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How and Why Your Skin Ages & Wrinkles

We know it’s frustrating: You look in the mirror and see the first signs of fine lines and wrinkles. They’re around your eyes, your mouth, even your forehead—and they’re starting to set in. Depending on how much sun exposure you’ve had and how diligently you’ve protected your skin from sun damage, wrinkles can start showing up as early as your mid-twenties. Regardless of age, the concern and anxiety you have about your wrinkles can result in lots of money wasted as you try to stop them from getting worse.

What Causes Wrinkles?

How your skin ages and wrinkles is a very complex series of events, but the primary factors are:

Sun Damage
Repeated exposure to the deadly, carcinogenic rays of the sun or tanning beds destroys collagen, elastin, and produces abnormal skin cells that cannot behave like young skin. It is the major cause of wrinkling.

Your skin color effects how your skin handles sun damage. If you have inherited a darker skin tone, then you will be less vulnerable to the sun’s impact on your skin.

Chronological Aging
Every year we get a little older and those added years negatively influence our skin, just as they do for the rest of our body.

Hormone Loss
Menopause changes the texture and elasticity of skin. The most common sign? Skin becomes crepey, thinner, and doesn’t bounce back when pinched.

Fat and Bone Depletion
Your skin is supported by both fat and bone. As you age, some of that support is lost, which causes skin to sag.

Muscle Movement
The parts of your face you use the most wrinkle the fastest and deepest. Plus, facial muscles lax over time, causing further sagging.

Disruption of Skin’s Protective Barrier
Unprotected sun exposure decreases vital substances in skin (such as ceramides and lecithin), leaving your skin more vulnerable to damage by the sun, smoke, air (oxygen), and pollution.

What About Collagen?

So, you’re at the cosmetics counter and the anti-wrinkle product you’re thinking of buying claims it can build collagen, resulting in firmer, less-wrinkled skin. That sounds great, but is it really possible?

No! Putting collagen in a skin-care product may sound like it can rebuild the collagen in your skin, but it absolutely cannot! Collagen as an added ingredient in a moisturizer can’t make more collagen or bond to the collagen already in your skin. It just isn’t possible, no matter what the claims on the label say.

However, your skin does need collagen because it gives your skin its strength, resilience, and structure. The truth is your skin actually loves making collagen already! It’s when the collagen becomes damaged by the seven reasons above that wrinkles begin to appear. Topically-applied collagen won’t fix the problem, but there’s a lot you can do to help repair the damage and bring your skin to a healthier, younger-looking state.

Any anti-wrinkle product worth your time and money is one that can help your skin function as younger skin. Keep in mind that to accomplish that, it takes an entire skin-care routine, not just one product. Carefully choose skin-care products that include lots of antioxidants, ingredients that can put back into skin what it has lost, ingredients that help generate normal cells again, and, of course, SUNSCREEN!

Fact:There isn’t a miracle vitamin, plant extract, or any other ingredient anywhere in the world that can change one wrinkle on your face. Stop looking for one ingredient that does it all, because that just leads to disappointment. Just like your diet requires a variety of foods for you to be healthy, your skin needs a variety of ingredients to repair damage, strengthen its barrier, and make healthy collagen.

Want Results? Treat Skin-Care Like Your Diet

Everyone knows that our bodies need an array of nutritionally-balanced foods to keep us healthy. Yet the cosmetics industry wants you to believe in the benefit of their ever-changing roster of single magical, miracle ingredients! The more exotic-sounding the ingredient the better to convince consumers that it might finally be the answer for their skin. But haven’t you noticed that even with all the new miracle ingredients introduced almost every month, none of them ever work as promised or have the research supporting the (often) absurd claims?

The fact is a state-of-the-art moisturizer cannot rely on one ingredient to enhance skin’s function any more than your diet can rely on only one nutrient to fuel your body. Skin needs a balanced mixture of powerful ingredients to improve the appearance of wrinkles. Think about it this way: if you only consumed one food or one vitamin you would soon be unhealthy and malnourished. The same goes for skin! It’s the body’s largest organ and requires a complex range of ingredients to look beautiful and ward off telltale signs of aging.

In order to provide any benefit to skin—regardless of whether these products are in cream, lotion, serum, or even a liquid formula, and regardless of the claim or product name—all moisturizers should work to supply the skin with proven ingredients that can help skin fight signs of aging. Don’t depend on cute product names and fantastical claims to determine a purchase; that will waste your money and hurt your skin in the long run. Your skin needs ingredients that support and maintain its structure, reduce free-radical damage, and help damaged cells function more normally.

