According to a recent survey, conducted by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, nearly 70% of respondents considered getting cosmetic treatments to feel more confident and attractive. Everyone wants to look their best, which usually means having youthful, healthy-looking skin.
That’s where skin elasticity comes in, as it plays a significant role in achieving that youthful look. Learn more about skin elasticity, how it affects your appearance, and ways you can improve and maintain it to look younger for longer.
What Causes Skin to Become Less Elastic
Healthline defines skin elasticity as when the skin can stretch and bounce back to its original shape. Genetics, lifestyle, environmental factors, and in some cases, substance abuse, can all impact how elastic your skin is.
As you age, your skin undergoes several changes including a lack of collagen production (via MedlinePlus). This is what causes wrinkles. A decrease in elastin, the other protein that helps maintain elasticity, also causes the skin to appear wrinkly.
Additionally, changes in the skin’s fat distribution can contribute to decreasing elasticity. With age comes smaller and fewer fat cells, which can cause the skin to sag and appear less firm and elastic. This is usually why you see jowls with age.
When your skin is exposed to environmental factors like UV radiation and pollution, it may lose elasticity. That’s because these external factors generate free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage your skin’s structure and lead to premature aging.
How you live your life can also have an impact on your skin. For example, if you’re a professional athlete who spends a lot of time outdoors, you’re more likely to experience a loss in skin elasticity than someone with a desk job.
That’s because outdoor athletes are often exposed to more UV radiation from the sun. This can damage the skin’s structure and cause a breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers (via Yale Medicine). Wind and cold temperatures can also contribute to a lack of elasticity in the skin.
On top of the environmental factors, endurance athletes may experience a higher level of oxidative stress, which happens when the body has an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants. This can cause damage to cells and tissues. It can accelerate the aging process and lead to the loss of skin elasticity that we mentioned above.
Also, athletes who participate in contact sports might have repeated trauma to their skin. This can cause sagging as a result of a breakdown in collagen and elastin fibers.
Folks with a desk job may be less exposed to the environmental factors an athlete puts up with and therefore less likely to experience the same loss of skin elasticity. On top of avoiding those factors, someone with a desk job might have more regular sleep patterns and a healthy diet, both of which can help maintain skin health.
Smoking can significantly impact skin health, including the elasticity of the skin. Per Tobacco Free Life, cigarette smoke contains a mix of harmful chemicals like nicotine, carbon monoxide, and free radicals, which can accelerate the aging process by reducing collagen production.
Smoking can also damage elastin fibers in the skin and limit its ability to snap back to its original shape. This usually leads to sagging and ultimately those signs we associate with aging, including wrinkles.
Plus, smoking increases the production of free radicals in the body, which is a problem for cells and tissues that lead to premature aging.
Smoking also reduces blood flow to the skin. This means less oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells, which can cause the skin to become dull, dry, and less elastic.
How To Improve Skin Elasticity
Improving the elasticity of your skin goes beyond aesthetics. Maintaining skin elasticity can make your skin better able to resist environmental stressors and recover more quickly from damage.
There are a few ways to improve your skin’s elasticity, including staying hydrated, adding collagen to your diet, using hyaluronic acid, having excess skin removed, and other skin therapies.
Dehydrated skin can become dull, leading to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. A properly hydrated body has skin that is better able to retain moisture. Water, and plenty of it, keeps the skin hydrated and supple.
Add Collagen to Your Diet
The collagen protein is essential for maintaining the structure, elasticity, and support of your skin (via WebMD). Reintroducing collagen to the skin can promote the production of new collagen fibers. Collagen supplements or skincare products with collagen can help support the skin’s natural production.
Use Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring substance. It’s a glycosaminoglycan, a type of molecule that is known for its ability to retain water that’s usually found in high concentrations in our skin, connective tissues, and eyes.
Using hyaluronic acid can help improve skin elasticity because it attracts and retains water and thereby increases hydration. It can also stimulate collagen production and provide antioxidants that protect the skin.
Remove Excess Skin
After significant weight loss, your skin might sag. This can result in a loss of elasticity, especially if there is excess skin that hangs. Too much excessive skin can cause discomfort, irritation, wrinkles, and other signs of aging.
To address excess skin after weight loss, there are several surgical options available. This includes a tummy tuck (abdominoplasty) or skin removal, skin tightening, strength training, and, of course, maintaining a healthy weight. You may also opt for procedures to treat your love handles.
Use Skin Therapy Techniques
There are many different types of skin therapy techniques available, some of which are endorsed by professionals and others that may have mixed reviews. For example, red light therapy can help stimulate collagen production and is generally considered safe.
CoolSculpting is a fat-reduction treatment that can eliminate fat cells, but it has raised concerns with some medical professionals. Morpheus8, which involves microneedling and radiofrequency to stimulate collagen production, is generally considered safe by doctors. Always consult with a qualified medical professional before undergoing any kind of procedure.
Implementing these simple habit changes can help to improve the look and feel of your skin. The best part is you can get started right away.