Our skin is kept smooth and soft because of collagen, a substance made by our bodies to help make and repair cells. Along with soft keratin and elastin fibers, it gives skin its strength and elasticity.
As we age, production slows down and external factors play a part in making our skin look older. Some of these factors are sun exposure, pollution and toxins in the environment, free radicals, and smoking.
Exposure to the sun can cause facial veins, wrinkles, sagging skin, and thin lips. Sun exposure over time eventually weakens elastin fibers, replacing them with abnormal fibers that don’t work as well. The winning combination of collagen and elastin becomes ineffective and premature aging of the skin begins.
Always use a sunscreen of at least SPF 15 on exposed skin if you’re going to be in the sun for more than a few minutes to prevent further damage.
We hear about free radicals all the time in commercials, but what are they? Free radicals are molecules with an uneven number of electrons. They are very unstable so they attack a stable molecule to take one of its electrons. When the attacked molecule loses an electron, it becomes unstable–a free radical itself–and attacks another stable molecule, thus creating a chain reaction. If you get enough of these unstable molecules, things start breaking down.
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that neutralize free radicals by giving them one of their own electrons and stopping the chain reaction. You can get these vitamins by eating a healthy diet or by taking supplements, and slow the breakdown of collagen molecules.
Smoking causes ascorbic acid molecules to die, and because Vitamin C is water-soluble, it is not stored anywhere in the body. Smokers often look older than they are because the body needs vitamin C to make collagen to repair skin cells. A decision to quit smoking is wise, but an increase in vitamin C is also advisable.
The use of skin creams and moisturizers containing vitamins C and E will help on the surface level, and that’s what we see. We not only want to cosmetically change the appearance of aging, but also to slow its progress. Taking care of our bodies, inside and out, will help our bodies take better care of us.