Healthy Aging 101: Why You Shouldn't Wait To Take Care Of Your Skin
We should pay attention to how we care for our skin—as it can often serve as a larger reflection of how we take care of ourselves. When we wait for "issues" to crop up, we are already steps behind the problem.
And for many years, the common theme in skin care was reactionary. A pimple emerged overnight? Attack it with drying actives. A forehead line crept in? Find the strongest topical available—or maybe even book a visit to the derm's office for injectables. Redness and irritation on the rise? Apply as many soothing masks as you can DIY. Feeling your skin is sagging a bit more lately? Time for a facial tuneup.
Why you shouldn't wait to take care of your skin.
While treating present and current skin concerns is simply part of skin care (and always will be), lately we're starting to see a shift in how we tend to our skin. Instead of waiting for skin care concerns to pop up (and then going all-in on them), we know that the best skin care preserves skin health early, manages it during changes through the decade, and ideally helps support its overall appearance long term.
And, here's the thing, when it comes to healthy skin aging, you can start as early as your 20s. That's because some of the major things that affect your skin later in life can start as early as this young decade. In fact, here are some major skin care milestones that happen as you get older:
- Your collagen starts declining in your 20s. Collagen, the structural proteins in your skin, start declining by about 1% a year as early as your 20s (when this process happens largely depends on genes and lifestyle factors, like smoking or diet). While it may take a while for these changes to show up in your appearance, the steady decrease is already underway—and can be exacerbated by internal and external aggressors like free radicals and oxidative stress.
- In your 30s, pigmentation issues can start showing up from UV damage. While they can creep in sooner or later, this decade is when most people start to notice pigmentation changes. This is because the collective damage from sun exposure starts surfacing around this time, making it essential to tend to UV-inflicted skin.
- In your 40s, your skin cells' life cycle starts to slow down. Technically your skin cells' life cycle starts to slow down in your 30s, but it becomes pronounced around your 40s. This is because your cell mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells, can start to lose steam around this time. This, many researchers believe, is due to the decline of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide [NAD+], a naturally occurring coenzyme that is vital for cell energy production; your body produces less NAD+ as you age1, significantly around your 40s. (But more on that soon.)
- During menopause, your collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramide levels drop dramatically. Hormonal changes in menopause alter the skin and skin structure—in fact, studies show that people's skin loses about 30% of its collagen2 during the first five years of menopause and about 2% of their collagen every year after for the next 20 years.
- Bone density declines in your 50s. From early adulthood to midlife, your bone density remains fairly stable and isn't typically influenced by external factors. However, at about 50, the amount of bone degradation outpaces bone formation. When your face loses bone density, you'll start to see sagging and volume loss.
- In your 60s and 70s, your skin dramatically speeds up in the aging process. One study found that when people reach these decades, the skin aging cycle increases by 6.79%, largely due to the degradation of genes.
A supplement made for healthy aging.
Healthy aging requires a holistic approach: This means lifestyle choices (like getting enough sleep regularly), skin care products (SPF and smart topicals), diet, stress management, and finally: supplements.
mindbodygreen's nr+ contains an innovative form of B3 called nicotinamide riboside (NR for short), which has been shown to promote natural levels of NAD+ in your body.* As we've mentioned, NAD+ is a coenzyme naturally found in your body that supports mitochondrial function and, therefore, your cells' energy.*
mbg's nr+ also supports your body's ability to neutralize oxidative stress.* If you don't know, oxidative stress is what happens inside the body when you're exposed to internal or external aggressors, and it wreaks havoc on all parts of your body. For the skin, it depletes our natural levels of collagen, elastin, hyaluronic acid, and just generally contributes to premature cell aging. If you are better able to manage oxidative stress in the body, you'll fare better long term. The supplement does so with its mix of NR; rhodiola, which manages inflammation; and astaxanthin, a highly potent antioxidant.
Astaxanthin also comes with another appealing benefit: It's one of the most potent antioxidants to manage photodamage (or DNA and cell degradation done from UV exposure; you know, what triggers collagen loss and pigmentation issues in the skin). In fact, one scholarly review of the antioxidant explained that numerous comparative studies of astaxanthin and other antioxidants showed it was the superior antioxidant for promoting dermal fibroblasts (or what helps make skin cells, elastin, and collagen).* To give you an idea of just how powerful, the free-radical-fighting effect of astaxanthin is up to 1,000 times higher3 than that of many of its fellow antioxidants.*
It also has phytoceramides, which help support natural skin hydration. (As a result of skin structure issues as you age, your skin naturally becomes drier.) In one study, participants with clinically dry skin who took a phytoceramide-rich wheat extract oil for three months saw up to a 35% improvement in skin hydration4. And you might not even have to wait that long for results; in a study of Ceramosides, a specific brand of phytoceramides, participants saw improved skin hydration after just 15 days5.
Skin aging takes time—decades, in fact—but it starts much earlier than many of us realize. And with each passing year, a new layer of aging is added. Because of this, the best way to age gracefully is to tend to it with healthy lifestyle choices, including a smart supplement.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.