Chronological Aging Thru the Decades

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Dr. Purushothaman
September 9, 2013

Our skin ages in two ways: the accumulated physical changes normally associated with the passage of time (chronological aging) and through the accumulated damage cause by exposure to environmental pollutants and UV radiation (accelerated aging).

To prove this point, take a look at the skin on some part of your body that seldom sees the light of day. Compared to our face or hands, skin that is not exposed to the elements will remain clear and rosy, smooth and unwrinkled, soft and resilient. The dry, wrinkled and papery, or the deeply wrinkled, discolored and leathery look is the results of accelerated aging.

Chronological Aging:

20 to 30 - Skin changes and damage may begin to accumulate, but do not show yet. Your twenties could be considered the age of prevention, when most skin care issues start with lack of care. Forgetting to wash your face before bed can lead to clogged pores, whiteheads and blackheads. Squinting in the sun and not using moisturizers can contribute to fine dry lines around the eyes. Too little sleep, to much alcohol and smoking can dull the complexion. Serious sunburn can now set the stage for skin cancers for all types including melanoma.

30 to 40 - The decade of laugh lines, crow's feet, and the beginning of a double-chin. The underlying factor is the gradual breaking down of skin-firming collagen and elastin. As a result, skin becomes less elastic and begins to lose its firm, supple texture. The sebaceous gland usually become less active and thus produces less sebum (oil). Poorly lubricated skin may not retain moisture as effectively, so our skin may become drier. Cell turnover rate is slowing; and dead cells remain on the skin's surface which dulls the complexion. Even in your 30's brown spots and uneven color blotches can appear on your skin.

40 to 50 - By 50, cell turnover takes twice as long as it did at age 20. As old skin cells stay on the surface longer, they mask natural skin color and radiance, looking dull and dry and accentuating the bags, sags, lines and wrinkles created by underlying loss of collagen and elastin. This loss of underlying structure also contributes to thinning of the epidermis, which can cause skin to look creepy or papery, and lead to drooping eye or neck wattles. Pigmentation in surface skin levels become uneven, creating shadows, blotches, dark circles under eyes and age spots on the face and back of hands.

50 to 60 - At age 60, your face is now mature. The fat padding beneath the skin has diminished so your face shows more of its angles and hollows. As muscle fibers weaken, the fat that remains under the eyes form bags. Facial bones begin to shrink, causing all-around sagging. Oil production decreases after menopause resulting in significant dryness. As cell turnover rate continues to slow, skin becomes thinner and more prone to wrinkling and drooping. Years of sun exposure or hormonal changes may lead to patchiness or unevenness in skin tone.

60+ Poor circulation; a common problem at this stage of life, can help rob your skin of its rosy glow. Increasingly thinner and drier skin is also more vulnerable to environmental stressors and can become more sensitive and more prone to irritation.

Decade by decade, our skin records the passage of time. This is chronological aging and it starts earlier than you think.

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