A mature skin type does not automatically mean an aged skin type. It is possible to prevent, delay and resist ageing when aware of the changes having a mature skin type brings. These subtle biology shifts occur gradually and predicting their arrival will help to avoid their consequences.
The natural biological changes of a mature skin type can be summarised into the following 4 groups;
- Lipid composition
Let’s walk through each of these individually;
What is collagen?
Collagen is a structural protein found in abundance throughout the human body. It’s responsible for comfortable joints, easy movement, and pliable skin. 30%[i] of the human body’s protein content is created from collagen and wherever it is found, collagen lends strength and structure.
It’s easiest to think of collagen as scaffolding. When present it’s able to supply structural rigidity to the skin when it’s not, or it’s missing a few bars, structural integrity declines. In appearance this cumulates into a laxing skin, jowls, fine lines and wrinkles.
Collagen changes in maturing skin types
As skin is aged chronologically, collagen synthesis declines. Of the 16 types of collagen currently known, 3 make up the majority of collagen molecules in the human body – type I, II and III[ii].
Reduction of type I and III collagen have been shown to be a telling sign of maturing skin, a sign that can be both natural and prematurely enhanced by choices linked to environment and lifestyle.
Studies show that type I procollagen, the pre-meditator to type I collagen is decreased by 68% in aged skin[iii]. Helpfully there are many ways this decline can be slowed and protected against – we will detail these soon.
What is elastin?
Elastin works hand in hand with collagen. Where collagen makes scaffolding, elastin brings coverage. Elastin is also a connective protein being defined uniquely by its highly elastic nature. Elastin acts exactly like an elastic band, if it is stretched or deformed in any given direction, when healthy and cared for it will spring back quickly.
A classic example is the skin’s ability to decrease after sleeping. When skin is wrinkled under pressure for many hours, it’s the elastic nature of elastin which is responsible for sleep-creases vanishing.
Elastin changes in maturing skin types
Conversely to what would be expected as skin ages, elastin synthesis increases[iv]. However, an increase in synthesis also correlates with a disordered deposition. Imagine having an elastic band without a straight edge and see what would happen when pulling it taut, the elastic band would not stretch uniformly.
These changes in elastin synthesis and deposition are known as solar elastosis with studies showing their accumulation is influenced to a greater extent by sun exposure than a person’s biological clock. A study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology showed a 4 fold increase in elastin promoter activity when compared with sun protected skin from the same individuals[v].
What is lipid composition?
Biologically skin retains hydration via an extremely simple scientific principle – water and oil do not mix. Mix water and oil together and oil will sit comfortably on top of water preventing it from exposure to air and the environment. This is the same process skin harnesses to maintain moisture levels, by using lipids (fats) to lock in hydration.
The very outer levels of skin are created from technically dead skin cells packed together extremely tightly by a combination of fatty acids, ceramides, and cholesterol. Ingredients that are all oil based. This layer of skin is then maintained by sebum. A mixture predominantly made from triglycerides, wax esters and squalene, excreted through glands nested within hair follicles. These ingredients are also all oil based.
Lipid changes in maturing skin types
Dryness is a telling sign of a maturing skin type and occurs as a consequence of altered lipid composition and declined sebum production[vi]. This is a phenomenon affecting women more so than men. Lipid and sebum production is heavily influenced by androgen hormones. With significant falls associated with menopause, averagely lipid levels in women fall by 40% during their 60’s[vii]. This is in contrast to men who do not experience such a change until their 80’s.
What are melanocytes?
Melanocytes are a type of cell found abundantly within the skin. Their name is derived from the phrase melanin which describes the brown-red pigment responsible for creating a person’s skin colouration and in the event of sun exposure – a tan.
Uneven skin pigmentation is caused by the unequal functioning of melanocyte cells. This can be caused as a direct consequence of melanin production or as a result of its unequal transportation within the skin.
Melanocyte changes in maturing skin types
Age spots, yellowing of the skin and uneven pigmentation are frequently associated signs of a maturing skin type. Melanocyte density is increased by exposure to sunlight with studies showing a permanent 2-fold increase in dopa-positive melanocytes in sun-exposed skin as opposed to usually concealed areas. As skin ages, melanocyte density decreases by approximately 6-8% per decade[viii]. This decrease occurs in parallel with a maintained and notable difference between skin frequently exposed to sun and skin frequently covered.
Fewer melanocytes lessen skin’s natural protection against the harmful effects of UV light a change that is also linked to the uneven deposition of melanin[ix], leading to the colloquially called age spots.
Chronologically vs. photoaged skin
A maturing skin type can be sped up or slowed down by the careful control of several factors. These factors can helpfully fit under one of 2 known causes;
Intrinsic ageing factors are a consequence of a person’s DNA. These are pre-programmed deciding factors. They affect how quickly a person’s collagen levels will naturally decline, they predetermine a person’s skin colour and they cause resilience or vulnerability to skin conditions. Intrinsic ageing factors are somewhat easy to understand by looking at a person’s mother and father, grandad and grandma, or great-grandparents.
Conversely, extrinsic ageing factors are determined by a person’s environment or lifestyle. These may include stress levels, smoking, diet and sun exposure. Of all extrinsically active ageing factors, sun exposure is known to have the greatest effect. UV light, of which UVA is the most ageing, causing a premature degradation of collagen and elastin.
5 ways you can treat and maintain a maturing skin type
The biological changes noted in maturing skin types are in part determined by DNA and in part determined by extrinsic ageing factors. Factually this means to a significant extent, the visible signs of ageing are controllable, slowable and avoidable.
