The Random Causes of Aging FeaturedWritten by Jamina Metcalf, L.E. national educator for Skin Fitness Therapy
To be young! We are all in a fight against aging. Not so much for our vanity either, but for our overall health as well. We constantly hear about ways to stay young: eat right, exercise, stay out of the sun, take care of our skin, etc. But there are some random things that cause aging that we may not be fully aware of!
The choice and integration of modalities for the treatment of various skin conditions have expanded during the past several years. There is a plethora of electrotherapy devices,1 as well as chemical peels and advanced-cosmeceutical chemistry, that offer cosmetic improvements for the face and body and can be found in both medical and spa environments. The level of use for each modality varies greatly, depending upon its purpose, degree of intrusiveness, and the environment in which it is being performed.
It seems that everyone wants to stay young; the quest for longevity is the number one goal of many individuals. Unfortunately, aging begins at birth and there is no magic potion to stop this natural process.
Globally, the mature skin category amounts to 25 percent of the skin care market and almost 40 percent of the anti-aging market. People are living longer lives than ever before due to better life expectancies, decreased mortality rates, and declining fertility rates.
In our zealousness to incorporate new modalities into client treatments, skin care professionals often ask, “Which modalities can I combine with chemical peels?” However, the questions that professionals should ask themselves instead are:
All too often, we use the term ‘aging skin’ to describe the visible process of getting older on the body’s largest organ. We as humans start to age from the moment we are born until we pass, so when we refer to aging skin, we are actually talking about aging itself.
Sometimes the most obvious things in life go unnoticed. We see many wrinkles every day, but ask someone to define a wrinkle, and usually the answer is “Well, everyone knows what a wrinkle is.” We need to look at the microscopic anatomy of the skin to study the basis of the wrinkle which is often like the hole in a doughnut; it only exists by virtue of what surrounds it.
Aging remains a mystery to science. Indeed, many scientists do not believe that aging is natural or an inevitable consequence of living. Many repair systems exist in the body to correct molecular defects. For many years, it was thought that mitochondria did not have a repair system, but is now known that it has the same repair system as nuclear deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) molecules. An early clinical sign of DNA damage is muscle weakness. This weakness is a result of reduced production of the energy needed by the muscle in order to contract. Muscles primarily move other parts of the body and this is achieved by a complex contraction system that is initiated by an energy source known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP). In this article we shall discuss the nature of mitochondria, how they supply energy, what causes them to be damaged, and what we can do to help offset this process.
As skin care professionals, we are familiar with the signs of aging skin: loss of elasticity, discolorations, fine lines, and wrinkles. And we know these signs are directly related to oxidative and emotional stress, as well as inflammation and glycation. To combat these instigators, formulators are continuously looking for more effective ingredients for their anti-aging formulations. Botanical ingredients play an important role in corrective skin care formulations because they deliver vital organic nutrients to skin cells in a form that is friendly and recognizable to the body. Organic skin care product formulators often use whole plant extracts. Studies show that whole plant extracts deliver visible results without being highly concentrated.
How many times have you waited in line at the grocery store and chatted with the stranger near you? When observing someone for the first time or even when meeting a friend after many years, we cannot help but notice their face and overall appearance. Subconsciously, we also may guess his or her age based on our observations. Chronological age and actual appearance can be deceiving. As skin care professionals, we strive to help our clients maintain their youthful appearance using anti-aging protocols. As aestheticians, we can be easily overwhelmed by media advertisements and topics on anti-aging. What does this term really mean?
Having an understanding of how hormones affect the skin can help licensed practitioners assess the causes of some skin conditions and should be included in dialog during the initial consultation. Discussing the effects of hormones during the consultation will help give the client a clearer picture to some causes of their skin concerns.
WHAT ARE HORMONES?
Hormones are chemicals secreted by cells or glands, which act as messengers that are sent out from one part of the body to signal cells in other parts of the body. Hormones control and regulate the body's internal environment by regulating metabolism, controlling the reproductive cycle, inducing hunger and cravings, stimulating or inhibiting growth, and preparing the body for changes such as puberty, childbirth, or menopause. They are often released directly into the bloodstream, but may also be secreted into ducts.
Hormones are signaling chemicals released by cells within an organism that lead to a wide variety of reactions. They are transported from a cell (or gland) to tissues nearby, or carried to another part of the body through the blood stream to interact with a specific receptor. There are different types of hormones and their internal actions often lead to outward effects in the skin. Although hormonal fluctuations can cause skin challenges, there are many effective treatment pathways that can mitigate these common issues. Understanding the positive and negative actions of a variety of hormones and how they affect men and women differently throughout their lives can help skin care professionals develop targeted treatment plans for all of their clients.
