What is skin aging?

     Research has shown that there are two main causes of skin aging. The first cause of aging is the inevitable natural aging process itself, which is inherited and a direct result of our genetic make-up. This type of aging is called intrinsic aging or chronological aging. Over time, physiological factors cause the skin to produce fine wrinkles, become thin and transparent, and loose its elasticity (its ability to stretch and maintain its shape). Both a loss of fat under the skin and gravity pulling the skin down causes the skin to sag. Genes control when these symptoms will appear. Aging skin may become apparent as early as one’s 20s or as late as one’s 40s.

     The second cause of skin aging is due to extrinsic factors or external environmental factors, many of which are preventable. These factors include, but are not limited to, ultraviolet light exposure and cigarette smoking. Skin experts refer to damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays as “photoaging.” Photoaging is responsible for the majority of premature sun damage to the skin, and has been shown to accelerate the intrinsic aging process. Just a few minutes of sun exposure each day over the course of many years, can cause significant cutaneous damage. The sun’s ultraviolet rays may cause the development of pigmentation (freckling and age spots), fine blood vessels, a leathery and rough appearance to the skin, wrinkling, warty like growths called actinic keratosis, and even skin cancer.