Aging is simply the process of getting older. What’s the big deal? In our youth-crazed society, it can feel like a big deal. If you’ve survived your 20s, and are firmly planted in your 30s, you know the struggle is real! Did you know there are two types of aging? It’s true! Aging occurs due to both internal and external factors. Some of these factors are based on heredity, while others are within your control. What’s the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic aging?
First let’s talk about how we age internally. This type of aging is a result of the passage of time. You’ll first start to notice reductions in your skin’s firmness and elasticity as collagen and elastic gradually start to decline. Intrinsic aging is inevitable, with heredity being a significant factor. If your parents have aged well, take heart, as your fate will likely be similar.
Hormones play a crucial role in intrinsic aging. Any woman, both young and old, can attest to this fact. If you’ve ever broken out right before your period, experienced changes in your skin during pregnancy, or have gone through menopause, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Hormones fluctuate during these times, and can negatively effect the skin.
The ratio of estrogen to progesterone dictates many of these changes. Collagen production decreases as women approach menopause as their estrogen levels wane. Collagen is the foundational support structure of the skin so it makes sense that significant changes, including wrinkles, sagging, and a lackluster complexion, will occur when that underlying support system no longer functions as it once did.
Adding insult to injury, cell metabolism and turnover declines with age, leading to fewer new skin cells. This shows up as older-looking skin with all its manifestations. The rate at which you age is also dependent on how effective your body is at repairing damaged DNA. The less effectively your body can repair, the faster you’ll age.
Skin becomes increasingly drier with age. This inability to bind water accelerate aging. Decreased lipid production also contributes to dehydrated skin. Less-than-optimal blood flow doesn’t help matters, nor does impaired immunity, that accompanies aging. The result is less volume, and altered fat distribution.
Add to this visually unappealing scenario, increased formation of senescent cells. These types of cells divide less often, are inflammatory, and directly correlate with aging. In fact, senescent cells are abundant in conditions like arthritic joints, arterial plaque, and cataracts. These cells also negatively affect the fat layers in the skin, leading to wrinkles and thinning of the skin. Thin skin ages more quickly, and is more prone to sun damage.
Unfortunately, we can control intrinsic aging only to an extent. There is good news, however. Intrinsic aging represents only about 10% of the aging process, and the effects are gradual, becoming the most apparent in middle age. Fortunately, the second type of aging is well within our control.
Extrinsic means “outward” or “external.” This type of aging occurs due to external factors, such as sun exposure, environmental pollution, smoking, alcohol abuse, inadequate nutrition, lack of exercise, toxic exposures, lack of self-care, poor sleep hygiene, and stress. It accounts for up to 90% of the aging process, and you’ll start to see its effects as early as your 30s. Basically, extrinsic or chronological aging, is the consequence of lifestyle habits you can control. That’s the good news. The bad news is, if you neglect to step up to the plate, your choices will be clearly seen on your face. I know that’s pretty sobering.
If you know an aging smoker, you’re familiar with the deep facial furrows and wrinkles. Photo aging, or sun damage, can mimic this effect, and is the main contributing factor to older-looking skin. In fact, it’s the number one cause of extrinsic aging. Always wear sunblock on your face, along with a wide-brimmed hat, whenever you’re out in the sun. This is your number one defense against aging prematurely.
Advanced Glycation End Products
Extrinsic aging of the skin is closely linked to environmental and lifestyle factors, showing up as coarse wrinkles, uneven pigmentation, skin growths, and glycation. The process of glycation is significant because it involves the crosslinking of elastin and collagen, which happens when glucose reacts with protein molecules.
This reaction leads to the formation of AGEs or advanced glycation end products. AGES negatively affect the protein matrix of the skin, namely collagen and elastin. They are inflammatory, lead to a loss of elasticity, accelerated aging, and of course, wrinkles. This is just one more reason to decrease sugar consumption in your diet because what you eat shows up on your face!
Alcohol increases glycation as do blackened meats. Maintaining a healthy weight is important to inhibit glycation because a large waist size is associated with AGEs as are unhealthy blood sugar levels. It should come as no surprise that UV radiation increases the formation AGEs. Zinc oxide is a great alternative to traditional sunscreens that are toxic.
Muscle mass declines with age, This reduction can lead to high blood sugar, and increased AGEs. Exercise is an anti-aging elixir that will keep your muscles strong, and your skin looking young and supple. It’s amazing how looking good and feeling good always point back to lifestyle strategies that support health. Common sense is cheaper than botox!
Best Ways To Prevent Aging
Although, we can’t halt the aging process, there is a lot we can do to prevent premature aging. Here are some of the best strategies to keep you looking young for as long as possible. How well are you doing in the areas below?:
- ALWAYS protect your face from sun exposure
- Eat a nutritious diet with moderate carbohydrate intake
- Establish a quality skincare routine and stick to it
- Exercise consistently
- Find effective strategies to manage your stress
- Get enough sleep – that’s why they call it beauty sleep
- Decrease alcohol and caffeine consumption – they both are dehydrating
- Reduce toxic exposure by using organic body care and cleaning products
- Use a high-quality vitamin C serum to stimulate the production of collagen
- Use hyaluronic acid to hold in moisture
[Read More: Hyaluronic Acid [The Ultimate Hydrator]
There are two types of aging, intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic happens internally and is biochemical in nature. Extrinsic aging happens externally, and is the result of lifestyle and environmental factors we can control. Strategies that slow aging include, sun protection, living a healthy lifestyle, reducing toxic exposure, and engaging in a consistent skincare routine. Not only will you age more slowly, you’ll also live longer. What’s not to like about that?!
How well are you aging? Let me know in the comments:)