Everybody’s skin ages naturally as a mark of passing time and the subtle damage caused by our environment. But what are the key differences between young skin and aging skin? Why do some people retain a youthful look while others appear much older? It’s best to begin a look at the difference between young and aging skin by providing a brief description of the main components of the skin itself.

The Layers and Nutrients of Skin

Our skin is composed of three layers: the epidermis (outermost), dermis (middle) and hypodermis (innermost). The dermis layer holds the largest quantity of elastin and collagen, two fibres that are responsible for much of our skin’s built-in resilience. These fibres are produced as part of the skin’s inherent regenerative systems and, when we’re young, are lost and replaced regularly and with great efficiency.The skin is naturally able to bear the wear and tear of daily life (gravity, lack of moisture, etc.) but, as we age, the systems that work to accomplish this begin to break down in significant ways. Part of this has to do with our ability to retain moisture — the key ingredient in powering skin cells so that they’re able to produce the elastin and collagen that is so vital to maintaining a youthful look.

The Aging Process

As we get older our body begins to lose some of its natural resilience and nowhere is this more apparent than with our skin. The foundation of this comes from the fact that the skin, with time, begins to thin and dry out, unable to take in enough hydration. The body starts to lose its ability to produce sufficient levels of elastin and collagen due to the fact that our skin cells receive less moisture. Environmental and chronological aging come together to make this process occur either more or less quickly.

Our family history can have much to do with how young our skin looks (one person may have deep wrinkles at 35 while another has smooth skin) but the decisions we make also greatly affect it. Chronological (otherwise known as genetic or intrinsic) aging sees our skin eventually becoming drier and thinner. Because less moisture is able to penetrate the skin, our cells have less of the fuel they need to produce fatty collagen and stretchy elastin. When this occurs, a void is left that is filled by less appropriate macromolecules, unable to properly compensate for the role that ample collagen previously filled. This is when wrinkles begin to form (usually beginning in the 30s and becoming much more noticeable into the early 40s and beyond) along with creases and an overall decrease in smoothness and fullness.Everyone must deal with chronological aging as they get older but there are ways that we can maintain youthful looking skin even as we age. The environment accelerates aging and creates many of the features that we describe as “aging skin”.

When we’re young, the damage that occurs from external factors is more easily rebounded from or hasn’t compounded to the point that it becomes visible on our outermost layers. In this sense, the difference between “young” and “old” skin can be seen as a sign of whether a person has avoided environmental triggers or not.Ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun constitute the most critical contributor to environmental aging and the difference between young and aging skin. Photo-aging is a term used to describe UV exposure and describes a phenomenon wherein these rays accelerate the breakdown of elastin and collagen. As discussed above, this drastically reduces the quality of an individual’s skin and, once lost, makes one look much older. Photo-aging also causes some of the other major identifying traits of aging skin: pigment changes (like age spots, uneven colouration), increasingly visible blood vessels and veins and uneven texture.While the passing of time determines much of how our skin looks when we’re young or old, environmental factors cannot be underestimated as creating the difference between “skin ages”.

Noticeable Differences Between Young and Aging Skin

Young skin and aging skin is easy to tell apart through a number of distinct characteristics. One of these is discolouration and the development of abnormal pigmentation. A prevalent sign of aged skin is the growth of abnormal blood vessels that are especially noticeable on cheeks and the nose. Skin texture changes a lot from when we are young to when we are older through texture as well. As elastin and collagen break down, smooth distribution of these fibres is displaced, abnormal growth occurs (because of the presence of free radicals that older skin cells cannot efficiently eliminate) and wrinkles begin to appear.All of these common signs are directly linked to the presence of moisture in skin cells.

Although dry skin may not be as noticeable as the changes in texture and colouration discussed above, it is the keystone that demonstrates the first sign of skin that has begun to age. If you’ve noticed a lack of moisture in your own skin, take note then begin to implement steps to counteract it in your daily life. Being aware of environmental factors and carrying out steps to give your skin what it needs to naturally revitalize itself will put you ahead of time — and keep you in possession of younger skin.