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What Really Causes Skin Ageing

Written by Nadia McCracken on April 16th, 2014.      0 comments

What really causes skin ageing?

We are all searching for eternal youth. While we are yet to find the magic bullet, the answer to all our questions, these days we have more insight into what ages our skin. It goes way beyond just skin deep.
The two most important contributing factors that determine how we age are our lifestyle (extrinsic factors) and our genes (intrinsic factors). Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do about the latter – we have to live with the cards we’ve been dealt. However, thankfully, we have full control over the extrinsic factors that causes ageing. And, the ageing process has a lot more to do with our lifestyle choices than our genes. 

Beautiful skin begins at a cellular level. So it is fair to say that your skin is a mirror of how healthy you are on the inside. It’s exciting to know that our skin has an extraordinary ability to regenerate if we assist it and provide it with the key ingredients to do so.

The skin is your body’s largest living organ. It responds to our internal and external factors. Everything we put into our bodies, along with our environment, stress levels and sleeping patterns have an effect on the skin. As Aestheticians, our goal is to educate our clients and assist them to get glowing, healthy and youthful skin. Our approach should be one with a multi-tongued approach: prescribing the appropriate professional treatments; recommending suitable homecare products; as well as taking a holistic approach and looking at their lifestyle.

 Intrinsic Ageing Factors

Scientists are yet to discover how to slow or reverse the process of ageing. We all have unique genetic cellular programming. This determines and dictates when and how our cells begin to age.
Our skin cells do have the ability to regenerate and repair themselves. However as we age, this process slows down and there are several factors that have an effect on our cell’s ability to do so. Cell damage occurs when oxidative stressors like the sun, pollution, chronic stress, smoking and free radicals penetrate and break down collagen and impact the DNA structure of the cell. As more and more damage occurs, over time the cell is more likely to replicate itself in a damaged form, and the damaged cells multiply.

Dr Libby Weaver explains it very well in her new book, Beauty from the Inside Out: “Oxidative damage is brought about by free radicals. These are molecules which cause the moist collagen fibres that form the skin’s super-structure to become dry and shrivelled. When this happens the surface folds over on itself forming wrinkles. The more free radicals there are in your system, the more collagen shrinks and the more wrinkles appear on your skin.”

DNA damage also impacts the production of collagen inside the cell. Collagen is the main component of our connective tissue.  As Aestheticians we understand that collagen is responsible for softening the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Unfortunately, the production of this youth-preserving protein decreases as we age. The first signs of aging occur when the fibroblast cells cannot effectively do their work – repair weakened and damaged collagen.

Renowned US dermatologist Nicolas Perricone MD believes that inflammation at a cellular level is the main cause of ageing. Some experts believe that inflammation is caused by too much acidity in our body. Many believe that eating a diet higher in alkaline forming foods can assist in lowering inflammation in the body.
Although we do not have the tools to stop or reverse our clients' internal clocks, we can certainly assist our clients by educating them on the impact of a healthy lifestyle and smart skincare choices.
Extrinsic Ageing Factors
Luckily we know a great deal more about the extrinsic ageing factors and by addressing these, we may be able to slow down our genetic degeneration. The most common extrinsic factors are sun exposure, smoking, chronic stress, lack of quality sleep, diet and lack of exercise. Let’s look at these culprits and their affect on the body:

One puff of cigarette smoke emits 40,000 free radicals. Recent studies have revealed cigarette toxins deplete the body of Vitamin C and accelerate ageing. A good defence against this is to add zinc and Vitamin C to your client; and the other obvious one is to not smoke.

Stress and Sleep
Stress plays a huge part in premature ageing; and almost every client will admit that they have high stress levels. So what does this do to the skin?

Constant stress has an impact on the regulation of hormones and chemicals in our body. This reduces immunity, allowing more viruses in the body to take hold. This ultimately leads to cell and tissue damage, resulting in dull skin and premature ageing. Studies performed by the Duke University Medical Centre found that chronic stress also leads to DNA damage.

A major contributor to stress is lack of good quality sleep. Good quality sleep helps our cells to regenerate and heal. To ensure a good night’s rest, turn your mobile phone off. Make sure your room is dark and cool to allow you a beautiful deep sleep.
Diet and Exercise
There is no question that exercise is absolutely essential to our health, as well as regulating circulation and the flow of oxygen to skin cells.

