What causes your skin to wrinkle with age?
Wrinkles are a natural and inevitable sign of ageing that primarily arises as our production of collagen starts to decline. Collagen is a key structural protein for our skin and it works to promote elasticity and keeps your skin nice and firm. Without it, your skin can start to sag and lose its natural lustre – combine this with a loss of fatty tissues, thinner blood vessels, weaker secretions of sebum oil and free radical damage and it becomes easy to see why wrinkles and fine lines can start to appear.
Women usually find that this tends to happen around the time of their menopause, their mid-40s and early 50s, as low levels of oestrogen can exacerbate some of the issues I’ve just mentioned. However, this is not a guarantee, as everyone is different and how quickly your skin ages can depend on a number of factors, from genetics and skin type to diet and lifestyle.
While in the long-term there isn’t much you can do to completely avoid the risk of wrinkles, there’s a chance you can work with some of these factors to delay their arrival. How we treat our skin in our 20s, 30s and even our 40s and beyond can have a real impact. That is why below I’m going to look at a few of the changes that can occur during these pivotal decades and how your behaviour can make a difference!
Can you get wrinkles in your 20s?
Wrinkles are often perceived to be directly linked with old age, so those of us lucky to be in our 20s probably feel that we’re quite safe from this particular problem. Despite this sense of security, though, age is no guarantee and it may surprise you to learn that, actually, our production of collagen starts to decrease by 1% every year from the tender age of 20.
This probably doesn’t sound like a drastic drop but it’s still important to realise that, even at this age, the ageing process is starting and how you treat your skin in this decade will have major repercussions further down the line. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to go out and invest in dozens of different anti-ageing creams – the small steps can actually have the biggest impact here.
My three top tips!
1.Protect your skin from the sun
Did you know that UV radiation is thought to be one of the biggest causes of premature ageing? This is because when UV rays permeate your skin, they interact with melanin. In addition to determining the pigment of your skin, melanin works to absorb these UV rays which is why your skin might tan after prolonged sun exposure. If you’re absorbing too much sunlight, though, melanin will struggle to do its job and instead you may experience sun burn and higher levels of free-radical damage which, over time, will age your skin. That’s why sun protection matters much more than anti-ageing creams – prevention is better than cure after all!
If you’re going to be exposing your skin to the sun, make sure you apply a good, high quality and natural suncream first. Green People are a natural brand that sticks out to me as they offer a range of suncreams and after sun products that could help to keep UV radiation away from your skin. It also couldn’t hurt to invest in make-up with a low SPF factor – Inika, PHB Beauty and Pacifica are just a few brands that offer this feature!
2. Establish a good skin hygiene routine
Now is the time to establish good hygiene practices that you can carry with you throughout your life and one of best things you can do for your skin is to remember to take your make-up off. We’ve all been there, whether it’s a late night with friends or a long day after work, but leaving your make-up on overnight not only clogs your pores, contributing to spots, but it also damages your skin cells, making your skin appear duller and more prone to sensitivities. Try to get into the habit of cleansing at least twice a day – in the morning after you get up and then again before you go to bed at night.
Whilst doing this, it might also be a good idea to incorporate a good moisturiser into your routine to help keep your skin nice and hydrated. At this stage our Bioforce Cream might be a nice option as its specially formulated with extracts of St John's Wort oil, calendula and witch hazel to help soothe and hydrate dry, rough skin.
3. Avoid smoking
Okay, so we all know that smoking is pretty terrible for your health generally but, when it comes to your complexion, it can be disastrous. To start with, smoking cigarettes actually depletes your stores of crucial skin-boosting nutrients like vitamin C, which can help to support your production of collagen. It can also exacerbate skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, as well as accelerating ageing, reducing the blood flow to your skin so your complexion becomes duller and more prone to fine lines and wrinkles.
How can you keep your skin looking young in your 30s?
