Have you ever wondered what causes people’s skin to age? If you’d like to learn how to minimize your risk for wrinkles, keep reading!

At Kallgren Dermatology Clinic in Boulder, we offer medical-grade skin care solutions to help our patients deal with a variety of problems, from medical conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea, to classic cosmetic concerns, such as facial wrinkles and age spots. In today’s blog post, we’d like to share with you the two main ways in which skin ages over time. 

In truth, we cannot stop the skin on our bodies from showing age over time. However, we can limit the extent of certain kinds of damage and wrinkling. Stay tuned to learn how!


Skin Aging Basics

To begin discussing skin aging, one first needs to understand how your skin functions. Your skin is made up of several layers, but when it comes to aging, the only ones we need to know about are the top two layers of skin, the epidermis and the dermis. 

The epidermis is your surface layer of skin, tough and rich in keratin to provide resistance to water. The epidermis is the layer in which dead skin cells are shed from the body, and the layer that contains melanin, the pigment that controls the color of your skin. Your epidermis produces more melanin in response to the threat of sun damage — this is how your body tans, and is also the only major difference between people of different races. Those whose ancestors lived closer to the equator are born with much more pigment in their epidermis, and thus are slightly more resistant to sunburns. 

The dermis is the much thicker layer of skin immediately underneath your epidermis. This layer contains nerves, fats, blood vessels, elastin and collagen fibers. Elastin and collagen are incredibly important to the condition of your skin, as these chemicals contribute to youthful, smooth, vibrant skin. 

Together, these two layers of skin protect the inner parts of your body from harm and weather the brunt of environmental factors in your life, such as sun exposure. Think of your epidermis as the shield layer, and the dermis as the command center keeping the shield in best condition. These are the layers most impacted by aging!


Types Of Skin Aging

Now that we’ve reviewed how the most essential layers of your skin function, let’s dive into the types of skin aging. There are two kinds of skin aging — intrinsic and extrinsic.


Intrinsic Aging

Intrinsic aging is the scientific name for the natural effects of aging as they relate to the body. This type of skin aging is the kind that cannot be controlled, unfortunately. The rate at which a person will see and feel the effects of intrinsic aging over the course of their life, and how they will feel it, is largely up to their genetics. Here’s how the average intrinsic aging process works for skin:

  • 20s — collagen production in the dermis will begin to slow by 1% per year. Your skin will grow slightly more brittle and less elastic, paving the way for future wrinkles and sagging
  • 30s — the natural transfer of moisture between your dermis and epidermis will begin to slow down. Skin moisturization will become more important.
  • 40s — your dermis will stop producing collagen naturally, and your skin will continue to stiffen, paving the way for wrinkles. 
  • 50s — Your oil glands will shrink, leading to skin that is naturally drier and more prone to bruising. 


Extrinsic Aging

Extrinsic aging is the type of skin aging that you can control. With healthy habits, sun protection, and a quality skin care routine, you can prevent environmental factors from speeding up the rate at which your skin ages. Extrinsic aging of the skin appears most often in the form of a thicker, rougher epidermis, precancerous skin growths, freckles, and significant losses of collagen and elastin.


At a chemical level, extrinsic skin aging is caused by free radicals, which are electron-hungry molecules that can damage your dermis, epidermis, DNA, and even cause cancer. The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays are far and away the biggest generator of free radicals in your body, but other environmental factors, such as pollution, smoking, and diets high in sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients, can create free radicals in your body, as well. That’s why if you’d like to limit your skin’s extrinsic aging, protecting your skin health starts with sun protection, and a healthy diet free of smoking. 


Get A Skin Health Screening In Boulder

Now that you have a better idea of how your lifestyle can help or hinder your body’s defense against the natural aging process, want to get a professional assessment of your skin’s condition? Connect with Kallgren Dermatology Clinic in Boulder to get screened for skin cancer and get a better idea of how you can work to enjoy healthier, more youthful skin for longer!