Understanding Your Skin - The Best Anti Aging Beauty Secret

The Epidermis
The Epidermis | Source
The Epidermis, Dermis, and Hypodermis
The Epidermis, Dermis, and Hypodermis | Source

Epidermis

In order to effectively fight the signs of aging it is important to understand the anatomy and physiology of the skin. The deepest layer of the epidermis is called the stratum basale or germinativum. As cells in the basale layer grow and divide they begin to dehydrate and die as they are pushed towards the surface. In this process, called keratinization, the protein keratin is formed giving the outer layer, stratum corneum, its strength. In the image below you'll see the arteries and veins in the dermis stop just under the epidermis. These blood vessels are responsible for nourishing and removing wastes from the stratum basale. Like other cells in the body they thrive when they are well nourished and struggle when they are not.

Collagen and Elastin in the Dermis
Collagen and Elastin in the Dermis | Source

Dermis

To the right you will see strands of collagen and elastin located in the dermis. Collagen gives the skin it's strength and elastin gives it elasticity. They are the foundation for the epidermis, the skin we see. When these two components are broken down wrinkles begin to form. Both UV radiation and cigarette smoke are major contributors to the destruction of collagen and elastin.

UV radiation from sun exposure directly breaks down the collagen proteins, but forms an abnormal form of elastin. In response to the abnormal elastin the body produces metalloproteinases.1 Typically metalloproteinases encourage collagen formation, but they can also break down collagen. Repeated sun exposure and the creation of scar tissue by matalloproteinases creates the wrinkles we see.

Cigarette smoking contributes to wrinkle formation in two very important ways. The compound nicotine constricts the blood vessels and diminishes the amount of nutrients the epidermis, specifically the stratum basale, receives. More than 4,000 chemicals are found in cigarette smoke and many of them break down collagen and elastin proteins.2

The migration of skin cells from statum basale to stratum corneum generally takes about 4 weeks. Hence, your skin is never more than 4 weeks old. If it were possible to live the "perfect" lifestyle in terms of diet and habits wrinkles will still form. Welcome to the aging process! When cells replicate they make a copy of a copy of a copy. If you were to take a photo to a copy machine and repeatedly copy the copies how will it look after 10 or 20 versions? It will definitely not be as clear as the first copy. This is how the cells of the body reproduce and hence how they age. Fortunately there are dietary choices that will affect not only the skin, but the other cells of the body as well.

So, what dietary changes can you take now to age gracefully?

Drink the recommended amount of water everyday, roughly 2 liters. The amount of water in your body contributes to blood volume. Through the blood and body fluids, water is the nutrient that delivers all of the important fuel cells need to thrive. Conversely, water also carries metabolic wastes to the liver and kidneys for elimination.

Vitamin K, found in leafy green vegetables, has been shown to reduce dark circles under the eyes. A study conducted in the Netherlands suggests vitamin K may also preserve skin elasticity.3 Since vitamin k encourages blood clotting, people prone to clots should consult their physician before altering dietary levels of vitamin K.

The antioxidants A, C, and E help prevent free radicals from damaging the cell. Remember, you want to have the best copy of a cell before a new one is made. Vitamin A is found in carrots, spinach, cantaloupe, papaya, and mangoes. Brussel sprouts, bell peppers, oranges, and tomato juice are rich in vitamin C. Studies have shown vitamin C is a key player in the body's production of collagen. Topical applications of vitamin C can reverse some of the damaging effects of sun exposure. Prior to sun bathing vitamin E helps protect skin. That doesn't mean you should throw out the sunscreen, but take comfort knowing there is another line of defense on the inside. Sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, green leafy vegetables, and blueberries are packed with vitamin E.

Beauty Products

Since the beauty industry creates a wide variety of anti-aging products choosing the right one for your skin can seem overwhelming. To diminish the look of fine lines, exfoliants work by removing surface cells in the stratum corneum. Facial scrubs work well if used a few times a week. For most people, a daily scrub will irritate the skin causing redness and sometimes breakouts unless it is specially formulated. If you've never used a scrub I recommend starting with twice a week and then adjusting the frequency as needed. I've used expensive facial scrubs, but my favorite is still St. Ives Apricot face scrub. Most drugstores carry it for about $4. There are also chemical ingredients that work to exfoliate the skin. Chemical peels and products containing glycolic acid work by eating away at the skin's surface. Most people have skin that is too sensitive for both chemical peels and facial scrubs.

Retinols, derivatives of vitamin A, are popular because the encourage skin cell renewal. It is common when you first begin using retinols to see red and/or dry flaky skin. Begin using retinols every other night or every two nights until your skin adjusts.

Pentapeptides are very popular. "...Doctors say there are no published medical studies showing they work, experts involved in product testing say there is ample science behind the pentapeptide technology."4 Initially pentapeptides were researched for use in wound healing because they stimulate collagen production.

