Dear Wellness Seeker,
as we know, our skin is both the first surface to strike the eye of the beholder and the first surface that keeps the outside at bay and protects our inner bodies.
It is the canvas for our non-verbal communication with which we make our first impressions, revealing whether we are hot or cold, tired or rested, sick or healthy. Our skin is also our first and foremost line of defence against aggression from the outside world, while also undergoing the same inner aggressions, stress and lifestyle factors as our inner organs. Our skin is the only organ of our body where the ageing processes are directly visible.
This is why our skin is the perfect barometer to show our ageing process: what we see on the outside reflects what is happening on the inside. And what we show matters! We are living in a world of first impressions and appearances, our skin’s “look” inevitably has a major impact on our self-confidence, and our professional and personal lives. So, let’s find out what is ageing our bodies and our skin, and how we can temper this process!
1. Intrinsic Skin Ageing
The skin ageing process, particularly visible on the face, is 3-fold, involving our skin, fat and bones.
Skin: Over time our bodies produce less collagen and elastin, the skin gets thinner, pores become larger, and wrinkles begin to form, often first around the most mobile areas of the face (“expression wrinkles”). While certain wrinkles may have positive connotations such as “laughter lines”, most are subconsciously linked to negative images (“frown lines”, “crow’s feet”, “tear lines”) and reflect far less desirable emotions, which are now permanently engraved upon the face.
Fatty tissues: At the same time, our adipose pannicule (aka. subcutaneous fat layer) which forms a foundation under the skin of our entire bodies and makes our skin look plump and springy, begins to wane. This is further compounded by the loss of fat in our facial “fat pads” such as the malar fat pad which gives a healthy round shape to the cheeks: as we lose our malar fat pad, our tear troughs deepen and our cheeks fall inwards. We also look more severe and bitter as we lose the fat from our lips and they become thin, pinched lines. Without supporting fatty tissues below, the corners of our mouth curl downwards into a permanently unhappy, sullen expression that usually does reflect our inner state at all. Similarly, our temples hollow out, our eye sockets deepen, our foreheads curve inwards, all due to the loss of structural fat.
Bone: On our faces, we also see the effects of bony involution over time. Facial bones reshape, losing volume from our cheekbones and jawbones, gaining volume over our eyebrows. Our gums and teeth recede, while the nose and chin are elongated in comparison, giving a “witchy” appearance. Overall this bony involution leads to a loss of facial structure and less support for the soft tissues draped over these bones, that now hang in loose folds where they were once taut and firm. Jowls sag, eyebrows droop, we look sad and tired.
This 3-fold intrinsic ageing process (chronological ageing) is a natural process and reflects the way these issues evolve over time. However, these natural processes are modulated by our inner state of health. This means that our rate of ageing is affected by our lifestyle choices every day!
2. Extrinsic Skin Aging
Our skin ageing process is strongly influenced by environmental factors including; sun exposure, smoking, pollution, diet, and everyday stresses. These lead to premature ageing, which means we age faster than we were naturally destined to. Even if on the inside we may feel as good as ever, on the outside our skin sends another message. It is thought that up to 80-90% of visible skin ageing is related to chronic UV exposure (photo-ageing or “light related ageing”). As a result, fine lines intensify to form deep wrinkles and become more noticeable. The skin becomes dull, uneven and mottled with excess pigmentation as our skin starts producing excessive melatonin in a desperate bid to protect itself from this continued aggression.
3. The play of different factors and potential therapies
While to a point our rate of ageing is determined by our genes, we now know from the study of epigenetics that these genes can be modulated through lifestyle interventions. Our daily choices modulate our gene expression, accelerating our ageing process prematurely, or on the contrary, slowing our ageing process down so we stay healthier for longer. This means we have hope of influencing our intrinsic ageing factors!
Further good news is the range of action we have on extrinsic ageing factors, which we can simply reduce, avoid or counterbalance.
To illustrate the different skin ageing factors at play, we’ve laid them out in the following chart:
There exists an interplay between these factors, and usually, the extrinsic factors are superimposed on intrinsic processes, leading to complex biochemical changes in the skin.
There are several routes for potential therapies to treat accelerated intrinsic skin ageing, built mostly around micronutrional and molecular supplementation, antioxidant replenishment and restoring gut health. However, these are highly specialized and cannot be undertaken without the guidance of a medical professional.
Extrinsic ageing factors are far more accessible to interventions and can be effectively countered by individuals at home every day. Here are some examples of ways you can reduce your ageing linked to extrinsic factors (however the help of a specialist is strongly recommended):
4. The take-away for home
If there is one key piece of advice we can give you to reduce visible premature ageing of your skin, it is UV light protection.
Chronic UV light exposure is the single most devastating culprit in skin ageing, and it is a factor that is simple to reduce:
- – Avoid direct sun exposure, both summer and winter, during peak sun-times (11 am to 4 pm).
- – Invest in large pair of polarized sunglasses, a wide-brim hat, and any other sun-blocking accessories you fancy.
- – Apply sunscreen liberally, but most of all, regularly. It is a consistence-game and you need to apply your sunscreen every day, every few hours. Even in winter, even on overcast days, as UV light penetrates extremely well even through cloudy layers. It also penetrates perfectly well through the glass, so while working next to a window or driving in your car you are still bathing in UV light.
- – Choose a high enough index. SPF 15 will not offer any protection that is statistically significant to prevent facial ageing. For your face, the minimum should be an SPF 30, although an SPF 50 is the ideal choice.
- – Opt for a chemical or physical sunscreen, both are fine, as long as you apply them regularly!
- – It is also recommended to reduce exposure to blue light from screens, such as computers and phones: avoid prolonged use and prefer low blue light settings.
5. The Chenot philosophy – A Holistic and Personalised Approach to Skincare
As life expectancy has steadily increased, the demand for effective and evidence-based treatments against visible signs of ageing has also increased. It is now appreciated that a more holistic and personalised approach accessing the whole face, as well other exposed skin areas such as the neck, décolleté and hands, achieves much better results instead of concentrating on isolated problem areas. Thus, it is possible to develop a customised treatment plan and combine different treatment modalities, to tackle and prevent the age-related changes of the skin and achieve a better and more harmonious aesthetic result.
The 3 keywords stated by the Chenot philosophy that are implemented in our practice and approach are:
-and Customised treatments.
Promoting beauty and aesthetics through a strong healthy body and mind, our guests can rediscover the beauty that is within them.
Combining our expertise with the latest technology, a selection of specific treatments is available.
As a follow up to our dermatology procedures, a customized skin care regime with our effective in-house cosmeceuticals will ensure a prolonged and beautiful result.
To your best skin!
Dr Dominique Darvas – Anti-ageing Medicine
Your Chenot Wellness Team