Everyone develops wrinkles with age, but wrinkles are caused by a combination of factors, many of which are in our control. Wrinkles can be caused by lifestyle choices and habits — such as smoking and exposure to UV light — as well as normal aging. The cause of most wrinkles and skin aging comes down to an important protein called collagen.
Collagen Production and Aging
Collagen is an important protein found in connective tissue throughout your body. This substance, found in everything from your bones to your skin, forms a gelatin-like structure that gives your skin structure and strength. As you get older, your body’s production of collagen decreases and collagen in the skin degrades. After the age of 20, your collagen production declines by about 1% per year. Remaining collagen and elastin fibers in the skin become looser and clump together, which makes skin inflexible and loose. This eventually leads to sagging skin and wrinkles.
There is no way to stop this biological aging, but bad habits can accelerate the loss of collagen in the skin. Smoking leads to premature aging of the skin because many of the thousands of chemicals in cigarette smoke damage elastin and collagen. UV radiation from the sun also accelerates aging. UV exposure is the main cause of premature wrinkling because the UV light breaks down elastin and collagen in the deeper layer of the skin.
There are some ways to boost your body’s production of collagen including taking collagen supplements, whether oral or topical. A diet high in amino acids — which are the building blocks of collagen and other proteins — can help fight premature aging.
A Proper Skin Care Regimen Can Prevent Premature Aging
While we can’t escape wrinkles completely, it is possible to slow aging and avoid premature wrinkles. A preventative anti-aging skin care regimen is the single most important thing you can do to fight wrinkles and prevent them from developing. The foundation of any anti-aging skin care routine is sunscreen and moisturizer. Choose a lightweight, daily sunscreen that offers broad spectrum UV protection with an SPF of 30 or higher. A moisturizer will also retain your skin’s moisture to prevent wrinkles, boost cell turnover, and keep your skin looking fresh.
You may not be able to stop all wrinkles, but taking care of your skin can do wonders toward helping you look as young as you feel.