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How to improve skin elasticity – The ultimate guide to getting your bounce back

An obvious sign of ageing is your skin losing elasticity, resulting in a loss of firmness and definition and deepening wrinkles. There is hope, though! Read our ultimate guide to learn how to rejuvenate your own skin and how to fight back against the elements which threaten it. And if you want some quick answers, jump to the relevant section below:

What is skin elasticity?

Simply put, skin elasticity is your skin’s ability to stretch and then bounce back. Loss of skin elasticity is known officially as elastosis – the degeneration of skin tissue due to ageing and other factors. And solar elastosis occurs to areas of the skin which have too much exposure to the sun and appear more weathered as a result.

What causes loss of skin elasticity?

Young skin contains plenty of collagen and elastin, the proteins which give skin its structure and ability to stretch. As we age, these start to decline due to hormonal changes and our ability to heal also slows down, leading to decreased skin elasticity. This loss of elasticity is also accelerated by decreased production of natural oils and oxidative stress from sun exposure, smoking, pollution, lack of sleep and poor nutrition (including excessive sugar consumption). Gravity has an impact too. As skin stretches and loses its elasticity — compounded by the loss of structure from underlying fat, muscle and bone – skin starts to show signs of ageing, from fine lines to sagging.

At what age does skin lose elasticity?

Collagen production starts to decline around 25 years of age, decreasing approximately 1-2% per year afterwards. Skin noticeably starts to lose its elasticity in your 30s to 40s and particularly in the first five years of menopause when women’s skin loses around 30% of its collagen. Men and women lose collagen at roughly the same rate initially but then women lose it faster after menopause for about five years but the rate then slows again. Men’s skin ages gradually, by contrast. The rate at which skin loses elasticity does also vary somewhat from person to person, however, according to genetics and lifestyle.

Can you improve skin elasticity?

Yes! Phew. Increasing your collagen and elastin reserves (and hyaluronic acid too) will help repair loss of skin elasticity. Doing so long term will prevent further loss and encourage good skin elasticity in future. Fortunately, there are many ways to do so, from skincare and treatments to managing lifestyle factors – prioritising good sleep, exercise, nutrition and covering up in the sun.

How can I improve my skin elasticity now?

Below we suggest proven ways – including skincare products and treatments – which will give you instant results as well as other ways which will take time to have a noticeable effect. You can try these methods now to restore your skin elasticity and, ideally, ascertain what you personally need to address to improve your skin health long term; that may be using a better quality sunscreen regularly, adjusting what you eat, sleeping better, exercising more – and complementing these with a good skincare regime and treatments when your skin needs.

SKINCARE

Don’t be put off by the mesmerising amount of skincare available – there are products with proven ingredients which stand out from the rest in tackling issues such as diminishing skin elasticity. Talk to us or another skin expert (your dermatologist, if you have one) to decide which skincare to start with. Some of the most powerful – those containing prescription retinoids, for example – need to be started gradually and prescribed by a doctor. These are things to look for:

– Broad spectrum sun protection

The biggest aggressor to the skin is exposure to UV rays from the sun; daily protection is therefore essential for good skin health and in preventing premature ageing. Ranges like Heliocare 360° offer vital broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB (as well as visible light and infrared-A), protecting skin at and below its surface. Heliocare products also contain antioxidants and DNA-repair enzymes.

– Moisturiser

When your skin lacks moisture, it isn’t able to repair itself and is vulnerable to damage from free radicals in the environment. Using a good quality moisturiser will help hydrate the skin, keeping it supple and radiant, and enable it to fight back.

– Collagen

Given its essential role in the maintenance of skin elasticity, it makes sense to prioritise products which encourage collagen production. Skincare doesn’t contain collagen as such so instead look for the ingredients we mention which stimulate its production. Women over 40 may benefit from ranges such as Emepelle and CellPro and by using Tensage ampoules as well as Rejuvenated Collagen powder, And retinols can make a great difference.

– Antioxidants

Antioxidants may be the unsung heroes of skincare. Using products with a combination of antioxidants – such as vitamins A & C along with coenzyme Q10 – your skin will build up its defence against damaging free radicals. They are easily absorbed by the skin, neutralise free radicals and improve skin elasticity and texture.

– Hyaluronic acid

Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by your body and is an extremely popular skincare ingredient due to its amazing capacity to hold on to 1000 times its weight in moisture. Serums such as SkinCeuticals HA Intensifier help amplify hyaluronic acid levels in skin to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and skin texture.

– Retinol & retinoids

Retinol – a form of vitamin A – and retinoids, such as tretinoin, have been shown in numerous studies to be particularly effective in boosting collagen and reversing the signs of ageing. Over-the-counter skincare products contain small amounts of the ingredient but the most potent form is retinoids, available on prescription from an aesthetic doctor like one of our team. Using both topical retinol and vitamin C has been found to be particularly effective at improving skin elasticity.

– AHAs / hydroxy acids

Studies have shown that anti-ageing skincare containing AHAs (alpha hydroxy acids) and vitamins significantly improves the skin, including lines, wrinkles, texture, and elasticity, without significant adverse effects. The acid promotes cell renewal, stimulating collagen and elastin production to improve skin elasticity, minimise wrinkles and imperfections, whilst deep cleansing pores.

