Skin Care and Aging

"Defy aging."
"Tone and firm sagging skin."
"Restore your skin's own wrinkle control."

Americans spend billions of dollars each year on skin care products that promise to erase wrinkles, lighten age spots, and eliminate itching, flaking, or redness. But the simplest and cheapest way to keep your skin healthy and young looking is to stay out of the sun.

Sunlight is a major cause of the skin changes we think of as aging - changes such as wrinkles, dryness, and age spots. Your skin does change with age. For example, you sweat less, leading to increased dryness. As your skin ages, it becomes thinner and loses fat, so it looks less plump and smooth. Underlying structures - veins and bones in particular - become more prominent. Your skin can take longer to heal when injured.

You can delay these changes by staying out of the sun. Although nothing can completely undo sun damage, the skin sometimes can repair itself. So, it's never too late to protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun.

Wrinkles

Over time, the sun's ultraviolet (UV) light damages the fibers in the skin called elastin. The breakdown of these fibers causes the skin to lose its ability to snap back after stretching. As a result, wrinkles form. Gravity also is at work, pulling at the skin and causing it to sag, most noticeably on the face, neck, and upper arms.

Cigarette smoking also contributes to wrinkles. People who smoke tend to have more wrinkles than nonsmokers of the same age, complexion, and history of sun exposure. The reason for this difference is not clear. It may be because smoking also plays a role in damaging elastin. Facial wrinkling increases with the amount of cigarettes and number of years a person has smoked.