Over the years I've used retinols and pentapeptides, but my favorite ingredients are vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and CoQ10. Vitamin C improves collagen production, but you must look for a stable otherwise the cream will be ineffective. Here is a list of the stable forms of vitamin C: , L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, sodum ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, and magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.5,6 Fifty percent of the body's hyaluronic acid is found in the skin. It is an important molecule to youthful looking skin because it holds 1,000 times its weight in water.7 I use coenzyme Q10 topically and orally. It helps the mitochondria, the power plants of the cells, function more effectively. Not only do I reap the anti-aging benefits, but I also get a little boost of energy too.

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Comments 25 comments

Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 5 years ago from Idaho Author

I need help with the spacing above : (


Tracey 5 years ago

Very informative. Inspired me to drink more water.


findawayormakeone profile image

findawayormakeone 5 years ago from Washington, DC Metro Area

Great hub, I thought. Really well delineated this 'Beauty Secret' that the reader is seeking.


SanneL profile image

SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

Great and useful hub!

I'm glad that I never smoked, so is my skin!

Thanks for sharing this!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 5 years ago from Idaho Author

Findawayormakeone, thank you for your kind words. I'm happy you enjoyed this Hub.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 5 years ago from Idaho Author

Sannel, thank you for sharing your time and thoughts : )


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

Great article!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Thank you Tammy. I hope you found it informative.


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Jennifer, this is such an interesting topic to many of us - male and female. I love the St. Ives Apricot Scrub, too. I use Jan Marini products with the glycolic acid - I love them for collagen stimulation and freckling and age spots. I have fair skins, so it seems that the sun has really turned on me over the years. LOL Great Hub! Votes and shared!


Sunnie Day 4 years ago

Very Useful article. Thank you for sharing


amymarie_5 profile image

amymarie_5 4 years ago from Chicago IL

I'm so glad I quit smoking years ago! This is all such good advice. Are there any moisturizers that you suggest? I've been using Aveeno, wondering if there are any products you suggest...

Thanks, rated up, interesting and also shared!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

amymarie_5, I've tried several moisturizers over the years but I've recently settled on Avalon Organics. It sounds pricey but it's not. Stores such as Wal-Mart and Target carry it and it's also available through Amazon. I like the vitamin C line because it stimulates collagen production. I'm also a fan of the CO-Q10 anti-wrinkle cream. CO-Q10 levels diminish as we age and this co-enzyme helps the cells work more efficiently. I also take CO-Q10 supplements and Omega-3's to help the skin from the inside. Don't forget to drink plenty of water each day remove any makeup before bed. The best beauty advice I've ever been given was not to pull on the skin. When you pull on the skin you end up damaging the elastin fibers which leads to premature wrinkles.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Sholland10, I used glycolic acid for awhile and it does help give the skin a smooth appearance. My skin is fairly sensitive and glycolics and retinols tend to create redness around my nose. It helps if I only use them every few days but then I feel my face turns into a chemistry lab when I switch back and forth between products. Since glycolics and retinols thin the layer of the epidermis I would usually stop using them for a few weeks before a beach vacation so my skin was less sensitive to the sun.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Sunnie Day, I love the screen name by the way. Thank you for your kind words.


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Thanks for even more info, Jennifer. I love my glycolic products, but I don't use them as much during the summer because they will cause you to burn. I did not realize they thinned the skin. Thanks!! :-)


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Sholland10, They smooth the skin by thinning the outer layer of the epidermis. When you stop using them the cells in the outer layer are allowed to re-accumulate so there isn't any permanent damage done. The top layer, stratum corneum, is about 40 cell layers thick and it is constantly shed and makes up most of the dust in your house. Nasty I know : )


sholland10 profile image

sholland10 4 years ago from Southwest Missouri

Eegads!! LOL


urmilashukla23 profile image

urmilashukla23 4 years ago from Rancho Cucamonga,CA, USA

Well written. Thanks for sharing it. Voted up and useful!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

urmilashukla23, Thank you for the votes and compliment. I'm happy your stopped by : )


Alecia Murphy profile image

Alecia Murphy 4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

These are great tips Jennifer. Skin care is a very layered issue for anyone and with all the things are skin is exposed to, it's hard to know what's what. Everyone always talks about St. Ives but it was so rough on my skin, I had to pass. But I know exfoliating will definitely help. Thanks for the tips!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

Alecia, When I worked at a spa I learned to let the scrub do all the work. That is, don't apply too much pressure with your hands. For some of us it can be too rough. I only use it once or twice a week. I picked up one of their gentler scrubs by mistake once. Maybe it will work for you? Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts : )


rasta1 profile image

rasta1 4 years ago from Jamaica

Learnt something new. hyaluronic acid sounds pretty important.


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 4 years ago from Idaho Author

rasta1, Hyaluronic acid is one of the many important chemicals the skin needs to retain its youthful appearance. Thank you for sharing your time : )


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is great information. This really explains that youth and beauty can't be obtained from a jar. You made this medical information easy to understand. Excellent hub!


Jennifer Essary profile image

Jennifer Essary 3 years ago from Idaho Author

Thank you Tammy for sharing your thoughts and time : ) Yes, the creams have a role but what you put in your body is equally important. I hope you got some useful information you can use in your daily life : ) Peace

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