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How Skin Changes As It Ages

As you get older, your skin changes chemically and structurally, as well as healing at different rates and responding differently to irritants. Here is a quick guide to the changes in skin with age.

Skin When You're Young

As children, we all have radiant, fresh skin that seems virtually blemish-free and flawless. At this age, the skin has had a minimal amount of damage from sunlight and trauma, so it is firm, well-organized and evenly pigmented. The skin of young children heals rapidly and usually resists environmental factors that can trigger dryness or oiliness in adults, except in vulnerable areas like the scalp and lips.


Adolescents have a sudden surge in hormones at puberty, which can trigger a severe increase in sebum production and, as a result, oiliness of the skin, a dull appearance, and blackheads or other skin blemishes. By this age the epidermis begins to get thinner and the layer of subcutaneous fat that children have is reducing, revealing the sun damage in the dermis that has been going on since birth. Traumas at this age are more likely to produce long-lasting scars, although adolescents still heal quite rapidly. If sebum production is stabilized and blemishes kept under control, adolescent skin can retain much of the fine texture and radiance of childhood.


As time passes, the structural proteins in your skin begin to change. Repeated mechanical stresses create wrinkles - expression lines - in the face, and the skin is slightly less resilient. The rate at which old skin cells are replaced with new ones slows down, so scars and discolored marks from wounds and blemishes take longer to disappear. The skin also begins to lose its elasticity, so sagging is possible.

Old Age

After several decades, the epidermis becomes even thinner, giving it a pale, translucent appearance and making structures such as blood vessels underneath more visible. At this time the skin's ability to produce sebum may slow down, so there is more need to moisturize. The skin's elasticity continues to weaken, so it is delicate and easily bruised or torn, as well as more vulnerable to wrinkling. At this age, people who lose weight tend to shrivel up in folds of skin, while the skin of younger people soon springs back to a smaller size. At this age healing can take up to four times what it used to in childhood, and by the same token discolorations take even longer to fade away.

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