Climacteric skin relates to long-term cosmetic changes that occur due to a lack of estrogen relating to biological, histological and clinical measures of consequences directly related to hormones that are linked to menopause. Climacteric skin is one of the greatest challenges faced by aestheticians; therefore, specific considerations should be undertaken as a whole health approach. This would include skin and/or body treatments, nutritional guidance, physical conditioning, and possible alternative hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with appropriate insight.
People of all ages are actively seeking solutions to help them maintain healthy, youthful skin. Today’s media delivers an overwhelming quantity of aspirational imagery of young, happy and healthy men and women. These visuals, along with the copious amount of information about anti-aging products and ingredients available to consumers, have driven down the age at which people seek out products and treatments to mitigate visible aging. Many clients, however, are largely unaware of both the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that contribute to aging skin and how skin care professionals can guide them to the best product and treatment recommendations.
The 101 of Aging
Aging is a 24/7 biological process that results in cellular wear and tear and cellsenescence, eventually lapsing into decreased viability and then eventual cell death. This unavoidable, redundant aging syndrome is also affected by a pre-programmed genetic agenda (intrinsic) superimposed on cumulative environmental (extrinsic) and endogenous insults that take place throughout the cellular organism’s lifespan. Chronological skin aging comprises unwanted changes in the skin that occur as a result of a passage of time and, in part, as the consequence of cumulative damage from continuous formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated during oxidative cellular metabolism. Despite inherent cellular antioxidant defense systems, generated ROS damages several cellular constituents including membranes, enzymes and DNA.
Women, and now more men, consult with aesthetics professionals for a variety of different reasons. Some come with specific skin issues like sun damage, rosacea or acne, while others come more for the relaxing and pampering aspect of aesthetic services. Others come to the spa and receive facial treatments and purchase professional products in an effort to not only maintain healthy skin, but also to prevent premature aging and future damage. This last group of clients presents a well of opportunities for long-term relationship building and client retention, as well as for new prevention-oriented services.
With the vast array of high-tech ingredients and the plethora of skin care brands from which to select, it is easy to be overwhelmed by all the choices. Lately skin care formulations are looking more like a supermarket or health food store. The spa market has clearly embraced formulations that are based upon food ingredients or nutraceuticals. Alongside all of these products remain the AHAs that have revolutionized the aesthetic industry in terms of the treatments and results they can offer. Recent advances in molecular biology have led to a better understanding of how the cells work and the development of skin care that contains topical ingredients such as peptides, stem cells and growth factors.
We are constantly in search of the elusive "Fountain of Youth" and the answer to a common question: what causes the skin to age? While we have yet to find the one magic antidote or fix-all, today we have more insight into what ages our skin and it goes beyond skin deep.
There are two primary culprits of skin aging, intrinsic and extrinsic agers. Intrinsic refers to the internal, less controllable factors – namely our genetic programming and physiological decline. Extrinsic are the external, controllable factors such as sun exposure, smoking, sleep, diet and stress, lifestyle factors and choices.
Everyone’s skin ages in its own unique way. Much of the inevitable part of facial aging is driven by a person’s DNA and is considered intrinsic. Fortunately, 85 percent of the visible signs of aging can be directly attributed to extrinsic causes that are preventable, and can often be corrected, even if the damage has already been done. Making informed decisions about sun exposure, diet, exercise, smoking, and regular use of skin care products is key to staving off skin aging. Knowing the primary offenders and learning the best ways to protect you and your patients puts healthy, younger-looking skin within reach.
So much emphasis in our industry and society is placed on rejuvenating the face. After all, it is our calling card. But what about the rest of the body? Our hands and lips are the most active parts of our bodies and along with the chest and neck areas, the most exposed to the sun and other environmental aggressors. Yet these areas of skin don't receive near as much time and attention as the face does. Fortunately, new, non-invasive rejuvenating treatments targeting these often-neglected areas are emerging in growing numbers and presenting skin care professionals with new opportunities to expand their service menus and their bottom line.
Everyone wants to maintain their youthful appearance. Everyone wants smooth skin. No one wants wrinkles and sagging. But let’s face it: aging is inevitable. There are no true anti-aging products or treatments out there. We all age, whether slow or fast, and eventually we all start to show our maturity in our skin.
