The journey our skin will take actually begins before we are born. The unborn child’s skin starts to form during the second trimester, and consists of two layers at this time. By about 2 months, the cells that will eventually grow hair form, and another 2 weeks sees the development of the middle layer of the skin and the start of hair growth. By the time we take our first breath, our skin is pretty much like it will be when we are adults, all three layers are complete. Our skin performs more functions than you might think, and helps to control our temperature, regulate our fluid balance, sends signals to the brain, and gives you protection from weather, microbes, and pollution.
Time and Your Skin
There are some unavoidable changes that will take place as you travel through life. These have to do with basic human physiology and will occur regardless. However, there are ways to mitigate these and help keep your skin looking good longer. One of the greatest factors to premature degeneration of the skin is the sun. If you avoid exposing your skin to the sun as much as possible, you will be ahead of the game right from the start.
- Adolescent skin is notorious for breakouts of pimples and acne, mostly due to the fluctuating levels of hormones as we go through puberty. Over production of oil and blocked sebaceous glands are at the root, and one of the ways to control acne is through careful washing, including using the proper face scrub for acne.
- Your face will be at its peak when you are in your twenties and thirties, but time is still beginning to have an effect. During this period, it now takes a bit longer for your epidermal cells to replace themselves. As you edge towards thirty, you will probably begin to notice some fine lines developing around your eyes. Overall, you skin will begin to get thinner and drier.
- Menopause will cause nearly as much disruption to your skin as puberty did, although somewhat in reverse. As estrogen decreases, elasticity in the skin deteriorates, making it more likely that wrinkles will form and that the skin will begin to sag, especially in your fifties. Because a woman’s body actually starts producing more testosterone, the collagen in the skin breaks down, resulting in a more fragile skin that will be more subject to damage from environmental forces.
‘Old Looking’ Skin Is Not Inevitable
Putting aside such extremes as plastic surgery, Botox, and fillers, there is a great deal that you can do to keep your skin looking good throughout your life. It is not a given that anyone has to wind up with sagging, wrinkled skin, and taking care of your skin, right from the start will help assure that you will present the best possible face to the world whatever your age.
- Rule number one is to stay out of the sun! The lighter your skin, the less melanin you have in your epidermis to protect you from the sun’s rays. It is much better to forego getting a tan and be happy with whatever your skin tone happens to be. However, as none of us are going to remain indoors during daylight hours in the summer, there are ways to help keep your skin protected. To start with, wear a hat. Women look lovely in a wide brimmed hat and it will keep those damaging UV rays off your skin. Likewise, wear clothing with long sleeves and don’t forget to slather on a good sunscreen.
- Stress affects us mentally and physically. When we are under stress, our adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are great for helping us get away from danger, but our modern society keeps us in a state of what might be called minor danger almost constantly, meaning that our bodies are always being flooded with these hormones. Excess stress hormones can cause rashes, aging skin, and inflammation.
- Exercise will also help to keep your skin younger and healthier. When you exercise regularly, you are increasing your circulation – blood is flowing more readily to all parts of your body to nourish your cells, tissues, and organs. This includes your skin. Not only does better blood flow help your skin, but so does sweating. Sweating opens up your pores so that oil and dirt are washed out. It is important, however, to rinse with tepid water after you have exercised yourself into a sweat so that the dirt and oil are washed away.
- Your diet also plays a part in your skin condition. While it’s true that fatty foods or chocolate will not cause acne, what you eat will contribute to the health of your skin. A well balanced diet that provides all the recommended nutrients will give your body all it needs to stay healthy, and this will include your skin. Conversely, a diet of ‘junk food’ will not give your body all it needs, and this can be reflected in your skin’s appearance.
Understanding how our skin does change during our lives, and how best to treat it can help everyone to enjoy a smoother, fresher looking skin longer.