Our Skin Lives Many Different Lives, Here is a Closer Look at Our Skin Through the Years 

Baby Skin: a baby’s skin is 20 to 30 percent thinner than a grown-up’s skin.  It has the same number of layers, but each layer is much thinner, making it delicate and sensitive.

Baby Skin

Children’s Skin: by the age of 4, the skin has matured slightly but is still extremely sensitive.  Children’s skin is still thinner and has less pigmentation than adults.  Young skin is particularly sensitive to UV radiation.

Children’s Skin

Teenage Skin: hormonal changes can cause temporary skin irregularities.  The hormonal changes of puberty can cause acne – particularly on the face, shoulders, chest, and back.

Teenage Skin

Late 20’s Skin: the first signs of aging normally become visible around the age of 25, the signs normally appear in the form of fine lines.  The collagen mass and skin flexibility begin to diminish at a rate of 1% per year.

Late 20’s Skin

Skin During our 30’s: as skin matures, moisture and elasticity reduce, and wrinkles are formed.  The skin’s cellular regeneration begins to slow down.  Moisture loss increases as the skin produce less hyaluronic acid and existing hyaluronic acid starts to degrade.  More fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear.

Skin in the ’40s and Late 50’s: wrinkles deepen and the amounts of blood vessels decrease making skin less radiant.

40’s and Late 50’s

Skin in the ’60s and ’70s: mature skin is likely to be more sensitive to UV rays and is prone to developing age spots.  Skin infections increase due to a reduced immune function.  Skin becomes more dehydrated and wrinkles become deeper, skin also begins to sag.  Wound healing is also impaired.

A Deep-Dive into our Skin and the Natural Aging Process

Epidermis layer changes, the skin’s outer layer

The epidermis contains skin cells, pigment, and proteins, and as we age the epidermis becomes thinner. Changes in the epidermis are not as pronounced as in the dermal layer. 

As we age a critical problem occurs in the region where the epidermis and dermis meet.  The dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ) now has less and less bonds to connect the two layers together.  The loss of these important bonds may lead to the increased fragility of the skin and may also result in less nutrients being transferred from the dermis layer to the epidermis.  A loss of DEJ bonds can lead to skin slippage and more acute wrinkle development.

The epidermal cellular renewal decreases from approximately 30 to 50 percent between the third and eighth decades.  The renewal time lengthens from 20 days in young adults to over 30 days or more in older adults.  This results in longer wound healing time and the skin’s surface begins to appear dull and rough.  Fine lines and wrinkles become more noticeable along with an increase in aging spots.

Dermis layer changes, the skin’s middle layer

The dermis contains blood vessels, nerves, hair follicles, and oil glands.   The dermis provides nutrients to the epidermis.  Individuals 65 years and older demonstrate a loss of dermal thickness of approximately 20 percent.  As we age the dermis loses blood vessels, this results in a loss of nutritional supply to the dermis and epidermis skin layers, and once this occurs the skin will begin to lose its radiant appearance.   The reduction in collagen production and elastin fibers become fragmented resulting in less skin flexibility.  The loss of the connective tissue in the dermis leads to the development of deep wrinkle formation.

A little-known molecule called glycosaminoglycans (GAG) has decreased.  The GAG family includes hyaluronic acid, chondroitin sulfate, and dermatan sulfate; these molecules keep the skin moist and hydrated.

The number of melanocytes (melanin) in the dermis begins to decrease from 8 to 20 percent per decade.  The more we age the less protection we have from the sun.

Subcutaneous layer changes, the innermost skin layer

Located under the dermis the subcutaneous layer contains sweat glands, some hair follicles, blood vessels, and fat.  As we age the fat in the subcutaneous layer decreases in the face, which contributes to the deepening of wrinkles.

References used:
  1. Mark Lees, Skin Care Beyond the Basics, published 2001, pages 227-236, Milady Thompson Learning
  2. Cosmetic Dermatology, Principles, and Practice, Leslie Baumann, MD, McGraw-Hill Companies, Medical Publishing Division, published 2002, pages 13-20
  3. Biology of the Skin, Ruth K. Freinkel, MD and David T. Woodley, MD, Panthenon Publishing, 2001, pages 209-217
  4. Pediatric Dermatology 27(2): 125-31, October 2009
  5. Effects of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin by Fredric Flament, Roland Bazin, Sabine Laquiezze, Virginie Rubert, Elisa Simonpietri, and Bertrand Piot, Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatology, 2013: 6: 221-232. Published online 2013 Sept 27. Doi: 10.2147/CCID. S44686 PMCID: PMC3790843
  6. Understanding the Skin – how does skin change over the years? Information on Eucric website.
  7. Anti-Aging Minimal Skin Care Routine (webmd.com) by Heather Hatfield from WebMD archives, reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD, September 19, 2013
  8. Six-Step Anti-Aging Beauty Routine for Youthful Skin (healthline.com), Medically reviewed by Cynthia Cobb, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, FAANP, written by Michelle Wong, Ph.D., Updated on March 8, 2019

Image Credit to Eucerin: https://int.eucerin.com/about-skin/basic-skin-knowledge/skin-in-different-ages

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