When it comes to skincare, there’s always a new buzzy term to know. The one on our minds these days? “Inflammaging.” This portmanteau refers to chronic, low-grade inflammation that leads to physical signs of aging (get it?). Turns out it’s pretty common – but also pretty manageable. We talked to Dr. Nancy Samolitis of Facile Dermatology + Boutique to find out how inflammaging occurs, how it affects the appearance of skin, and what you can do about it.
What It Is
So what exactly is inflammaging? “The term refers to chronic, low-grade, systemic inflammation in the body that leads to physical signs of aging in skin,” says Dr. Sam. In addition to causing the wrinkles, sagging, and discoloration we associate with looking older, this can also be the culprit behind many common skin conditions. “Inflammation can disrupt the skin barrier and cause skin sensitivity,” explains Dr. Sam. “This often manifests as redness, dryness, dull appearing skin, rough texture and inability to tolerate topical skincare products.” Basically: inflamed skin is not happy skin.
Why It Matters
Over time, chronic inflammation wreaks more and more havoc on our skin — no one wants that! And while our skin may be high on our list of priorities, inflammation also leads to a ton of other serious issues that we can’t see with the naked eye. “Inflammation is associated with many chronic diseases typically associated with age, including arthritis, heart disease, Type Il diabetes, and evenAlzheimer’s,” says Dr. Sam. So yeah, it’s pretty f*cking important. Since it’s a systemic issue, there’s quite a few factors that contribute to inflammation. “This issue is triggered by a number of factors, including UV light exposure, a sedentary lifestyle, dietary factors (eating high-glycemic or processed foods), smoking, and pollution,” says Dr. Sam. And those are just lifestyle factors: “some people may be genetically predisposed to increased inflammation, including those with auto-immune disorders,” Dr Sam notes. All of these factors, both internal and external, can increase your chances of seeing the effects of inflammaging in your skin.
“Inflammation can disrupt the skin barrier and cause skin sensitivity.”
What You Can Do
At this point you may be ready to do anything you can to prevent inflammaging (we sure are!). However, the bottom line is that it’s impossible, and even harmful, to do away with inflammation altogether. “Some degree of inflammation is important to help our body’s natural immune system to be effective in fighting disease and promoting normal healing,” says Dr. Sam. However, there are things we can do to reduce that chronic, excess, and harmful inflammation that leads to so many complications. “Chronic inflammation can be decreased with healthy lifestyle choices like exercising daily, avoiding processed foods and added sugar, not smoking, and protecting yourself against UV light with daily sunblock and sun-protective clothing.” advises Dr. Sam. In the case of inflammaging, beauty truly is an inside job.
So extra sunblock on our daily hot girl walks, check. Anything else skincare-related we can do to fight inflammaging? “Some ingredients in skincare products are designed to be protective against inflammation and chronic low-grade cellular damage,” says Dr. Sam. “These include antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E, the cell protectant vitamin B3 aka niacinamide, and ingredients that restore and protect the skin barrier, like phytosphingosine and ceramides.” Incorporating these ingredients, like a protective vitamin C serum or a replenishing ceramide-rich moisturizer into your routine can definitely give your skin a leg up in the fight against aging. If you’re concerned about existing (or preventing!) wrinkles, discoloration, skin laxity, or any other unwanted signs of aging, call in the professionals and get a skincare consultation – there are plenty of treatments available to help you retain a youthful glow.