There are several factors that can cause skin to look aged. Some of these we can control and others are simply just an effect of living.

Factors We Can Control

Sun
It’s no secret that the sun causes damage to skin. But how does it actually happen? Well, the UV radiation in the sun’s rays weakens the skin’s elastic collagen fibers so the skin can’t snap back as well as before the damage. It also prevents stem cells from rejeuvenating the injured skin. If that wasn’t enough, the rays cause free radicals to be released, which damage DNA and can lead to cancer.

How does the sun’s damage show itself? Through:

  • Freckles
  • Age spots
  • Spider veins on the face
  • Rough or leathery skin
  • Fine wrinkles
  • Skin cancer

Smoking
Smoking causes biochemical damage in the skin in a number of ways, resulting in old-looking, rough, wrinkled skin. How?

  • smoking restricts blood flow through the capillaries (tiny veins near the skins surface) preventing oxygen and nutrients getting to the skin
  • it increases production of an enzyme that breaks down the supply of collagen to the skin’s structure
  • it reduces the body’s store of vitamin A, which helps protect the skin from damage
  • smoking prevents the adequate absorption of vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that helps skin remain plump and moist
  • The physical puckering of the mouth to draw on the cigarette causes fine wrinkles around the mouth
  • Smoking reduces the nitric oxide in the lining of your arteries, reducing the skin’s flexibility (and thus youthful appearance)

Alcohol
Yep, even alcohol can damage the skin. Alcohol is dehydrating and reduces the skin’s moisture. It also causes the capillaries to leak more than normal, causing water to move from the bloodstream into the tissues. This means puffy skin, stretched skin, and a faster rate of wrinkle formation.

Sleeping Positions
Sleeping in the same position night after night causes an overuse of some muscles and repeated smunching of skin. As you can probably guess, this will cause wrinkles and puffiness over time. The solution? Alter your sleep position or simply get used to sleeping on your back.

Factors To Aging We Can’t Control

Gravity
As much as we’d like to, gravity can’t be controlled. Around our 50’s the skin’s elasticity begins to dramatically increase, reducing the resistance our skin has – up to that point – given to gravity. We don’t have to detail the effects. We all know them.

Facial Expressions
Yes, the repeated movement of our faces in expression causes a groove to be worn into the skin. The only solution is to stop expressing yourself. Please don’t stop using facial expressions!

References:
http://www.skincarephysicians.com/agingskinnet/basicfacts.html
http://seniorliving.about.com/od/healthnutrition/a/7agingskincause.htm
http://www.simplyantiaging.com/820/smoking-and-skin-aging/
You Being Beautiful, Drs. M. Roizen and M. Oz, 2008.