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All you need to know about your skin - Part 3

January 2016 Column - By Dr Tracy Chandler

Happy new year! Although it’s been quoted that only 8-20% of people achieve their new years resolutions, a mindfulness approach and a belief in yourself will increase your chances. Let 2016 be the start of great skin as well as a great new year for you. This month’s column is the science behind skin ageing and is part 3 of all you need to know about your skin.

Although we humans have made many advances in medicine we cannot stop the natural aging process. However we can slow down skin ageing. The secrets to this will be revealed in next month’s column.
There are two types of skin aging, ‘intrinsic’ and ‘extrinsic’. Our genes control when these changes occur. The medical term for this type of aging is ‘intrinsic aging’.

Intrinsic aging is controlled by our genes (those things we inherit from our parents). Our genes cause accumulation of dangerous forms of oxygen, skin cells to get older, and decreased oxygen and ‘food’ supply to cells. Specifically, as you age, your skin:

  • Becomes thinner, flatter and more delicate.
  • Produces less oil.
  • Contains less pigment (melanin) cells.
  • Contains less water in the outer (stratum corneum) layer.
  • Produces new cells more slowly in the middle (epidermal) layer.
  • Has less blood supply in the deeper (dermal) layer.
  • Contains less of the hydrating molecule (hyaluronic acid).
  • Produces less collagen.  The collagen that we do have becomes damaged by sugar in our body.
  • Has less fat under it, especially on our face, hands and feet.  The fat pads, under the skin, also migrate downwards.  Unfortunately, fat increases under the skin on your thighs, waist and abdomen!
  • Is more at risk of skin cancer, because ageing suppresses your immune system.


  • Your facial bones lose volume.
  • Hair becomes thinner and grey.

The other type of aging is ‘extrinsic aging’.  It is caused by our environment and lifestyle choices.  The major environmental and lifestyle cause of skin ageing is UV light from the sun or sun-beds.  Other causes include:

  • Stress
  • Smoking
  • Repetitive facial expressions such as frowning or squinting (in the sun)
  • Alcohol
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of exercise
  • Roughly treating your skin, e.g. when cleaning your skin
  • Not cleaning sweat off your skin
  • Not using good skin-care products
  • Using irritating products on your skin

Don’t panic!  There are ways to slow down and even repair the effects of extrinsic ageing on your skin.  Next month in ‘Part 4 of all you need to know about your skin’ we talk about ways to slow down and repair skin ageing.  In the meantime, see the expert team at The Chandler Clinic for professional advice on how to slow down and repair skin ageing.


The effect of smoking on the skin can be seen in this photo of twins.  You guessed it, the smoking twin is on the right and the non-smoker is on the left.


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