A woman who is concerned about her ageing skin and using a facial roller

Ageing Skin: What Can You Do About It?

Our skin will show visible signs of ageing as we grow older. Learn about the different ageing skin conditions and ways to treat them in this article.

by All Things Health Malaysia

This article is a content collaboration between Homage Malaysia and All Things Health Malaysia.

Ageing Skin: What Can You Do About It?

It is inevitable that our skin will show visible signs of ageing as we grow older. Let’s learn about the different skin conditions that occur with ageing and the various treatments available to address them.

As we grow old, ageing skin is a common concern that worries many of us. The sight of wrinkles and fine lines can make us anxious and lead us to look for anti-ageing solutions, such as anti-wrinkle skincare products. This has led to the growth of the skincare industry in Malaysia, which is projected to reach USD 1.3 billion by 2027.

The process of ageing skin can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be an endless battle. Understanding how the ageing process works and learning ways to maintain healthy skin as we age can help.

How Does Your Skin Age?

Our skin is the primary defence mechanism that protects our body from the external environment. As a result, it is subjected to various intrinsic and extrinsic factors that trigger the process of skin ageing.

In modern medicine, intrinsic signs of ageing are seen as unavoidable and part of our biological life cycle. These signs include thin, dry skin, fine wrinkles, and gradual dermal atrophy. These changes occur naturally over time due to a reduction in collagen and elastin production, which are essential components of the skin’s structure and elasticity.

Extrinsic factors that contribute to ageing skin can be controlled to some extent. Examples include insufficient sleep, exposure to sunlight, smoking, air pollution and inadequate nutrition, which can lead to thinning, looseness, vulnerability, and wrinkles. Prolonged exposure to UV rays, one of the most harmful elements for the skin, can cause hyperpigmentation, premature wrinkling, spider veins, and solar elastosis, which is characterised by skin that appears rough, thick, and yellow due to sun damage.

A different perspective on ageing skin is to see it as an indication of the body’s internal functioning. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) emphasises the role of organs such as the heart, lungs, and spleen in maintaining youthful and healthy skin.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen, heart, and lungs are crucial organs in maintaining youthful and healthy skin. The spleen helps to purify the blood, the heart is responsible for circulating it, and the lungs are responsible for distributing fluids throughout the body to keep the skin moisturised. Any deficiencies in the qi of these organs can result in signs of ageing skin.

An elderly lady wearing spectacles and blue jacket

Wrinkles is a key concern of many when they are faced with ageing skin.

What Are The Primary Signs of Ageing Skin?

As we grow older, our skin undergoes visible changes such as dryness, the development of melasma, and wrinkles. However, there are several remedies and tips that can help treat these primary indications of ageing skin.

  1. Wrinkles

As we age, wrinkles become more prominent because the production of collagen fibres and adipose tissue decreases, resulting in thinner skin that accentuates creases and folds. There are two types of wrinkles:

  • Dynamic wrinkles: Such wrinkles appear when we make facial expressions such as smiling, frowning or squinting. They are caused by the contraction of the muscles underlying the skin, and become more pronounced as we age due to the repeated use of these muscles. Examples of dynamic wrinkles include forehead lines, crow’s feet and frown lines.
  • Static wrinkles: Such wrinkles are visible even when the face is at rest. They are caused by the loss of elasticity in the skin due to a decrease in collagen and elastin production, as well as the effects of gravity over time. Examples of static wrinkles include sagging jowls, neck wrinkles and marionette lines.

Exposure to smoke from cigarettes or second-hand smoke can cause constriction of blood vessels in the skin due to the chemicals present, leading to a decrease in the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the skin’s top layer. This can result in the development of fine lines, wrinkles, and other indications of premature ageing.

To prevent wrinkles, it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle and diet, avoid smoking, use sunscreen and stay hydrated. Moisturising your face is also important. TCM offers remedies such as herbs and facial acupuncture for reducing wrinkles. Acupuncture on specific points on the face creates micro-trauma which can increase blood flow and encourage collagen production, thereby reducing wrinkles.

A common Western approach to treating wrinkles is through dermatological procedures like laser treatment, chemical peels, microdermabrasion, and the use of topical products. These treatments typically involve the use of ingredients like tretinoin, alpha hydroxy acids, or vitamin C to exfoliate dead skin cells and stimulate collagen production in the dermis. The goal is to restore elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles on the skin.

