We spend our entire lives doing everything that we can to reverse the signs of aging on our faces. We invest in day creams, night creams, spa facials, massages, dermaplaning, Botox, cosmetic surgery – you name it, we will do it in the name of anti-aging and slowing down the test of time. If you haven’t seen a face aging before, there are plenty of time lapse videos out there that you can watch which can show you what happens to a face – both cosmetically and scientifically – as we age. We watch our mothers, fathers and grandparents age and we know it’s coming, but it doesn’t make it easier to deal with yourself. One evening, you head to bed with your usual skincare routine, and then you wake up with what seems like instant signs of aging on your face. Wrinkles, sagging skin and discolouration can appear quickly – and that’s scary.
Every single face in the world ages at a different rate. As we age, we lose volume in the face and the contour of the face changes. Shadow patterns develop across the skin and the shape of the face slowly changes. The taut, youthful skin you have changes into something that even night and day creams cannot stop entirely. It’s important to understand how your face changes over time so that you know what to expect. As much as 80% of premature aging happens for some within the first 20 years of life. The skin starts aging in the mid-teens, with the first signs of ageing appearing before the age of 30. There are two different types of ageing to be aware of:
- Intrinsic Ageing. Caused by the genes that we inherit, which is natural skin ageing.
- Extrinsic Ageing. Caused by the environment such as smoking, alcohol and sun exposure. This is prematurely aging skin.
No matter how you look at it, every single face will age and wrinkle over time. It’s how well you care for your skin from a young age and how much of a limit of sun exposure you have that matters the most. The changes that are going to take place happen because of the two reasons above, and it’s exploring these reasons that can give you a better understanding of your skin and how it all ages.
To get a little into the science side of your skin, you have to learn about how skin works from the very cells in the bottom of the epidermis, to the surface where those cells die. Dead skin cells are something that continuously shed from the surface of the skin. The cell renewal process eventually slows down and the dead skin doesn’t shed as easily as before. Sounds gross, right? After some time, those dead skin cells form a layer than prevents the process of skin regeneration and at the same time, the process of moisture evaporation speeds up. By the age of 50, skin shows sagging and wrinkling around the eyes and mouth. There are four main types of facial ageing:
- Skin – texture, tone and pigmentation
- Volume – facial fat and contours
- Muscle – dynamic and static wrinkle
- Bone – support and foundation
Chronological ageing is the natural ageing process of your skin. It’s characterized by your skin thinning and a loss of elasticity as well as a decreased metabolic activity. This accounts for about 10% of all skin ageing and is part of a natural process that happens over time. How it will happen to you is determined by your genetics and how well you look after your skin. Signs of ageing exist at every layer of the facial structure, and you can look to older relatives in your family to see how your ageing could go.
Caused by environmental factors, extrinsic accounts for about 90% of skin ageing. Collagen and elastin degenerates, the small vascular vessels begin to dilate, abnormal elastin and collagen deposition begins to occur and there is an increase in skin pigmentation. These are the main culprits when it comes to skin ageing, and they’re also known as free radicals. Smoking, environmental pollution, bad eating habits and pesticides are all oxygen and nitrogen free radicals. UV radiation exposure upon the skin is a big problem. When UV radiation interacts with the skin, there are an excessive amount of free radicals which can destroy skin collagen, elastin and other proteins in the skin. The DNA inside the skin cells interacts with radiation, which allows faulty DNA to replicate. All of this results in the visual signs of ageing, which include:
- Dryness of the skin
- Wrinkles forming
- Accentuated skin furrows
- Sagging around the cheeks and eyes
- Loss of elasticity in the skin
- Mottled pigmentation
- Increased risk of skin cancer
Youthful skin is soft, supple and hydrated, all of which mean it’s rich in healthy, renewing cells that constantly replenish at a rapid pace. When we age, we lose our facial glands which results in the skin producing less oil, which contributes to drier skin. Dynamic wrinkles form when we lose collagen and elastin and those dynamic wrinkles eventually become permanent wrinkles over time. Sagging then follows when the skin doesn’t bounce back as quickly as it did when we were in our youth.
Skin Ageing Process
The decades matter when it comes to the way that your skin ages, and if you understand what to expect in each decade, you will find it an easier process to manage. Below, we’ve put together what you should expect as you move through each decade in life.
