Skin Care Guide

Is your skin older than you are?

The skin is your largest and most visible organ in your body and protects the internal organs from external assaults, so it makes good sense to take care of it.

Most of us know that no one can avoid the ageing process but by understanding how our skin ages and the causes that influence the appearance of wrinkles we can work towards preventing, delaying and treating the effects of time.

As we get older the body and the structure of the skin, experience a number of changes. These changes are due to two types of ageing:

Intrinsic or chronological ageing

Intrinsic ageing is inevitable and is determined by our genetic disposition. It is also known as "the natural ageing process" where the collagen, a protein that supports the skin slows down and elastin, the substance that enables skin to snap back into place, has a bit less spring. Dead skin cells do not shed as quickly and turnover of new skin cells decrease. There is also a loss of moisture, making the skin dryer.

The signs of intrinsic ageing include: fine lines and wrinkles, thinner skin, loss of underlying fat, loss of elasticity and firmness and as a consequence we experience sagging skin and loss of bone density in the face.

Extrinsic or environmental ageing

A number of extrinsic, or external, factors often act together with the normal ageing process to prematurely age our skin. The main factor is sun exposure or photo-ageing, which counts for 90% of premature ageing skin. Other external factors that prematurely age our skin are repetitive facial expressions, gravity, sleeping positions and bad habits such as smoking, poor diet, alcohol and not drinking enough water.

You might notice that some people age better than others and this has a lot to do with having inherited good genes. But remember, you can prevent premature skin ageing, and it's never too late to start taking the necessary steps and be on your way to obtain a younger looking skin.

The Sun

Sun bathing is and has been for many years, something that most of us enjoy when the good weather arrives, and especially when going on holidays to sunny places. But until the middle twenties, women wanted to have pale, delicate skin; that was until designer Coco Chanel, emerged with bronzed skin. From then, the perception of having suntanned skin changed, and has remained until today.

Tanned skin may look healthy but the process of tanning our bodies is actually a sign that we have damaged our skin.

The sun is responsible for 90% of premature skin ageing. The amount of this photoageing that develops depends on a person's skin colour and their history of long term or intense sun exposure. People with fair skin who have a history of sun exposure develop more signs of photoageing than those with dark skin.

With repeated exposure to the sun, the skin loses the ability to repair itself, and the damage accumulates. Repeated ultraviolet (UV) exposure produces changes in the skin such as: thinning of the epidermis, collagen and elastin break down in the dermis, skin pigmentation disorders, wrinkles, age spots, skin cancer and other skin problems.

While it may seem that the signs of photoageing appear overnight, they actually lie beneath the skins surface for years. UV photography enables us to see the damage beneath the surface of the skin.

Facial Expressions

If you perform facial exercises or use electrical facial muscle stimulators to maintain a youthful-looking appearance, it's time to stop. While we would not suggest that you limit the expression on your face, repetitive facial movements actually lead to lines and wrinkles. Each time we use a facial muscle, a groove forms beneath the surface of the skin, which is why we see lines form with each facial expression. It's a simple fact that as you age your skin loses its elasticity and doesn't snap back to its line-free state. These grooves become permanently etched on the face as fine lines and wrinkles, and suddenly your laughter lines don't seem quite so funny.


It may be a natural phenomenon of life but its constant pull on our bodies is not doing our skin any favours. When the skin's elasticity declines, the effects of gravity become evident. Gravity causes the tip of the nose to droop, the ears to elongate, the eyelids to fall, jowls to form, and the upper lip to disappear while the lower lip becomes more pronounced. Whilst this may sound depressing just think where you would be without it!

Sleeping Positions

Resting your face on the pillow in the same way every night for years on end also leads to wrinkles, known as sleep lines. These wrinkles eventually become etched on the surface of the skin and no longer disappear after you have got out of bed. Women, who tend to sleep on their sides, are most likely to see these lines appear on their chin and cheeks. Men tend to notice these lines on the forehead since they usually sleep with the face pressed face down on the pillow. People who sleep on their backs do not develop these wrinkles since their skin does not lie crumpled against the pillow.


Overall the skin of a smoker (and passive smoker) isn't as healthy and doesn't heal as well as a non-smoker. It also has a tendency to wrinkle easily. There are two reasons for this: one is the very act of smoking – repeatedly pursing your lips as you puff on the cigarette and narrowing your eyes as the smoke rises will cause lines, whilst the other is brought about by the constriction of blood vessels feeding the skin and the breakdown of enzymes essential to the structure of the skin. Even people who have smoked for many years, or smoked heavily at a younger age, show less facial wrinkling and improved skin tone when they quit smoking.

Diet and Eating Habits

A poor diet will result in dull, lifeless skin but weight fluctuations can also be detrimental to your skin. As the skin gets older it becomes inefficient at dealing with changing levels of body fat- a sudden increase can contribute to stretch marks whilst rapid weight loss can cause the skin to sag. If you are trying to loose weight, do it gradually so your skin has a chance of keeping up with you!

Healthier, Younger-looking skin

Prevention is always better than a cure so whilst you cannot stop or even slow down the intrinsic ageing process, you can prevent signs of premature ageing caused by external factors.

If however you are bothered by visible sign of ageing, a number of treatments are available.

We are more than happy to carry out a free consultation, examine your skin, discuss your concerns and expectations and recommend a suitable treatment option for you.