Many factors, both extrinsic and intrinsic, cause the skin to age. Those causes can easily be divided into three main categories: biological aging, environmental aging, and mechanical aging. Let's look at each cause individually to understand ways they can be minimized:
The first category is biological aging. Biological aging is the result of changes—often genetically determined—that occur naturally within the body. Everyone has a biological clock or chronological age determined by genetic makeup. This applies to the skin as well. Scientists are beginning to understand how free radicals (unstable molecules) damage proteins, lipids, and the DNA within cells, and, in turn, accelerate the biological aging process.
The second category of factors that cause the skin to age are all results of extrinsic sources in the environment. Environmental aging occurs as a result of daily exposure to trillions of free radicals from a variety of sources: the sun's ultraviolet rays, pollution, smoke, harsh weather, and external stress. These free radicals damage lipids, proteins, and DNA, all of which limit the ability of cells to function and cripple the integrity of overall cell composition. Years of accumulated environmental stress on cellular structures results in the premature aging of the skin. Sun exposure is the primary environmental stressor leading to damaged skin. The damage to skin components caused by both prolonged and incidental sun exposure is called photoaging. Although cigarette smoke, exposure to harsh weather conditions, and pollution are prolific contributors to environmental aging, UV damage from the sun's rays accounts for 90 percent of premature skin aging. Photoaging damages collagen, elastin, melanocytes, and the moisture barrier, resulting in wrinkles, sagging, uneven skin tone, dark spots, and a rough, dry skin texture.
The third category of aging is called mechanical aging. Mechanical aging is the result of continually repeated wrinkle causing behaviors, muscle movements repeated day after day and year after year. Although it is unrealistic to avoid some wrinkle causing behaviors such as smiling and frowning, smoking, sleeping on side and stomach, weight loss, etc
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