It's long been assumed that people with oily skin age better than other skin types, but is that actually the case?
Oily skin seems less prone to the fine lines of a dry skinned person. But does skin type alone dictate how we show the ageing process?
Here we discuss the things that contribute to the skin’s ageing process and find out, does oily skin age better?
Here’s a summary of what we will cover in this article:
- Oily skin has more sebum and natural oils than other skin types
- While fine lines may develop slower in people with oily skin, that isn’t the only marker of ageing skin
- Other factors such as environmental and lifestyle choices can greatly affect the ageing process
- Genetics and colouring can also play a part in how the skin visibly ages
What is oily skin?
Everyone’s skin is individual and unique.
The dominance of one skin trait is quite normal in most people.
Dermatologists have long divided up these traits into simple categories to make it easier to treat any issues we have.
The categories are oily skin, dry skin, normal skin and combination skin.
Oily skin tends to have larger pores than other skin types.
The larger size of pore means that more of the skin’s natural oils can come out and thus sit on the skin.
Additional oil has the benefit of adding moisture and protection to the skin. Does oily skin age better?
Well maybe, the protective moisture may help to slow the process of fine lines developing.
Skin’s natural moisture
Skin oil, or sebum as it’s also known, can help lock in the skin’s natural moisture and add to the plumpness of cells.
Plumping up skin cells and adding volume can add to a youthful, fresh faced look.
Some drawbacks of oily skin are that excess sebum can lead to blocked pores and acne.
Blocked pores and acne
The sebum can attract and retain dirt from the environment, making the pores block up with this debris.
Sometimes the sebum merely becomes less liquidy on contact with the air, and blocks up the pore by solidifying.
A blocked pore then cannot release the sebum it naturally needs to, and a spot or blemish is formed.
Oil backs up behind the pore with no release and can then become infected. This is called a whitehead.
Over washing oily skin
People with oily skin can over wash, thinking that the oil needs to be cleaned away. This can lead to artificial dryness of the skin if harsh products are used.
Alternatively, over washed oily skin can compensate by producing even more oil. This can cause blemishes or spots to form because the skin is unbalanced and overproduces sebum.
Oily skin needs to be well moisturised with an appropriate skin care routine.
This will nurture the healthy production of oils, and lock in the natural moisture of the skin. Does oily skin age better?
Perhaps so yes, because appropriate treatment of oily skin can help it remain looking youthful for longer.
How does dry skin age?
Dry skin is almost the opposite of oily skin. The pores tend to be small, and sebum or oil production is thus less.
While this means that acne is less likely to occur, dry skin can still experience spots, blemishes and blocked pores.
Dry skin still produces sebum, but as the pores are small, it does not release as much as oily skin.
A suitable skin care routine is gentle, aiming to keep as much natural sebum as possible.
What type of skin care should you use?
Dry skin may benefit from a moisturiser that is a thicker, oil or hyaluronic acid-based cream or lotion to lock in more moisture to the skin.
Serums and layered acids can be beneficial to a dry skin. Chemical exfoliation is a gentle way to keep dry skin fresh and bright without aggravating skin with chunks of exfoliant.
This skin type is susceptible to feeling tight and crisp in places. Very dry skin may even experience some flaking, soreness and itching if not well conditioned.
Effects of the weather
Winter weather can make dry skin far more uncomfortable and sore as the cold, dry weather dries it out further.
You may find that sebum flows more in warmer weather, and so skin is less dry in the summer months. Natural skin oils can solidify a little on the surface of the skin.
Because dry skin has less natural sebum, it has less of a natural barrier against the elements. This may mean it is more prone to developing fine lines over time.
Does normal skin age well?
As you might have guessed, normal skin is the most balanced of the skin types.
It is considered neither too oily nor too dry – the oil and moisture content of the skin is just about right.
People with normal skin are most likely to have few skin concerns in general.
They will usually not have a lot of spots or acne, nor flaking or tight skin.
What is combination skin?
Combination skin is, unsurprisingly, a combination of the other skin types!
The most usual combination is an oily t-zone and dry cheeks.
The t-zone is the part of a face that forms the shape of a T from the forehead and down the nose.
