I was invited to the preview evening of Professor Von Hagen’s new Bodyworlds Show at the O2 in London. Not only can you see his beautifully plastinated bodies (and a great surprise at the end of the exhibition) but also learn more about the ageing process and what happens to our bodies as we get older. It’s really worth a view.To get more info go to www.bodyworlds.com

But what really happens to us as we age? The process starts in mid our mid 20’s and the way we age comes mainly down to our genes but also to external environmental factors and these are the main perpertrators:

  • Sun damage
  • Repetitive facial expressions
  • Gravity
  • Smoking
  • Drinking
  • Stress
  • Nutrition
  • Pollution

However, none of us will really escape getting older so here are some of the ageing processes that happen to everyone:

  • Gravity – everything goes south eventually
  • Facial expressions cause wrinkles, especially around the eyes and mouth area
  • Skin loses elasticity
  • Hair becomes grey and more brittle

Aging Skin Net explains more:

What happens to your skin as you get older? As the body ages, the appearance and characteristics of the skin change. Visible ageing of the skin starts at about age 25 as the natural regenerative process begin to slow. The skin replaces old cells more slowly and there is a slower turnover of the surface skin and slower wound healing. After age 45, a thinning of the skin begins, due in part, to hormonal changes. This thinning make the skin more fragile and vulnerable to damage by abrasion and more sensitive to irritating environmental factors and allergens. The coils of collagen and elastin suffer cuts and crosslinking damage and as a result, the skin loses much of it’s strength and elasticity. The moisture holding proteoglycans and GAGs decrease in abundance, making the skin become dryer and looser. The skin loses fat, so it looks less plump and smooth. The number of blood vessels in your skin decreases, and the skin loses its youthful color and glow.

While all these changes are taking place, gravity is also at work, pulling at the skin, causing it to sag. Wrinkles around the eyes are a characteristic signs of skin damage. The skin tends to heal more slowly and minor blemishes develop. In addition, this aging process can be exacerbated by factors such as extremes of cold or heat, excessive sun (UV radiation), psychological stress, and improper nutrition. The effects of photodamage can be seen by comparing skin in areas exposed to sun to areas usually covered. Exposed skin has mottled hyperpigmentation while the nonexposed skin is usually clearer and paler.

During aging the oil-producing (sebaceous) glands become less active, and your skin becomes drier. The skin becomes more sensitive to the use of harsh soaps and disinfectants which more easily damage skin. We have a natural oil covering our skin named sebum, which is produced by glands in the skin. When the oil is removed by frequent use of drying agents, such as soap, the skin becomes dry which can lead to cracking and flaking. Once cracking occurs the skin is susceptible to inflammation and itching. Everyday factors that may cause drying of the skin include harsh soaps, long hot baths or showers. In our modern culture, most people overdo skin cleansing.