– Provitamin B5

Used topically, dexpanthenol (also known as panthenol) acts like a moisturiser, improving hydration, reducing water loss, maintaining elasticity and softening the skin to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. It also heals and protects.

SUPPLEMENTS

Taking supplements may also help boost the reserves of the proteins your skin is losing as it ages, helping skin become firmer and fine lines and wrinkles less obvious.

– Collagen supplements

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body and provides many vital functions, including maintenance of skin health and elasticity. Given collagen depletes over time, you may like to try clinically-formulated supplements to boost it – collagen shots from Rejuvenated, for example, are formulated to be readily absorbed by your body and also contain hyaluronic acid and antioxidants.

– Hyaluronic acid

Sometimes called the “fountain of youth”, hyaluronic acid helps skin maintain moisture. As discussed, topical skincare can help replenish your skin’s supply of HA and supplementation may also help add to your reserves. Studies show that taking HA orally inhibits skin wrinkles and improves general skin condition.

– Genistein isoflavones

Genistein isoflavones – found in soybeans – are phytoestrogens and have also been shown to improve skin elasticity when taken orally (and also topically).

CLINIC TREATMENTS

Before you have a treatment at a skin clinic like ours, book in to see one of the aesthetic doctors to discuss your skin concerns – loss of elasticity, for example – and which treatments and skincare will be the most effective for you. Your aesthetic doctor will monitor how your skin health progresses over time and will give advice as to how your routine can be tweaked as necessary.

– Chemical peels

Medium depth peels, such as the PCA Peel or Perfect Peel, combine various acids and vitamins to improve skin tone, texture and clarity, working at a cellular level instead of simply sloughing off the top layer of skin. These peels stimulate collagen production, giving firmer and more youthful-looking skin after one treatment.

– Microneedling

Microneedling treatments – Dermaroller, for example – stimulate the skin in order to help it regenerate and repair itself naturally. Thousands of microscopic needle holes are made in the skin (without damaging it), prompting treated skin to produce new collagen and elastin and generate new cells in order to heal. Your body then regenerates and repairs the skin over time, working below the surface in the dermis to form new collagen, generate new skin cells and enhance the blood supply.

– Radiofrequency

Radio frequency-based professional skin treatment devices, such as EndyMedPro 3DEEP, use various treatment methods, often in combination, to lift, tighten and brighten skin, stimulating ‘fibroblasts’ to make new collagen and elastin. They treat wrinkles as well as tighten and lift sagging skin on the face and neck. Particularly good for delicate and hard to treat areas around the eyes and mouth.

– HydraFacial & HydraTight

Hugely popular worldwide, HydraFacial’s all-in-one treatments offer non-invasive resurfacing and rejuvenation of the skin, combining cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, hydration and antioxidant protection. A HydraTight treatment combines a HydraFacial with radio-frequency to tighten the skin (cheeks and jawline) by stimulating collagen and elastin production. Both relaxing treatments require no down-time and deliver immediately noticeable results, with more youthful, hydrated skin. HydraTight’s effects continue to improve for months after the course of treatments.

– Intraceuticals Infusion

Intraceuticals Infusion is a gentle treatment which uses hyperbaric pressurised oxygen to infuse skin with hyaluronic acid and antioxidant serums, to plump, rejuvenate, hydrate and replenish skin. Intraceuticals Atoxelene – an alternative to Botox – can be used to smooth expression lines and wrinkles.

– Laser

Laser treatments can tighten skin and improve tone by sending heat deep into the skin without wounding the top layer, decreasing skin laxity and smoothing wrinkles. Non-ablative lasers heat the tissue beneath the skin to stimulate collagen production, removing the top layer to encourage new skin to grow as a result of the wound healing process.

– Cosmetic acupuncture

Cosmetic acupuncture with natural-lifting massage techniques can help rejuvenate skin. Small, very fine needles are gently inserted into key areas of the face to encourage muscles to tighten, stimulating the skin to spring back and function as it did before. It treats the major organs of the body whilst simultaneously retraining muscles and stimulating collagen production to naturally lift and rejuvenate the skin.

INJECTABLES

– PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma)

PRP treatments promote skin healing by using your own blood plasma to stimulate cells to regenerate the skin’s connective tissue. This aids the production of collagen and elastin, improving the overall quality and texture of the skin.

– Profhilo

A moisturising injectable which is corrective and preventative, Profhilo is made from pure hyaluronic acid which means it restores skin hydration and is extremely safe and unreactive. Profhilo is injected in tiny amounts all over your face and engages the body’s receptors to induce the stimulation of your body’s natural collagen and elastin production. Unlike fillers, it improves skin appearance but doesn’t change your facial structure.

– Dermal fillers

Dermal fillers can help restore volume loss in areas where there are visible signs of ageing. As the body’s natural supply of hyaluronic acid depletes, it can cause skin to lose its volume – dermal fillers made from hyaluronic acid can be injected into the skin to lift, contour and sculpt by replacing lost volume and definition.. They can also hydrate skin to give it a more youthful, firmer look.

