While the world of cosmetics constantly renews its offering and keeps innovating, elderly people cannot always find cosmetics answers adapted to their own problems: getting old is a phenomenon to which we have not found a solution yet. How to take care of aged skins and know what they need? Gérard Redziniak, scientific and innovation consultant in cosmetics and dermopharmacy, answered CosmeticOBS’s questions.
Jasmine Salmi : How can you characterize aged skin?
Gérard Redziniak: We may consider that as from 50, the skin starts getting old: it becomes thinner and the dermis is less elastic.
The cells isolate themselves, as if they were retiring. Our fibroblasts, which look more like Eiffel Towers when we are young, as they are well spread out with legs, get fixed to collagen fibres. When the skin ages, these cells get rounder and lose contact with the fibres. As a result, the production of the protein/collagen/elastin capital falls, and so does hyaluronic acid (which swells in the middle of collagen fibres).
As regards nerve endings, the cell capital loses its metabolic properties. Aged skins need even more sensoriality, since their nerve endings are less efficient.
The relationship between the stratum corneum, the stratum microbiotome (as Gérard Redziniak likes to call the bacteria on the skin’s surface), and the hydrolipidic film is disrupted. It works less well because the cell renewal process is much slower. It has been demonstrated that the exchanges with the microbiota are less effective, which can explain why some people have pimples or inflammations.
This imbalance between the stratum corneum and the stratum ‘microbiotome’ also disturbs the production of sebum and the sebaceous glands (less hormones = less sebum). Then, the skin is much less protected by the hydrolipidic film, since the sebum helps form this natural emulsion produced by the skin.
In terms of appearance, there is a loss in elasticity, with a ptosis observed on the hypodermis. The hypodermis is the deepest layer of the skin that acts as an energy tank filled with fats. This hypodermal loss makes the skin sag around the oval of the face.
JS: So, can we consider we have aged skin as from the age of 50?
GR: We cannot actually take into account our chronological age: it mainly depends on our biological age.
Based on this principle, 40-year-old individuals may have aged skin, while others, chronologically ‘older’, will have a younger-looking skin, simply because they have taken better care of their epidermis through nutrition and hygiene – for example by using quality cosmetics. In addition, we should not overlook our consumption of pernicious substances like drugs or alcohol, which contribute to skin aging a lot.
In short, I like saying the skin is a genome placed in an environment called the exposome. Here, the exposome is the whole outside environment we live in, and everything we absorb. Indeed, there is a relationship between intestinal cells and skin cells. If the intestine is disturbed, so the skin will be. The way we drink, eat, and smoke will impact the genome.
Our skin is a genetic heritage, but also a biological capital which should remain in good condition: that is what we call homeostasis. So we should go easy on it.
JS: Can we calculate our skin’s biological age?
GR: Today, we know how to map the age of the skin.
Using Wood light, a UV light in UVA lengths close to visible light, we can observe the wrinkle depth and the number of pigment spots in the skin that cannot be distinguished on the surface yet. As a result, we can determine whether the youth capital is disturbed or not.
JS: How can we determine the age of our skin ourselves?
GR: The first important thing is that we see our skin from a sensorial standpoint. We connect with it through feeling, thanks to keratinocytes, which act like detectors. They are sensitive to smells, taste, and sugars (lectins).
If you already feel tightness, redness, and mottling on your skin, apart from the areas exposed, it means there is a problem with skin dryness. This epidermal disturbance is a very important marker of the biological age.
JS: Can our skin recover its real chronological age?
GR: You make me feel like quoting Henri Jeanson: ‘my dream is to die young at an advanced age.’ We all sort of feel this way!
More seriously, it is actually possible to reverse the tendency a little with cosmetics, although medical medicine remains the most efficient method known right now. From a cosmetics point of view, the AHA approach (fruit acids) helps hunt down the old cells on the skin’s surface and enhances cell renewal.
It is also interesting to use beauty products based on vitamins: skin aging goes with a loss of vitamins (vitamins A, C, D, and E). With retinol or vitamin A in pure forms or as esters in formulations that will simulate the properties of this molecule, retinoic acid will be released in the skin. Keratinocytes are able to reproduce it with retinol. In addition, cocktails of glycolic fruit acids combined with vitamins are recommended for aged skins to restore their radiance.
JS: How come there are no products available for aged skins on the market?
GR: Major brands target young people. Offering products for a real aged public would make them fear getting old too. Marketing departments are certainly a bit scared of that. However, the anti-aging market is booming, as all brands now offer ranges to fight against skin aging. Still, it is true that there are few products for really mature skins to take care of themselves.
So far, no brand has claimed to have found an answer for these demanding skins in desperate need for comfort.
JS: What type of products can elderly people turn to if their problem is not to fight against aging, but just to take care of their skins?
GR: I would recommend focusing on product ranges for atopic skins, since they have a problem with skin sensitivity.
These cosmetics are enriched with fats, shea butter, mango, or avocado. There is a skin nutritive aspect about them, due to the presence of lipids and polysaccharides. To resocialize the skin, there is nothing better than often touching and massaging it, so that it starts working again.
It is absolutely essential to adopt a biological approach and make the skin create the right sensoriality. The greatest cosmetics laboratory is our skin. If it is loaded with vitamins, nourished, mineralized, and moisturized, there is no doubt it will work efficiently.
To be continued
• The cosmetics brands that take care of aged skins – soon online.