been developed to enhance and prolong our skin’s good looks and charm. The skin-ageing process is complex, being influenced by many factors, some of which we can control, while others remain – for now – just out of reach.
Ageing skin is completely normal and there is no medical issue whatsoever – ageing skin is not a disease to be treated. Skin and facial structure, however, do change over time, just like the rest of our tissues.
Strategies and cosmetic treatment fashions have come and gone, and will continue to do so, since not all cosmetic treatments are created equal: some work better than others, while technological advances make some treatments obsolete quickly. Currently, in heavy use are lasers, fillers, muscle relaxants, and surgical procedures to resurface, reshape, and enhance to keep the face looking and feeling like that of a younger version of ourselves.
The point of anti-ageing treatments
Anti-ageing treatments are without exception directed at creating healthy, smooth, blemish-free, translucent and resilient skin. It’s important to note that looking ‘better’ doesn’t necessarily mean looking ‘younger’, and anti-ageing isn’t pro-youth per se; it is merely attempting to put the brakes on ageing skin.
There are three main types of anti-ageing treatments: regular cosmetic care like daily creams; topical applications like antioxidants or cell regulators; and invasive procedures, which we discuss in The ageing face and different procedures: how do they work? like dermal fillers, anti-wrinkle injections, and surgical procedures.
What causes skin to age?
To understand skin ageing, we need to take into account the factors that influence the skin: genetics, normal cell activity, hormones, and our metabolism, plus outside influences like UV rays, light, pollution, radiation, chemicals and toxins. These change the skin layers over time, and affect its appearance.
Sun exposure is particularly potent in causing visible signs of ageing, and in fact, sun-damaged skin ages differently to undamaged skin: it tends to be thicker, mottled, wrinkled, lax, dull and rough, while non-sun-damaged aged skin is typically thin, finely-wrinkled, and dry. The difference is easy to see when you know what to look for in an older person, perhaps someone who has spent a lifetime working outside.
Sagging skin is caused by the gradual loss of elasticity – cell turnover becomes less frequent, impacting healing and collagen synthesis. Collagen and elastin keep skin firm. Many products and treatments are aimed at increasing cell turnover rates, with the goal to improve skin appearance and speed wound healing by increasing collagen synthesis.
The way skin behaves over time is the process of ageing since it only ever degrades; it cannot be undone, only modified. Gravity, the action of facial muscles, loss of volume and fat, and changes in the bones all result in facial structure and contour changes.
What to do about it
You can’t stop the process of ageing, but with preventative measures in place, preserving skin can be achieved to a certain degree. When that fails to impress you or a greater degree of prevention or treatment is desired, there are other more invasive techniques to choose from.
Find out how we can improve your skin.