Botox injections are also commonly used to treat wrinkles. When used for dynamic wrinkles, botulinum toxin injections can help reduce the appearance of lines and restore a more youthful appearance. For static wrinkles, a combination of botulinum toxin and hyaluronic filler injections may be required. Other treatments that can help reduce wrinkles and provide a lifting effect, including fractional carbon dioxide laser, radiofrequency devices, and high-intensity ultrasound.

2. Dry Skin

Dry skin is a common problem that affects people of all ages. However, as we grow older, our skin produces less oil, which makes it even drier. This problem can be worsened by being in a dry environment such as an air-conditioned room.

To combat dry skin, it is recommended to stay hydrated, eat a well-balanced diet, avoid harsh weather conditions, and use a gentle moisturiser. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, dry skin may be caused by excess yin deficiency or an impaired lung organ system. This can be improved by incorporating herbs and foods that nourish and eliminate heat in the lungs, such as bird’s nest, white fungus, and goji berries.

3. Melasma (Hyperpigmentation)

Melasma or hyperpigmentation refers to the uneven patches of dark spots that appear on the skin due to the stimulation of melanin production by oestrogen and UV rays in sunlight. Besides, certain chemicals present in conventional skincare and cosmetic products can also contribute to melanin production. Genetics can also be a significant factor in developing ageing spots.

To address this sign of ageing skin, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle that promotes hormonal balance, wear sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors, and avoid harmful chemicals in skincare and makeup products. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) suggests that excess yin deficiency can contribute to age spots, which can be treated with TCM herbs like Gotu kola, Panax Ginseng berry extract, and Ssanghwa-tang. These herbs can help to clear inner heat and improve blood flow to the skin, which can prevent or reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

When it comes to Western treatments, to address melasma or hyperpigmentation, it’s advisable to consult with a dermatologist who can recommend treatments such as hydroquinone, tretinoin, and topical vitamin C that can help reduce the appearance of dark patches on the skin.

A bowl of bird’s nest, together with goji berries laid out on the table

Enjoy the goodness of bird’s nest to combat against ageing skin.

TCM Herbal Remedies for Ageing Skin

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a comprehensive approach to addressing ageing skin through the use of herbs that fortify the spleen, heart, and lungs, three organs that have a connection to promoting healthy skin and a more youthful appearance.

  • Chinese angelica root (当归), red dates, oysters, mulberry fruit, white and black fungus, black rice, black soybean, and sea cucumber can help nourish yin (passive energy) and boost blood production, contributing to skin renewal
  • lingzhi (灵芝), ginseng (人参), goji berries (枸杞子), white fungus (银耳), and bird’s nest (燕窝) help to maintain soft and lustrous skin.
  • peach kernel (桃仁), Dhorian angelica root (白芷), and magnolia flower (辛夷) aids with removing excess metabolic waste, resulting in clearer and more radiant skin
  • other ingredients like sesame, honey, mushrooms, and milk products can also assist with rejuvenating the skin

Acupuncture and Tuina

Besides using rejuvenating herbs, you may also try acupuncture and tuina for maintaining health and treating certain health issues, including revitalising ageing skin. Many studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of acupuncture for this purpose.

According to TCM Physician Anita Pee, acupuncture and tuina have the potential to bring balance to the body’s yin, yang, qi, and blood, and can be done twice a week to address concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin. Acupuncture may also promote the lymphatic and circulatory systems, which work together to supply nutrients and oxygen to skin cells. This process can nourish the skin from the inside out.

Physician Pee emphasises that a balanced lifestyle is crucial for maintaining healthy and youthful skin. She recommends getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy diet low in oil and sugar, using good sun protection, regular exercise, staying well-hydrated, and managing stress as the best ways to reduce visible signs of ageing and ensure great skin.

Ultimately, true beauty goes beyond surface appearances and stems from our inner health. Although ageing is a natural process, premature ageing of the skin can be prevented. While various anti-ageing skin treatments and skincare products are available, it is still important to consult a dermatologist or a TCM physician to determine the most effective treatment plan for you.

This article is an adaptation of The Primary Signs of Ageing Skin and What to do About Them from AllThingsHealth .com

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About the Writer
All Things Health Malaysia
All Things Health is Malaysia's first English-language website providing trusted, medically reviewed content on natural health and wellness based on Chinese medicine wisdom. The articles are written by health editors, physicians, and wellness experts and cover key health and wellness categories such as nutrition, mental health, balance, and parenthood.
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