The cheeks may have the same levels of dryness as described above, and could flake and be uncomfortable in cold weather.
What are all the different skin types?
In addition to how oily or dry skin is, there are also six categories of skin colour that dermatologists use.
Skin type number 1 – 6
Number 1 is the very palest of skin. This might be a blonde and blue-eyed person from Scandinavian with ivory skin who burns easily in the sun. As the numbers go up the scale, this gets progressively darker.
Number 6 is the most melanin saturated dark skin. A person from Africa with dark hair, eyes and skin, for example.
In the same way that oily skin ages differently to dry skin, dark skin usually ages differently to pale skin.
Are there any differences?
Fine lines and sun damage don’t show on dark skin in the same way as they do on pale skin.
However, dark skin can sometimes show scarring more easily than pale skin, and patches of discoloration can be more obvious.
Pale skin shows the effects of UV damage in the form of fine lines and age spots. These can appear from the age of the 30’s onwards.
The signs of ageing on our skin?
The first sign of ageing most people notice is fine lines. These will usually start around the eyes and the mouth.
They will usually deepen into crow’s feet wrinkles around the eyes over time. Lines on the forehead and at the sides of the mouth appear in most people’s faces from their 40’s onwards.
Deeper wrinkles will develop in everyone’s face as we are lucky enough to grow older.
However, wrinkles are not the only evidence of ageing skin.
Other evidence of ageing skin
Sun spots or age spots are common in people with pale skin who have sun damage from the past.
Skin may also look duller as we age. This can be because our cellular processes are not as effective as they were.
It may also be because of a general reduction of moisture in the body, which shows in less plump skin.
What are the main factors in skin ageing?
Sun damage and smoking are the two most damaging factors for the skin.
Smoking causes cellular damage in every area of the body, and is particularly obvious in the skin of smokers.
People who smoke a lot may see a greyish sheen to their skin develop quite quickly.
As smokers age they tend to show fine lines quicker and get deeper lines than non-smokers. This is due to the cellular damage caused by smoking.
Sun damage and premature ageing
Sun damage can also lead to premature ageing, skin cancer and even to collagen breakdown in the skin.
As collagen breaks down, fullness in the skin is lost, giving an older appearance. Sun damage in paler complexioned people often leads to age spots and early development of fine lines.
Alcohol, diet and ageing skin
Other factors that affect how the skin shows ageing include how much alcohol you consume.
Excessive alcohol can act in a similar way to smoking in how it damages the skin. Dehydration from a lot of alcohol can also lead to an immediate reduction in skin quality.
One’s diet can also affect how the skin ages. A Mediterranean diet full of healthy fats and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables will keep skin looking fresher than one high in processed foods and sugar.
Genetics and the environment
Your genetics also have a role to play, though the way you live your life will affect how these genes express themselves over time.
A difficult one to avoid is the environmental pollution we are all surrounded by. The chemicals in pollution affect us and our skin.
Exercise is the best medicine
Exercise can also affect your skin ages. This is because of the general beneficial effects of exercise on the human body.
The better blood flow that exercise promotes also enhances the skin. More nutrients reach the skin with good blood flow, and waste products removed.
So does oily skin age better?
Unfortunately, it isn’t quite that simple. Oily skin is likely to be a little thicker than those with dry or normal skin types.
This thickness and high oil content in this type of skin usually means less fine lines forming.
However, there are many other factors at play in how our skin ages.
A person with skin type 5 who also has oily skin should not see too many fine lines forming. But, this depends on their lifestyle choices.
The role of diet and sun exposure
An individual may choose a diet of processed foods and smoke and drink heavily. They may opt not to wear sunscreen or a hat. Perhaps they choose not to exercise or drink much water. These choices may well have an impact on how their skin ages.
Conversely, a pale person with type 1 and dry skin would expect to see fine lines forming in their 20’s or 30’s.
Age spots may form in their 50’s onwards. They may choose to eat a special rheumatoid arthritis diet (Mediterranean influences), never smoke, drink alcohol sparingly, and are careful about their sun exposure. This lifestyle may well slow the signs of ageing considerably.
Lifestyle choices matter so much in how our bodies age.
Oily skin may be an advantage in ageing terms, if it is looked after and supported by healthy choices.
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