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The skin is the outer layer that covers the human body. The skin interfaces with the environment and is the first line of defense against external factors. The skin protects the body against pathogens and excessive water loss and radiation (e.g., ultraviolet or sunlight). It also provides insulation and thermal regulation and vitamin D production. Human skin has three layers: the epidermis (the outer layer of the skin), the dermis (the inner layer of the skin), and the hypodermis (the layer storing fat underneath the dermis).
As we age, the skin cells divide more slowly and the skin’s ability to regenerate is decreased. This makes the dermis thinner and less able to hold moisture. In addition, the hypodermis, the part of our skin under the dermis where fat is stored, begins to loosen. As a result, the skin becomes less elastic, losing the ability to stretch and return back into a firm position and wrinkles appear in the skin.
While wrinkles cannot be totally eliminated, there are steps to delay their appearance or reduce their number. It is known that the sun is the single most important factor in skin wrinkles. The effect of the sun on the skin occurs in all types of skins with lighter or darker complexion, although, lighter complexions, may be more susceptible. It is also known that more than 50% percent of skin damage caused by the sun occurs in childhood. Therefore, sun protection should be emphasized early on in life. In general, protecting the skin by using sunscreens before going outdoors can help reduce wrinkles.
There are also other factors that may play a role in skin aging and the appearance of wrinkles. These factors include smoking which damages the skin’s collagen and causes inflammation. According to studies, smokers may be five times more likely to have wrinkled facial skin than non-smokers. Other factors include air pollution, smog and toxins in the air which can damage the skin by breaking down vitamin E, a necessary vitamin for the skin's health. Genetics can also play a role how the skin ages and the appearance of certain wrinkles such as facial wrinkles.
Although some exposure of one’s skin to sunlight is healthy, as the sunlight produces vitamin D which can help the body in a number of ways such as production of calcium in bone, increased immune system and ability to fight diseases, etc., over exposure may be deleterious.
Therefore, applying sunscreen before stepping outdoors, for example when enjoying activities under sunlight at the park or at the beach or even when having fun in the snow, is advised. For example, when skiing, one may think that during winter the ultraviolet intensity in the sun is decreased, however, due to high reflectivity of snow (reflectance of fresh snow may exceed 80%), the skin may be exposed to as much as double the amount of ultraviolet from direct sunlight.
Ultraviolet in the sun reaching earth surface is divided into two wavelength bands: UVA (between about 320 nm and about 400 nm) and UVB (between about 280 nm and about 320 nm). UVB is the portion of the ultraviolet light that causes redness or sunburn of the skin. UVB does not penetrate beyond the superficial skin layers. UVA is 1000-fold less effective than UVB in producing skin redness. However, its predominance in the total solar spectrum is about 100 fold more than UVB. UVA can penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin. It is thought that UVA may also be responsible in skin damage, photo-aging and wrinkling. Hence, it may be wise to select a sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays (a broad-spectrum sunscreen) and has an SPF of at least 15.
Exercising regularly can also benefit your skin as well as your body. In addition, the use of a good skin moisturizer, and eating a diet filled with fruits, vegetables rich in vitamins (such as vitamins A, C and E), protein foods and plenty of water can help reduce the appearance and number of wrinkles and keep your skin healthy. In general, various actions can be taken to protect one's skin including minimizing exposure to sunlight/ultraviolet, avoiding skin contact with items or chemicals that may dry the skin, and keeping the skin moisturized using moisturizing crèmes such as LORECYL moisturizing crèmes.