Skin Solutions: A crash course in skin aging

The anti-aging market bombards us with so much misleading information regarding what is effective in terms of skin aging.

I’m excited to share a BRAND NEW skincare series called Skin Solutions. Once a month I will be sharing a post which will feature a Dermatologists input on all things skin related.

Dr. Tarryn Jacobs is a specialist dermatologist based in Pretoria. She has a special interest in acne, pigmentation, science-backed skincare and anti-aging and has a passion about  sharing reliable knowledge about skin.

“As a dermatologist I often see patients confused about what to spend their money on. Many need guidance on what really works and what is a waste of time. My hope is that this series will help you to be informed about developing an evidence-based skin care routine that will aid you to combat the hands of time!”

Let’s get started…

A crash course in Skin Aging

To understand the prevention of skin aging and to optimise your skin health it’s important to know the root of the cause.

What causes skin aging ?

The process of aging in the skin reflects both a genetic program, called intrinsic aging and environmentally imposed damage or extrinsic aging. The intrinsic factors are controlled by our genes and are inevitable.

The majority of skin aging is due to external factors and can be controlled.

The role of ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is well established in skin aging and the term photoaging has been coined to emphasise this.

UVB rays are absorbed by skin cells and cause damage to cellular DNA. This can lead to sunburns and is related to eventual skin cancer.

UVA rays, on the other hand, penetrate deeper in the skin and is the main cause of photoaging. Sun damage may not show in your younger years but it will later in life!

Other external factors of skin aging have been related to air pollution, where oxidative stress from atmospheric pollution has been found to cause various types of skin damage. Smoking is an important independent factor in skin aging too.

Recently High Energy Visible Light (HEV Light) which is all around us has been found to influence skin condition and cause premature aging.


What does skin aging look like?

As skin ages, there are a number of changes that can be seen such as thinning of the skin, uneven distribution of pigment and the reduction in components such as collagen and elastin (proteins that make skin stretchy).

Aging skin functions less protectively as a barrier and there is a decrease in the functioning of the sweat and oil glands. This results in fine lines, wrinkles, dry skin, textural changes and uneven pigmentation. Unfortunately, some of these changes can be seen as early as the late twenties!


Fundamentals of a good skin care routine

So why the biology class you ask?

As you can deduce from the above information, sunscreen has skin health benefits such as reducing the risk of sunburn and of accumulated damage leading to skin cancer and it is also of paramount importance from an anti-aging point of view.

When patients consult me for skincare advice one of the first places I start is with sun protection. Anyone who wants to improve their skin health should be committed to a lifestyle that includes daily protection against the sun and environmental factors.

Fortunately, there are many sunscreen options available. Sunscreens are either physical or chemical blockers.

Chemical sunscreens absorb UV light and convert it into non-damaging forms.

Physical sunscreens contain ingredients such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide which deflects the sun’s rays and are good options for people with sensitive skin.

When choosing a good sunscreen for your face it is important to use one that is broad spectrum (covering both UVA and UVB rays) with an SPF of 30 or higher.

Sunscreen formulations containing antioxidants may provide protection against free radical damage from infrared light, visible light and pollution. You shouldn’t rely on your makeup or moisturiser containing sunscreen, as generally, we do not apply enough of the product to gain adequate protection. I am also frequently asked whether a sunscreen is needed in winter or cloudy weather. The answer is of course, yes! This is because 80 per cent of UV rays can pass through clouds.

Choosing the right formulation is important.

Oily skin types should opt for a gel or fluid, whereas those with dry skin would be better off using a cream. One should also apply the right amount of sunscreen and a half teaspoon is needed for the face and neck to reach the desired SPF indicated on the bottle.

So now that you are more informed about the detrimental effects of photoaging and sun damage to skin health I hope to leave with you the message that protective measures are the cornerstone of good skin care!


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Dr Tarryn Jacobs

Dr Tarryn Jacobs is a Pretoria based specialist Dermatologist practising at NoviSkin. Her clinical interests include complex medical dermatology, skin cancer (melanoma), and skin aging. Dr Jacobs is passionate about the education and promotion of skin health in her local and social media communities.

  1. Reading this article really help me understand a bit more about my skin… Thank you soo much for the work that you do and trying to make it easier for people like myself… God bless 🌸😊

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