This Is Exactly What Happens to Your Skin as You Age

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Americans spend billions of dollars on skin-care products each year in the hopes these products will help keep their skin looking young and healthy. The skin-care market has been growing steadily for years, and global value sales are projected to exceed $131 billion in 2019, according to Euromonitor International, a strategic marketing company.

Some products, in addition to a healthy lifestyle — which does not include smoking, but includes proper sleep, exercise, and eating fruits and vegetables — may help delay some of the inevitable changes in the skin’s appearance such as the dreaded wrinkles.

These fine lines, along with other signs of aging like dryness and age spots, have one major common cause — sunlight. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun’s rays kills the fibers that keep the skin firm. (Prolonged exposure to the sun is also directly linked to skin cancer, the most common cancer in the United States.)

The loss of elasticity, along with gravity, are what contribute most to other age-related skin problems, including sagging and drooping. As we age, collagen, a protein that gives gives the skin its firmness, begins to degrade. The breakdown of elastin, a protein critical to elasticity, also contributes to skin discoloration.

A vast majority of older people have skin problems, according to the National Institutes of Health. Skin problems are so common that doctors cannot always tell if they are just a normal part of aging or a worrying disorder.

To identify 10 major changes the skin undergoes as it ages, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed several clinical studies and research published in the International Dermal Institute and various journals such as Aging Cell. You can also read about how dermatologists say you can keep your skin young, healthy, and smooth for longer.