Your genes are just half the story
- Genes play an important role in causing the natural aging process.
- Genes determine when our cell renewal process slows down, causing the signs of aging to appear.
- Around 50% of aging is attributed to genes. Environmental factors also play a significant role.
- Factors that accelerate aging skin include sun damage, bad diets, smoking and more.
Stem cells are our “Factories of Youth”. They produce younger skin cells in the cell renewal process until we reach the peak of our youth, after which they begin to slow down.
Our body’s stem cells affect our skin. Every skin cell has a definite life span after which it becomes a dead cell. If these dead skin cells are not replaced with younger cells in the cell renewal process, the skin becomes dull from the inside, losing its youthful look on the outside.
This renewal process is imprinted in our DNA and determines how long we might live and how our aging process will be. It affects the outer appearance of our skin and how it acts.
As the cell renewal process slows down, damage accumulates within the epidermis and the skin barrier begins to thin and weaken making the epidermis prone to irritation and dryness.
The second skin layer, the dermis, whose support matrix is made up of collagen and elastin. However, with the passage of time, less collagen is produced causing the dermis structure to collapse.
While some causes are attributable to the natural aging process, we do have power over the other environmental factors that can speed up our overall aging process.
Some of these factors are:
Photo aging — from the sun or tanning beds.
Facial expressions such as frowns and skin folding when you sleep can cause premature wrinkles.
Not eating healthily can make you look nearly 2 years older.
Being overweight increases the occurrence of sagging eyelids and wrinkles around the eyes.
Dry environments, such as air conditioning or central heating, dries out the skin and makes it harder for the cells renewal process to function at optimum levels.
Not using skin care products can make you look around 2 years older.
To counter the damage caused by skin irritants due to pollution, our cells produce antioxidants and excess melanin that develop into dark spots. With so many pollutants in the air irritating our skin daily, our melanin production goes into overdrive, causing age spots to form deep within the skin.
Smoking causes pollutants to enter the skin destroying the elastin fibers within the dermis leading to fine lines and wrinkles.
You have the power to stop environmental factors aging your skin prematurely. For more information about the aging process read our article about what happens inside the skin as we age.