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Avoiding the Unavoidable

By: Sara Mason
Posted: August 31, 2010, from the September 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.
  • Exposure to the sun tops the list as the most common cause of premature aging.
  • While science tries to catch up with consumer expectations, a realistic approach to the treatment of aging skin is to optimize the skin’s health and condition by ensuring ample hydration of tissues.
  • There is a trend for products that have an immediately perceptible difference from their very first application and also support long-term results.
  • Topical antioxidants represent the next sunscreen frontier.

Nothing is more certain than death and taxes. But for the beauty industry, nothing is more unavoidable—or profitable—than aging. Skin ages. And the innate aging process is made worse via UV radiation. The sun is a key culprit, and when it comes to its effects on the skin, the sun is always shining. Although there’s very little about genetic aging that can be slowed, stopped or reversed, symptoms of environmental aging—fine lines and wrinkles, redness, brown spots, laxity of the skin, changes in the skin’s texture—can be managed, prevented and repaired with the appropriate products and ingredients.

Euromonitor International data shows antiaging products were one of the biggest drivers of global skin care during the past five years, accounting for a 23% value share of total sales in 2009 [read Euromonitor’s skin care market report, “Skin Care Remains Star of Global Beauty Market,” on Page 40]. The antiaging category was also the largest contributor to growth of any facial skin care category. Despite the fact that the antiaging segment is beginning to show signs of maturity, brand owners are tackling the issue from all sides. Consistent consumer demand has also become apparent as consumers prioritize antiaging. Unfortunately, even if the sun’s impact on skin is well managed, a lot of the damage is already done.

Photoaging

Exposure to the sun tops the list as the most common cause of premature aging. Photoaging, as it is called, is thought to be the result of cumulative exposure to ultraviolet rays, starting in childhood. Sunlight speeds up the breakdown of many of the skin’s components—including collagen (a key structural component of connective tissue that keeps it smooth and wrinkle-free) and elastin (which contributes to skin’s elasticity and resilience). “The sun causes the production of an enzyme known as collagenase that breaks down collagen and thins the skin,” explains Zoe Diana Draelos, MD, a clinical and research dermatologist.

The damage done by UV radiation is manifested in a number of ways including oxidative damage to the DNA, proteins and lipids of the skin. Much of this damage is repaired by internal enzymes; however, some damage escapes repair and accumulates in time, resulting in accelerated skin aging.