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A Deeper Look at Extrinsic Aging

Jennifer Linder, MD November 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine
professional skin care client getting a healthy amount of sleep

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Fighting the visible signs of aging is a lifelong pursuit for many. Others have given up, assuming that it’s a pointless effort because it’s based on genetics. But only 10–15% of cutaneous aging is actually driven by genetics or the passage of time. This intrinsic, inevitable aging is not where your focus should rest. The true culprit is extrinsic aging, caused by external influences, as 85–90% of all cutaneous aging is a direct result of these avoidable factors.1

The anatomy

The majority of a healthy dermis is the extracellular matrix (ECM), a complex framework of biomolecules designed to support and protect the dermal cells. The structural proteins (collagen and elastin), adhesive proteins (laminins and fibronectin), glycosaminoglycans (GAG) and proteoglycans that comprise the ECM do degrade naturally due to intrinsic aging, but this breakdown is dramatically accelerated by external offenders—primarily UV exposure and the resultant oxidative stress, and the increase in matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity.2 Study after study confirms the fact that unnecessary sun exposure is the No. 1 culprit in extrinsic aging.

Broad-spectrum UV protection

Sun exposure is the worst of the exogenous causes of skin aging. As little as 0.1 minimal erythema dose—the minimum dose of radiation that produces skin redness—will increase the expression of MMP.3 These MMP accelerate matrix breakdown, leading to varying degrees of visible sagging and laxity, wrinkles, epidermal and dermal atrophy, and enlargement of pores.

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