Medically reviewed by Vicky Davis, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/25/2021
You’re getting older. It’s scary. We get it. That guy in the mirror isn’t the same one who was there 10, even five years ago. You’ve changed.
But (hopefully) you don’t feel like that old guy. Those wrinkles, thin skin, and visible capillaries, they don’t match the man you want to be. So, what can be done?
Listen, we’re all getting older. Time ticks away no matter how you spend it. It’s inevitable. But, there may be things you can do to slow age’s effects on your skin. Let’s talk about them.
Skin aging is a collection of many different things happening on and beneath the surface of your skin. Scientists separate many of these “things” into two categories: intrinsic and extrinsic skin aging.
Intrinsic skin aging refers to the physiological processes that happen to us all as a result of getting older, and genetic and metabolic factors. Extrinsic skin aging, on the other hand, is caused by factors that may be within your control -- things like sun damage and the effects of other pollutants.
But what are these factors (both intrinsic and extrinsic) really doing? Well, they result in various skin aging signs:
Thinner skin: particularly the outer layer of the skin (epidermis) thins
Pigment changes: The number of cells containing pigment decreases while those remaining increase in size. Age spots are one result of this.
Decreased elasticity: Your skin’s strength and elasticity decrease as the production of collagen slows, particularly in sun-exposed areas, leaving you with that rugged, weather-beaten look.
Blood vessels become more fragile: Bruising and bleeding beneath the surface of the skin and visible capillaries result.
Drier skin: Your sebaceous glands produce less oil.
Face thinning: You lose fat mass in your face, and those sweet chubby cheeks begin to be replaced by gaunt hollows.
We should stop there. This is all pretty depressing. But to one extent or another, you’ve likely begun seeing these signs of skin aging in the mirror.
Skin aging isn’t only about what’s going on with your skin right now. It’s also the result of what’s been going on with your skin since the day you were born.
Choices you’ve made along the way have contributed to the condition your skin is in right now. And some of these lifestyle choices could impact the effectiveness of your fight against skin aging.
Preventing further skin damage and aging is a matter of making lifestyle choices that encourage healthier skin and don’t contribute to the aging process. Those include:
Protect your skin from the sun. Wear a sunscreen when outdoors, if not protective clothing and a hat, too. UV protection is important for your skin’s appearance and protection against skin cancer.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can contribute to skin dryness and injury. Dry skin looks like old skin.
Don’t smoke. Smokers tend to have more wrinkles.
“Reverse skin aging” implies you can undo time. You can’t. But in addition to the lifestyle tips above, there may be some skin care products you can add to your routine that will slow the extrinsic aging of the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and skin wrinkles.
Skin dehydration, as mentioned, can worsen skin aging and the appearance of wrinkles. And because your skin is likely producing less oil as you age, this will only worsen with time. Getting in the habit of using a high quality moisturizer can make your skin look and feel better.
Retinoids such as retinol and tretinoin are cell regulators with antioxidant effects. They may impact both intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Among other things, retinoids can increase collagen production and reduce the signs of skin damage such as wrinkles, dark spots (pigmentation), and loss of elasticity.When looking for the right anti-aging product, a retinoid like tretinoin is a sign of quality.
Chemical peels are dermatological treatments that use chemicals to remove skin layers and reveal new skin, once healed. There are a few different types of peels, each going to various depths of the skin to produce various impacts. Chemical peels are typically done in-office, so consulting with a dermatologist is a good first step in determining if it’s appropriate for you.
Laser treatments are also done in a doctor or dermatologist’s office, and are designed to encourage skin healing through the burning of collagen. Generally, laser treatments can result in the reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and dark spots.
You can’t stop the hands of time entirely, but you can take steps to minimize their negative impact on your skin. Lifestyle changes such as staying hydrated, quitting smoking, and protecting your skin from the sun can prevent further skin damage.
Skin care products such as moisturizers and treatments containing retinoids can take those efforts further. For men who are interested in doing “the most” in relation to reversing skin aging (short of plastic surgery), chemical peels and laser treatments are another option.