Your skin is composed of elastin and collagen. As you age, your skin does not hold the same elastic qualities as it once did when you were younger. The collagen in your skin also begins to break down for a number of reasons such as age or from being destroyed by free radicals. Other skin damage, such as a burn, can cause the collagen in your skin to become destroyed.
Your skin is composed of three layers. The epidermis is the outermost layer of skin; you can actually see and feel this layer. The dermis, or middle layer, is just beneath the epidermis. The dermis is the layer that produces collagen and elastin. The subcutaneous layer is the innermost layer of skin, closest to the bone.
The purpose of collagen is to make your skin firm, stretch and bend. As collagen breaks down or becomes destroyed, wrinkles begin to appear. Elastin provides your skin with elasticity, making it pliable. Without collagen and elastin, your skin could not stretch or bend.
When collagen becomes damaged or destroyed, your skin will automatically begin the process of producing new collagen, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Repeated sun exposure to ultraviolet rays can impede your skin's ability to stimulate new collagen production. Aging can also factor into how well your skin will produce new collagen. As you age, collagen production naturally slows, making the appearance of lines and wrinkles more noticeable.
To protect your skin from becoming damaged, always apply sunscreen prior to attending outdoor sporting events or during prolonged sun exposure. Wearing hats, gloves and other articles of clothing can help protect your skin from overexposure to the elements. Several treatment options are available to help promote and restore collagen production such as chemical peels, microdermabrasions and retinol creams, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Retinol creams can help destroy free radicals which damage skin such as cigarette smoke, sun exposure and other irritants or pollutants.
Treatments such as chemical peels and microdermabrasions can cause skin irritation and sensitivity. At-home kits are available; however, the American Academy of Dermatology advises patients against using those and recommends professional office treatments. Applying too much pressure during a microdermabrasion can cause additional skin damage, and leaving a chemical peel application on for an extended period can burn deep tissue layers of skin.