Fact: The skin on your face is one of the first parts of the body to show the signs of ageing. While every skin is different, age-related skin changes are inevitable, as gravity, photo-damage and the passing of time affects the skin, muscles and structure of the face.
When it comes to what we can do about it, obviously healthy lifestyle choices, good skincare and aesthetic treatment can help minimise the characteristics of ageing for those who are bothered by ageing skin.
To give you an idea of exactly how the skin ages, let’s look at the many ways our facial structure changes over time and the common facial changes that come about.
Ever heard of ‘triangle of youth? It basically refers to three different features that make up a younger-looking face: high cheekbones, full cheek volume, and a well-defined jaw.
If you draw a line from ear to ear and close the triangle for ear to chin, you’ll notice that the widest part of your face is your cheeks. Yes?
When you’re younger, your face appears plump, contoured and defined. However, as we begin to age, these features slowly turn into what is known as ‘the pyramid of age’.
This is where definition drops and the triangle becomes inverted. We’re talking deflated cheeks (with excess skin moving down to the jaw), more defined nasolabial folds (the lines that run from your nose to the corners of your mouth) and thinner, less elastic skin.
This means the widest part of your face is no longer your cheekbones – it’s now at the jawline. As a result, ‘the triangle of youth’ is flipped upside down (hence, ‘the pyramid of age’).
As we all know, ageing isn’t just about the lines and wrinkles on your face - it’s skin deep. The whole ageing process occurs at every layer of the facial structure, including skin, fat pads, muscles and bones.
Here, we breakdown each layer of an ageing face – the skin, facial muscle and bone structure.
We’ll start with the most obvious first, shall we? The skin.
Just to give you a bit of a background, the skin can be broadly divided up into three main layers: the epidermis (the outer skin layer that contains skin cells and pigments), the dermis (the middle skin layer that contains blood vessels, nerves, oil glands and hair follicles) and the subcutaneous layer (the deeper layer that contains blood vessels, fatty tissue and sweat glands).
Ageing pretty much impacts all three of these layers.
As we age, the epidermis starts to change. The basal cell layer of the epidermis slows its rate of cell production, causing the skin to appear thinner and more fragile.
Meanwhile, pigmentation and discolouration become more prevalent in the skin thanks to repeated and cumulative sun exposure. The cells responsible for pigment (melanocytes) produce this pigmentation – which can appear in the form of post inflammatory pigmentation, redness and photo-ageing.
Ageing also affects collagen and elastin, which are predominately found in our dermis – the key things that provide our skin with structural support, strength and elasticity. However, as we age, the production of collagen and elastin levels decrease. This is accelerated by sun damage (we told you SPF was important!).
Further to this, an area known as the dermal-epidermal junction also experiences age-related remodelling. This area has finger-like projectors that are responsible for the exchange of nutrients and oxygen.
However, as we age, this junction flattens, and the surface area is reduced. The exchange of nutrients and oxygen therefore decreases, accelerating chronological skin ageing.
Our sebaceous glands also produce less oil as we age, making the skin drier, rougher and less flexible.
As time goes on, the fat pads (which are located under the surface of your skin) become thinner and less dense, resulting in hollowing - especially around the area beneath your eyes. This can result in drooping of the skin around your face, causing deeper and more prominent lines around your nose and mouth to develop.
Things like genetics, environmental influences, nutrition and other factors will obviously affect how these changes occur in our face.
When it comes to your facial muscles, the loss of facial fat along with the effect of gravity and facial expressions can mean they lose their volume, strength and elasticity.
Laxity of facial muscles and loss of muscle volume are some common factors that lead to sagging around the cheeks, mouth, eyes, nose and forehead.
Not only this, but deterioration of facial nerves has a lot to do with muscle functioning and droopiness – particularly in the upper part of the face. You’ll notice that the skin on your forehead and the area between your eyebrows develops deep lines.
As we grow older, changes to the facial bone structure also occur. Facial bones, including our eye sockets, nose and upper jaw continue to experience biological change, which presents as an overall decrease in volume.
The most prominent area of bone loss occurs mainly around the mouth and chin, which can result in changes to the contours of the face. For example, you may notice puckering around the mouth and drooping around the tip of your nose due to cartilage loss.
Understanding the many changes our faces experience and how it goes deeper than wrinkles and folds, allows us to take the right approach when it comes to reducing the signs of ageing. From limiting sun exposure to using sunscreen and taking care of your skin gently, approaching facial rejuvenation as a whole can help us look our best, regardless of age.
What changes have you noticed? Share your views with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Gary Williams, Bio