One thing we can do though is age healthily. We can monitor what we put on our skin, in our bodies, in our mind, etc… I have broken down healthy aging into four groups: in your body, on your body, emotional, and activity. Simply, you can slow down the aging process if you eat right, exercise, stay away from certain elements, and even have the right attitude.
Not a single one of the Webster’s definitions seems all that flattering, especially when relating to my skin, and most certainly not when relating to the skin on my face! However, it is what it is, and mature is mature, whatever that means!
OK, let’s get serious and talk about “mature” skin. For the purpose of this article, I am going to refer to relating to, or being an older adult, as mature. Of course we can now ponder over exactly what does “older adult” mean. For simplicities sake, our clients easily classify themselves as “older,” and are generally quite quick to refer to their own skin as “mature.”
Some aspects of aging are out of our control and we should learn to accept these changes with grace. The plain fact is we are all going to get old, at least I hope so. As we strive for health and longevity we should consider not how long we live, but the quality of our lives as we age. I equate aging with vitality and the ability to have mobility. I would much rather be old and walk two miles a day, bike to the park, practice yoga, and have vital energy that drives my passions, than the alternative, which is to be on multiple medications, breathless after walking up stairs and daily suffering from every ache and pain.
The quest for a youthful appearance is universal. Unfortunately, age-related changes in our facial structure and appearance are partially intrinsic – aging that is unavoidable and happens due to genetics and the passage of time. Although we can not stop the hands of time, the greatest cause of the visible signs of aging is directly linked to environmental sources and is preventable. This extrinsic aging is primarily attributed to sun exposure and is one of the most avoidable causes of wrinkling, laxity, skin discoloration, extracellular matrix (ECM) breakdown, and most importantly, skin cancer.
The largest growth area in cosmetic facial treatment is related to aging. People are living longer and healthier and want their appearance to reflect their vital state of mind and health. The aging process begins when we enter the world and the effects of aging are evident in our bodies throughout our lives. Looking forever young has never been as important as it is today and with role models from film, stage, and music displaying everlasting young features, it is not surprising that women of all ages are becoming increasingly aware of societies perception of the perfect woman.
In the aesthetic industry, we have been fixated on two principle manifestations of aging: wrinkles and gravity. We address wrinkles through a variety of methods including laser and light technology, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion, chemical peels of various strengths and types, botulinum toxin, and daily skin care regimens. Gravity has been the traditional territory of plastic surgeons that lift and pull until the sagging skin and muscles return to their desired youthful position. The problem with this paradigm is that it fails to incorporate one vital element in the aging process, the loss of soft-tissue volume.
I am not a chemist by trade, but rather a curious explorer of human biology and, more specifically, cellular metabolism. I am fascinated with how our biology so magically works, and I find the discovery process endlessly entertaining. It doesn’t surprise me that my second career is taking me towards cosmetic product formulations and that science is driving my abilities to create advanced corrective products that impact cellular health and anti-aging.While researching active ingredients to address inflammation, I stumbled on a patent abstract written by an 82-year-old man about a form of niacin that, when applied topically, acts as a vasodilator to increase circulation.
Have you ever considered the possibility that we all have been aging our client’s skin over the last decade with the many traumatizing treatments we provide? Would you believe me if I told you that the current mainstream approach to anti-aging skin care is not working? I’m sure you have wondered why it is so hard to get lasting results for most of our clients. Get ready for a paradigm shift in the way we approach these skin conditions. Skin care professionals spend most of the time putting the skin in a compromised position in order to achieve “results” which are often marginal, temporary improvements in the epidermis.
The skin is the largest, most complex, immune organ that challenges the practicing aesthetician today. Due to its interface function between the body and the environment, the skin is chronically exposed to both endogenous and environmental pro-oxidant agents, leading to premature aging and impaired cellular function.
Compelling evidence of premature aging suggests that oxidative stress is the major cause involved in the damage of the skin’s cellular constituents i.e.; keratinocytes, melanocytes, Langerhans, Merkle, mast, fibroblasts, etc. and their DNA, cell membrane lipids, and proteins.
The search for the Fountain of Youth has been going on throughout history, literature and mythology. People have fallen prey to charlatans and con men in the quest for rejuvenation. Even though we are aware of this, there is something in us that yearns to be younger, feel younger and look younger. We are often willing to spend thousands of dollars in this quest, but results usually are only temporary and only skin deep. What if there was a way to rejuvenate your body from the inside out.