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How does the skin ages?

The skin acts as a protective barrier between our body’s internal organs and the outside world. It is made up of several layers, including deeper layers that are not visible. Although wrinkles and acne are common visible skin problems, they are in fact the result of what goes on deep below the outermost layer of our skin.45

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Composition of our skin

The 3 layers of the skin are:45,46

  • The epidermis
  • The dermis
  • The fat layer (subcutaneous tissue, also known as hypodermis)

Layers of the skin47

Layers of the skin


This is the outermost layer of our skin. It is mainly made up of dead skin cells and serves as a protective barrier to keep harmful pollutants out and to also lock moisture and nutrients inside.45,48 The colour of our skin is due to special cells called melanocytes that are found here: they produce the pigment known as melanin.45 Renewal of the epidermis takes between 30-60 days.45

The next layer down is the dermis, hidden under our epidermis.45 Here we will find blood vessels, nerve endings, hair follicles and sweat glands. The sebaceous (oil) glands found here secrete oil to help our skin keep its smooth texture. Importantly, the dermis contains collagen to help strengthen our skin, and elastin to help keep our skin flexible.45,48,49 

Note that both epidermis and dermis contain hyaluronic acid that helps to maintain tissue architecture and hydration.


This layer is beneath the dermis and is the deepest layer of our skin. It is made up mainly of fat and contains many collagen cells as well. Particularly, this subcutaneous fat helps maintain body temperature via an insulating function and cushions muscles and organs from external shocks. If needed, it also acts as an energy source for our body.45

Prevention of skin ageing

Ageing affects every cell in our body, but our skin shows the first obvious signs of the passage of time. While we may have no influence on the natural ageing process (intrinsic or internal ageing), external (extrinsic) ageing can be delayed by controlling our lifestyles and exposure to environmental factors.

For example, by protecting ourselves from UV rays (sun exposure), it is possible to reduce premature damage to our skin.26,50,51

Effective long-term personal skincare (ensuring that our skin is well hydrated), regular physical aactivity and refraining from smoking, can also help in prevention. What’s more, anti-ageing injections are an effective and safe treatment for both women and men looking to refresh their appearance.26,27,52

Ageing skin: Causes and features

What causes our face to age?

Youthful skin is soft, supple, smooth, well hydrated, and rich with cells that renew fairly rapidly.

Two primary and independent factors contribute to the way our face ages:26,50,53-55

  • Intrinsic ageing
  • Extrinsic ageing 


So, what exactly is intrinsic ageing?

This is caused by the genes we inherit from our parents.

Intrinsic ageing is influenced by hormonal changes that occur with age, for example, those associated with menopause.26

This type of ageing affects all layers of our skin and contributes to the gradual thinning, dryness, and loss of elasticity of our skin during the ageing process.26,50,53-55

And extrinsic ageing?

Environmental factors such as sun exposure, air pollution, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, poor nutrition and lack of physical activity are all to blame!11,26,50,52,54
This type of ageing causes us to have brown spots, rough, wrinkled and uneven toned skin, as well as an early onset and progression of ageing.53-55

Another cause of facial ageing is linked to normal muscle movements that are repeated day after day and year after year, such as squinting, frowning, laughing, pursing our lips while smoking or drinking from a straw. The loss of facial fat, combined with gravity and repetitive muscle activity, can result in the appearance of lines and wrinkles.42,50,56
Furthermore, the loss of facial bone, muscle tone and thinning skin can give our face a loose, sagging appearance with a less defined contour. 50,57

What are the different signs of ageing skin?

Generally, as we age, our skin loses its elasticity and skin tone and its surface might become rough and dry.54
Here’s a list of different changes in our skin’s appearance that we may notice:26,50,58

  • Increased discolouration
  • Brown spots
  • Rough texture
  • Dryness
  • Lines and wrinkles
  • Drooping skin in the cheek area
  • Flattened cheeks
  • Sagging jawline
  • Crow’s feet (wrinkles around the outer corners of your eyes)
  • Frown lines (creases between your brows)
  • Hollows /dark circles under your eyes
  • Fullness between the neck and chin (double-chin)
  • Necklines
  • Under eye circles


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