Aging is something we all take for granted at times. And although you might think it is a natural process - it’s actually not. Aging is more a combination of exogenous (in biology that means anything growing or originating from outside an organism) and endogenous (from inside you) variables that really impact the quality of health and functions in your body. Apart from good ol’ fashion natural aging, the rest makes up more than 90% (in regards to your appearance). With the many factors at play that age you quicker, there are 3 major lifestyle habits that can be moderated to lower that 90% - imagine what you would look like before that bachelor party? Oooo Wee. First, we’ll need a quick overview of how aging is defined and then go into 3 major causes of aging and how to deal with them.
What does aging mean for your facial skin?
The process of aging includes the transformation of the face with changes affecting bones, muscles, fat, texture, and color. With these in mind, we can classify some of the early signs of aging in the skin to pinpoint the cause, find the lifestyle, and hopefully sooner rather than later, get it moderated.
To make things simple, aging signs can be classified into 4 categories:
- Loss of Firmness of Cutaneous Tissues
- Vascular Disorders
- Pigmentation Heterogeneities
Although there have been many studies on known functions and genetics that determine how fast natural aging (this is actually called chronological aging) occurs, this is still considered uncontrollable (for now [rubbing hands menacingly]).
What are three major causes of aging?
Sun damage induces a major increase in photoaging which is a combination between solar tissue damage and chronological aging. It is the result of repeated exposure to various sources of ultraviolet radiations (including sun and the use of tanning beds), and UV exposure over a long period of time, which is responsible for both aesthetic effects and biological damage.
The sun changes the way the skin is composed by altering functions, changing the physiology of different components of the skin, and even its genetics. This shouldn’t get you to start living in a cave, but those early hominids had something going on there. Below are just a few things UV exposure can do to your hide.
- Changes the skin’s thickness
- Destroys Keratinocytes (your main skin cells)
- Drives oxidative free radical damage to DNA
- Directly affects nucleotide base pairing in DNA (not a good thing)
I’m sure you think you know this one. We thought so too. We thought sunscreen was the end all and be all of the UV rays. Nope! Today, you won't find a single sunscreen that blocks ALL UV light. That’s why a plethora of hat and UV-blocking sunglass styles are at your disposal. The sun is like fine wine. It’s good to have a couple of glasses, but don’t drown in it as you’ll pay for it later. Moderate the amount of sun you get, hide in the shade, or hey, pick up a sunbrella (In style after Willy Wonka gets into theatres).
Ah yes, action and reaction. The fight or flight we are genetically ingrained to do - and how you deal with it separates you from the insurmountable amount of damage it does to your body (and mind!). When you feel stressed, your nervous system releases cortisol and adrenaline into your body that change a slew of functions in your skin. So how does stress affect the skin? Here are the ways stress can impact your face!
Stress impacts your immune system, causes your skin to be more reactive and sensitive, and triggers rashes, hives, puffy under eyes, and redness.
Activates existing inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, leading to flare-ups.
It causes you to feel nervous or anxious, and pick at scabs or acne, or scratch your skin until it becomes red or breaks.
Changes to the proteins in your skin and reduce its elasticity. This loss of elasticity can contribute to wrinkle formation.
A pair of studies in 2014, performed on mice, found that stress impairs the barrier function of your stratum corneum and may negatively affect skin water retention.
A 2013 study, it found that moderate levels of daily stress can actually help protect against the damage. This is called eustress and you should think of this kind of stress as excitement. Things like starting a new job, getting married, taking a long-awaited vacation are examples of this kind of stress. Meaning, for sanity’s sake, take more time off or get yourself a new skincare set;). To manage negative stress or ‘distress’ - Take that yoga mat out, my friend. Or, there are plenty of apps, games, exercises that can help expel stress and get rid of the damage.
Sleep quality is crucial to not only your skin’s health but to your behavior, hand-eye coordination, and your mind! The circadian rhythm is the process that rules it all. There are periods of biological activity that occur when you’re awake and asleep, controlled by the way the body’s biological clock responds to light and dark.
During the day skin cells are in defense mode, working to protect themselves from UV exposure and free radical damage. When the sun goes down (the vampires come out) and your mind and body switch into regeneration mode – repairing daytime damage and boosting the production of substances that protect and renew. Here’s what happens:
- The brain clears out waste products like amyloid beta (a substance associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease).
- Production of protective brain cells called oligodendrocytes ramps up.
- Memories are consolidated to enhance problem-solving and creativity.
- Melatonin, known for its antioxidant (a.k.a. anti-aging) properties, is produced at night.
- Levels of the stress hormone cortisol fall during sleep, which helps skin repair daytime damage.
- The body makes more collagen, which minimizes fine lines.
- More human growth hormone is released, increasing muscle mass and strengthening the skin.
When sleep-deprived, the above processes are disrupted. One article describes someone's face beautifully:
“look more fatigued, with hanging eyelids, redder eyes, more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles and fine lines around the eyes, the corners of the mouth as being more droopy and more sad.”1
I can tell you this first hand, it’s definitely a vice to stay up until the wee hours of the morning. I’ve done it, I know a few top business owners that do it, and it needs moderation. Like sun and stress, sleep plays a key role in optimizing your potential when you're awake. Exercise for me has been helping for both stress and sleep and has been the basis for a successful lifestyle that includes a healthy body and mind.
And what of the skin? How can we limit the damage from UV exposure, stress, and deprivation? GOA’s R&D team landed a win when we launched the Anti-Fatigue Facial Mud Mask. It was the first time we introduced Dark Phyto Protein (a combination of peptides that reduce UV exposure damage) and an array of ingredients, like wakame bioferment to weaken stress in the skin. Learn more about how the Mud Mask can work in your favor to diminish the aging signs of sun exposure, stress, and sleep deprivation.