Why Does Your Face Sag as You Get Older?

One can’t stay young forever, but one can never stop pursuing beauty. Instead of creating anxiety, today we’re going to talk about face skin aging from a scientific perspective.

The factors that affect face skin aging include both internal and external causes. Aging of the organs begins from the time when one is born, and there is no exception for the face skin. As the largest organ of the human body, skin, like other organs and tissues of the body, is in the process of aging all the time. This natural aging cannot be altered, however, there are several factors that can cause skin to age prematurely, and these can be influenced.

Why Does Your Face Sag As You Get Older?

Internal Causes

Intrinsic aging is an inevitable physiological process that results in thin and dry skin, fine wrinkles, and gradual dermal atrophy.

For the intrinsically aged skin, the most remarkable histological changes occur within the basal cell layer. Research demonstrates that as a person ages, proliferation of cells in the basal layer reduces. In addition, there is evidence that besides the fibrous extracellular matrix, components including elastin, fibrillin, collagen, and oligosaccharides deteriorate in intrinsically aging skin, which in turn affects the face skin’s ability to retain water [1].

Other studies suggest that endogenous aging is mainly controlled by gradually shortening telomeres. Telomeres are repeated sequences of DNA at the ends of chromosomes. With the development of the human body, the process of cell division and the natural and gradual shortening of telomeres eventually lead to the gradual impairment or loss of the division function of skin stem cells [2].

Different studies are proposed to explain the molecular basis for face skin aging, including the theory of cellular senescence, the decrease in cellular DNA repair capacity and loss of telomeres, point mutations of extranuclear mitochondrial DNA, oxidative stress, increased frequency of chromosomal abnormalities, single-gene mutations, reduced sugar, chronic inflammation, and so on[3]. These are more professional topics which we will discuss in future articles.

Why Does Your Face Sag As You Get Older?

External Causes

Extrinsic aging is actually superimposed on the internal aging process. UV radiation (sun exposure), harmful substances in the environment (tobacco, smog and ozone), infections and other exogenous factors can all cause DNA changes and result in coarse wrinkles, loss of elasticity, laxity, and rough-textured appearance [4][5].

Among them, UV radiation is the most important factor leading to skin photoaging [6], it also accelerates the shortening of telomeres in skin cells. Sunlight is believed to be at 80% responsible for facial aging[7].For example, it causes epidermis thickening. The decrease in production oftype VII collagen in keratinocytes contributes to wrinkles due to the weakened connection between the dermis and the epidermis[8].

Why Does Your Face Sag As You Get Older?

How to Prevent and Delay Your Skin Aging?

It’s important to note that while some treatments may help alleviate skin aging, preventing external aging is still the best approach.

The first step: always sunscreen

From the content above, it’s clear that exposure to UV radiation is the main cause of wrinkles. There are two main destructive components in sun’s rays: UVA (long-wavelength ultraviolet) and UVB (short-wavelength ultraviolet) [9]. Both are not to be sneezed at, with UVB causing sunburn and UVA causing tanning and aging. So, whether you go out or not, be sure to do a good job of using sun protection. When buying sunscreen, not only should you check the SPF factor, but you should also pay attention to the UVA rating, which provides maximum protection against sun-induced aging.

The second step: antioxidant

In addition to the sun’s rays, a small amount of oxygen inhaled into the body, also known as free radicals, attacks our genes and affects cell repair, thereby accelerating skin aging.

Why Does Your Face Sag As You Get Older?

Experiments have shown that young people absorb collagen much better than older people. As people age, their ability to absorb collagen decreases and the network of collagen connections in the skin decreases, so the skin looks much older. The most effective solution, experts say, is on diet. Diet is the key to protecting and repairing fibroblasts in the skin. A reasonable diet can not only slow down aging, but also provide energy, strengthen the body and maintain health.

  • Choose foods that are brightly colored. Tomatoes, for example, contain a special ingredient called lycopene, which gives them their bright color and helps them absorb oxidation and prevent oxidative stress.
  • Choose bitter fruits and vegetables. Broccoli, for example, contains an ingredient called mustard orange. Radishes also contain mustard orange. These are all foods that naturally help fight cells aging.
  • Eat oily fish. Fish such as mackerel is good for the skin as it is high in protein and easily absorbed by the body, and has anti-inflammatory properties, which suppress inflammation in skin cells and help prevent skin aging.
  • Try to eat less starchy foods. Such as potatoes, wheat and so on. Eating less starchy food also has the benefit of reducing weight.
  • Cut down on sugar. Eat less processed snacks, cut back on sweets, try to replace your drinks with water, transfer the love of sugar to the fruit, and gradually increase your intake of whole grains when eating staple foods.
Why Does Your Face Sag As You Get Older?

The third step: use efficient skin care products correctly

There are many studies on the anti-aging effect of skincare products containing retinoids, CBD, vitamin C, and nicotinamide. But the effect is still not clear, and a long-term study is needed. In addition, an unreasonable application may also lead to a “worse situation” such as contact dermatitis, so it is necessary to be careful in the selection of effective skincare products.

Why Does Your Face Sag As You Get Older?


[1]Naylor EC, Watson RE, Sherratt MJ. Molecular aspects of skin ageing. Maturitas. 2011;69(3):249–256.

[2]Mimaeult M, Batra SK. Recent advances on skin-resident stem/progenitor cell functions in skin regeneration, aging and cancers and novel anti-aging and cancer therapies. J Cell Mol Med. 2010;14(1–2):116–34.

[3]Mimaeult M, Batra SK. Recent advances on skin-resident stem/progenitor cell functions in skin regeneration, aging and cancers and novel anti-aging and cancer therapies. J Cell Mol Med. 2010;14(1–2):116–34.

[4]Krutmann J, Bouloc A, Sore G, Bernard BA, Passeron T. The skin aging exposome. J Dermatol Sci. 2017;85(3):152–161.

[5]Mora Huertas AC, Schmelzer CE, Hoehenwarter W, Heyroth F, Heinz A. Molecular-level insights into aging processes of skin elastin. Biochimie 2016;128–129:163–173.

[6]Kosmadaki MG, Gilchrest BA. The role of telomeres in skin aging/photoaging. Micron. 2004;35(3):155–9.

[7]Friedman O. Changes associated with the aging face. Facial Plast Surg Clin North Am. 2005;13(3):371–380.

[8]Contet-Audonneau JL, Jeanmaire C, Pauly G. A histological study of human wrinkle structures: comparison between sun-exposed areas of the face, with or without wrinkles, and sun-protected areas. Br J Dermatol. 1999;140(6):1038–1047.

[9]Trautinger F, Mazzucco K, Knobler RM, Trenz A, Kokoschka EM. UVA- and UVB-induced changes in hairless mouse skin collagen. Arch Dermatol Res. 1994;286(8):490–494.

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