In front of a mirror somewhere a woman – more seldom a man – is massaging her face in an upward motion in the hopes to coax her skin to remember its place. Another is looking into the mirror and realises that her skin is not the same as it used to be. 

Who doesn’t want to keep their youthful appearance throughout life? But ageing is inevitable: elastosis, along with greying hair, wrinkles, and reduced muscularity. Elastosis is the scientific term describing the dwindling elasticity of the skin. It’s part of the normal ageing process, but its progress can be accelerated or decelerated. Yes, you read correctly, the onset of elastosis can be slowed down.

What Is Skin Elasticity And Why Is It Important?

Skin elasticity is what makes your skin snap back to its normal state when its pulled or stretched. How elastic the skin is depending on the amount of collagen and elastin in the skin. Skin with high elasticity is plump, firm, and youthful in appearance.

Collagen and elastin are naturally occurring proteins in our skin. They hold together the skin layers, keeping them strong and well connected. Collagen is responsible for the strength and structure of the skin, while elastin is the stretchy protein that gives the skin its the ability to spring back (the scientific term is “turgor”). This means that less collagen makes the skin thinner; skin with less elastin loses its ability to bounce back to its original state.

A simple and free way to see how youthful your skin is or if it’s losing its natural elasticity is to pinch your skin and observe how long it takes to bounce back. You can use this test anywhere on your body, but the best place is your hands,

Try the following:

Rest one of your hands palm down on a table.
Use your forefinger and thumb to pinch your skin the back of the hand on the table and hold for 5 seconds.
Release and time how long it takes your skin to spring back.

The faster your skin flattens, the younger your skin:

  • 1-2 seconds (individuals under 30)
  • 3-4 (individuals who are 30-44)
  • 5-9 (individuals who are 45-50)
  • 10-15 (individuals who are 60)
  • 35-55 (individuals who are 70+)

As we age, our bodies produce less of these proteins and the skin retains less of them. Then, the elastin itself also starts to lose its shape – think of all the expressions we make over our lifetime. And finally, environmental pollutants, smoking, and UV damage also take a toll on the elastin fibres, breaking them down.

How much of collagen and elastin our bodies make and retain also depends on our genetic makeup, our lifestyle, what we eat and drink, our hormones, and the skincare products we apply. As you see, only our genetics is out of our control, we are born with our genetic makeup and have to live with it.

You can take actions to improve your skin’s health and appearance, from changes in habits, your diet, to adding firming skincare to your routine.

Quit Smoking

Put down the cigarettes. You know smoking is bad for your health, but really bad news for your skin. Scientific research has shown that smoking not only damages collagen and elastin, but it also reduces oestrogen levels in your body. This hormone is essential in maintaining healthy skin. Smoking also restricts your blood vessels. This means less blood flows to your skin (see exercise regularly).

Limit Sun Exposure

Over the years, even a small amount of daily sun exposure without adequate UV protection can lead to premature ageing. If you go outdoors for longer than 15 minutes, make sure you wear sunscreen and avoid the sun at lunchtime. This will also help protect your skin against skin cancer.

Exercise Regularly

Getting regular exercise increases the blood flow to your skin. This is important since the skin is nourished by blood. As an added benefit, exercise tones your muscles and removes toxins from your skin, leaving your skin healthy and rejuvenated.

Eat A Healthy And Balanced Diet

fruits-vegetables
Photo by Tom Brunberg

What we eat and drink is crucial for getting youthful, glowing, and firm skin. When you consume a healthy diet, you take in the vital high-antioxidant and water-rich foods like vegetables, fruits, and berries. Try adding bone broth, chicken, fish, and other high-protein foods to your diet. Protein is a key ingredient for cell development, especially to make collagen and elastin. Basically, it means to limit eating processed food, steer away from sugar and salt.

Get Enough Sleep

While you sleep, your skin and body do all the hard work. During your sleep, your body regenerates collagen and elastin. It also repairs the damage caused by free radicals. This means, if you sleep too little, it may hamper the repair process making you appear older and more lined since your skin has lost elasticity.

Apply firming skincare products

Complement your habit changes with tweaking your skincare routine. Look for skincare products that contain

  • Antioxidants
  • Retinoids
  • Hyaluronic acid

Antioxidants help protect your skin from environmental damage. The combination of vitamin C and E will help improve skin elasticity. Apply retinoids to increase cell turnover while stimulating collagen production. Since hyaluronic acid attracts and holds water, it will reduce the depth of wrinkles as well as increase skin firmness.

Bonus: Eat Dark Chocolotes

If you love eating chocolates, you’d be happy to know that cocoa flavanols, compounds in chocolate, improves skin elasticity. Cocoa flavanols are a type of flavonoids, that are found in the cacao bean. The catch though is that not all chocolates do the trick, the darker the chocolate, the better.

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