As skin ages, it loses elastin resulting in sagging skin. But with just a few tweaks to your skincare routine, you can improve your skin’s elasticity. Find out how to improve skin elasticity by reading below.
As our skin ages, it loses collagen and elastin, the two proteins that provide the skin with its structure and ability to stretch. Over time that appears as a loss of elasticity. Skin’s firmness and radiance lessen, and wrinkles deepen. But it’s possible to slow the aging process (or at least the visible signs of aging) by increasing collagen production and improving your skin’s elasticity. We’re showing you how to improve skin elasticity with just a few changes to your skincare routine and some simple lifestyle changes.
What is skin elasticity?
- We can’t talk about skin elasticity without first understanding what collagen is. Collagen is a protein that supports your body's tissues, essentially holding your body together. Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body. About 80% of the outer layer of your skin is made of collagen. Collagen gives your skin strength. Elastin, another protein, is what gives your skin its ability to stretch and bounce back. As we age and our skin’s collagen production slows, its firmness, radiance, and elasticity all gradually reduce as collagen and elastin levels decline (collagen by 1% annually) over time, resulting in sagging skin and wrinkles.
Another key factor behind a loss of firmness and deepening wrinkles is the declining production of Hyaluronic acid. What is hyaluronic acid? Produced naturally by young skin, it surrounds cells helping them to bind in water. As we age and the production of Hyaluronic acid slows down, our skin becomes drier and loses elasticity. But it’s possible to improve skin elasticity with a few essential skincare tips.
How to improve skin elasticity
Improve skin's elasticity with the following tips:
Add retinol to your skincare routine.
When retinol and other retinoids come into contact with skin, the body’s enzymes convert the retinol into retinoic acid. Retinoic acid works to increase cell turnover, stimulating collagen and elastin production. Using a natural retinol serum daily will help restimulate elastin production and keep your skin healthy, youthful and hydrated.
Never EVER skip the sunscreen.
The sun is your skin’s worst enemy. Long-term sun exposure causes collagen to break down and elastin to degrade and it is the number one cause of premature skin aging. Be sure to use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every time you plan to be outdoors, even if just for a little while.
Fight free radicals with Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant when it comes to fighting the free radicals responsible for damaging skin cells. Antioxidants like Vitamin C also block an enzyme called elastase that breaks down elastin in the skin. Using a vitamin C booster daily as part of your morning skin care routine will protect the youth of your skin while improving the appearance of dark spots and uneven complexion.
Hydrate with hyaluronic acid.
We touched on it briefly in the beginning, but Hyaluronic acid is essential to the state of your skin’s elasticity. Hyaluronic acid is a humectant, meaning that it draws moisture from its surroundings. A hydrating serum with hyaluronic acid will attract moisture from the air as well as from the lower layers of the skin to deliver it to the epidermis, increasing plumpness and elasticity in the skin. Apply your serum regularly after every cleansing with an exfoliating cleanser.
Eat more skin-happy foods.
The foods you eat directly affect the health and appearance of your skin, and that includes its elasticity. Research tells us that low levels of vitamin C and zinc, among other skin-essential nutrients, may inhibit the skin's ability to repair itself. Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins A, B, C and E helps protect your skin from free radical damage and increase collagen production. Eat plenty of fish, leafy green vegetables and nuts. Drink lots of green tea, which is packed with powerful antioxidants and avoid alcohol, which can deplete skin hydration.
Stay away from sugar.
Overindulging in foods high in sugar- this includes corn syrup, dextrose, and fruit-juice concentrate- can prematurely age your skin. When sugar enters your bloodstream, it binds to proteins, including elastin and collagen. This binding process produces toxic compounds called Advanced Glycation End Products or AGEs. These can cause wrinkles, sagging skin and dark circles under eyes.
Get your beauty sleep.
Your skin repairs itself while you sleep, so a good night’s rest is crucial to good skin health and improving elasticity. Getting between 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night will keep your skin from looking saggy and your eyes from looking puffy.
Cigarettes do real damage not just to how you feel but also to how you look. Smoking deprives your skin of oxygen and nutrients. This in addition to the thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke causes collagen and elastin destruction. Smoking also decreases estrogen levels, which are necessary to keep skin firm. The result is exaggerated lines and wrinkles and sagging skin.
Studies show that exercising regularly can improve the overall health of your skin, and may even reverse the signs of aging. Exercise improves the metabolism of your skin cells so they function better, in the same way that exercise boosts your body's metabolic rate to burn calories. Any exercise that increases your heart rate and stimulates circulation of blood, including walking, cycling, running and swimming, is good for your skin’s elasticity.
As you age and your skin matures, it will begin to lose firmness as a result of a natural decrease in the production of collagen and elastin - two abundant proteins found in the lower layers of skin that provide the foundation of skin’s tautness.
Skin becomes less firm and less able to retain its shape as effectively as when you were young. Your body produces one percent less collagen every year after the age of 20, so your skin essentially becomes thinner as you age.
Sweat and oil gland function also decreases as you age, meaning less moisture in the skin and fewer elastin fibers. Add the pull of gravity and the skin loses elasticity. The result is wrinkles and sagging skin.
We recommend seeing a dermatologist if you think you might be experiencing more than just a natural loss of skin elasticity.
By Jaclyn Labadia, staff contributor