The importance of skin and how it ages

Skin is considered the largest organ on the human body and accounts for an average of 8 pounds and spans 22 square feet.  It’s composed of cells, nerves and glands that protect us from damage and infection. Skin regulates body temperature and holds in water.

Healthy skin is a vital element in overall health. Of course, skin goes through tremendous changes throughout a lifetime. It’s important to understand the skin aging process and how best to protect it for a lifetime.

The skin is composed of three layers – epidermis (protective outer layer), dermis (elastic and thick middle layer), and subcutaneous (base layer of fatty tissue).  Within the layers are various blood vessels, hair follicles, nerve endings, muscles, and glands that perform many important functions.

During infancy and early childhood the epidermis is its thickest. Skin appears smooth and soft and bounces back rather quickly from environmental elements.

During adolescence, the epidermis is still thick, but a surge in hormones stimulates a variety of glands that produce more sweat and oil. This can block hair follicles and cause acne. These glands settle down for most people when entering early adulthood. By this time, the epidermis has thinned slightly but skin should still appear soft and smooth.

As we travel through adulthood into middle age, skin loses the proteins collagen and elastin. Collagen protects the skin from fine lines and wrinkles, while elastin keeps skin from sagging. Glands also start to decline in number and output, leading to dry and broken skin. Age spots begin to appear because of sun exposure.

Genetics, environment and lifestyle all affect the skin aging timetable. A proper skin care routine, diet, and avoidance of negative environmental and lifestyle factors can all play key roles in keeping the skin soft and supple for a long time.

In fact, environmental and lifestyle factors such as sun exposure and smoking are the two biggest causes of premature aging. Smoking depletes the body of vitamin C, which plays an important role in collagen production. Smoking also causes the levels of carbon monoxide in the blood to increase, which promotes age inducing free radicals and premature skin aging. Sun exposure also leads to collagen depletion, and can lead to skin cancer. In fact, 90 percent of all skin cancers are caused by the sun.

Although skin aging is inevitable, a proper skin care routine can delay the outward appearance of aging. Soy based moisturizers are a great choice in anti aging products because they are naturally full of antioxidants and vitamins. Soy is rich in isoflavones, which helps protect skin’s outer layer against sun damage, lightens age spots, helps reduce wrinkles, and aids in collagen production.  Vitamin E is another beneficial attribute of soy lotions. It helps protect the skin’s outer layer from free radical damage and helps reduce inflammation.

There are also beneficial phytochemicals in soy skin care products. Saponins have natural cleansing properties that draw out harmful skin substances that cause blemishes and other impurities, while lecithin breaks down oils in the skin while acting as a firming agent. Think “facelift” without the surgery.

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