Nutrition Edit

Skin Ageing: Intrinsic and Extrinsic factors

15th Sep 2022

Skin Ageing: Intrinsic and Extrinsic factors

Skin ageing is a natural process, however everyone will experience ageing through a unique confirmation of factors including genetics, ethnicity, as well as lifestyle and diet. In today’s fast-paced, modern lifestyles, there is increasing attention and focus for anti-ageing products. A survey from Euromonitor International stated that more than 50% of millennials consider looking healthy as a ‘beauty standard’ [1].

Our skin is a reflection of our own internal health, so adopting healthy habits is key for younger, healthier looking skin. Our skin specialists explain the ins and outs of intrinsic and extrinsic ageing and recommend healthy lifestyle choices for a youthful, vibrant complexion.

Intrinsic and extrinsic ageing

Intrinsic ageing is the genetically predetermined process that occurs naturally and is associated with physical changes over time and impossible to prevent, it is often called our biological age [2] .

However, we do have control over external factors, and these can help preserve our skin. Extrinsic ageing is a result of external factors including environment, sun exposure, where you live and lifestyle habits [2]. Common signs are brown spots on the skin, wrinkles, loss of elasticity and uneven skin tone.

Intrinsic ageing


Your genetic makeup is something your born with and can’t be changed. If you notice your family have fewer lines and wrinkles – you may benefit from this as well. Some people are lucky and have good genes and this can certainly help but don’t worry it’s not all that plays a part.


Our ethnicity is who we are, our race and origin and some of the physical characteristics of this are our skin. The main difference between races is the amount of melanin in the skin. Those with darker skin tones have more melanin than Caucasians and research shows, the more melanin you have in the skin, it provides increased protection from UV rays [3], which can help with skin ageing from the sun.

Extrinsic ageing


Emerging evidence shows that eating a diet high in sugar and refined carbohydrates can damage your skin over time. High sugar consumption increases the rate of glycation, a reaction which can damage collagen and accelerate ageing including increased risk of wrinkles [4]. A good rule to follow is include a variety of fruits and vegetables also known as the rainbow diet in your meals. We make 200 million skin cells every hour, so our bodies need the vitamins, nutrients, and minerals from a variety of healthy foods to make strong skin cells.

Exposure to UV light

Many of us enjoy spending time outside embracing the sunshine. However, without the relevant protection, the UV rays can do more harm than good to skin. Sun exposure and sunbeds penetrate your skin with UV rays and damage the DNA in your skin cells, causing wrinkles and brown spots to appear on the skin. To prevent these from happening, our skin researchers recommend the following to stay sun-safe:

  • Wear sunscreen daily
  • Reapply sunscreen every 1 - 2 hours when outside in the sun
  • Wear sunglasses that filter the UV light
  • Wear protective clothing such as a hat and cover ups
  • Stay in the shade during peak times between 10:00am - 3:00pm


Many chemicals present in tobacco damage collagen and elastin. In addition, they also narrow blood vessels preventing healthy nutrients reaching the skin which can cause dull, grey, skin [5]. If you stop exposing your skin to the toxins in cigarette smoke, you’ll give your skin time to repair itself from any damage. If you’re a smoker, check the resources online to help support you in giving up. The NHS provide many online tools that can help with this.


Drinking too much alcohol can cause dehydration making your skin dry and more prone to wrinkles. Our skin researchers recommend limiting your alcohol by having alcohol free weeks or weekends for a healthy balance. As well as drinking 7-8 glasses of water a day to keep hydrated.


We are all exposed to different stresses throughout life. Of course, some stresses are short term, while others can extend to longer periods of time, this is known as chronic stress. Stress causes changes to the protein in your skin and reduces its elasticity, this can result in wrinkle formation [6]. There are various things you can do to help manage stress including exercising, getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep, journaling, and dedicating time for things you enjoy.

As you can see, there are many considerations that influence skin ageing, not just genetics. Thankfully, there are lifestyle choices and habits we can adopt to help seeing visible signs of ageing including uneven skin tone and wrinkles. Eating a healthy and balanced diet with a rainbow selection of fruits and vegetables, staying safe in the sun by wearing SPF and covering up during peak times are all going to help. As well as avoiding habits such as smoking, excessive drinking and practicing stress management techniques to help you achieve a youthful, vibrant complexion.


  1. Euromonitor international survey 2018
  2. Intrinsic and extrinsic factors in skin ageing: a review. National Library of Medicine. M. A. Farage, K. W. Miller, P. Elsner and H. I. Maibach. September 2008.
  3. Ageing differences in ethnic skin. National Library of Medicine. Neelam A Vashi. Mayra Buanin De Castro. Roopal V Kundo. January 2016.
  4. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin ageing. National Library of Medicine. Silke K. Schagen, Vasiliki A Zampeli, Evgenia Makrantonaki, Christos C Zouboulis.
  5. Tobacco smoke causes premature skin ageing. Journal of Dermatological Science. Morita A. January 2008.
  6. The effects of chronic stress on health: new insights into the molecular mechanisms of brain–body communication. National Library of Medicine. Agnese Mariotti. November 2015.