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Understanding the Science Behind Skin Ageing

Skin ageing is a very complex process that are influenced by several intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Regardless of the factors, skin ageing can be characterized by visible features such as wrinkles, age spots, loss of skin elasticity, thin and crepey skin.

We speak to Dr. Siew Tuck Wah, Medical Director of Radium Medical Aesthetics, as he tells us more about the science behind skin ageing and what you can do to delay or reverse skin ageing.

What is intrinsic ageing?

Intrinsic ageing refers to the natural ageing process that takes place regardless of external influences. From the age of 20, a normal person will produce about 1 percent less collagen in the skin every year.

As a result, the skin becomes thinner and more fragile as we age. As we reach our 50s and beyond, the signs of ageing become more apparent because the bodily function of our sweat glands and oil glands diminish.

The rate of skin renewal slows down, causing dead skin cells to accumulate, giving rise to dull and patchy complexion if the dead skin is not removed.

What is extrinsic ageing?

On the other hand, extrinsic ageing depends on the environment you are exposed to. For example, regular sun exposure without using a broad-spectrum sunscreen can have dangerous consequences. Although the media often projects people with tan skin as beautiful and healthy, it is actually the very opposite of healthy. There is a clear evidence of DNA damage to your skin. Tanning damages your skin cells and speeds up skin ageing.

Regular smoking and drinking can result in the appearance of premature wrinkles and increased skin laxity. Studies have also show that smoking and drinking accelerate collagen breakdown in the skin, causing you to age faster than you should.

Prevention is key

The best way to have healthy, youthful skin is to take care of your skin before all these changes take place and prevent long-term skin damage.  One thing we cannot change is intrinsic ageing as it is a natural consequence of physiological function.

Unlike intrinsic factors, extrinsic factors are factors that can be controlled and they include smoking, drinking, keeping late nights, diet, lifestyle, and exposure to harsh weather conditions.

To prevent premature skin ageing, Dr. Siew offers the following advice:

PROTECT YOUR SKIN FROM THE SKIN This is perhaps one of the most, if not the most important advice. Whether you are making a trip to buy groceries or going to the beach, sun protection is essential. Other than applying a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF50, try to wear sun-protective clothes to cover your skin as much as possible.

STOP SMOKING AND DRINKING EXCESSIVELY Smoking and drinking are bad for your health. They greatly accelerate how your skin ages. It causes wrinkles and gives your skin a dull, sallow appearance.

EXERCISE REGULARLY Studies show that doing moderate exercises for about 30 minutes a day can improve your circulation and boost the immune system, giving your skin a more youthful appearance.

START A SKINCARE REGIME Choose your skincare products wisely. Put in some effort to listen to your skin and curate an effective skincare routine that works for you.

MOSITURISE DAILY In hot and humid Singapore, people often have the misconception that it is not necessary to moisturise the skin. When you have oily skin, you may think that the last thing you need is a moisturiser. Regardless of your skin type, external factors such as UV rays and harsh weather conditions can damage the skin’s moisture barrier, causing moisture loss and increase in oil production. Using a lightweight moisturiser helps to hydrate the skin and repair the skin barrier.

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