Skin is your primary shield and defense against the outside world.
It’s incredibly resilient in the face of exposure against various harsh elements, including toxins, UV radiation, bacteria and microbes, temperature extremes, harsh chemicals, strenuous activity, injury, and more.
Besides the rigors of the outside world, your health, diet, yearly 1% collagen loss, and stress levels have an impact on your skin’s health.
Over the decades, damage from all these factors adds up and causes the skin’s resilience to diminish. This results in fine lines, wrinkles, dark pigmentation, uneven skin tone, and redness, among other things.
That said, you can actively reduce your exposure, and many skin care products can help balance those effects.
Although you can’t undo the existing damage, good skincare helps delay damage from appearing for a more extended time.
Even when caused by age, evidence shows that visible skin aging damage can be prevented & delayed.
Let’s start by exploring some of the significant & commonly known factors that impact your skin’s health. Remember, some elements are under your control!
1. THE SUN
Nearly 90% of visible skin aging is caused by the Sun's UVA & UVB rays.
Per the Skin Cancer Foundation, chronic exposure to UV rays, both UVA & UVB, directly damage vital collagen proteins and elastin that support the skin’s appearance.
Further, the rays interfere with the body’s immune and recovery systems to promote the formation of free radicals. These free radicals can permanently damage your DNA. All of these effects ultimately lead to premature skin aging and potentially cancer.
Don’t worry; in our blog on "choosing the best sunscreen", we provide tips on how to manage this, since - staying indoors for the rest of our lives is not an option.
2. HORMONES & GENETICS & STRESS
You’ve no doubt experienced the impact of teenage hormones on your skin – remember the blemishes & acne?
Well, hormones never stop impacting your skin’s health - even later in life. The impacts multiply in number, duration, and severity.
During those teenage years, hormone production created oils, enlarged pores, and acne.
Similarly during a menstrual cycle or pregnancy, changing hormones can cause acne, spider veins, dark spots, and various skin rashes.
As we age, estrogen levels decline in women & rise in men approaching the menopause age. This causes the skin to become less elastic, drier, and prone to skin discoloration.
In addition to hormones, genetics & stress are other significant factors in your skin health. Fear, for example, causes your body to release cortisol, adrenalin, and other hormones.
This kicks off a reinforcing and often repeating cycle that causes tension. This increases your average heart rate and blood pressure and then slows your digestive and immune systems. These changes then increase the likelihood of free radical damage and toxin buildup.
Eventually, this cycle can result in a poor complexion, cellulite, and acne!
3. DIET & LIFESTYLE
Skin is a reflection of your general health. As such, your diet and lifestyle have direct impacts on your skin.
Refined carbohydrates, like candy, white bread, and pasta, cause spikes in blood sugar and accelerate your skin’s aging process.
This occurs through a process called glycation.
Glycation is the binding of sugar onto other molecules in your body, e.g., protein & lipids. These sugar byproducts stop your cells from properly functioning, which then creates free radicals that damage your cells.
Thus, processed foods, which are high in preservatives & sugars, are bad for your skin health. Also known as high-glycemic foods, they can trigger acne by elevating serum insulin concentrations.
This insulin increase, then, in turn, increases oil production, which causes inflammation throughout the skin. Proper nutrition can slow the aging process.
Other significant lifestyle offenders include smoking and alcohol.
Alcohol causes the blood vessels to swell and contains high levels of sugars, which lead to glycation. It also stunts the regeneration of collagen fibers.
Lastly, alcohol is dehydrating, which can leave your skin dry and prone to damage. Drink sparingly and responsibly.
Similarly, smoking is a strong contributor to skin complexion and wrinkle formation. A famous study of identical twins showed the smoking twin had ~40% thinner skin than their non-smoking twin. They also had more severe wrinkles, grey hair, and a less vibrant complexion! At this point, vaping is still under review.
4. SKINCARE PRODUCT CHOICES
The skincare products you use can also make a difference. But many products contain harsh chemicals. And most can’t penetrate your skin. Still, others don’t match your skin type.
Many products are not only a scam, but can also make your skin condition worse!
You are using products to target your skin health both topically and from within in the correct doses.
And for your right skin type - it may help reverse, delay, and even prevent future damage.
We hope you keep these tips in mind as you craft your skincare routine and attempt to maintain a healthy balance. Hopefully, this post was useful and insightful and we look forward to your comments and questions!
~The HealFast Medical Team