Intrinsic vs extrinsic aging: differences and approaches

Aging is a very complex, natural process. Each one of us has our unique way of aging. How to stop it has been one of the main concerns of the skincare industry for years. Many people spend tons of money buying skincare products that promise more than they can fulfill and getting injections. But how does this process happen, and what affects it?

Intrinsic vs extrinsic aging

Intrinsic aging, or chronological aging is the natural process your body goes through over the years. After mid-20s, our bodies start producing less and less collagen and elastin; our skins start feeling less elastic, losing volume, fine lines and wrinkles appear, cell turnover speed drops, and hyperpigmentation takes more time to fade. With each year passing, we start noticing more changes as our skin loses its ability to repair itself.

These changes can’t be stopped or reversed because they are not dependent on your voluntary actions. Intrinsic aging is a process that happens depending on genes, ethnicity and even hormones. Not only do we age differently, but even our skin doesn’t age equally.

Depending on anatomical variations such as the thickness of the epidermis or lipid barrier, some areas of the skin show signs of aging faster than others.

Extrinsic aging is a result of environmental factors and our lifestyle choices. Everything we do affects our skin in a way. The air, sunlight, pollution, and food choices all impact the first line of defense of our body.

Studies show that 80% of skin aging is caused by extrinsic factors. This fact highlights the importance of making healthy life choices in order to prevent premature aging. Sun rays are the main factor that causes aging. Unprotected exposure to sunlight can damage the skin at a cellular level and cause pre-cancerous lesions or even skin cancer.

UV rays and free radicals damage the skin and cause premature aging due to collagen destruction, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles. This exposure, over the years, can cause deep hyperpigmentation and dark spots that can be difficult to treat.

Skincare regimen is another factor with a significant impact on the skin. Dermatologists emphasize the importance of having at least a basic skincare  routine, including: cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen. Cleansers can remove impurities, like excess sebum and pollution, moisturizers hydrate, moisture and nourish the skin, while sunscreen protects it.

What can we do?
When it comes to intrinsic aging, there is nothing much we can do because it’s impossible to make changes in the genes. However, we can rely on modifying extrinsic aging factors like skincare and eating habits.

Create a solid skincare regimen. In addition to your basic skincare routine, use an antioxidant in the morning to combat free radicals and a serum at night containing active ingredients that speed up cell turnover.

Don’t forget to wear sunscreen every day all year round and reapply every 2-3 hours. Eat healthy (plenty of fruits and vegetables and less sugar and processed food), avoid smoking or drinking alcohol, work out frequently and sleep well.

Stress is a significant factor that affects our skin and not only. Try to relax and take time for yourself. Meditate and create healthy daily habits.

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