Dr. Cynthia Bailey: How Skin Ages – And the Best Skin Care to Prevent It

Personal/Inspirational, Skin Care

About the author:  FutureDerm.com is proud to introduce Dr. Cynthia Bailey, M.D. to our writing team.  Dr. Bailey, M.D. is a board-certified dermatologist based in Sebastopol, CA (the northern California wine country).  Over the past twenty years, she has seen over 13,000 patients.  She is the owner of Dr. Bailey Skincare and Dr. Bailey Skincare.com, where she recommends products and runs her own blog.  For more, please visit our About page.

Dr. Cynthia Bailey, M.D.
Dr. Cynthia Bailey, M.D.

One of the biggest concerns many people have as they age is the negative affect it will have on their skin. As much as we might like to avoid it, we’re genetically programmed to age. Fortunately, the affects don’t have to be so apparent if you take the proper steps to retain healthy skin.

Taking precautions and being proactive in your skin care can help ensure you age gracefully. But when should you start? At 20? 30? When does the skin begin to undergo the aging process and when should we being taking steps to minimize the damage? Be prepared to start young.

What happens when you age?

English: Skin layers
Skin aging is the result of intrinsic and extrinsic processes. Intrinsic are natural processes largely out of our control, whereas extrinsic are controllable factors like diet, cigarette smoking, and sun exposure.

There are two types of aging: Intrinsic aging — caused by the natural aging process; and extrinsic aging — caused by external factors like diet, cigarette smoking, and sun. Both of these affect the aging process (Skin Ageing). Your skin changes with passing years making it more susceptible to many of the issues we associate with age. (MedlinePlus)

  • The epidermis thins despite retaining the same number of cells.
  • Melanocytes (cells that hold pigment) start to decrease, and the remaining cells expand.
  • The connective tissue alters, which changes elasticity.
  • The glands produce less oil.
  • Blood vessels becomes more fragile.

Essentially, as you age, skin becomes more delicate and less able to repair itself. This can lead to sagging and wrinkles, discoloration, sun damage, and broken blood vessels, which is why it’s essential to take excellent care of your skin.

When do you start to age?

English: 95 y.o. woman holding a 5 month old b...
The skin is always aging, whether you are 5 months old or 95 years old. The key is to take care of your skin on a preventative level right away. Dr. Bailey recommends retinoids, vitamin C, and glycolic acid products.

There isn’t an exact moment when skin begins to age visibly, because much of that is dependent on lifestyle. For example, if you had a childhood spent in the sun without protection, you may begin to show aging in your late 20s and early 30s (Press Democrat). If you have been vigilant about factors like sun exposure and diet, your skin might not show extensive signs of aging until your 50s or 60s.

This is why it’s so crucial to take care of your skin on a preventative level right away. So, no matter what age you are now, you should be taking steps for an anti-aging regime. While that might not mean an intensive regime and dermatological procedures, people of every age should start keeping their skin looking young.

How do you prevent aging?

Sunscreen is the most important beauty product, whether you’re laying on the beach or indoors all day. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)

It’s impossible to stress how important sunscreen is in keeping skin looking young. UVA and UVB sunrays are potent factors for accelerated skin aging all-year-round, not just in summer, which means using sunscreen every day. You need something with an SPF of about 30 to ensure limited sun exposure. But, SPF is only half of what you should look at because it only blocks sun-burn-causing UVB rays and not wrinkle-causing UVA rays. For that, micro zinc oxide is crucial because it’s the only ingredient that completely blocks UVA rays. When applying, you should use about a shot glass for the body — changing the amount to account for how much skin is covered by clothing — and about a third of a teaspoon for the face — once again changing to account for the amount of exposed versus covered skin.

What about sunscreen?  How much do I need?

A teaspoon. The length is about 14 cm.
How much sunscreen to use? Dr. Bailey says 1/3 of a teaspoon for the face.

The most precise “official” recommendation you’ll ever hear about sunscreen is a teaspoon for the back and the neck, but this is based upon a bald head and neck.  Most people have hair on their scalp and often down the back of their neck, so you don’t need quite this much.  The percent of body surface area for the human face varies depending on body size, but the head (including scalp and neck) as a percentage of body is about 9%.  Considering you need a shot glass (6 teaspoons) for your entire body, I tell people about 0.6 teaspoons for a bald head and neck, and about 0.3 teaspoons (1/3 of a teaspoon) for the face alone.   I’ve done it, and it feels right.

How do I smooth out wrinkles?

Peptides or not? Like Dr. Baumann, Dr. Bailey is not sure peptides work quite yet.

In addition to this, you can also begin using products designed to increase collagen production, which will help smooth out wrinkles. The sooner you start doing this the better it will work for your skin. The best ingredients for doing this are prescription tretinoin cream, glycolic acid products, and Vitamin C. There’s also preliminary evidence that new peptides might work to do this, but it’s not certain.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re still youthful looking or you have a few fine lines, it’s always a good time to start considering taking care of your skin in terms of aging. Take both preventative and proactive steps to ensure you stay young looking. You’ll be glad you did.

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  • jeff

    my day cream contains stabilized avobenzone, am I being preotected? I have very little signs of aging at 42.

  • The things mentioned are quit true. Drinking, smoking and UV rays affected health and skin going to look aged. Your skin will be affected by whatever food you eat. If you want to keep your skin healthy, make sure you eat foods that contain healthy fats.

  • @Jeff- Avobenzone is a chemical sunscreen. Some studies show that it is absorbed into the body and secreted in the urine. However, despite this, the amounts absorbed have been declared as safe by the U.S. FDA. Many dermatologists still recommend that those with small children and who are pregnant avoid it, though, because we don’t know if the amounts absorbed are OK for small children and fetuses. Hope this helps!

  • jeff

    what about aveobenzone? alot of day creams offer this ingredient

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