Skin elasticity naturally declines as you age — it's another part of the ageing process that leads to wrinkles and skin sagging. And, while it is to be expected, there are things you can do to help turn the tide on a loss of skin elasticity.
And, the good news is, these aren't expensive or hard-to-access solutions. In fact, you can access some of these fixes from the comfort of your own home. Here's what you need to know about skin elasticity and ways to restore it.
What is skin elasticity?
Skin elasticity is your skin's ability to stretch and return to its original form without permanently changing shape or tearing.
But, what actually is skin elasticity, and why is it important?
A protein called elastin is found in the dermal layer of your skin along with collagen. This gives skin its stretchy skills. Elastin and collagen play an essential role in the healing process of skin — including scrapes and scars — as well as your skin's appearance and health.
Both of these proteins keep your skin firm and smooth, which is why a decrease in collagen and elastin production leads to signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles, sagging and skin thinning .
How do I know if I have good skin elasticity?
You're probably wondering, how elastic is my skin? Well, luckily, you don't need expensive tests and scans to find out.
Testing your skin's elasticity is simple and the easiest way is to do a pinch test. Place your palm on a flat surface, pinching the skin on the back of your hand for 5 seconds.
Let the skin go, and count how long it takes to return to being completely flat.
Generally speaking, we would expect to see the levels of skin elasticity as followed per age group:
- 30 years old and under: 1-2 seconds
- 30-44 years older: 3-4 seconds
- 45-50 year-olds: 5-9 seconds
- 60-70-year-olds: 10-15 seconds
- 70+: 35-55 seconds
You can also get a pretty good idea of your skin elasticity based on your appearance.
Healthy skin will appear plump, youthful and hydrated, whereas skin with little elasticity will look thinner, drier and may be sagging. But fret not, improving skin elasticity can be done.
At what age does skin start to lose elasticity?
Losing skin elasticity is an entirely natural part of the ageing process. But, you might be wondering when skin generally starts losing elasticity?
Collagen production begins to slow down from the age of 25 and continues to decline by 1-2% every year after. Women will also lose around 30% of collagen within the first 5 years of menopause . So, you may also be wondering how to stimulate collagen production and we'll touch on this a bit later.
Although it is the most common, ageing isn't the only reason for loss of skin elasticity .
Skin elasticity after weight loss
Extreme weight loss is another common cause of loose skin.
While gaining weight, our skin expands to make room for growth; pregnancy is an example of this. However, the way the skin stretches during pregnancy is more gradual and for a shorter amount of time than it is with general weight gain.
After giving birth, skin generally returns to its previous form within a few months, with the expectation of some stretch marks.
When the skin is stretched for a prolonged period, the collagen and elastin fibres can become damaged, which makes it significantly more challenging for the skin to bounce back.
This is why people who have experienced major weight loss may have excess skin, which can appear as loose or sagging skin .
What causes the loss of skin elasticity?
There are several factors that can contribute to losing skin elasticity. These include:
Collagen and elastin production slows down gradually with age. And, as you lose skin elasticity, you tend to develop fine lines and wrinkles and lose skin thickness.
As mentioned above, this generally starts to happen around 25 years old and progresses gradually with age.
Your skincare regime can make or break your skin, in some cases. A good skincare routine can improve skin elasticity, just as poor skincare can deplete it.
The worst collagen-cutting culprit? Sleeping in your makeup.
Not washing your makeup off before bed can lead to clogged pores, excess oil and breakouts. This can disrupt collagen production and compromise barrier control.
The regularity with which you wash your face is also important. While washing your face too little isn't recommended, neither is overwashing. It's recommended that you wash your face no more than twice a day.
More than this and you can strip your skin of its natural oils and moisture, which can lead to dehydration and exacerbate the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
You should also always be extremely careful when applying products and washing your face. Tugging and pressing on your delicate facial skin can reduce elasticity and contribute to sagging, especially around the eyes.
Environment and lifestyle
Many lifestyle and environmental factors can wreak havoc on our stretchy skin. Sun exposure breaks down the elastin in your skin and smoking releases free radicals in your system. Both of these things cause premature skin ageing.
Diet can also contribute to elastin loss in 2 ways — first, If your body isn't getting the correct nutrients, it won't have what it needs to produce enough college and second, a poor diet can also speed up collagen loss.
