Why Skin Ages (and What You Can Do About It)

Woman without fine lines or hyperpigmentation

There’s no way to get around the changes—the wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, etc.—that happen to skin as you age. These transitions are natural and genetically predetermined, simply part of being a living thing. But consider that the vast majority of visible skin aging is due to UV exposure (one study clocked a whopping 80%); that should give you an idea of how habits play a significant role. Primarily, this indicates the need for proper sun protection. “You can do everything else right, but if you are continually exposed to the sun, your skin can’t maintain its optimal health,” explains Medford, Oregon dermatologist Laurel Geraghty, M.D. There are other reasonable steps you can take as well, not to magically circumvent the process—but to simply have better skin in spite of it. Here, a look at three visible signs of aging skin, plus ways to lessen them.

Wrinkles

The Cause

The natural production of collagen and elastin, protein fibers in your skin that give it firmness and elasticity, starts slowing in your twenties. Without their bouncy, structural support, says Geraghty, skin starts to show lines and creases. Other factors hasten this process, and actually destroy these proteins: UVA rays from the sun penetrate deep within skin and free radicals (unpaired electrons) from various environmental sources, including the sun, pollution, and cigarette smoke, wreak inflammatory chaos.

The Fix

To preserve what you’ve got, wear a broad-spectrum (meaning it protects from UVA and UVB rays) sunscreen daily along with a topical antioxidant like the Vitamin C Booster. They work synergistically—a sunscreen made with non-nano zinc oxide, your cleanest SPF option, sits on top of the skin and blocks UVA and UVB rays from entering; antioxidants, which Geraghty refers to as “an insurance policy for your skin,” neutralize free radicals.

In addition, there are treatments that can help kickstart your dwindling collagen production. Retinoids, synthetic derivatives of vitamin A, are the most research-supported option for this in terms of their efficaciousness. But they aren’t perfect—they can be incredibly irritating, particularly for sensitive types, and it’s difficult to find a clean version. Most are either preserved with a potential toxin like BHT or aren’t preserved effectively, which is just as problematic. Luckily, there are alternatives. Renew Repair Serum contains ingredients rich in the vitamin A that powers retinoids in the first place, including rosehip seed oil and algae extract, which have demonstrated skin-regenerating effects in studies. It’s also packed with  peptides, amino acid chains that have long been touted for their science-backed ability to stimulate collagen synthesis, says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale: “I recommend them all the time to patients who can’t tolerate retinoids or are averse to them for whatever reason.”

Hyperpigmentation

The Cause

These dark spots happen when the skin’s pigment producing cells, melanocytes, simply churn out too much melanin. There are a few different causes (including hormone changes during pregnancy), but one significant one is, again, free radical exposure. When you’re young, these spots fade away more easily, but over time, as skin’s turnover process wanes, the discoloration tends to hang around.

The Fix

In the same way that antioxidants work with SPF to neutralize free radicals, preventing lines and wrinkles, they do the same when it comes to staving off hyperpigmentation. Even better, they can actually help reverse the discoloration by putting a roadblock at some point in the pigmentation process. Researchers speculate that the reason vitamin C is such an effective brightener is because it somehow interferes with pigment-producing enzyme tyrosinase.

Dryness and dullness

The Cause

The skin barrier, the first line of defense between you and the outside world, takes a battering over time. As it weakens, “it becomes harder for skin to hold onto moisture,” says Geraghty. Additionally, your own production of natural moisturizers slumps anyway, starting in your 30s. This includes lipids like ceramides and essential fatty acids, which are like the “glue that holds the skin barrier together,” notes Geraghty, and hyaluronic acid, a sugar that binds water in skin. This creates a double whammy of dehydration. At the same time, cellular turnover, the process by which skin naturally replaces dead skin cells with new ones, declines, leaving you with a duller skin surface.

The Fix

Simply replace what’s missing to build a stronger, more moisturized barrier. Scan ingredient lists for ceramides and low-weight hyaluronic acid—both found in the Renew Repair Serum. Gohara notes the latter can dive deep into skin and “absorb water like a sponge.” Also check for essential fatty acids—they have many plant sources, including the marula, chia, kiwi, and hemp seed oils that make up the Renew Pure Radiance Oil.

Exfoliating can help compensate for the slower cell turnover—but doing so gently is crucial, because you don’t want to aggravate the barrier you’re working hard to fortify. Ideally, do this no more than twice a week, says Gohara. Most dermatologists prefer alpha hydroxy acids over physical exfoliators like scrubs. “A lot of people can use scrubs safely and effectively,” emphasizes Geraghty. But, she adds, “I have also seen a lot of people go to town and scratch and traumatize their skin with them.” Lactic acid, the main ingredient in the Resurfacing Moisture Mask, is a type of alpha hydroxy acid derived from plants like sugar cane and beets. It not only sloughs away dead skin cells to counter dullness, studies demonstrate that lactic acid tackles virtually every other sign of aging as well. It stimulates collagenreduces hyperpigmentation, and prompts ceramide production—a multitasking skin wonder.

Essentials for Ageless Skin

*The information on this website and the products mentioned on the website are not intended to diagnose, treat or prevent any disease or to affect any structure or function of the body. If you develop a skin issue or concern or if you have a sensitivity or potential reaction to any skincare product, including ours, discontinue use and consult your healthcare provider. The information on this website is not medical advice and is not a substitute for consulting with a healthcare provider. We do not endorse or adopt any reviews or comments on this website that may be posted by others, nor can we guarantee the accuracy, reliability, truthfulness, or completeness of such information.