The Dirty Dozen– The Twelve Signs of Facial Aging

There is good news and bad news about facial aging.  The  bad news  is that there are  actually twelve different signs of aging in the face.  The good news?  There are solutions for all of them.  To break it down, I’m using a picture of a thirty something woman who is blissfully unaware of the  changes to come.  I want to  point out where these changes will appear and discuss what causes them.  In  a few weeks, I’m going  to put up my own photo to point out my age related changes  and then photograph the results as I try different  techniques and products.

Aging  Sign #1:  Pallor ( aka pale skin)

Our model  has a natural healthy skin tone.  As she grows older, the skin tones will grow pale, sallow and shallow, all due primarily to a slowdown in circulation.  What we see as a fresh pink color is actually a reflection of healthy red blood pulsing under the skin.  The slower the blood flow, the less fresh  healthy blood there is to cast  off  a pinkish glow.  Pale skin can happen to us at any age.  When we are sick and tired, our blood supply  is shifted to essential organs like the brain and heart.  When we feel better, a natural pink color returns.  ( Darker skin tones don’t have this problem, which is  one of the reasons  these skins can look so much younger than their real age).  While its a natural part of aging to experience  a slowdown in blood supply, cigarette smoking, sun exposure and too much partying can speed up the destruction of the veins and arteries.  We also know that aerobic exercise  such as running or biking  reves up circulation  and  helps you look pinker and healthier.  Until you reach your 60’s, healthy skin color is really a lifestyle choice.  After that you need some help.  I’m happy to say that pallor, at any age, is actually one of the easiest problems to fix.

Aging Sign#2:  Freckles and brown spots

On a spunky five year old, freckles are adorable sprinkled across the face.  On a fifty year old, not so much.  These discolorations are just clumps of melanin pigment that appears after too much sun exposure.  They can  make the skin look dull and splotchy.  These bad boys  can appear anywhere, and the more sun you get, the mosre brown spots are produced.  Even if you don’t lay out on a beach , just the reflected sunlight into a sunny room, can provoke a few on the nose and cheeks.  When they become raised and lumpy, they are called senile keratoses — not my favorite reminders of the passing of time.  I would like to rename  them to something like “Summer Spots”.  Whatever they are called they are really easy to eliminate.

Aging Signs#3:  What’s So Funny About Smile Lines

Smile lines are just what they sound like– creases in the cheeks that appear in the area where you smile.  Even children get smile lines when they giggle.  When  they stop smiling, their face is smooth again.But  as time goes by, these smile lines remain on the face even when you are frowning.  Smile lines develop as collagen fibers become weak and frayed and are no longer able  to bounce back after movement.  Loss of fat  under the skin also play a big role in the appearance of smile lines.  Getting back to beautiful babies, they have full fat pads  which produce the typical  rounded  baby face.  As we get older, we lose this baby fat to develop cheeck bones and flattering facial planes.  As the years continue to pass, you continue to lose fat pads, but the skin stays the same size.  The result? Not enough fat to fill out the skin, resulting in lines and sags.  In fact, smile lines are  one of the first lines  to develop from fat pad loss.  Even just a few years ago the only way to deal with smile lines was a full face lift.  So happy to say that they can be treated with a quick trip to  a dermatologist.

Aging Sign#4:  Discolored Teeth

Darkened and yellowed teeth are not caused  by aging, but by living.  After decades of double lattes and goblets of red wine tooth, enamel  becomes discolored.  Smoking is also a particularly powerful tooth stainer.  Even heavy smokers in their thirties can have yellowed and brownish teeth.  Just brightening your smile will make you look younger and prettier.   Keep in mind that  teeth shift as time passes.  Not only can teeth look yellowed, but they can become oddly spaced and crooked.  Lightening the teeth seem to make a smile look better even without costly braces.  I think that the really good news is that tooth whitening is one of the easiest anti-aging tools we have.

Next time:  Aging Skin Signs, Part 2

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