Ageing skin; causes and treatments of premature skin ageing

Hannah Wilson

As we get older, our skin naturally loses elasticity due to depleted collagen levels and is unable to regenerate as fast as it once could. However, premature skin ageing is definitely something that can be prevented. 

Here at Face Dr, we understand the mental and physical benefits of having healthy skin. Not only does it boost your self-confidence and look good, it’s also the largest organ in our body and serves vital functions. So, helping you keep it healthy is at the top of our list. 

There are plenty of lifestyle factors that either slow down or speed up the collagen clock, so understanding what causes skin to age prematurely and being able to spot those tell-tale signs is the best way of keeping your body’s largest organ in top shape.

If everything is left to tick along nicely, most of us will start to see signs of skin ageing in our forties or fifties – depending on our genetics. But, if we let our lifestyles get the better of us, our skin can begin ageing as early as our twenties.

There is a bright side though. Most causes of premature skin ageing are things that we have a lot of control over, so we can tailor our routines to combat any damage. In this article, we’ll go through all the signs and symptoms of premature skin ageing, what causes them and some handy tips to help keep your skin looking young, fresh and firm. 

The signs of premature skin ageing

In order to know if your skin is growing old before it’s time, it’s important to keep an eye on it and be on the lookout for the following signs and symptoms:

#1. Hyperpigmentation

Hyperpigmentation pigmented skin

Also known as sun spots, age spots or liver spots. These are flat areas of pigmentation (darker skin) that vary in size and shape and make your skin tone appear uneven. You’ll most likely notice them on your face, the backs of your hands and forearms. They’re caused by prolonged sun exposure and will appear on most people once they hit their forties, however if you have fairer skin you may notice them a bit sooner.

#2. Hands

Ageing skin on hands

Ageing skin reveals itself in two main places – your face and your hands. Collagen (the protein that helps keep your skin supple and firm) naturally depletes in the body as we get older, but there are certain lifestyle factors (keep on reading to find out what!) that speed up that breakdown. The skin on your hands will start to appear thin due to a loss of elasticity. This makes veins visible and disrupts smoothness, once again sabotaging that all-important even complexion.

#3. Dehydrated skin

Hydrate your skin

As skin ages it becomes thinner. Thin skin is more susceptible to dehydration and dryness which manifests itself in all manner of frustrating ways such as flaky skin, inflammation and itchiness. 

#4. Wrinkles/Sagging

Finally, the most recognisable sign of ageing skin. As collagen levels fall and cell turnover slows, you might notice some fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear. Skin also becomes less firm as it ages which causes it to sag and droop. You’ll notice this mainly around areas of your face you move a lot such as your eyes and mouth.

These tell-tale signs are all a natural part of the ageing process, but we definitely don’t want any of them knocking on our door sooner than necessary. So how can we halt the clock?

What causes premature skin ageing?

The two main biological processes that contribute to ageing skin are collagen loss and impaired cell recovery. 

The best way to take hold of the reins of time is understanding what actually causes your skin to age. We’ve rounded up the five main skin stressors you need to be aware of in order to fight off premature ageing. 

#1. Sun Damage

Sun protection

Over time, UV exposure causes damage to the DNA within our skin cells. This inhibits their ability to regenerate and results in symptoms of premature ageing such as hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and dehydration. 

Too much time in the sun causes free radical damage which is a one-way ticket to premature ageing. During this cellular process, the health and quality of your skin is compromised due to something called oxidative stress.

Think of an avocado. Once exposed to air, avocados start to turn brown due to oxidative stress. In a similar way, free radicals cause tissue damage to your skin which is what leads to all those unwanted signs and symptoms of ageing.

ZO Skin Health Smart Tone SPF 50 Brod Spectrum

Our Skin Expert Recommendation: Use a high facial SPF (no less than 30) every single day – yes, even when it’s cloudy. ZO Skin Smart Tone Broad Spectrum with SPF 50 provides an excellent shield against the ageing effects of UVA and UVB rays. It’s non-greasy, fast-drying and leaves you with a sheer matte finish. A far cry from the thick, creamy stuff your parents slathered on you in the summer It also contains a 12-hour time-release antioxidant complex that’ll combat any free radical damage.

#2. Pollution

If you’re living in a city, pollution is a part of life that’s hard to avoid. However, the dirt, dust and damaging particulates from car exhaust is a major contributor to premature skin ageing. The impurities become trapped in your pores and can cause chronic inflammation and dryness over time. 

ZO Skin Health Complexion Clearing Masque Sulfur Masque

Our Skin Expert Recommendation: Use purifying ingredients, such as charcoal, bentonite clay or algae, that draw out toxins from deep within your pores. Make time for a daily cleansing routine and treat yourself to some deeper treatments, like a mask, once a week. ZO Skin Health's Complexion Clearing Masque contains two clays, kaolin and bentonite, which are both deeply detoxifying. Use twice a week as a powerful way to pull out any pollutants. 

#3. Smoking

Smoking does all sorts of damage to your body and your skin most certainly isn’t immune to its effects. It can cause fine vertical lines to appear around the mouth and floods your body with toxins that dehydrate skin and lead to wrinkling. 

It also reduces blood flow to your skin due to vascular constriction which means the cells aren’t getting the oxygen they need to regenerate properly. This speeds up collagen breakdown and over time will cause your skin to lose its suppleness and elasticity. 

#4. Excessive alcohol consumption

Alcohol severely dehydrates your entire body (which is the main culprit of those mean morning headaches) including your skin. This causes dryness and can worsen existing skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea. 

Alcohol also releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which can age the skin over time.

Having a few drinks every now and then is absolutely fine, but try to limit your intake and ditch the binges in order to prevent long-term damage. Rehydrate your body with plenty of water and treat your skin to a hydrating mask or treatment every so often to reactive your natural hydrating process.

#5. Stress

Stress is a huge contributor to premature ageing. Anxiety might feel like it’s all in your head, but it’s a lot more physical than you think. When we’re stressed, our body releases hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline which both add to oxidative skin damage and cause premature ageing. 

Stress also triggers your inflammatory response which causes your entire body, including your skin, to age faster. 

It's important to manage stress and anxiety for a lot of different reasons and skincare is just one of them. Spending time on your skincare routine is a great way to relieve stress and combat any unwanted signs of ageing.

In summary

ZO Skin Health Skin Expert Face Dr

Armed with all this info, you’ll now be able to spot the signs of premature skin ageing and make the changes necessary to fight it off. Taking care of your skin throughout life is what’s going to give you that youthful look for longer, so our advice is to make good skincare a habit and get into it as soon as possible.

At Face Dr, we offer free video skincare consultations with one of our Skin Experts, who will guide you on how to build the best regime for your skin. You can also read some of our other articles on ageing skincare below:

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