– Botox

Botox works by blocking nerve activity in the muscles, causing a temporary reduction in their movement. As many of our fine lines and wrinkles are caused by the repeated movement of our facial muscles, Botox can significantly reduce their appearance and it has also been shown to temporarily improve elasticity. A ‘less is more’ approach to anti-wrinkle treatments ensures natural results rather then the ‘frozen’ look.

HORMONE TREATMENTS

– BHRT

A fantastic benefit of hormone replacement therapy is its ability to increase skin hydration, density and elasticity, all of which diminish noticeably during menopause. Bio-identical hormone therapy (BHRT) is particularly useful in mitigating the effects of hormonal imbalance whilst improving wellbeing. BHRT is derived from a safe and effective natural substance and helps to optimise hormones as well as reduce symptoms caused by hormone fluctuations, leading up to and during the menopause.

Can I improve the firmness of my skin naturally?

Addressing lifestyle factors will help prevent loss of skin elasticity in the future – and may help repair it. If you prefer to take a natural approach generally, you can also try treatments like cosmetic acupuncture as well as addressing your nutrition, sleep patterns, fitness and stress levels. An increase of biomarkers showing inflammation in the blood is associated with loss of skin elasticity so you might like to try a wellness treatment such as Seqex to help reduce inflammation. If your skin elasticity is obviously diminished and you’re looking for noticeable improvements in the short term, you may like to consider skincare and / or treatments in conjunction with a long-term holistic approach.

What foods are good for skin elasticity?

To boost your skin’s elasticity, aim to eat foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins A, B, C and E. Fatty fish, leafy green vegetables and nuts are beneficial, as are dark chocolate and green tea. It’s also best to avoid drinking alcohol (though a very occasional glass shouldn’t do much harm – everything in moderation!). Be mindful of your sugar intake too: excessive amounts can age skin prematurely as sugar in the bloodstream forms harmful molecules (known as AGEs: advanced glycation end products) which attack collagen and elastin.

How can I prevent loss of skin elasticity in the future?

1. Limit sun exposure & cover up when possible

Exposure to UV rays reduces elasticity and causes premature ageing so cover up. Use broad spectrum sunscreen to protect against UVA & UVB rays and antioxidants to prevent damage to your skin from free radicals.

2. Keep hydrated

If the outermost layer of the epidermis doesn’t contain enough water, your skin will lose elasticity. Water helps skin maintain moisture which increases elasticity so keep skin hydrated. Try the “pinch test” to check your hydration levels.

3. Reduce your sugar consumption and eat nutritionally-rich foods

Eat mindfully, with a diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins A, B, C & E and omega-3s. Watch your sugar cravings: sugar in the bloodstream forms harmful molecules (AGEs) which weaken collagen & elastin.

4. Improve your quality and quantity of sleep

Research shows that a lack of sleep disrupts your circadian rhythms and increases oxidative stress, damaging skin elasticity as a result. Try to put away your phone, iPad, etc early in the evening as the blue light also accelerates oxidative stress.

5. Exercise regularly

Increasing your circulation through regular exercise means more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to your skin – and this will show on your face. You can also enhance elasticity by toning your facial muscles.

6. Buy skincare which treats elasticity

Replenish your stores of collagen and elastin – as well as hyaluronic acid – as they deplete as we age and are critical for firm skin. Use supplements and skincare which boost your skin’s supply of them. Also try skincare with retinol to increase collagen and antioxidants to protect skin from free radicals.

7. Try skin treatments

Treatments such as microneedling, medium depth peels, radiofrequency, laser and PRP may improve elasticity, some immediately and even long term if done regularly. We (or your own aesthetic doctor) can also prescribe retinol to help reverse ageing.

8. Give up smoking & drink less alcohol

Nicotine causes narrowing of blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin, impairing blood flow to the skin. The thousands of chemicals in tobacco smoke attack collagen and elastin i.e. damaging skin strength and elasticity.

Our verdict

If you’re bewildered about where to start – which skincare, which treatments will work best for your skin specifically – we’ll be happy to chat by phone or arrange a consultation with one of our doctors.

Conclusion

With age, exposure to the sun and other stressors, skin elasticity declines over time meaning it no longer bounces back as it did before. But the good news is that it’s possible to improve your skin elasticity now (using targeted skincare or treatments), continue to slow its decline and boost it long term by improving certain lifestyle factors (addressing your sleep, nutrition, exercise regime and how much your skin is exposed to the sun). As with anything related to the good health of your skin, the sooner you get started the better so take your first step towards firmer skin today!


Waterhouse Young is one of London’s leading medical aesthetic & wellbeing clinics, founded by one of the UK’s top cosmetic surgeons, Norman Waterhouse - former President of the BAAPS. Based off Harley Street, the clinic features regularly in the media, from Vogue, Tatler, Grazia and Elle to The Times. WY’s longstanding, friendly team is highly qualified and offers non-surgical treatments which are safe, proven and deliver demonstrable results, restoring skin and health to the highest standard.