Often our 30s can be even more chaotic than our 20s – this is generally a time when our careers are in full swing and many of us have to contend with new responsibilities such as children, increased financial pressure or even ageing parents. These mounting pressures can also impact your skin but you also have to think about the biological changes that are going on here too.
Your skin won’t be producing new skin cells as quickly as it once did – in fact, it’s estimated that in our thirties, we only turn over new skin cells every 28-35 days compared to 14 or so days it used to take a decade ago.1 To compound matters, your skin won’t be able to shed dead skin cells as efficiently either, so it can become easy for your skin to appear lacklustre if you’re not looking after it properly. Plus, since your skin won’t be able to retain moisture as effectively, dryness can become a real problem.
These changes mean that your skin won’t bounce back as quickly as it used to – inflammation, sun damage and poor diet will all leave a bigger impact on your skin, and you may find that it becomes increasingly sensitive to factors that previously had never stirred any reactions.
My three top tips:
1. Your diet matters
The role of your diet in exacerbating premature ageing really cannot be understated. If you’re eating highly processed, sugary foods then this will inevitably leave a mark on your skin and it may not be able to cope with this as well as it might have in your teens or 20s. I speak a little bit more about the types of foods you should be watching out for in my blog ‘What foods cause wrinkles?’ but, for now, let’s focus on the foods that can help your skin. Foods that are full of nutrients such as vitamin C, healthy fats like omega-3 or minerals like magnesium and zinc are great options and you can read more about these in my blog, ‘The best foods for ageing skin.’
2. Reduce your stress levels
Stress can still be present in your teens and 20s but in your 30s, as I’ve mentioned, we often have a lot more on our plates. Unfortunately, if you’re feeling stress on a regular basis then not only is this going upset your digestion and sleep patterns (which can also influence your skin!), it also means that pro-inflammatory chemicals are going to be constantly circulating in your system which could impact your skin, contributing to premature ageing.
That’s why I’d recommend trying to address any underlying anxieties and putting practices into place to help regulate your stress levels – mindful meditation, low-impact exercise and deep breathing techniques are all wonderful stress-busting options, but don’t worry if these seem a bit daunting. Our Mood Advisor Marianna is here to help and has plenty of tips and advice on how to conquer stress over at A.Vogel Talks Stress.
3. Think about what you’re using on your skin
If your skin starts to become more sensitive, then now is perhaps a good time to really consider what you’re using on your skin. Many supermarket skincare and beauty products contain a whole array of chemicals and toxins such as parabens and SLS which can easily irritate and upset your skin. Instead, it might be a good idea to turn your attention to more natural solutions. Our friends over at Jan de Vries have an impressive range of natural beauty products, from foundations and moisturisers to face masks and lipsticks. These tend to contain more plant-based ingredients that are chockfull of nourishing nutrients such as coconut oil, rosemary extract, comfrey and calendula.
How can I stop my skin ageing at 40 and beyond?
People normally start to pay more attention to their skin as they enter their 40s and 50s as this is when visible changes usually start to take place. This is usually connected to collagen as your production of this protein will start to slow down more drastically, leaving your skin far more vulnerable than at any other point. It also doesn’t help that, for women, the hormonal fluctuations which occur with menopause can also influence the quality of your skin too. Of course, there’s not much you can do to prevent this process but there are steps you can take to limit its influence, as our Menopause Expert Eileen discusses over at A.Vogel Talks Menopause.
In addition to these hormonal fluctuations and low collagen levels, in our 40s and 50s many of us still have the same worries that we had in our 30s – supporting our children, maintaining our jobs and potentially looking after older family members. This means that there’s a lot to balance so, as before, stress could still be playing a big role here. However, if you really want to try and combat premature ageing, there are other factors to consider too!
I speak a bit more about these in my blog, ‘5 top tips to support ageing skin’ so if you really want more information about how to support your skin in your 40s and beyond, this would definitely be the best place to go. You could also have a look at my blog ‘6 habits that are prematurely ageing your skin’ if you want to learn more about the types of behaviours to avoid.
When did you notice your first wrinkles appearing?