However, too much exercise can actually encourage free radical damage in the body. Studies have shown excessive exercise to cause oxidative stress created by  free radicals.

During prolonged strenuous exercise we produce significantly higher levels of reactive oxygen, exceeding our body's natural antioxidant defences. Our bodies begin to pull antioxidants from our tissue stores, depleting the body's reserves of antioxidants.

Over time, damage will occur to our cells and tissues. That's why it’s important to eat a diet rich in antioxidants.

As Aestheticians, we can assist clients concerned with ageing by introducing antioxidant-rich topicals in their homecare routine.
Most good product ranges employ these age combating ingredients:
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Bioflavonoids
  • Polyhenols
Antioxidant topicals will help firm, tone, tighten, refine lines, and give skin an overall glow. Look for ingredients like ascorbic acid, tocopherols, superoxide dismutase, goji berry, retinoids and L-Lactic acid ... only to name a few.

Sun Exposure
Excess UV exposure is responsible for 90 percent of photo-aging, which causes wrinkles, pigmentation, loss of elasticity and the list goes on. Most clients know this, but for some the attraction of a bronzed skin is sometimes far too appealing. As skincare professionals, it is important we stress the implications of too much sun exposure and ensure they use proper protection – DAILY.
sun care
UVA rays penetrate deep into the dermis, damaging the collagen fibres.  Collagen begins to malfunction and break down, causing fine lines and wrinkles. This process repeats every time the skin is exposed to UVA rays.

So what can we do as Professionals?
We don’t have much control over what clients do outside of our clinics. However we do have the ability to educate clients about extrinsic ageing factors and how to prevent further damage to their skins. We also have at our disposal a range of professional treatments that can assist in softening fine lines, reducing deep wrinkles and brightening dull and pigmented skin.  These tools include active ingredients and advanced treatment technologies.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the professional treatments we can offer:

Corrective Peels
Peels, when professionally and properly administered, are one of the most powerful non-surgical skin treatments available. They remove cellular build-up, stimulate skin regeneration, reduce lines, large pores and oiliness and give your skin an overall glow. They also assist in clearing blemishes, treating hyper-pigmentation, and improving the skin’s overall texture.

With a peel treatment, highly specialized acid and enzyme solutions are applied to remove damaged layers of epidermal cells – revealing a more radiant, glowing and youthful skin. Treatments vary in intensity, and a client's skin type and desired results will dictate which peel treatment is best. Proper training in administering any peel treatment is ALWAYS recommended. Please consult with your skincare provider before attempting to use their peels.

Microdermabrasion is a non-invasive treatment that works by mechanically removing the outermost layers of epidermal skin cells. Since it does not typically require any client downtime, it is one of the most popular and frequently used treatments for skin rejuvenation. Make sure to check whether you client has had any injectables before administering a Microdermabrasion treatment; and follow treatment protocols.

There are many different types of laser machines available today, but laser treatments generally fall under two categories: ablative and non-ablative. Ablative lasers are more intense, requiring downtime, and work by vaporizing damaged skin with intense wavelengths of light that reach the skin's deeper layer of the epidermis. Non-ablative lasers are less intense and do not reach as far as ablative, therefore the injury to the skin is very minimal. It targets imperfections, bringing them to the surface to reduce their appearance or correct them.

LED Light Treatment
LED (light emitting diode) light therapy works to stimulate and energize the skin’s cellular activity. LED treatments can be coupled with any other treatment for optimum results.

Micro-current uses mild electrical currents to cause muscles to contract and relax which strengthens them and enhances blood flow to the skin. Pairing this procedure with peptides will boost the firming and lifting of the skin.

While we have not discovered the key to eternal youth; there is much we can do as Beauty professionals to assist clients in reversing the signs of ageing. We should encourage clients to embrace life and their unique beauty. We should not fear ageing; but instead cherish the wisdom that comes with age.

Be sure to provide clients a full spectrum of support by educating them on making healthy lifestyle and skincare choices. We are so fortunate to live in a time where we have so much knowledge and tools at our disposal!
client looking into mirror





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