Foods such as sugar and refined carbs can interfere with collagen's ability to reproduce and repair itself by damaging the molecules and reducing the tissue's overall quality.
Dehydration and lack of exercise can also contribute to loss of skin elasticity .
What are the ways to improve skin elasticity?
While the loss of skin elasticity can't be stopped, it can be slowed down. Here are a few ways to improve skin elasticity.
There are many hard-working skincare products that help improve skin elasticity and this is where we come in. Vitamin A and vitamin C are two of the most effective ingredients in the skincare world and both work hard to stimulate collagen production and in turn, increase skin elasticity.
If you're looking to dabble in over-the-counter vitamin A products like retinol, Software's restorative Retinol Complex Oil works to improve skin elasticity and firmness, while also stimulating cell renewal and fighting the signs of ageing.
For those who are on the hunt for a custom compounded vitamin A product, our personalised ageing treatment is medical-grade formula that can contain ingredients like prescription retinoids, hyaluronic acid and niacinamide to stimulate skin cell growth to create a stronger, firmer and more elastic complexion.
When it comes to vitamin C serums, our Vitamin C + Ferulic Serum is one of the most potent on the market thanks to the full 15% dose of vitamin C. The powerhouse duo of vitamin C and ferulic acid work to build and develop collagen, and rejuvenate the skin by improving elasticity and firmness.
Sunscreen will always be one of the most important ways you can protect your skin and help slow down the signs of ageing — sun exposure is the leading cause of premature ageing.
A broad-spectrum sunscreen — coupled with a hat and protective clothing — will help provide protection against harmful UV rays, which can penetrate your skin and rid it of its collagen and elastin .
Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water. This is why it is hailed as one of the best hydrating and anti-ageing skincare ingredients on the market, but did you know your body naturally produces this as well?
It is found in the skin's connective tissue and helps to keep it hydrated and lubricated. But, over time, your natural levels of hyaluronic acid begin to deplete due to age and sun exposure.
So, to help replenish the hyaluronic acid in your skin, try to incorporate a hyaluronic acid serum into your skincare routine.
Some studies have shown that this plant derivative — which can be found in many over-the-counter skincare products — has been shown to help smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
Topical witch hazel can also help repair sun damage to skin and elastin loss.
Lifestyle factors that protect elasticity
While skincare products can help improve skin elasticity, you don't need to spend big bucks to give your skin its snapback.
Here are some other simple changes you can make to your lifestyle to help encourage skin elasticity.
What you put inside your body affects what you look like outside. This is undoubtedly the case with the relationship between our diet and our skin. To produce collagen, your body needs amino acids.
And, there are a number of foods that are good for skin elasticity including:
- Chicken and poultry
- Dairy and eggs
- Beans and legumes
- Leafy greens such as spinach and kale
- Bone broth
- Citrus fruits
- Whole grains
- Lean meat
Antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables also help to neutralise free radicals, which are big collagen killers .
As well as keeping you feeling healthy, exercise can also help you look healthy too.
It turns out that regular to moderate exercise can reverse some changes to skin cells that cause signs of ageing. Exercise improves skin elasticity as it increases your metabolism, which increases cell turnover and this promotes healthy skin.
If you're looking to encourage collagen production, another thing to try is collagen supplements. These over-the-counter powders can help keep your skin hydrated, soft and supple while also helping replenish collagen within the body to increase skin elasticity .
Beauty sleep is in fact a real thing. When we're sleep deprived, our bodies release more cortisol, which causes inflammation. As well as causing redness and irritation, inflammation can compromise the skin's ability to produce collagen and elastin.
So, maintaining good sleep hygiene is just as important as a diligent skincare routine.
Try going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day. Mediation and white noise are great tools to help you relax, but if you struggle to catch some zzz's, there are supplements you can try too.
Oh, and the biggest one? Make sure you ditch the screens at least half an hour before bed.
All our cells are made up of water; this is why hydration is so important. And, dry skin tends to show fine lines and wrinkles than hydrated skin. Luckily, keeping your skin hydrated is simple. Firstly and most importantly, drink your water so you're hydrating your body from the inside out.
You should always drink at least 2 litres of water a day and more if you drink coffee, exercise or spend a lot of time in the sun.
Topical skincare products that are hydrating are also important, so be sure to use a cleanser and moisturiser that help quench any thirst in your skin.
Image credit: Getty Images