What Is Mature Skin? (Definition & Treatment)

mature skin woman
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Excuse me? Did you say mature?

Merriam-Webster defines mature as:

  1. based on slow careful consideration <a mature judgment>
    1. (1): having completed natural growth and development : ripe (2): having undergone maturation
    2. having attained a final or desired state <mature wine>
    3. having achieved a low but stable growth rate <paper is a mature industry>
    4. of, relating to, or being an older adult.

I don’t know about you, but not a single one of the above definitions is all that flattering, especially when talking about skin, and most certainly not when talking about the skin on someone’s face.

For the purpose of the article, I will use “mature” to refer to an older adult. But who exactly qualifies as an older adult? For simplicity’s sake, we will classify them as clients who easily describe themselves as older and are generally quick to refer to their own skin as mature.

From a physiological perspective, it’s imperative that you, as a skin care professional, understand the natural and unnatural processes that the skin goes through on its journey to adulthood.

A Brief Overview of Skin Physiology

When it comes to the basic physiology of the skin, there are three primary layers: the epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous. As estheticians, our scope of practice falls within the epidermis and its five layers. Each layer is distinct in shape, components, and function. These layers work collectively to repair, protect, and maintain the integrity of the skin as a whole.

The epidermis is a miraculous self-renewing entity that continuously renews itself by a process known as differentiation. In this process, a single epidermal basal cell progresses from the basal layer, undergoes keratinization, becomes a keratinocyte and ends in the outermost layer of the skin as a corneocyte. The completion of this process provides the skin with unyielding protection (as long as it is not damaged in some way), while simultaneously creating a network of fatty acids, lipids, triglycerides, and protective pH.

While the epidermal layer is quite impressive, none of its actions would be possible without the activity of the dermis below. The efforts to renew the outermost layer of the skin can only be accomplished with the inner workings of the dermal layer, including the efforts of fibroblast cells, collagen, elastin, blood vessels, and capillaries. The dermis also contains a unique packing material known as glycosaminoglycans. Glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans are polysaccharides, long chains of amino sugars that are naturally produced within the body and lubricate, protect, and even influence cellular activity. Examples of these include hyaluronic acid, dermatan sulfate, and heparin.

womans natural progression of mature skin

The Natural Progression of Mature Skin

Aging or maturing is a natural process. If the fountain of youth actually existed, we wouldn’t have a business! Regardless of environmental influences, there are aging factors that we simply have no control over and are the result of our genetic makeup.

We have always been taught that the average cell takes about 28 days to complete its journey to the surface of the skin to be sloughed off, depending upon age, health, and environmental influences. Realistically, this process naturally starts declining in our late twenties.

By age 25, the production of collagen and elastin begins to diminish, resulting in a slow decrease in firmness and elasticity. Likewise, the process of cell turnover starts to wane. This decline in the making of new cells and the sloughing process of corneocytes was the driving force behind the emergence of glycolic acids and retinols to promote the cell turnover process, resulting in softer, smoother, more youthful skin.

When cell turnover declines, a variety of physiological changes directly influence the visible appearance of the skin. The decrease in the natural shedding of the skin results in a dull and uneven appearance and rough texture. This decline also results in naturally drier skin. The key lipids within the top layers of our skin are formed from the breakdown of skin cells in the keratinization process, so when the breakdown slows, the result is drier skin.

The true struggle begins for most at 40-50 years of age. This is a peak time in which the proper care and nutrition of the skin is imperative. Once you understand how skin matures, it’s easy to create individualized programs for each client.

Hormonal changes within the body also play a key role in the maturity rate of the skin. At various stages of life, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, hormones fluctuate drastically within the body, but a key role in the skin maturing process occurs during menopause when estrogen levels decline. Low levels of estrogen cause a decrease in the glycosaminoglycans that are found and produced in the dermal layer of the skin. This results in a decrease in the lubrication, suppleness, thickness, and healthy glow of the skin.

Environmental Factors That Affect How Skin Matures

While skin maturation is a natural process that we have no control over, there are some environmental factors and lifestyle choices that influence how the skin matures. These include smoking, drinking, pollution, UV exposure, harsh chemicals, improper skin care products, and unhealthy lifestyles.

90% of the aging process is the result of environmental influences and 80% of the skin’s condition is the result of homecare. Share those figures with your clients and you will be almost guaranteed to have them for life!

mature skin treatment

How to Treat Mature Skin

You can not place a conclusive definition on “mature.” Every one of our clients vary in age, activity, health, heredity, product use, and behaviors. What we can agree on is that mature skin is skin that has a decrease in cell proliferation, suppleness, moisture, firmness, and elasticity. It appears dull and presents with a range of visible aging signs that include hyperpigmentation, lines, wrinkles, and uneven texture.

As skin care professionals, we can influence some of these changes, but only by completely understanding what these changes are and what causes them. You’ll also need to know what ingredients and treatments will have any influence, the impact they’ll have, and why.

For lack of a better word, the primary objective of skin care is to promote an “immature” appearance. To do this, you will need to stimulate new fibroblast activity, which will in turn stimulate the cell activity of collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans. Since fibroblasts are stimulated as a defense mechanism when any type of damage is induced upon the surface of the skin, you can use chemical peels, exfoliation, or microdermabrasion to achieve this. You can also use advanced technological ingredients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, resveratrol, malic acid, tartaric acid, cardiolipin, l-carnosine, or spinach leaf extract (just to name a few).

Additional key skin care ingredients will have instantaneous effects on the surface of the skin, and can have comparable results. Mechanical exfoliants remove superficial dead skin cells, resulting in a healthy glow and smoother skin. Humectants, such as hyaluronic acid, peptides and polypeptides, instantly plump the surface of the skin, resulting in a firm, supple appearance.

Establishing a Mature Skin Treatment Plan

The bottom line is that while mature skin is simply a by-product of life and not a disease, it is something to take seriously when creating a treatment plan for your mature clients.

Establishing the perfect treatment plan includes proper consultation and analysis. You must be aware of daily activities, medications, home care, and family factors that have contributed to the “mature” state that your client’s skin is in at the moment.

Professional treatments should promote rapid cell turnover and feeding the skin with active ingredients that nourish every layer of the skin. This can include chemical peels, microdermabrasion, galvanic current, active serums, and antioxidant infusions.

But keep something very crucial in mind: excessive exfoliation, peeling, and damage to the surface of the skin will not result in an improvement, but may actually enhance the visible signs of maturity. There is a very fine line between effective and excessive treatments.

Any time you inflict damage on the surface of the skin, you certainly promote the cell turnover process, but when the infliction of damage is excessive, the skin is not capable of maintaining the physiological repair mechanisms triggered in the inflammatory response and the wound healing process.

More is not better. Instead, the object is to work hand-in-hand with the skin’s natural maturing process. Feed, nourish, hydrate, and protect… and your clients’ immature skin will thank you.

Learn More About Treating Mature Skin with ASI Online

I hope you’ve found this article helpful. If you’re interested in learning more about treating mature skin and other skin care topics, browse our online courses.

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