Elastin is one of the main structural proteins in our skin and throughout our body. Elastin provides our skin and other organs with their ‘elasticity’, the ability to stretch and recoil, thus keeping their shape.
The Sun Saps the Skin’s Elasticity
As we age we subject our skin to the sun’s damaging rays. This process of sun damage injures our skin’s elastin fibers, and over time healthy elastin fibers are replaced with damaged, less effective elastin.
Normal, unharmed skin is usually 80% collagen and 4% elastic fiber mesh network. Sun-damaged skin can grow to be as much as 80% abnormal elastic fibers. The elasticity of the ‘garbage’ elastin is similar to a hard rubber tire, versus a healthy elastin network which is analogous to a rubber band, which can stretch and snap back. Where less sun-exposed skin has more elasticity and is younger looking, damaged skin is much more prone to wrinkling.
Think of any child you know. Kids move their faces all the time and have no ‘motion’ wrinkles. The lines on their forehead disappear when they stop moving their forehead muscles. Wrinkles are not caused by ‘creasing’ our skin. If our elastin wasn’t damaged it would bounce back into place just like a child’s does. But the years of harmful sun exposure take their toll and cause our skin’s elastin to lose its ‘spring’, and the wrinkles you see are the result.