Below are 5 of the best ways to treat and maintain a maturing skin type;
- Daily use of antioxidants
The ageing process can also be defined by the phrase oxidation. Scientifically oxidation signifies the loss of energy, a process often caused by exposure to air (as in the case of an apple flesh browning) and often speeded by exposure to light and heat. Sunlight and UV exposure are a very common cause of skin oxidation and premature ageing.
To control against oxidation, antioxidants can be applied topically. These molecules replenish skin’s antioxidant reserves while some kinds also being able to reverse the ageing effects of sun exposure.
Vitamin C and Vitamin E are both great antioxidants for these purposes.
Vitamin C is particularly effective with it being a necessary ingredient for collagen synthesis as well as a lightning and brightening agent helping to reverse the causes of age spots[x].
- Sun protection
Daily use of sun protection is the most effective defence against premature ageing and the easiest way to treat and maintain a maturing skin type. As we discussed previously, sun exposure is the single biggest extrinsic ageing factor under your control. UVB light causes sunburn, while UVA light damages collagen and elastin proteins.
When choosing an effective sun protection, it’s very important to choose a sunscreen that guards against both kinds of UV light. For UVB protection, SPF is the most globally accepted rating factor, for UVA protection, be sure to seek the phrase broad spectrum, look for the UVA circle or find the star or PA rating system.
- Replenishing night time moisturiser
As skin ages, especially for women, surface lipid density decreases. This biological change accounts for the dryness commonly associated to a maturing skin type. While the hormone changes associated with this fall are unavoidable, the effects can be easily compensated for.
The most effective way to rebalance skin’s oil based properties is to integrate a replenishing nighttime moisturiser into your skincare routine. Nighttime moisturisers are thicker in consistency and higher in conditioning oils. Your evening skincare routine is the perfect time to integrate a richly conditioning moisturiser as the skin is primed to absorb as opposed to the day when it’s primed to excrete.
Try our griffin+row Enrich to help treat and maintain a maturing skin type.
- Gentle cleansing
In addition to replenishing skin’s oil based nature, a gentle cleansing routine will also help to protect against its degradation. Strongly cleansing face washes wash away skin’s surface lipids, denature proteins[xi] and weaken a protective skin barrier. Although very effective at cleansing, their strength also has a significant impact on skin health.
To treat and maintain a maturing skin type, gently cleansing cream, oil or balm based products are recommended.
Try our griffin+row Cleanse to help create a skincare routine respectful of your maturing skin type.
- Regular exfoliation
Aged skin can quickly become dull and sallow, in part, this is due to a decreased skin cell turnover rate. This technically describes the slowing of dead skin cells being shed from the outer layers of skin. Usually and youthfully a 30-day process from the deepest layers of skin to the outermost – mature skin types have a significantly longer cycle. This causes dull, rough and dry skin which is prone to uneven pigmentation.
Try our griffin+row Natural Exfoliant Cloth to help speed your skin cell turnover rate.
Integrate these 5 steps into your daily skincare routine and you will be creating an effective foundation to treat, maintain and protect a mature skin type.
[i] Mapping the ligand-binding sites and disease-associated mutations on the most abundant protein in the human, type I collagen. Gloria A. Di Lullo, Shawn M. Sweeney, Jarmo Korkko, Leena Ala-Kokko, James D. San Antonio J Biol Chem. 2002 Feb 8; 277(6): 4223–4231. Published online 2001 Nov 9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110709200
[ii] Lodish H, Berk A, Zipursky SL, et al. Molecular Cell Biology. 4th edition. New York: W. H. Freeman; 2000. Section 22.3, Collagen: The Fibrous Proteins of the Matrix. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK21582/
[iii] Varani J, Dame MK, Rittie L, et al. Decreased Collagen Production in Chronologically Aged Skin?: Roles of Age-Dependent Alteration in Fibroblast Function and Defective Mechanical Stimulation. The American Journal of Pathology. 2006;168(6):1861-1868. doi:10.2353/ajpath.2006.051302.
[iv] Age, sunlight, and facial skin: a histologic and quantitative study. R. Warren, V. Gartstein, A. M. Kligman, W. Montagna, R. A. Allendorf, G. M. Ridder J Am Acad Dermatol. 1991 Nov; 25(5 Pt 1): 751–760.
[v] Enhanced elastin and fibrillin gene expression in chronically photodamaged skin. E. F. Bernstein, Y. Q. Chen, K. Tamai, K. J. Shepley, K. S. Resnik, H. Zhang, R. Tuan, A. Mauviel, J. Uitto J Invest Dermatol. 1994 Aug; 103(2): 182–186.
[vi] Aging skin Bolognia, Jean L. The American Journal of Medicine , Volume 98 , Issue 1 , S99 – S103
[vii] Age-related changes in sebaceous gland activity. P. E. Pochi, J. S. Strauss, D. T. Downing J Invest Dermatol. 1979 Jul; 73(1): 108–111.
[viii] Effects of aging and chronic sun exposure on melanocytes in human skin. B. A. Gilchrest, F. B. Blog, G. Szabo
J Invest Dermatol. 1979 Aug; 73(2): 141–143.
[ix] Skin ageing and its treatment. L. Baumann J Pathol. 2007 Jan; 211(2): 241–251. doi: 10.1002/path.2098
[x] Role of vitamins in skin care. S. S. Shapiro, C. Saliou Nutrition. 2001 Oct; 17(10): 839–844.
[xi] MIYAZAWA, K., OGAWA, M. and MITSUI, T. (1984), The physico-chemical properties and protein denaturation potential of surfactant mixtures. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 6: 33–46. doi:10.1111/j.1467-2494.1984.tb00356.x