As a scientist, I have always promoted a global approach integrating all facets of a given problem in my search for solutions. When my brother Luc and I founded an international Canada-based skin care company, we first spent several years investigating why and how the skin ages. Our research identified 16 major physiological mechanisms that are responsible for maintaining skin health and balance. These 16 factors were since published by the Textbook of Aging Skin (Springer-Verlag 2010) as the new standard in skin aging research.
Many of the effects of skin aging may sound familiar to you: Lack of hydration (suppleness), oxidation, pigmentation and inflammation. However, aging affects other important processes in our largest organ, the skin, than the ones you most commonly hear about. For instance, the skin’s barrier function, which protects from external aggressions, lessens with age. Energy production at the cellular level, oxygenation to revitalize the complexion, immunity function and other processes also decrease as we get older.
On the flip side, there are eight key processes that gear up as we age, and this overactivity also has an impact on our skin. Some of these processes include keratinization (which modulates skin renewal), DNA damage and microcirculation.
While these processes cause structural changes in our skin as a natural consequence of getting older, skin aging is not only due to the passage of time. Many external factors linked to environment and lifestyle also affect the appearance of our skin. As you know, sun exposure is a major trigger of skin aging. UVB, UVA and infrared rays (IR) are known to cause skin damage. Other environmental factors including ozone, ionizing radiation, pollution and extreme temperatures (cold or hot) adversely affect the skin.
Lifestyle also has a major impact on skin aging. Sunbathing, sun bed tanning, bad sleeping habits, smoking, lack of exercise, poor nutrition and some medications are all factors that may disturb the skin’s balance.
Twin studies have clearly demonstrated that such elements can drastically precipitate skin aging. For instance, if one twin smokes for 10 years and the other doesn’t, the smoker looks roughly 2½ years older. We cannot stop the clock but we can certainly adopt a way of living that supports healthy skin by dropping bad habits and promoting the good ones. This will not only help you promote and maintain optimal skin health, but overall good health.
Another way to foster healthy, balanced skin is to use the right skin care products for your age and skin type. Look for products that are supported by human clinical studies and stay away from products that are trendy or offer limited benefits. Instead of using a moisturizer, try a moisturizer that also offers significant anti-aging benefits while addressing your specific skin care concerns.
Dr. Eric Dupont, Ph.D. Physiology-Endocrinology, is the founder of Canadian anti-aging skincare company IDC (Intégral Dermo Correction) and creator of IDC’s patented Regen-16 technology that simultaneously targets the 16 factors of skin aging.