Ageing Mosaic: Intrinsic and Extrinsic Factors of Skin Ageing

Ageing is a biological reality with many intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Similar to other organs, our skin undergoes progressive functional decline due to accumulated oxidative stress and molecular damage.

Intrinsic ageing (Chronological ageing) Extrinsic ageing (Photoageing)
Ageing due to: Internal physiological factors that are due to declining physiologic functioning and capabilities


Many external factors




Intrinsic / Chronological ageing

Ageing of the skin is reflective of genetic background of an individual due to substantial structural and functional differences. I intend to explore those differences in its own time but at the moment I would love to focus on universally applicable principles of facial ageing.

You can read about the big picture of intrinsic facial ageing by following to this link: Ageing mosaic: The BIG Picture of Intrinsic Facial Ageing. Information below will focus primarily on the intrinsic ageing of the skin itself.

As mentioned above, what happens to the skin as a result of intrinsic ageing is largely hereditary and guided by our genes. Even though ageing process varies from person to person, it boils down to these four factors:

Decrease of dermal collagen


This leads to moisture loss and dermal thinning
Decrease of melanin production


This leads to loss of overall healthy color and formation of uneven pigmented spots


Decrease of hair follicles and sebaceous glands


This hinders proper skin barrier function
Slow cell turnover rate This means that it takes longer for the skin to shed dead and dulling cells


Over time, these factors lead to age signs to appear on the skin both in short term and long term.

Short  Term

Dead skin build – up When hydro liptic barrier is thrown out of balance, lines and surface wrinkles start to appear


Clogged pores Dead skin build – up leads to clogged pores, congestion and break outs


Dull, sluggish skin Skin loses its vibrancy and appears rough / lifeless


Trans – epidermal water loss (TEWL) As the skin loses its ability to absorb and retain moisture, the skin weakens further


Long Term

Lines and wrinkles appear


Capillary function weakens Circulatory system’s ability to transfer oxygen, nutrients and waste slows down overtime


Lymph moves more slowly This leads to excess metabolic waste and toxins


Connective tissue (collagen and elastin) lose their function Skin begins to sag while lines and wrinkles worsen


Hyperpigmentation increases Cumulative UV exposure / hormonal imbalances and PIH (post – inflammatory hyperpigmentation) increases


Skin becomes more reactive  


NMF in dermis and epidermis barrier decreases Loss of skin’s NMF (natural moisture factor) increases penetration of damaging pathogens and allergens



 Extrinsic ageing / Photoageing

Extrinsic ageing reflects environmental exposure, cultural / societal expectations and lifestyle choices associated with individual habits. The list of external factors contributing to the ageing of the skin is endless so I will mention only the major few:

 Photodamage / Sun exposure


 UV / Sun exposure is the biggest extrinsic factor contributing to  the aging of the skin


Oxidative stress


 Air pollution, sun’s harmful radiation, tobacco, detergents and fertilizers, processed foods, fat – rich foods, etc  accelerate formation of free radicals and   cause their accumulation. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals which is why we are suggested to follow antioxidant – rich diets and skincare regimens


Skin dehydration


Dry air dehydrates the skin. Dehydration in the skin weakens its defense system and creates skin sensitivity, irritation and premature aging




 Smoking tobacco is associated with dermatological conditions and contributes to premature aging of the skin




 Alcohol contributes to the loss of collagen and skin elasticity. It also causes skin irritation and dehydration


Stress Resilience to stress and ability to handle stressful situation in a health conscious way promotes youth. Psychosomantics might help to get insight to some internal processes


Application of harsh chemicals on the skin



Internal ageing can be managed by taking care of our body as a whole: The more we understand about our bodies, the more we can give ourselves appropriate care and stay young and healthy. External ageing factors have substantial effects on our overall health and should be managed as such (not only as beauty affecting factors).

As for the beauty, there is definitely more to graceful ageing than what cosmetology alone has to say and offer.


Thanks for reading,

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