Ageing in your twenties and what you can do about it

Being in your twenties is the most youthful your skin will be. In your early twenties, the skin is usually plump and youthful and as you progress through your twenties it tends to lose the plumpness and can begin to look duller in appearance.

Let's look a bit closer!

To understand how the skin ages, let’s look at the structure of the skin at a cellular level and consider the changes that occur.

The layers of the skin

Epidermis – this is the outer layer of the skin.

Dermis – the middle layer that contains the tough connective tissue, hair follicles and sweat glands. Fibroblasts are also here and are very important when we consider how the skin ages

Hypodermis – The deeper subcutaneous tissue which is comprised of fat and connective tissue.

Fibroblasts in the dermis produce collagen and elastin fibres. In young skin, they produce dense short bundles of collagen that are tightly packed together and contribute to the firmness and plumpness of youthful skin. As we age, the fibroblasts do not function as they should and from around age 28, they are in decline. This means that less and poorer quality collagen and elastin fibres are produced. In people that smoke, have sun damaged skin and/or suffer from stress this is likely to be much younger than 28.

Smoking, sun and stress affect the collagen fibres in the skin and also the fibroblasts themselves resulting in poorer quality collagen being produced. This is mainly due to free radicals that destroy cells.  When the skin begins to lose collagen it looks dull and tired and fine lines and wrinkles can be more noticeable.  The skin cell turnover from its production to being on the surface is around 28 days and this slows down as we age.

What can you focus on to delay ageing and reduce any visible signs of ageing?

1. Stop smoking if you do. Smoking restricts the blood flow to the periphery of the skin reducing oxygen and nutrients reaching the cells. The pursing of lips around a cigarette or e-cig may also cause overactivity of the lip muscles that increase wrinkles around the lips known as peri-oral lines.

2. Reduce sun exposure and wear a minimum of 30 SPF even in the winter. The sun on the skin produces free radicals that destroy cells. When cells are destroyed, changes in those tissues will occur. Melanocytes are stimulated (this is what creates tanning of the skin). Any colour change in the skin is a sign of skin damage. In your early twenties, while the skin is youthful, a tan looks like a healthy glow but the effects of this damage can be present as early as mid to late twenties. Pigmentation patches are often produced on the skin year after year on areas that have been previously damaged. These unsightly patches do make the skin look older than it is.

3. Reduce stress in your life as much as you can and focus on mental wellbeing, good nutrition and exercise which release endorphins, the happy hormones. Stress is always underestimated when we think of ageing but it can really play a big part in premature ageing.

4. Stimulate the skin to increase cell turnover. Use of mild acids such as glycolic acid cleansers can remove dead skin cells and stimulate the epidermal cells to increase freshness and appearance of the skin. This will also help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.

5. Use an anti-ageing product such as retinol which is proven to be a highly effective anti-ageing substance. Ensure you purchase this from a skin care clinic and do not be misled with beauty counter products. Beauty counter products cannot legally contain the concentration of retinol required to be effective for significant anti-ageing benefits.

6. Begin to have your skin assessed by a medical skin care practitioner to learn what your skin needs.

7. If your skin has prematurely aged, consider toxin injections commonly known as botox to reduce hyper-muscle activity and reduce the occurrence of dynamic lines (wrinkles visible when moving the muscle) becoming static wrinkles (wrinkles that are present at rest even without the skin moving).

8. Begin to have skin health treatments to stimulate the fibroblasts to produce good quality collagen fibres that keep the skin plump and youthful. Consider peels, micro-needling and laser treatments that can be designed to target specific skin problems in combination with stimulating fibroblast activity.

Love your skin, enjoy your skin, respect your skin and treat it well now and your efforts will pay off as you age.