Unsurprisingly, lifestyle choices – your diet, sun exposure, alcohol consumption, sleep patterns, exercise and stress management – can all play a key role in how early wrinkles and sagging may start to appear.
In addition, the following indicators can also reveal whether you’re predisposed to prematurely ageing skin:
Your geneticsSome of us are simply luckier than others when it comes to the ageing process. Look to your mother, grandmother and aunts – if their skin has aged well then it’s likely you’ve won the genetic lottery. However, this is far from the complete picture, says EV Expert Dr Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director of Vie Aesthetics: “While your mum’s skin might have aged like fine wine, if you do not look after your skin and are exposed to many damaging external factors, you are more likely to experience ageing much earlier on.”
Thin skinThe thinner your skin, the less elastic and supportive framework there is to support it. This skin type is particularly vulnerable to extrinsic ageing factors such as sun, pollution and wind. Thin skin breaks down collagen faster than thicker skin, losing its tone and thickness and resulting in lines and sagging.
Fair skinIf you’re fair skinned, you’ll probably have noticed how much more sensitive your skin is to the sun than your darker-skinned friends. “Fairer skin has less melanocytes – skin cells which produce melanin, the pigment which protects us against the sun’s harmful UV rays,” says Liakas, “and seems to be prone to form many lines. Darker complexions, due to the larger size and density of melanin cells, are more protected from sun damage and ageing is slower.”
Your weightMaintaining a steady, healthy body weight is crucial. Although carrying too much body fat isn’t healthy, having a very low body fat percentage can make you appear older than your years. “Features such as round cheeks and full lips are associated with youth,” says EV Expert and Aesthetic Skin Specialist Balsam Alabassi.“Being too thin leads to a depletion of fat in these areas resulting in thin lips, hollow sunken cheeks and a saggy face.”
Naturally dry skinNaturally dry skin is likely to age faster because the drier the outer skin layers, the less pliable they are. Well moisturised skin is more elastic: “Natural oils and sebum in the skin aid moisture, making the skin appear more plump and moist,” says Alabassi.
ExpressivenessDepending on how often you move your facial muscles by smiling, raising your eyebrows or frowning, your facial expression can cause lines and wrinkles over time. As skin loses elasticity as we get older, it also loses its ability to bounce back after making movements. So, if you’re an extremely expressive person, lines may start to set in sooner than you’d like.
A history of sunburn“Solar damage is cumulative,” says Alabassi, which sadly means that all those carefree days we spent in our childhood and youth without a thought of applying sunblock will catch up with us as we age. This is especially true if we got sunburn with blistering and peeling. “The skin ages faster if it burns easily, which is an indicator that it is unable to produce enough melanin to absorb the UV rays and protect the DNA of the skin, as well as the collagen in the deeper levels.”
Skin conditionsInflammatory skin conditions like eczema, which often show up as dry patches of skin, are indicators that your face could well start to appear older than your age. That’s because hydrated skin has the ability to repair itself and stay healthier for longer (and the reason why moisturisers help delay the signs of ageing). Skin conditions that cause inflammation hinder the skin’s ability to repair itself properly, eventually leading to fine lines.
Intensive exerciseThere is no way to emphasise how vital getting enough exercise is for our overall health, but exercising too much or too intensely can unfortunately contribute to making you look older than you are. “What happens is commonly called ‘gym face’ where increased exercise, higher metabolic rate and weight loss make the face look older,” says Liakas. “Excess skin can appear droopy which can lead to the formation of wrinkles, jowls and other sagging skin concerns commonly linked to ageing.”
Blue lightSpending too long on phones and iPads could lead to the early signs of ageing. "Artificial blue light is now ever present so it cannot be avoided, and doesn't stop when the sun goes down," says Cosmetic Doctor and Brand Ambassador of Digital Defence Blue Light Skincare, Johanna Ward. Blue light or High Energy Visible blue light (HEV) is a part of our modern life – we are exposed to it from both the sun and the large doses we are now getting from modern tech, including super-sized TVs, LED lightbulbs, computer screens and phones. It’s this excessive exposure that is causing damage to our skin that previous generations didn’t experience. “The effects of blue light are similar to the effects of UVA and UVB, and can cause inflammation, free radical damage and DNA changes,” says Ward.
Balsam Alabassi, Owner and Founder of Dermrefine Skin Clinic
I am an Independent Prescriber and hold level 7 in Aesthetic Medicine. I adopt a personalised approach to provide you with a complete care solution, thereby...Book with Balsam Alabassi
Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director
Dr Ioannis Liakas is a shining gem in the aesthetics world. Prior to becoming an industry leading practitioner, he worked for the NHS for more than 20...Book with Ioannis Liakas