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Decoding the Aging Process: Causes of Aging Skin and How to Prevent Them
Zuri Hawkins Jarret

by Zuri Hawkins Jarret, Board Certified Pharmacotherapy Specialist | PharmD, MPH, BCPS

Last Updated On September 28th, 2023, Published On August 21, 2023

Fact Checked

Beauty & Fashion

Decoding the Aging Process: Causes of Aging Skin and How to Prevent Them

No one wants wrinkled skin or a sagging jawline! But it’s universal knowledge that aging affects our skin. 

On days when your skin feels less youthful, you may not be thrilled. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Studies show that people who embrace healthier habits like following good skincare routines, eating a balanced diet,1,2 staying active, and staying well-hydrated tend to show fewer signs of aging. 

Recognizing and tackling issues related to aging skin is crucial before they wreak havoc.

By learning to navigate the complexities of aging skin, you can unlock the secret to aging with confidence.

What Causes Aging Skin: Unveiling the Culprits Behind Time’s Impact 

Two unique factors cause aging skin – intrinsic (genetic) and extrinsic (environmental) factors. Below, we unveil how these two play a role in causing your skin to age over time. 

a. Intrinsic Factors: Your Genes 

Over time, your skin makes less collagen and elastin, which causes it to sag, get wrinkles, and become thinner. Your genes affect how your skin behaves, how your cells work, repair damage, and react to things in the environment. Different genes can influence how well your skin defends against harmful molecules and overall skin quality.3-5 

b. Extrinsic Factors: Your Environment

External factors,6 like prolonged sun exposure and lifestyle choices, also impact skin health. Sun exposure accelerates photoaging, causing wrinkles and uneven tone. Lifestyle habits, including diet and smoking, worsen these effects by disrupting skin structure.7 

What Happens to Skin as You Age: A Journey Through the Years 

As time passes, your skin undergoes various processes. The structures that make up your skin, like collagen and elastin, begin transforming, contributing to your skin’s mature appearance. 

Let’s look at what happens to your skin as you age.

The Role of Collagen and Elastin in Skin Structure 

Collagen and elastin are essential components of skin structure. Collagen provides strength and stability, while elastin imparts flexibility.8 

Together, they maintain the skin’s firmness and resilience, contributing to its overall appearance and texture.

Thinning of the Dermis and the Formation of Wrinkles 

As aging progresses, the dermis thins due to reduced collagen and elastin production. 

This thinning weakens the skin’s support system, forming wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging.

Impact of Hyaluronic Acid Loss on Skin’s Moisture and Plumpness 

Like collagen and elastin, hyaluronic acid9 is crucial in maintaining your skin’s volume by retaining water and hydration. 

Aging causes a decline in hyaluronic acid, decreasing skin moisture and plumpness. 

Aging Skin Signs: Identifying the Visible and Subtle Changes 

Changes to the skin become more noticeable over time. However, not everyone will experience the same changes. 

  • Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Fine lines and wrinkles form due to the gradual loss of collagen and elastin fibers. This leads to reduced skin elasticity and firmness. Fine lines develop in areas where the skin naturally moves and folds; over time, they may evolve into deeper wrinkles.
  • Age Spots and Hyperpigmentation: Age spots and hyperpigmentation develop from exposure to ultraviolet radiation and its interaction with your skin’s melanin. Melanin helps protect your skin from sun damage, but sometimes, too much can make your skin look uneven and create those dark spots. 
  • Enlarged Pores and Texture Changes: Pores may appear larger as part of aging. The loss of support from collagen and elastin contributes to the change in size. At the same time, hormonal shifts, environmental exposures, and skincare practices also change your skin’s texture. 

When Does Skin Start Aging and When to Begin Anti-Aging Skincare 

Skin aging is a gradual and inevitable process that begins beneath the surface long before visible signs emerge. 

Generally, aging becomes more noticeable in the late 20s to early 30s, but genetics primarily influences this.

The decision of when to start anti-aging skincare is debatable. But prevention is often more effective than reversal. 

Establishing a consistent skincare routine that includes sun protection, hydration, and products containing antioxidants offers significant benefits. 

Aging Skin Problems: Addressing Specific Concerns

Aging skin on the arms and hands often goes unnoticed despite revealing signs of aging. Similarly, skin on the neck and chest begins to sag and crepey

To restore youthfulness to these overlooked areas, consider the following proven approaches10-12:

  • Apply sunscreen regularly to prevent further sun-induced damage and discoloration.
  • Hydrate with products containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides for enhanced suppleness.
  • Incorporate topical retinoids to stimulate collagen production and diminish fine lines.
  • Regularly exercise focusing on the neck and chest muscles to improve muscle tone and provide better support for your skin.
  • Eat foods rich in nutrients that promote skin health, including antioxidants, vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Drink sufficient water to maintain skin moisture and plumpness.
  • Avoid smoking and limit alcohol to help avoid premature aging and skin damage.
  • Explore professional treatments like dermal repair lifts, laser therapy, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion for deeper concerns, especially for the neck and chest.

How to Prevent Aging Skin: Building a Strong Foundation for Youthful Skin 

A strong foundation for youthful skin involves preventive measures like sun protection and countering UV radiation effects to halt premature aging. 

Preventative measures could include10:

  • Broad-spectrum sunscreen: Protects against UV radiation and prevents sunburn.
  • Protective clothing: Acts as a barrier against harmful sun exposure.
  • Seeking shade: Reduces the risk of premature aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots.

Alongside careful sun protection, set up a complete skincare routine for your skin’s specific needs. This regimen should include ingredients known to combat aging effectively:

  • Retinol: Stimulates collagen production, accelerates cell turnover, reduces fine lines, and promotes smoother complexion.
  • Vitamin C: Potent antioxidant, protects against environmental stressors, brightens uneven skin tone, and promotes radiant glow.
  • Hyaluronic Acid: Locks in moisture, enhances skin suppleness, and diminishes fine lines caused by dehydration.

