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Midlife Crisis: Coping with Wrinkles

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 10 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Coping Wrinkles Skin Aging Skin Care

Coping with wrinkles and other skin changes can be a difficult part of aging, because while many in midlife feel as young and vibrant as they did in their twenties, the mirror often tells a different story. Fortunately, proper skin care can help to keep that reflection bright and happy, through midlife and beyond!

Skin Changes in Midlife

Middle age often brings about a number of physical and emotional challenges, and one of the least welcome may be wrinkles. Some people begin to notice subtle changes in their skin in their twenties, but by forty, most everyone can tell that the years are marching on.

While we typically pay attention to only the top layer, skin is actually composed of three layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous tissue. The outer layer, or epidermis, thins with age and becomes less sticky, allowing moisture to escape easily and causing dry skin. The dermis lies below the epidermis and in addition to thinning, less collagen is produced and elasticity diminishes, causing wrinkles and sagging.

Finally, the lowest level, or subcutaneous tissue also shows signs of aging as the fat cells get smaller and become unable to plump up the skin, making it lose its firm, youthful appearance.

In addition to the natural aging process, middle aged skin begins to display the damage that has been caused by sun exposure, smoking, and environmental toxins. Damage from ultraviolet light from the sun may be responsible for as much as 90% of premature aging of the skin. There is some speculation that the hormonal changes common in midlife may contribute to collagen loss, but this is so far undocumented.

Gravity also increases sagging of the skin, causing eyelids to droop and allowing jowls to form. Finally it seems that there is some truth to what mothers have been saying for generations when they've warned their children not to make silly faces - they really might just stay that way. Repetitive facial expressions such as frowning or squinting can cause the skin to wrinkle and remain in creased form as the skin loses elasticity.

Anti-Aging Skin Care

Basic, healthy skin care should be practiced by everyone, not just women. Moisturising is a key element in keeping skin youthful, because as we age, the moisture that we lose through our skin must be replaced or we will have dry, flaky, and itchy skin. This is important for the whole body and not just for facial skin. Cleansers vary a great deal, but it is important to choose one that is both gentle and moisturising -- traditional bar soaps are often far too harsh for use on aging skin.

Exfoliation (removing dead skin cells) is an important step in proper skin care that many people fail to perform. Gentle exfoliating cleansers are available for the face, combining two steps into one and for the body, exfoliating before bathing allows the skin to better absorb moisturising lotions and creams.

Healthy Skin

Healthy skin begins on the inside, so it's important to make lifestyle choices that support overall health. Smoking contributes to wrinkles and visually ages skin, in addition to the host of other reasons that smoking is bad for you. Skin is considered to be the body's largest organ, and as such, it responds to our overall health just as the rest of our body does. Sound nutrition, regular exercise, and proper hydration all promote healthy, glowing skin.

Wrinkle Treatments: Worth the Money?

There are countless products on the market today, all promising to turn back the hands of time for those who are having difficulty coping with their aging skin. Many at-home treatments are merely exfoliants or rich moisturisers, but some do-it-yourself skin treatments do show promising results. Alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, are considered effective for gently exfoliating dead skin cells, leaving the skin underneath bright and healthy looking.

Many people swear by these products, while others choose to use their own recipes, made from natural and organic ingredients. The growing number of stories making health news about the dangers of chemicals in beauty products has prompted an increase in choosing skin care products derived from fruit, vegetable, and other plant sources.

Dermatologists can perform a number of office procedures that may garner more impressive results than can be had at home. Some of these treatments offer a temporary improvement of the skin's elasticity and appearance, while others may have more long lasting results. Scheduling a consultation with a qualified dermatologist may be the first step toward, younger looking skin.

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