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Factors that cause skin to age faster

Mr. Sun & Mini SunImage by Warm 'n Fuzzy via Flickr
Hey All!

Haven't really been shopping for new make up since some time, so I don't really have a lot of new products to review. A splurge seems due one of these days :-)

So I have been doing a bit of reading in the mean time. And I came across this article on factors that affect skin aging. (read it here)

The study was done on pairs of twins, to neutralize genetically gifted good skin. The study concluded that there are some environmental as well as lifestyle factors that contributed to accelerated skin aging.  Please understand that skin aging is a normal phenomenon, that will happen to everyone. However the degree to which your skin will age or be able to recuperate against the damage will be defined by your lifestyle and the choices you make.

Lifestyle Choices that Age the Skin

Smoking: The most dramatic facial aging was associated with smoking. Every 10 years a woman smoked added an average of 2 ½ years to her perceived age. Uneven skin tone, prominent “age spots” and slack skin under the eyes were more common in smokers’ faces. So here is a strong incentive for those of you who want to kick the habit. Look younger, stop smoking!..

Although I wonder, I had once heard that living in a polluted, smokey city like Mumbai, means that every person on an average inhales toxins that are equvivalent of smoking two cigges everyday. So I suppose us people in big metros just have to go that extra mile to save and protect our skin.

Sun Exposure: Increased sun exposure was associated with an older appearance. Further, the visible damage accelerated with age.
Dark and patchy skin discoloration was also more common in twins with a history of sun exposure. Lesson learnt: Use a sunscreen, and if you can't stand it at least use a scarf during the day to cover up the face.

Weight: Being 20 to 24 pounds heavier in the 20s and 30s aged faces because youthful facial contours – cheekbones and a well-defined jawline – were obscured.
However after age 40, a similar weight increment made women’s faces appear younger since the additional fat plumps the skin and compensates for the typical loss of collagen which begins when hormone production slows.The heavier twins tended to have more even skin tone and thicker hair.

Excess Alcohol Consumption: Women who didn’t drink looked younger than the twins who did. The questionnaire didn’t track the amount or type of alcohol consumed, so the study doesn’t help quantify how much alcohol is defined as "Excess".

Excess alcohol consumption damages blood vessels in the skin. Also, the liver plays a major role in the quantity and quality of the collagen fibers within the skin layers. Therefore liver damage caused by heavy drinking probably impairs the skin’s ability to produce healthy collagen. Another reason to eat healthy and take good care of the liver.

Hormone Replacement Therapy /Birth Control Pills: Twins who used hormone replacement had a younger appearance. The longer a woman took birth control pills or hormone-replacement therapy, and the higher the dose, the more likely she was to look younger as estrogen improves skin elasticity. This probably explains why pregnant women have a glow to their face (of course, the happiness contributes!). But I have also noticed that once women stop HRT, their skin starts to age very fast again.

HRT also correlated with healthier looking thicker hair.

Factors Less under One’s Control
The study also found significant correlations with some factors over which people have little or no control.

Depression: Twins who reported battling depression look older. Sadder facial expressions give the face a saggy look. The effect was more pronounced in those taking antidepressants. Certain depression-relieving drugs can weaken eye muscles, causing the area to look even droopier. While depression may not be under our control, it is nice to once in while play "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and dance around the house. Meditation is a good option too.

Marital Status: Divorced women were perceived to look 1.7 years older that their married or single twins; while widows looked 2 years younger. Okay... the stress with all the fighting and divorce and raising kids singly might be contributing to the aging in divorced women, whereas widows go through the trauma of loneliness, the pre-divorce fights and bitterness is not there. I suppose from the three, the middle option of marriage is the best :-)

Skin Cancer: Wrinkles were more evident in twins with a history of skin cancer and hair was thinner. Now while this is completely out of our control, eating right and using sunscreen will go a long way in ensuring this never figures as a factor in your life.

The study did not talk about the effect of factors like diet, exercise or stress. But I feel that these 3 also play a big role.

So there it is, we maybe born with great skin thanks to a great set of genes, but there is a lot we can do to help us age gracefully as well. 


  1. I don't drink and smoke and thankfully my husband also doesn't smoke. But since I live in metra, it's hard to resist from the pollution and harmful chemicals in air. Sometimes I feel that the months would pass by before my skin would get the doze of clean fresh air.

    A very relevent post. Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. @ Rati: Yr welcome Rati!... I sometimes worry myself, all the sun, dirt & pollution don't help. Unfortunately, there is no real solution also for these evils.


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