Topical Aging Skin Treatments

Topical treatments offer non-invasive solutions to target concerns associated with aging skin specifically. These include:

  • Retinoids (Retinol and Retin-A): Retinoids, derived from vitamin A, promote cell turnover, stimulate collagen, and diminish fine lines, wrinkles while also aiding in pore unclogging and even skin tone, benefiting those with acne or uneven pigmentation.
  • Peptides: Peptides, short amino acid chains, are vital for collagen production and cell communication, found in creams or serums to stimulate collagen, reduce wrinkles, and enhance skin elasticity.
  • Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs): Exfoliating acids like AHAs (glycolic, lactic) and BHAs (salicylic) remove dead cells, unclog pores, and boost cell turnover; AHAs work on the surface, while BHAs penetrate deeper, particularly beneficial for acne-prone skin.
  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3): Niacinamide, or vitamin B3, regulates oil, enhances the skin barrier, reduces redness, and is versatile, targeting fine lines, enlarged pores, and uneven tone.
  • Topical Antioxidants: In addition to vitamin C, other antioxidants like vitamin E, green tea extract, and resveratrol can also provide protection against oxidative stress and help maintain skin health.

Using these topical ingredients individually or in combination to create a personalized skincare regimen tailored to specific concerns. 

Professional Aging Skin Treatments:

You may also consider professional treatments to combat aging skin concerns. They use cutting-edge techniques to achieve remarkable results. 

Key professional treatments include:

  • Laser Therapies: Precise beams of light energy target specific concerns, stimulating collagen production and improving skin tone and texture.
  • Micro-Needling: Controlled micro-injuries induce collagen and elastin production, reducing fine lines and scars and refining skin texture.
  • Chemical Peels: Specialized solutions exfoliate the skin’s surface, addressing pigmentation, fine lines, and acne scars, revealing a renewed complexion.

When administered by skilled professionals, these treatments stimulate collagen, promote skin renewal, and enhance overall appearance. The result is a refreshed, revitalized, youthful complexion that boosts confidence and beauty.

Beyond Skincare: Lifestyle Factors and Aging Skin Prevention 

Apart from your regular skincare regimen, you can maintain youthful skin with significant lifestyle changes, including good nutrition and exercise. 

Nutrition and Hydration: Nourishing Skin from Within

Lifestyle factors like proper nutrition and hydration form the foundation for maintaining healthy, radiant skin from the inside out. 

A nutrient-rich diet supports collagen production, fights inflammation, and protects against oxidative stress. Adequate hydration ensures skin cells are plump and functioning optimally, helping to prevent dryness and maintain elasticity.

Exercise, Stress Management, and Their Role in Skin Health

Exercise enhances skin health by boosting blood circulation, delivering essential oxygen and nutrients to skin cells, and flushing out waste. This revitalizing process contributes to a healthy complexion and a natural, radiant glow.

Stress management is essential; chronic stress causes hormonal imbalances leading to skin problems. Techniques like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness improve well-being and maintain skin balance by reducing inflammation and supporting hormones.

Aging Skin Supplements: Separating Fact from Fiction 

Skin-supporting supplements are dietary products that contain a combination of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other compounds specifically formulated to promote and maintain healthy skin. 

Research13 shows key ingredients discussed in this article are effective at improving the following:

  • Collagen production contributes to smoother and more youthful-looking skin
  • Antioxidant protection against harmful molecules that damage skin cells and contribute to premature aging
  • Hydration and moisture retention reduce moisture loss and prevent dryness
  • Inflammation Reduction which are factors in conditions like acne, eczema, or psoriasis
  • Balancing vitamins and minerals that support overall skin function

Consulting with a healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen is advisable, as individual needs can vary, and they can guide the right supplements for your specific skin concerns.

Achieving skin tightening often involves selecting skincare products enriched with potent ingredients recognized for their rejuvenating effects. But choosing from the list of dermatologist-recommended options is challenging. 

The following dermatologist-approved selections harness the power of science-backed ingredients to tighten the skin:

  • Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream
  • CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream
  • The Ordinary Argireline Solution 10%
  • Gold Bond Age Renew Crepe Corrector Body Lotion
  • Derphea Face & Neck Tightening Cream
  • Dr. Dennis Gross DermInfusions Fill + Repair Serum

Non-surgical Approaches to Skin Tightening: Radiofrequency and Ultrasound 

What about a non-surgical approach to skin tightening? These options include radiofrequency and ultrasound technology. Both techniques offer natural-looking results without requiring invasive procedures. 

Radiofrequency treatments utilize controlled heat to prompt collagen remodeling, resulting in firmer, tighter skin. 

Conversely, ultrasound uses sound waves to target specific areas, promoting collagen synthesis and tissue contraction. 


Understanding the aging process empowers you to steer your skincare journey. Internal and external factors impact aging skin, causing collagen loss, thinning, and wrinkles. 

Starting prompt anti-aging care, and embracing healthier habits like balanced nutrition, exercise, and hydration, is crucial to reduce these signs.

Dermatologist-recommended products target concerns like lines, spots, and pores. Some cases benefit from professional treatments like dermal repair lifts, lasers, micro-needling, and peels. Collagen-boosting supplements and non-surgical methods tighten skin effectively.

Talk to your dermatologist or primary care physician before introducing skincare products. Given the many options available, you deserve solutions catering to your unique needs.


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  2. Solway J, McBride M, Haq F, Abdul W, Miller R. Diet and Dermatology: The Role of a Whole-food, Plant-based Diet in Preventing and Reversing Skin Aging-A Review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2020;13(5):38-43.
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