The 5 Things Your Skin Simply Can’t Go Without.

Without question, topically applied antioxidants are essential for skin and there are many brilliant ones that can and should show up in a skin care product. Antioxidants vary from different forms of vitamins A, C, and E; superoxide dismutase; beta carotene; glutathione; selenium; green tea, soy extract, grape extract, pomegranate extract, among dozens of others. And the more included in your skin-care product, the better!

Skin-Identical Ingredients
Healthy and young skin naturally contains substances that keep it smooth, retain water, protect from the environment, fight infection, and repair skin’s actual outer and inner barrier structure. These ingredients range from ceramides to lecithin, glycerin, fatty acids, polysaccharides, hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, collagen, elastin, proteins, amino acids, cholesterol, glycosaminoglycans, and many more.

Cell-Communicating Ingredients.
As a result of sun damage, age, and hormone fluctuations, skin cells become permanently damaged, which means they regenerate into irregular, mutated, rough, defective, and older cells. One way the skin can begin to produce healthier, younger cells is to give it substances that can communicate to a cell to stop making bad cells and start making better ones. It is an exciting area of skin care! The key players in this group are niacinamide, retinol, synthetic peptides, lecithin, and adenosine triphosphate.

The sun ages the skin and causes skin cancer—in fact, sun is one of the most potent natural carcinogens around! About 75% of what we think of as aging is caused by unprotected sun exposure. Sun damage begins within the first minute of the skin being exposed to the sun. Other than sun smart behavior, use of a daily sunscreen is vital. To ensure you’re getting sufficient UVA protection, your sunscreen must contain one or more of these active ingredients: titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, avobenzone, ecamsule, or Tinosorb.

Abundant research makes it crystal clear that all of these ingredients are as good as it gets in the world of skin care to fight wrinkling and skin aging. These state-of-the-art ingredients, especially when combined in a cocktail approach, mixing an assortment of these elements into one product, are without question, the types of ingredients you need, regardless of the name on the label or the product category: lotion, cream, gel, serum, moisturizer, anti-aging, or anti-wrinkle. If the product doesn’t contain these ingredients, then why bother?

A Formula That Suits Your Skin Type
Now that you know what should be in any “anti-wrinkle,” “anti-aging,” or moisturizing-type product you use, the question is: What type of product should you buy? Should you shop for a lotion, gel, serum, cream, liquid, or balm? Thicker creams, balms, and ointments contain emollients that are best only for dry to very dry skin. There are hundreds of emollients, but some widely-used examples include all non-fragrant plant oils, shea butter, cocoa butter, fatty acids, and triglycerides. Lotions and serums are ideal for normal to combination skin because of their lightweight texture. Gels, liquids, or nonaqueous serums are extremely unlikely to clog pores and are best for oily or blemish-prone skin because they neither inhibit nor stimulate oil production. Combination skin can benefit from using multiple products: i.e., a gel in oily areas (usually the center of the face) and a creamier texture on any dry spots.

There Isn’t One Ultimate “Best” Ingredient…
…there are just lots of great ones. All of the ingredients listed above—antioxidants, skin-identical ingredients, and cell-communicating ingredients—are the leading elements that contribute to making a state-of-the-art moisturizer. And there are many brilliant formulations in stable packaging that include these substances. But, contrary to what cosmetics companies want you to believe about their products, there is no single miracle ingredient for skin. Month after month, new ingredients appear one after the other in the world of skin care, all claiming superiority over their predecessors. Even when there is research showing that the ingredient can be effective for skin, that doesn’t make it better or more essential than hundreds of other ingredients—it’s just another option, not a must have.

AHAs and BHA: Take Skin Beyond Smooth
What they do: For all skin types, it is extremely helpful to exfoliate the surface layers of skin. Sun-damaged skin causes the outer layer of skin to become abnormally thick. For those with blemish-prone skin, the outer layer of skin is genetically thicker. Whether you use a product with glycolic or lactic acids, these alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) or salicylic acid (BHA, which is exceptional for normal to oily/combination skin) remove the outer layer of built-up dead skin cells, allowing healthier cells to come to the surface and smoothing the surface, thus eliminating some wrinkling. There also is a good deal of research showing that using a well-formulated AHA product can increase collagen production. AHAs in skin-care products are effective in concentrations ranging from 5% to 15%; salicylic acid is effective in 1% to 2% concentrations.

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