FOUR SCIENTIFIC APPROACHES TO PREVENT AND DELAY SKIN AGING
Published December 15, 2023
If we are to fully understand skin aging, we need to look at what's going on in the smallest parts of our bodies — our cells. This is because it is their gradual breakdown over time that leads to the aging of the body as a whole, not just the skin.
Cellular aging is not an isolated process but is caused by a combination of interrelated factors. For this article, we've chosen to look at four of them:
1. The instability of our genes.
2. Cellular senescence.
3. Chronic inflammation.
4. Oxidative stress.
These are the factors that current scientific knowledge most strongly ties to the breakdown of skin tissues. Don't worry, this isn't going to be a lecture in biology or molecular biochemistry! The purpose of this article is to demonstrate that while skin aging is an inevitable phenomenon, it is entirely possible to slow it down and mitigate it.
Ready to explore the fascinating world of cells?
OUR GENES BECOME UNSTABLE OVER TIME
A brief refresher is in order before going any further: DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is present in each and every one of our cells. It contains genes (around 25,000 in humans), which are a kind of blueprint for our bodies (also known as the genetic code). This code holds all the data necessary for the growth and effective operation of our organism.
A person's cells all contain the same DNA, but they do not all use the same genes. Think of it this way: imagine a smartphone with 25,000 apps, with each app representing one gene.
The cells in our bodies are all built on the same foundation (iOS or Android), but they don't use the same apps. We say that cells specialize. For example, in the DNA of epidermal cells, only the apps specializing in the epidermis will actually be opened. The same goes for those responsible for collagen production in the dermis.
To develop, grow, or repair, our cells divide (this phase is called mitosis) and are rebuilt identically. It's a bit like a photocopy — the DNA and therefore the genes it contains are replicated exactly.
But sometimes this process doesn't work exactly as planned, and faults can appear between the copy and the original. These faults are called mutations.
One of the causes of skin aging is the gradual accumulation of mutations in our DNA. Although cells have an incredible capacity to repair damaged DNA, some mutations manage to escape this repair process. This genetic instability can result in the loss of functions related to:
- The mutated genes.
- The destruction of the cells themselves.
- Excessive cell growth.
Aging skin suffers the full force of these mutations. Also, external stresses like free radicals, chemical toxins, and UV radiation can damage DNA. These are major factors that can speed up the aging process, and we'll be coming back to them later.
THE NATURAL PROCESS OF CELLULAR SENESCENCE
Skin cells, just like every other cell in the human body, are hardwired to age. They can divide, but not indefinitely (they can do it about 50 times on average). This is called senescence. Cell division is a fundamental process as it enables tissues to regenerate.
Normally, senescent cells that have ceased to divide die and are eliminated from the body. But over time, the mechanisms responsible for eliminating these cells no longer work as effectively, and the cells accumulate and clog up tissues. These senescent cells are essentially “zombie” cells. They can no longer replicate and no longer generate new cells, but they are resistant to elimination.
Organ aging is determined by the balance between functional cells and senescent cells within the organ. If too many senescent cells accumulate, the entire organ ages and becomes less effective.
For example, in the skin, the effectiveness of fibroblasts (cells within the dermis that produce elastin and collagen) diminishes with age, and the skin loses elasticity.
INFLAMMATION CAUSES ACCELERATED AGING
For several years now, skin and anti-aging experts have been taking an interest in a phenomenon called inflamm'aging (a combination of “inflammation” and “aging”). Inflamm'aging is a chronic inflammatory condition that can be caused by:
- Accumulated tissue damage.
- The incapacity of an increasingly inefficient immune system to effectively eliminate pathogens and senescent or defective cells.
- Senescent cells' tendency to release proinflammatory agents.
Interest in inflamm'aging was prompted by the recent discovery that age-related inflammation impairs how epidermal stem cells function. These play a crucial role in tackling skin aging, as they are responsible for the production of new cells that help regenerate tissues.
OXIDATIVE STRESS ACCELERATES SKIN AGING
Our bodies require energy to function. Thanks to small power plants called mitochondria, our cells supply this energy. In addition to producing energy, mitochondria release free radicals, which are highly unstable, toxic molecules that, on the other hand, also trigger cellular adaptation and repair processes.
Moderate quantities of free radicals are therefore necessary and are normally handled quite effectively by our cells, which defend themselves using antioxidant agents like enzymes and vitamins. However, if free radicals accumulate beyond the body's capacity to neutralize them, oxidative stress occurs, causing damage.
Oxidative stress can be caused and/or exacerbated by external factors like pollution, smoking, sunlight, diet, and even certain medicines. As a result, cells function progressively more ineffectively, and DNA begins to accumulate damage and replication faults that harm the cell.
NCEF HELPS COUNTER SKIN AGING
NCEF [New Cellular Encapsulated Factors], Laboratoires FILORGA's signature ingredient, contains all the active ingredients required to tackle premature skin aging.
Ingredients of note include:
- Encapsulated high molecular weight hyaluronic acid to plump up the skin.
- Amino acids to stimulate skin protein synthesis, which slows as we age.
- Vitamins and antioxidants to help the skin face oxidative stress.
- A complex of enzymes to bolster cell repair processes.
- Minerals to stimulate cell performance.
This unique blend of hyaluronic acid, micronutrients, and amino acids is directly inspired by injections used in aesthetic medicine. NCEF is used in all our products, except our sheet masks, micellar solution, and foam cleanser.
Explore the treatments in our NCEF-REVERSE Collection, which contain more NCEF than any other FILORGA products.
López-Otín C, Blasco MA, Partridge L, Serrano M, Kroemer G. The hallmarks of aging. Cell. 2013 Jun 6;153(6):1194-217. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.05.039. PMID: 23746838; PMCID: PMC3836174.