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Skin Aging

 

by Ted Kalli

 

The face and neck are the most visible parts of the body. We recognize everyone, by looking at their face. Except for identical twins, most everyone looks different. There may be similarities in individuals, but upon close investigation, we can recognize differences. If we know someone for a long period of time, we can see changes in the face, as they age. One of the main differences is, that as we age, the face skin tends to wrinkle. Why the skin wrinkles has been the subject of many studies in recent times.

 

Everyone wants to look their best and will go to great lengths to slow the process of wrinkling. Notice I used the word - slow. I do not believe, you can reverse the process of wrinkling. Surgery, commonly called a face lift, will smooth out the skin. This type of surgery is becoming more common. How long it lasts, varies according to the individual. Other types of surgery are performed to improve the appearance. Short of the surgical approach, what can we do to have better skin.

 

 

First of all, what is aging?

 

"Aging is the loss of physiological capacities that culminates in death.[1]" Pretty grim statement, but the truth. "The aging process is species specific and varies with the environmental factors and genetic background. There are two major types of hypotheses which attempt to explain cellular aging. The first one proposes that aging is caused by passive accumulation or errors in cellular constituents such as DNA, RNA, protein and lipid due to a variety of environmental effects coupled with imperfect repair mechanisms. The second considers aging to be an active, genetically programmed event (program theories).[1]"

 

The skin cells, as most cells in the body are characterized by several functions, a few of which are - nutrition, environmental response, reproduction, growth and repair.

 

Nutrition - the process of food and oxygen intake, its conversion to energy, and the elimination of waste.[1] This is a very important function of the cell and has a direct bearing on reproduction, growth and repair. The cells can not function properly unless properly nourished. Unfortunately, the nutrients supplied by the blood, have a long way to go to reach the skin cells, especially the face skin, which are supplied by capillaries. The capillaries supply the epidermis with everything it needs to survive. There is no blood in the epidermis, so it is fed by passive diffusion from the blood vessels to the cells.[2]

 

Proper skin care should begin when a teenager. The problem is, most teenagers do not have any visible signs of aging. The most common problem for teenagers is acne, and this is usually treated by a physician or OTC acne products. More and more teenagers are now starting to discover estheticians and their services, when they have problems with their skin. But, normally unless they have a problem, they do not take very good care of their skin. Most teenagers spend countless hours lying in the sun, until their skin is deeply tanned. The effects of this does not appear until later in life.

 

UV rays, which are in the 290-400 mm range can be further segmented into two ranges, UVA (290-320mm) and UVB (320-400mm). Both UVA and UVB radiation alter epidermal cells. UVB has higher energy and therefore may be considered the main cause of actinic aging. On the other hand, UVA penetrates deeper into the skin and induces more damage to dermis than epidermis. Sun exposure prematurely ages the skin of middle-aged adults and the elderly.[3]

 

Age related, non-pathogenic skin problems are usually limited to dry skin, laxity, wrinkles and skin pigmentation. Dry skin is a condition, which among others, is caused by environmental conditions, such as cold weather and low humidity. It regularly affects the elderly population. Xerosis usually occurs on dorsal and lateral surfaces o the extremities. In addition to dryness and scaliness, it is almost exclusively accompanied by reduced elasticity of the skin, pruritus and, in extreme cases, fissures and inflammation.

 

The dry skin condition can be managed by maintaining stratum corneum hydration at a maximum level (10% at 60% relative humidity.)[3]

 

Skin aging is the result of actinic and senescence aging. Age-dependent changes to old skin, appear as if they are mainly morphological. They all indicate modified behaviors of various skin components. Wrinkling, for example, is due to reduction in the muscle mass and skin thickness, loss of elasticity of dermal collagen and elastin and dryness of the stratum corneum. The resulting behavioral change of the skin is loss of mechanical strength and visoelasticity.

 

Sun-aging will result in the thickening of the epidermis and irregular synthesis and restructuring of elastin and collagen decomposition, which will give the inelastic, leather-like appearance to the skin.[3]

 

New skin care ingredients are appearing all the time. In recent years, there have been many new innovations. Skin care products containing various vitamins, alpha hydroxy acids, antioxidants, and oxygen, to name a few, are now available in both the professional and retail markets. Companies are focusing on skin care because the customer base is aging. Since topically applied products have a very short distance to travel to reach the epidermal cells, this is the preferred type of product.

 

Skin care is a hot issue. 1993 sales topped $2.5 billion and the facial treatment market totaled $1.9 billion, an increase of 8% over 1992.[4]

 

Just a few years ago, there were few companies marketing fruit acid and retiniod products. Today, the list of these companies reads like a Who's Who list of the cosmetic industry. Products utilizing oxygen, in which my company is involved, are now available in department stores. Lancaster, a division of the German company, Benckiser, was the first to introduce oxygen products to the mass market.

 

Billed as yet another "skin care revolution" the formula has been supported by the biggest promotional budget ever for a German facial skin care launch.[5] Other leading retail companies are following their lead and introducing oxygen products.

 

In summary, the best answer to aging skin and wrinkles, is prevention. Today's skin care products are effective and can help in a better appearance. The decision of what to use, will depend on what works best for you. No one product is the total answer. But used in combination with each other, the results can be dramatic. Prevention of skin aging must begin in our teenage years.

 

We can't stop aging, but, with proper care,

and the technology behind this new breed of products,

we can delay it!

 


 

Bibliography:

1,2 - Advanced Professional Skin Care, Peter T. Pugliese, M.D.

3 - Causes, Clinical Features and Management of Skin Aging, M. Serpil Kislalioglu, happi, 61- 82, May 1994.

4 - Kline Co., Fairfield, NJ

5 - European Skin Care has Mass Appeal, Nina Stimson, happi, April 1994, 84-85.

 

Other References:

Topical Therapy of Pigmented Skin Lesions, W.S. Pray, U.S. Pharmacists Skin Supplement, 42-48, 1993.

 

 

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