Why does our skin deteriorate?
Your skin reflects your energy level and health, it can be affected by a number of factors related to your lifestyle, personal habits, daily routines, climate, home life and work conditions.
+ There are numerous agents that can affect the skin to diverse degrees and with different consequences: they can make the skin lose its elasticity and firmness; cause the premature appearance of lines, wrinkles and aging spots or blotches; facilitate the development of the most common skin ailments such as eczema, acne and psoriasis, or be the first sign of a more serious illness like skin cancer.
The actions of free radicals, external and internal are a determining factor in the skin's deterioration. Free radicals are molecules containing unpaired electrons. The unpaired electron is a highly reactive “hot potato” that either “burns” a molecule (causes oxidative damage) or is passed from molecule to molecule turning the recipient into a free radical and neutralizing the donor. The presence of one or two uneven electrons make the molecule unstable, this makes the body look for electrons to stabilize the molecule, provoking a chain reaction of changes that harm the body's molecules of proteins, fats and DNA, for example. Free radicals are accelerated by a number of internal agents (infections, presence of toxins, lack of anti-oxidant vitamins in the diet) or external factors (excessive heat, radiation, tobacco, air pollution, etc). In the skin, free radicals harm the skin's collagen and elastin fibers and increase the appearance of wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity.
Some medication, when taken in excess can cause negative side effects for the skin. Antibiotics for example can cause skin inflammations. Birth control pills and hormone therapy tend to increase the skin's photosensitivity (particularly to direct sun light), and in consequence causing pigmentation problems.
LACK OF SLEEP
You generally notice the effects of a bad night's sleep in your skin's appearance, but lack of sleep causes more serious long-term effects. When we sleep our metabolic activity is at its maximum, our skin cells are regenerated in cellular division and blood flow and brain activity increases by 200-300 percent. Thus, it's recommended using a night cream, to help the skin's rejuvenating process.
Excessive alcohol consumption dehydrates or takes away moisture from the body's cells, which can accelerate the signs of premature aging, such as dry, flaky skin and increased visibility of wrinkles. Alcohol breaks down nutrients in the body and inhibits the absorption of vitamins A, B and E, increasing the damage caused by free radicals, affecting the structure and appearance of the skin. The blood vessels expand; sometimes so much they interfere with blood circulation and disrupt the flow of oxygen to skin cells (increasing the risk of broken blood cells or red blotches). Lastly, because alcohol represses the appetite, nutrient absorption diminishes and in consequence affects the skin, which takes on a dry and sickly appearance.
Most of the physical changes associated with stress have intense effects on the skin. Hormonal imbalances associated with extreme tension cause blood vessels to stretch and as a result a circulatory imbalance leaves the skin dry, flaky and susceptible to irritation. The level of oxygen flowing in the blood stream drops when under stress, making the skin appear pallid and gray around the eyes and mouth. On the other hand problems like eczema, psoriasis and skin eruptions can get substantially worse when under the pressure of stress.
When women stop menstruating hormonal changes causes the skin to dry out and lose elasticity due to a loss of collagen. Modifications in the endocrine system can cause changes to the skin throughout adulthood.
Smoking can dull the complexion and damage the quality of the skin. This is because the nicotine in the tobacco smoke narrows the blood vessels taking oxygen to the skin via the blood stream. The skin with less oxygen takes on a grayish tinge. Smoking increases the activity of free radicals and the damage they cause, as well as reducing levels of vitamin C in the body, vital for over-all health and glowing skin. Fine lines and wrinkles appear because the skin is dry and less elastic. The tar in tobacco smoke also stains your teeth and fingers (turning them yellow).
It's common that after women and men turn 35, wrinkles and fine lines begin to appear. Eventually spots become visible and the skin loses its even tone. Over time skin loses elasticity and firmness. This is related to three principal factors, to do with the process of aging.
∎ Dehydration. Loss of water reserves, modifications in aminoacids and proteins that keep the skin supple and glowing.
∎ Oxidation. Caused by free radicals, destroying collagen and elastic compounds, which results in the epidermis’ losing elasticity and firm appearance. The skin doesn't regenerate easily, increasing the appearance of wrinkles.
∎ Decreased cellular renovation. This process results in a thinner, more fragile epidermal surface. The cellular composition becomes more irregular, making the skin more susceptible to spotting and an uneven skin tone.
Comparative studies and research have shown that smokers who smoke more than 20 cigarettes per day are 5 times more likely to age prematurely than non-smokers, making deep visible wrinkles appear earlier on in life (up to 20 years before non-smokers in some cases).