Having thick skin is not just a saying, it is literal when you are younger and have more collagen and elastin in your skin. As we age, our skin can become weaker, less elastic, and thinner, but aging is not the only factor in thinning skin.
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How does skin thinning occur?
“The biggest culprit is the usual suspect: sun exposure,” explains Dr. Ava Shamban, a board-certified dermatologist based in Beverly Hills. She says that UV rays stimulate a protein in our bodies called interleukin-8 that “chews down” the collagen and oil in the skin. “Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light and the resulting photodamage deteriorate the collagen and elastin within the dermis layers, so the skin becomes thinner and more brittle,” she says.
“With a lack of intracellular proteins and lipids, we lose that dense, fluffy skin firmness of our youth.” Combined with the loss of water from the epidermis causing dehydration, Shamban likens it to “removing all the stuffing between the layers of a dough, leaving only the thin, brittle phyllo dough.”
Genetics can also play a role in skin thinning and loss of volume. “Skin volume is related to both intrinsic and extrinsic factors,” says Shamban. “In terms of ethnicity, Caucasians tend to show visible signs of aging, or premature aging, with thinner skin. Caucasians will more often experience wrinkles, loss of elasticity, and even reduced volume in the lips sooner.
Black or African-American skin has a thicker, denser, and more compact dermis. Black skin has an extra layer in the epidermis called the stratum lucidum, but a thinner layer of dermis than Asian, Latino, or Caucasian skin. Asian and Latinx skin is in the middle.” Other lifestyle factors like smoking, alcohol and tanning bed use can contribute to thinning skin, as well as nutritional deficits, she says.
What skincare ingredients can help with thinning skin?
If you’re looking for a new facial serum that can help with thinning skin, it’s all about moisturizing ingredients. Shamban says that natural moisturizing factors and humectants are key. “They will bind to water in skin cells and draw water from the environment to help smooth skin.”
When it comes to skin-tightening serums, Shamban says to look for polyglutamic acid, hyaluronic acid, sodium hyaluronate, or glycerin on the ingredient list. “These will give the skin a thicker appearance with a ‘juicy’ and voluminous effect,” she says.
Keep scrolling for 8 facial serums to try to thin the skin, co-signed by Shamban.
Top 8 Serums for Slimming Skin
SkinMedica TNS Recovery Complex — $265.00
A Shamban’s favorite, this treatment serum is “packed with the good stuff” aka a complex blend containing over 380 natural growth factors and cytokines. Growth factors are natural proteins in our body that support cell growth and function, so they can repair damaged skin, stimulate collagen and elastin. Use with HA5 Rejuvenating Moisturizer, which has five types of hyaluronic acid to increase and lock in hydration.
The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Hydrating Serum — $15.00
This serum contains a 3 percent polyglutamic acid complex that helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Polyglutamic Acid, or PGA, is a naturally occurring peptide that draws moisture into the skin. “PGA is a great plumper that retains more than four times the moisture of hyaluronic acid,” says Shamban.
Field Trip C the World Brightening Serum — $21.00
Field Trip is a newer skincare brand that uses a minimalist ingredient list. This serum contains the superfruit camu camu, which contains one of the highest vitamin C contents on Earth, as well as moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, ultra-hydrating sea buckthorn berry oil, and vitamin E. Looking at the ingredient list, Shamban It says it has a “good basic range of ingredients”.
Sweet Chef Beet + Retinol Whey Shot — $20.00
Sweet Chef products feature a blend of skin-loving vegetables and vitamins, like this gel essence containing beets, which boost moisture and help with skin texture, as well as retinol from the antioxidant vitamin A and extract of moisturizing sea berry fruit. “The retinol will help build structure and thicken the skin, so it has what it takes,” says Shamban.
Herbivore Cloud Jelly Hydrating Replenishing Serum — $48.00
This serum is interesting because it contains a natural alternative to hyaluronic acid, the tremella fungus, which offers powerful hydration. “Tremella mushroom is a really good moisturizer, so this one gets my vote,” says Shamban.
Algenist Genius Liquid Collagen 2oz — $135.00
This is another serum that can be used all over the face, specifically on the face, neck, eyes, and décolletage to help firm and smooth the skin. According to Shamban, the presence of liquid collagen and microalgae oil will help “double the density.”
Olay Regenerist Collagen Peptide 24 Serum — $30.00
Dimethicone, glycerin, panthenol, and palmitoyl pentapeptide-4 can all be found in this Olay serum, and Shamban says these are “all good ingredients for moisturizing, smoothing, and plumping, as well as cell renewal.”
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