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From the visible to the invisible: skin ageing

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Changes related to skin ageing are visible at different scales. Here are some of them.

ON THE MACROSCOPICAL SCALE

Wrinkles are the most visible feature of skin ageing. Besides wrinkles, there are other elements that impact the estimation of a face's age- for example, skin that's less taut and firm, as well as skin with visible brown spots (also known as age spots) that appear in areas that have been overexposed to the sun. With age, the face also sags and dark circles appear.

ON THE TISSUE SCALE

Like any organ, the skin becomes less effective over the years. Its tissues become looser and less resistant. Circulation becomes slower, our skin becomes thinner, and the fat under our skin sags. Our skin also becomes more dehydrated and dry.

ON THE CELLULAR SCALE

Different types of cells make up the skin:
-fibroblasts create the skin's support fibres (like elastin and collagen) and hyaluronic acid, a molecule that plumps up the skin
-keratinocytes replicate at full speed to renew the stratum corneum and produce small quantities of hyaluronic acid
-sebocytes make up the sebum-producing sebaceous glands

  • melanocytes synthesise pigment and give our skin its colour

Every day, cells die and are renewed. Over the years, these cells renew themselves less quickly, their quantity decreases, and therefore become less efficient. As a result, there's a decrease in the synthesis of elastin, collagen, hyaluronic acid, and sebum. The skin's melanocytes are also disrupted and the production of pigment becomes concentrated in certain places.

ON A MOLECULAR SCALE

The cause of all the above elements starts at a molecular level.

Skin ageing needs to be observed at the molecular level, looking at its proteins, DNA, etc. Each time a cell replicates itself, it also duplicates its DNA. Over time, the terminal part of our chromosomes is no longer well replicated. These ends, which are intended to protect our genetic heritage, gradually decrease until they disappear, leading to the death of the cell and a decrease in the number of cells present in our skin.

Also on a nanometre level, oxidation phenomena alter the different components of the skin, leading to the fragmentation of collagen and elastin fibres.