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Aging will thin your skin. How, why, and what you can do about it.

What is thin skin?

Fragile or thin skin that tears easily is a common problem in older adults.  When thin skin gets really bad, it will look almost like tissue paper, the so-called “crepey” skin. This very thin skin of the old can’t protect you. Worse, it will itch, hurt, and get damaged easily. Thin skin is most noticeable on the face, arms, and hands. A person with thin skin may find that she is able to see the veins, tendons, bones, and capillaries under the skin of their hands and arms.

Your skin comprises many layers, and the middle layer is called the dermis. The thick, fibrous tissue of the dermis is made of collagen and elastin. The dermis provides strength, flexibility, and elasticity to the skin. Thin skin results mostly from thinning of the dermis.

Read here more about skin structure

Why does human skin thin with aging?

Aging, sun exposure, and genetics all play a role in thinning skin. Certain medications, such as long-term use of corticosteroids, also can weaken the skin and blood vessels in the skin.

Our skin’s excellent protection through life doesn’t come for free. Just look at it: a lifetime of defending us against the environment can lead to scars, thinning, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation. With all of the damage that will occur naturally, it’s surprising (to me) that anyone would want to make it worse by smoking or tanning; plus, there are harmful “skincare” products out there, avoid those at all costs if you care about the long-term health of your skin. They include benzoyl peroxide, steroids, excessive peeling, and more.

Many processes go wrong in aging skin,  I will tell you about a couple of them, and both have to do with stem cells. For other relevant issues, please search my blog for “mitochondria”; mitochondria are the power-houses of the body; they supply the energy we need to build new cells and for housekeeping. At Skin Actives, we have several products to help you take care of your skin mitochondria; use them!

How the skin thins as we age

One of the most important research papers to come out in recent years is Liu et al. (2019), named “Stem cell competition orchestrates skin homeostasis and aging.” In this paper, the authors show that the presence of “good” collagen 17 protein is significant for success in space and survival competition. A cell that is expressing collagen 17 will multiply and prosper. One that does not express this protein will divide in the wrong way and disappear from our skin rapidly, without leaving “daughter cells” to maintain the skin barrier. Apocynin gives an advantage in this tough competition by promoting the synthesis of collagen 17 and increasing the chances for survival of the mother cells derived from your stem cells.

Ways to help anchor your stem cells and their descendants

Any active ingredient that prevents cell damage and DNA mutation will benefit your stem cells, so wearing sunscreens and antioxidants will prevent injury. Choose actives that encourage “anchorage” of stem cells to the dermal-epidermal junction, plus those that promote nutrition and provide “building blocks” that the skin can’t make itself, like essential fatty acids.

Give your skin stem cells and daughter cells a helping hand. Some actives will promote anchoring the just-divided cells to the dermal/epidermal junction, increasing their chances of becoming part of your skin instead of being lost. Go for apocynin to promote the synthesis of collagen COL17A1. Read more about apocynin here.

What Skin Actives can do for you

We know the skin will thin with age, but we can’t allow it to!  Because the paper-thin skin of the very old can’t do its job correctly – can’t keep infectious agents out, keep water in, etc., and it feels uncomfortable. There’s no reason why aging should thin our skin to  that extent; we should keep our skin not just looking young but “working young.” Often, a consumer may choose to undergo plastic surgery (where a doctor will stretch the skin, cut pieces of it away, and maybe inject “fillers”)  and immobilize the underlying muscles without first thinking that the procedure as a whole might fail unless the skin is healthy.

Apocynin and ROS* terminator will help maintain the dermal-epidermal junction. Apocynin promotes the synthesis of a COL17A1 crucial for anchoring newly formed stem cells, and its end effect will accelerate healing, delay aging, and promote skin health. Actives like quercetin and fisetin seem to help tissues remove old and sick cells that “refuse” to die; they are called senolytics.  There are many inhibitors of melanin synthesis and accumulation, and you can use them together.

We also have to prevent collagen and elastin breakdown and glycation and promote the continuous synthesis of healthy collagen and elastin. Prevent damage by wearing sunscreen, and provide your skin with nutrition and extra epidermal growth factor.

All of the following Skin Actives products contain apocynin plus other actives that will help your skin stay healthy and prevent (and even reverse) thinning:

Anti-aging hydramist

Vitamin A cream with ROS* BioNet

Hydrating and firming cream

Collagen serum

Eye cream

…and don’t forget the lipids!


Tracy, L. E., Minasian, R. A., & Caterson, E. J. (2016). Extracellular Matrix and Dermal Fibroblast Function in the Healing Wound. Advances in Wound Care, 5(3), 119–136. doi:10.1089/wound.2014.0561
Wollina, U., Wetzker, R., Abdel-Naser, M. B., & Kruglikov, I. L. (2017). Role of adipose tissue in facial aging. Clinical Interventions in Aging, Volume 12, 2069–2076. doi:10.2147/cia.s151599

Read also

About elastin

About collagen

DISCLAIMER: These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.