Our face’s skin is much subtle and thinner than the rest of our body. Perhaps that’s the reason we can see the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles more easily. While skin ageing usually starts in the 40s, in some cases, people see these signs much earlier. This is known as premature ageing of skin.
Most of the damage is visible but one may not be in a position to judge properly as the signs are very similar to regular skin wear and tear. For example, damage due to UVA ray exposure can lead to spider veins on the face, age spots, leathery skin, fine wrinkles that appear only when stretched. A blotchy complexion and actinic keratosis are also indicators of premature ageing. Similarly, drug abuse causes people to develop a deeply wrinkled and leathery skin.
Premature ageing of the skin cannot be attributed to just one cause. Various environmental, hormonal and physiological factors have a profound effect on the skin. However, exposure to the sun’s UVA rays causes the maximum damage. UVA rays penetrate deepest into the skin and are often referred to as ‘ageing rays’. In high doses, these rays can cause darkening and pigmentation of the skin and accelerate the ageing process by damaging the underlying collagen, thus making the skin appear scaly, dry, wrinkled and leathery with dark patches.
Other contributory factors include stress, lack of sleep and smoking. Lack of sleep and stress also diminish the amount of other hormones within the body – like growth hormones which help nourish the skin and hair.
Smoking or introducing toxic chemicals into the body increase the number of free radicals, accelerating the ageing process and damaging the elasticity of the skin.
If you are out in the sun, a sunscreen, regardless of the season, is very important for the health of your skin. It should be used daily by all individuals, including children, all through the year, with other sun-safety steps for optimal sun protection. Sunscreens should be applied liberally and evenly so as not to miss any areas of sun-exposed skin. Skin that is not protected by an efficient sunscreen allows UVA rays to penetrate the outer layer of the skin which may even cause problems like skin cancer.
A good palm full or about 2 or 3 tablespoons per application is necessary to adequately cover your whole body. Apply 30 minutes before going out in the sun to allow the ingredients to fully bind to the skin. Re-apply every 2 to 3 hours or right after swimming, towel drying or intense exercise.
Make sure that you get at least 6-7 hours of sleep daily, eat a balanced diet, avoid smoking and consume alcohol in moderation. Avoid making too many facial expressions as the lines get permanent. Also avoid sleeping on your side with your face cheek to the pillow. This can cause wrinkles over time.
If the damage to your skin is already done, and lines are already visible, there is still help at hand. Skin can be rejuvenated by adding line-plumping moisture to hydrate and replenish it.