Focus on: skin ageing

Skin Analysis
1 Aug 2014

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The process of ageing begins from the moment we are born. The fact that the skin is the most visible organ makes us aware of the ageing process, which fuels the eternal desire of people around the world to look younger for longer. Over the last decade, there has been an increase in scientific interest to reduce the appearance of ageing.

Chronological ageing and photo-ageing
There are two types of changes that occur in the skin; changes resulting from the passage of time alone are called chronological ageing, while the term photo-ageing refers to the changes resulting from chronic sun exposure.

Chronological ageing: Clinical manifestation and diagnosis of chronologically aged skin includes severe dryness, loose skin, wrinkles, slackness and the appearance of a variety of benign skin growths such as seborrheic keratosis or cherry angioma. Hair becomes de-pigmented and sparse, while there are also changes in the nail plate and fewer glands in aged skin.

The most evident feature of aged skin is the flattening of the dermal-epidermal junction (the area of tissue that joins the outer and middle layers of the skin). There is a general decrease of the extracellular matrix, which is reflected by a decrease in fibroblast cells, collagen and elastin.

These changes are in part the result of cumulative internal damage from continuous formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) generated during oxidative cell metabolism. Substantial evidence exists to support that ageing is associated with the consequence of free radical damage by various internal ROS.

Photo-ageing: Ageing is accelerated in areas exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet radiation), a process known as photo-ageing. It is called photo-ageing because of a combination of short wavelength (UVB) injury to the outer layers of the skin (epidermis) and long wavelength (UVA) injury to the middle layers (dermis).

Clinical presentation of photo-ageing includes dryness of the skin, pigmentation, hyperpigmentation, wrinkles and tightness. Ultraviolet radiation also stimulates ROS synthesis, which has been implicated in mutagenesis and photo-ageing.

Natural free radical scavengers
The body – especially the skin – is routinely exposed to stressful environmental factors such as pollutants and UV radiation, which produce a large number of aggressive oxidants that damage all the biological skin cell membranes. Free radicals are reactive chemical species that contain one or more unpaired electrons; they are products of oxidative cell metabolism.

In the 21st century – the age of modern science and technology with plastic surgery and laser rejuvenation techniques – one question is imposing; is there a place for natural, herbal products to help target the signs of ageing? There is actually a growing tendency for physicians to use less invasive procedures, to reduce the risks and complications. Furthermore, patients not only wish to look younger but also want fewer scars.

The use of plant extracts and herbs originated in ancient times, with the earliest records originating from ancient Greece, Italy and Egypt. A great number of plants and plant extracts are studied for their anti-oxidative action and some also have anti-tumour, antiviral, antibacterial and anti-radical activities.

Here are just some examples of powerful natural extracts to help combat the effects of ageing:

? The extract of the fruits of the coffee plant has shown to exhibit antioxidant activity. This extract showed an improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and overall skin appearance.

? Other compounds that possess the ability to protect the skin from harmful UV-induced effects by displaying anti-mutagen, antioxidant, free radical scavenging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties include: Apigenin, a nontoxic botanical-derived flavonoid occurring in numerous herbs, fruits, and vegetables; curcumin obtained from the turmeric rhizome; proanthocyanidins from the seeds of grapes; and resveratrol, a polyphenol found in numerous plant species including grapes, peanuts, fruits, red wine, and mulberries.

? The ethanol extract of liquorice showed powerful antioxidant activity by means of substantial ROS scavenging, hydrogen-donating, metal ion chelating and mitochondrial antilipid peroxidative and reducing abilities.

? Extract of mulberry exhibited super oxide scavenging activity that is involved in the protection against auto-oxidation.

? The antioxidant activity of basil, oregano and thyme essential oils has been evaluated in a series of in-vitro tests.

The Claudia Louch Natural Skin Clinic in Harley Street, London, takes a completely natural and comprehensive inside-out approach to anti-ageing, to harness the body?s own healing potential. For more information click here or make an appointment enquiry.

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