20-30 Years. As you move from your teens into your twenties, your face goes through some subtle changes. Your face loses that babyish roundness to it and you look more womanly. While this is rather attractive for a lot of young women, you will be greeted with the signs of ageing at the same time. Collagen levels in your skin will start to fall, which results in very subtle crows feet and frown lines. These are affectionately known as ‘motor wrinkles’, as they are caused by the movement of your face. As the twenties are the most popular time for women to bear children, they should also look out for melasma – or pregnancy mask – a discolouration of the skin across the cheeks or forehead. Avoiding the sun as much as possible in your twenties will determine how you look in your fifties.
30-40 Years. The period of your life that your skin will start to look ‘tired’, your thirties will see you retaining some of your youth. You’ll also see the early results of sun damage, with dilated blood vessels around your nose and small brown spots across your forehead and face. The ‘11’s will pop up between your eyebrows – two small lines from frowning – and you’ll notice shadows that form in the triangular areas between your nose and the corners of your mouth. Collagen and elastin levels at this time causes the brow to droop, the lips to thin and forehead wrinkles to become more defined. This is the time to get serious about skin care, so ditch the oil-based moisturisers and consider chemical peels to get rid of brown spots. Laser treatments are good for the blood vessels that are visible.
40-50 Years. The forties are the beginnings of the lines that develop around the upper lip. You’ll notice them deepening more if you’ve spent some time in your life smoking heavily, and if you’ve used sun oil instead of sunscreen, you’ll notice them even more. There’s a deepening of the smaller lines in your face to be expected, as well as the formation of eyelid bags and lines that appear. Gravity and the pull of your muscles causes a drooping or sagging of the skin and deeper structures that are much harder to hide. Now, your moisturisers should be deeper and thicker than ever, and you need to introduce a good night cream into your routine. Antioxidant skin care products are favoured, and these should be used between two and three times per week. Laser treatments and chemical peels are a way to take the years back a little!
50 And Beyond. If you’ve spent time in your youth minimising your exposure to the sun and using the right creams, you can expect to glide into your fifties and beyond with gracefulness and skin that could rival a woman in her early forties. If you haven’t looked after your skin, you can expect that you’ll see the results written all over your face. The menopause hits in your fifties, and the effects leave the fat hanging in saggy skin, with marionette lines substantially deeper if they haven’t been corrected. Neck wrinkles appear, with eyebrow drooping and a drooping of the nasal tip. Lips thin right down so that there is a lot less dry vermillion than before, and platysmal banding develops in the neck. Your sixties are when gravity really kicks in and the wrinkles that you had before will start to double and rapidly, more will develop. Estrogen drops in your fifties and sixties, which makes skin look much drier and wrinkles become more prominent. You can change the process of wrinkles forming with Botox, fillers and a face lift in your sixties. This can help the thinning of the facial skin, and prevent a blotchy pattern from forming across the face.
What Can Be Done?
All of these skin changes sound rather alarming, but they needn’t be. In the world that we live in today, we have the ability to take some control over the years and delay the impact that facial ageing has. The treatments out there do vary, and you can do many of those treatments on your own. Budget does account for how much you can afford for your face age, but if you start early, you can manage your finances so that you can benefit your skin over time. The one thing that you should never do when it comes to your face is cut corners. You cannot benefit from treatments in facilities that aren’t medically correct. If you plan to do anything to your skin and your general face shape, you need to speak to board-certified dermatologists of plastic surgeons. They are the ones that are going to have the best understanding of what your skin needs, whether that’s permanent corrective surgery or fillers to make the skin look healthier.
Facial ageing doesn’t have to be something that leads to depression and upset. It’s overwhelming to see your face age before you, but if you are taking the right precautions and following the right advice for a healthy routine and diet, you can get through the ageing process in one piece, while delaying it as much as possible. There are plenty of facial treatments out there that you can take advantage of, from the nightly routine that you do to prevent the development of wrinkles, to the monthly Botox injections that you have to put the wrinkles on freeze for a while. The earlier you start your skincare regime, the better your skin will be and react to it. Don’t forget that you are in control; your ageing process is going to be down to you. If you choose to smoke, you’re going to speed it up – so, you must really decide if cigarettes are worth it to you.
The ageing process goes beyond just your skin and wrinkling. You have to consider the impact that ageing has on bones, muscles and fat-pads. Once you understand exactly how the skin ages, you can find the right treatment options that make sense for you and your needs. Facial aesthetics are necessary for those who want a helping hand, who haven’t followed the same pattern that nature has and you can speak to a specialist to help you to determine your current face age and how to reverse it.