The Cleveland Clinic

Effects of Aging on Skin

If life is about change, skin is proof. Our skin is at the mercy of many forces as we age: sun, harsh weather, our own bad habits. But we can take steps to help our skin stay supple and fresh-looking.

How your skin ages will depend on a variety of factors: your lifestyle, diet, heredity, and other personal habits. For instance, are you a smoker or did you ever smoke? Smoking can produce free radicals, once-healthy oxygen molecules that are now overactive and unstable.

There are other reasons, too. Primary factors contributing to wrinkled, spotted skin include normal aging, exposure to the sun (photoaging), and loss of subcutaneous support (fatty tissue between your skin and muscle). Other factors that contribute to aging of the skin include stress, gravity, daily facial movement, obesity, and even sleep position.

Skin Changes That Come With Age:

  • Skin becomes rougher.
  • Skin develops lesions such as benign tumors.
  • Skin becomes slack. The loss of the elastic tissue (elastin and collagen) in the skin with age causes the skin to hang loosely.
  • Skin becomes more transparent as we age. This is caused by thinning of the epidermis (surface layer of the skin).
  • Skin becomes more fragile as we age. This is caused by a flattening of the area where the epidermis and dermis (layer of skin under the epidermis) come together.
  • Skin becomes more easily bruised. This is due to thinner blood vessel walls as we age.