Our bodies naturally produce everything we need to thrive.
Here’s the rub: with age, some of these things begin to be produced in less and less quantities. This affects all of the body’s systems but it’s the most visible on the skin. As I was reading the science behind this, I began to wonder if we could supplement or promote production with the beauty products in today’s market. I was very skeptical but it turns out that some can topicals can help and some are unicorns.
I want to make the disclaimer that this is not an anti-aging post.
My intention is not to market how to reverse time on wrinkles or sagging. If that’s your goal then I recommend you see a derm for the best action plan. No shame in the game - I have Botox, I get it. If you don’t want to do anything, that’s dope, too. This post is to let you know that you can supplement your skin’s natural functions. As always, I just want to give you the info so you can make the best decision for your personal lifestyles and preferences.
64% of our skin is water and there are a few key players that make sure it stays hydrated. Hydrated skin looks firmer and smoother but there’s an important differentiation to make: dehydrated and dry skin are not the same. Dehydrated skin does not have enough water retention while dry skin does not have enough oil (sebum) production. Everyone can have hydrated skin and it’s as easy as knowing what skincare to use.
These are the fats that live in the upper layer of skin. Their primary function is to act as a glue to hold skin cells to each other, forming the skin barrier and locking in moisture. Not only do they help the skin look firmer and more hydrated but they act as shields in what they allow past the skin barrier.
HA is naturally produced in almost every cell in the body with the highest concentrations in the skin. Each molecule of hyaluronic acid retains 1000 times its weight in water. It’s also a humectant, meaning it actively draws water to itself and locks it in. This is how skin maintains a smooth and soft appearance.
Squalene is naturally found in the body and squalane is the more stable, synthesized version of it that is found in many skincare products. Its function is to lubricate the outside of skin and lock in moisture. You can see how squalane can round out this group of hydrators to make sure your skin is plump and full of water (not to be confused with puffiness, which is water retention due to increased salt) at every level.
In short, grab one or all of these moisture loving ingredients for soft and plump skin, which decreases the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a youthful texture.
Something that might affect us as we age, though not all people, is that the skin becomes paler and more transparent. This occurs because our melanocytes (the cells forming melanin) change as we age. Some will produce less melanin and others will overproduce to compensate. This leads to overall pallor or uneven skin tone. If your concern is the former, there are a few face creams that are formulated with ingredients to add a rosy tone to the skin. If your concern is uneven skin tone, using a gentle chemical exfoliant can assist in achieving a more even appearance.
Firmness and Bounce
Now let’s talk about what a lot of people think of when they think of aging: sagging and wrinkling. Our skin contains fibroblasts, which are cells that are responsible for producing elastin and collagen. As we age, we produce less of these proteins and our skin grows thinner and less “springy”. You might notice that your smile lines are visible when you aren’t smiling and sleep creases aren’t going away as fast. This is all part of getting older and supplementing the production of elastin and collagen is possible. Unfortunately, reversing the effects of decreased production is something that is currently only possible with procedures you get at your derm’s office or medspa (Botox, etc).
Ingesting collagen is one option to supplement your natural production. You can also do so with a topical product. While the jury's out on whether these products actually help with production of more elastin and collagen, they definitely help skin temporarily look smoother and firmer. That coupled with the placebo effect might be enough to keep us going.