Is your skin looking thinner, less bouncy and more delicate? There is no question that the thickness of your skin changes with age. Gradually, your skin feels drier and less elastic. And with thinner skin comes a weakened skin barrier. When the skin is healthy, it protects us from irritation, skin diseases and inflammation. But when our skin barrier is impaired, the skin cannot defend itself. Let’s explore how weak, thin skin can compromise the skin barrier and look at repair methods to strengthen and make the skin healthier.
Why Is My Skin So Thin?
As you age, you may see shifts in your skin texture and elasticity. Your body produces less collagen, so the skin becomes thinner and drier. Collagen is the structural protein that gives skin elasticity, strength and suppleness. Collagen fibres are the sturdy columns that support the top layer of the skin, preventing saggy skin. But with collagen decline comes thinner and less supple skin. You can thank your genetics for how quickly your store of collagen decreases.
Lifestyle Factors Including Medication
You may develop thin skin from long-term use of specific medications including:
- Prescription blood thinners
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), like ibuprofen (Nurofen) or naproxen (Naprogesic)
- Topical and oral corticosteroids
- Over-the-counter aspirin
There are also a number of lifestyle factors that may cause early ageing and thinning of the skin including:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Lack of regular exercise combined with a poor diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates
Overexposure to ultraviolet light causes sun damage to your skin, injuring skin cells and reducing collagen and elastin. After many years of tanning (and burning), you might notice your skin is thinner across your face, arms or hands, the parts of the body most exposed to the sun. Other signs of sun damage are age spots, sagging skin, wrinkling or skin cancer.
Exposure to artificial radiation sources, such as tanning beds, can lead to skin damage (and thinner skin) and increase the risk of skin cancer. Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is linked to getting severe sunburns, especially at a young age. Tanning causes the skin to lose elasticity and wrinkle prematurely. This leathery look may not appear until years after a tan or sunburn. You may also notice premature signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and dark spots.
Commercial solarium units were banned in Australia on 1 January 2015 after nearly a decade of campaigning led by Cancer Councils. Solariums are not a safe way to tan and significantly increase your risk of skin cancer. If you’ve used a solarium, your skin cancer risk is higher than someone who has not.
Lowering of estrogen levels, especially during menopause, is a fundamental contributor to the thinning of the skin. Collagen is essential for maintaining the structure and firmness of the skin. During menopause, a decrease in estrogen causes a drop in collagen levels, moisture retention and oil production. You may notice sagging or thinning skin and fine lines and wrinkles.
Thin skin will not cause medical problems — it’s only a concern when your skin becomes easily bruised or damaged. As Medline Plus states: “As you age, you are at increased risk for skin injury. Your skin is thinner, more fragile, and you lose some of the protective fat layer.” The skin’s ability to snap back worsens with age, as does the thickness of the dermis. And with thin skin comes bruises and wrinkles.
On top of thinning skin, if you are not looking after your skin at all, then its barrier might be compromised. Of the three main layers of the skin, the hypodermis layer contains sweat glands, fat, and tissue. The next layer is called the dermis, which consists of the blood supply and nerves. The outermost layer is the epidermis, which makes up your skin barrier and defends you against bacteria and dirt. A healthy, functioning skin barrier blocks environmental irritants while keeping in natural oils and moisture.
An unhealthy skin barrier will not defend you from potential skin issues such as irritation, inflammation or dryness. Thin skin is already fragile enough, but not moisturising dry skin and over-exfoliating can cause irritation. Here’s a breakdown of practical ways to achieve stronger and thicker skin.
How To Make Thin Skin Stronger And Thicker
Eat Foods That Help Collagen Production
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for increasing collagen production, making our skin stronger and improving the barrier function of our skin. Vitamin C is found in foods like broccoli, leafy greens and citrus fruits and is necessary for collagen production.
A variety of foods can help your body boost collagen production including:
- Leafy greens
- Fish and shellfish
- Egg whites
- Citrus fruits
Use Skin Care Products With Peptides
If you are already happy with your diet, you can make your skin feel stronger with skin care products that contain peptides. Dermatologist Dr. Nancy Samolitis, MD, FAAD told Byrdie: “Peptides are essentially fragmented portions of proteins. So when they’re used in skincare, the objective is for those fragments of collagen to stimulate collagen growth … Complete, non-fragmented proteins (like collagen) are not able to be directly absorbed through the top layer of skin, so these smaller pieces are able to get deep into the cellular level.”
Apply Moisturiser Daily
Turn your attention from exfoliation to moisturisation to make your skin more youthful, firm and resilient. Whether you’re a dry, combination, oily or sensitive skin type, keeping your skin hydrated is the first step to skin health and having a strong skin barrier.
Your lack of hydration could be due to genetics; you might be just born with a dry skin type. However, if your skin type is actually oily, combination, sensitive or normal, dryness could be caused by anything from air conditioners or hot showers to weather. Help your skin stay strong by applying moisturiser after cleansing. This step helps lock in moisture and protect your skin from the environment.
Are you struggling with thinning skin? To find out more and get personalised solutions book a Skin Consultation & Analysis today!