Figuring out the mystery of aging is a complex problem. There are many separate models for aging that each indicate different potential reasons for why we age. These range from damage at a cellular level to genetic issues to simply wearing out depending on who you ask. All these models make it hard to say if we’re ever going to have a clear picture on why we age. That isn’t going to stop science from trying to solve the mystery, though. Despite all the mystery around the actual mechanical causes of aging, we do have a grasp on how various parts of your body respond to gradual increases in age. Things change over the course of our lifetime that affect the overall effectiveness and health of our organs. This is most visible in our skin given it gives clear, easily seen signs of change as we age. All of the effects are something we’ll have to deal with eventually and, as a result, it pays to be prepared for what the changes will bring.
Repairs Get Harder
One of the things you absolutely must understand about your skin as it ages is that it isn’t that your skin gives up on you. Your skin is still doing all that it can do to keep itself healthy. It just loses the capability to do nearly as much as you age. This is because your skin’s ability to heal itself is directly tied to its ability to produce the proteins collagen and elastin. Collagen is one of the primary structural proteins in the body and in the skin it serves as the protein that gives your skin structure. Areas where you see wrinkles or acne scars are places where the collagen has been deeply damaged. In many cases, your skin can repair areas if the damage isn’t too extensive and it has the materials. Age makes that harder. Making this worse is that elastin is what allows your skin to be flexible and its loss means it becomes harder for your skin to hold its shape as the levels of collagen drop. Without a good skincare routine, this becomes fairly evident as we age. A good routine can make the effects less pronounced, though.
That lack of collagen has other effects on your skin as you age. Most of us have dealt with children at one point or another. Most of them seem to have smooth and incredibly healthy skin, right? The skin is thicker due to their youth meaning collagen and elastin production are at their highest. Skin thickness is keen to its overall health. This is especially true when it comes to retaining moisture. When we’re younger, we generally don’t need to worry about dry skin unless that’s our skin type. It becomes an increasing issue with age as our skin gets thinner due to lack of collagen and as a result can’t retain moisture as effectively. This loss eats at our skin as assuredly as the loss of its ability to repair itself effectively. Properly moisturized skin is more resilient than drier skin. It is better able to bounce back from physical damage such as cuts as well as being better able to defend itself against environmental factors such as sun damage.
The Damage of A Lifetime
Sun damage is one of those insidious forms of damage that there are still entire generations of people who were brought up without knowing about it. As a result, habits such as sun tanning remain popular despite the potential damage they can do to your skin. These habits have their own lasting effect on our skin. Sun damage is bad in its own right, but it also tends to be one of the big ways free radicals are introduced into our skin. Free radicals are unstable particles that bind with whatever is available in an area, break bonds that then damage an area, and can generate still more free radicals. The issue here is that they contribute to the damage your skin is trying to repair consistently. Things build up over the course of a lifetime and collagen, in particular, tends to pay a heavy price when it comes damage from free radicals. As a result, failing to consider this source of damage leads to premature aging by accelerating one of the primary issues with aging: the breakdown of collagen. Antioxidant-rich products are good for helping counter this issue, but a diet with foods rich in antioxidants can do a lot as well.
We can’t solve aging and don’t even fully understand why it happens. It does have some easily tracked changes to organs in the body like the skin though. In general, the loss of collagen and elastin in the skin causes an increasing number of issues when it comes to keeping the skin healthy and youthful. You can counter the effects to a degree, but ultimately it only slows the effects and allows you to age gracefully. For the time being, that’s what we all have to accept as what is available and hope that one day a better solution will be found.