What to Do About Lack of Elasticity
We get that sagging skin – especially if it's pre-mature – can knock your confidence and affect your self-esteem. While there’s no magical potion for drastically improving skin laxity, many pro-ageing skincare ingredients and in-salon treatments can make a difference and help prevent further drooping.
What is skin sagging?
Our skin ages differently. Skin sagging differs between hoomans because we’re all beautifully unique with our own set of DNA molecules and life experiences.
Sagging skin can manifest on your face or body, most notably on your chin, throat, cheeks, underarms and stomach. It’s a normal by-product of getting older but also having a little one or losing weight, as elastin fibres stretch and can’t “snap back” once the baby’s born or when fat has been lost.
Drooping skin all comes down to our rock star proteins: collagen and elastin. They’re structural fibres found in our dermis (the middle layer of skin) support our epidermis (the outermost layer of skin). In essence, collagen and elastin are the scaffolding that keep our skin firm, plump, and youthful.
More nerdiness: What Is Collagen?
Why does our skin sag?
As we hit our early twenties, our skin’s natural stores of elastin and collagen naturally begin to deplete – as well as hyaluronic acid, a hydrating molecule that keeps skin full and bouncy. Nerdie fact: collagen declines at a rate of 1% every year. This is an inevitable process (sorry!) that’s determined by our genetics and commonly referred to as intrinsic ageing.
Skin sagging can also be sped up by external factors, otherwise called extrinsic ageing. Exposure to UV rays, free radical activity caused by pollution, and lifestyle choices such as smoking or poor diet are common extrinsic offenders that degrade collagen and elastin.
Our epidermis doesn’t have the support it needs to remain firm and taut when our skin’s supplies of collagen and elastin diminish and get “broken down”. This results in skin losing its laxity and the onset of skin sagging, as well as the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Another factor in skin sagging is the loss of adipose fat. We’ve got adipose fat by the bucket load when we’re young, but as we age adipose fat production slows down. The fatty tissue we’ve got left then begins to shift southward when we get older which gives rise to sunken cheeks – thanks gravity!
More nerdiness: Hyaluronic Acid - What is It and What Does it Do?
Skincare for sagging skin
We could shout this one from the rooftops... always wear an SPF, even on days spent curled up on the sofa! The damage caused by UV rays accounts for a mahoosive 80% of skin ageing, which includes skin sagging, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation.
UVB rays have a shorter wavelength and get absorbed by the epidermis which leads to bad burns. While UVA rays penetrate through windows (surprising, right?) and deep into our skin’s dermis where it degrades elastin and collagen fibres.
A study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science in 2019 found that mice exposed to high amounts of UVA radiation had a greater decline in skin elasticity than mice with low UVA exposure. So, let’s protect our structural fibres!
A broad-spectrum SPF like the Skingredients Skin Shield (€42) protects skin from harmful UVB, UVA and HEV light (blue light emitted from screens) with zinc oxide, a physical SPF filter. It also contains vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, and niacinamide (vitamin B3) to improve skin tone and texture.
Nerdiness incoming! Free radicals are reactive, unpaired electrons naturally produced by chemical processes in the body, like breathing and eating, and a result of exposure to extrinsic factors such as UV rays, pollution, and cigarette smoke.
In a process called oxidation, free radicals can contribute to the degradation of healthy collagen and elastin fibres by stealing an electron from them – cheeky! That’s where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants neutralise unstable free radicals by giving them a spare electron to prevent cellular damage.
In our opinion, serums are the best way to serve antioxidants to your face and the Environ Skin EssentiA Vita-Antioxidant AVST Gel (€57) is the gold standard of skincare. It contains introductory amounts of vitamin A in the form of retinyl palmitate to boost collagen production as well as vitamin C to brighten and antioxidants galore for skin protection.
Pro-ageing skincare ingredients don’t come better than vitamin A, it’s an essential for skin health. While SPF and antioxidants protect the skin, it’s vitamin A that renews and replenishes.
Topical application will improve collagen synthesis and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin fibres. A surge in collagen leads to increased dermal thickness which gives skin a plumper, pillowy affect. Hip, hip, hooray for vitamin A! It’ll also increase cell turnover rate to turf out dead skin cells and make way for fresh, healthy skin cells.
The Gilda Liljeblad Regenerating Vitamin A Retinol Cream (€79.90) contains retinyl palmitate, a gentler form of vitamin A that's less likely to cause skin irritation and sensitivity. It also has hyaluronic acid to hydrate, rosehip oil to soothe, which is high in omegas 3 and 6, and vitamin E for added antioxidant protection.
You can load up on our good pal vitamin A by eating a nutritious, balanced diet. So, make sure you’re eating lots of sweet potato, carrots, spinach, butternut squash, and kale.
More nerdiness: Antioxidant Skincare: Why You Need It In Your Routine?
Treatments for sagging skin
Pro-ageing skincare ingredients can have a tightening effect on mild skin laxity, but professional skin treatments might give better results when treating moderate skin sagging. We’re putting emphasis on professional here, nerds, please don’t try these treatments at home!
Non-invasive face lift anyone? Ultherapy uses focused ultrasound energy on a targeted area of skin to stimulate collagen and elastin production for a plumper, tighter effect. It'll help with a lack of elasticity, wrinkles, and fine lines!
Next up, micro needling. The micro needles puncture the tip of the epidermis to create micro wounds which trigger a wound healing response. This stimulates the release of growth factors which induces collagen and elastin production. A review on micro needling in the American Society for Dermatological Surgery in 2017 found that it also helps with scars, acne, melasma, and photodamage.
Or maybe laser resurfacing might be up your alley. An article in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in 2011 found that an ablative fractionated carbon-dioxide laser (aka fraxel laser) improved skin laxity by penetrating the epidermis and stimulating collagen and elastin production.
Products in this Article
Environ Skin EssentiA Vita-Antioxidant AVST Gel
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Gilda Liljeblad Regenerating Vitamin A Retinol Cream
- Gilda Liljeblad
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