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how to improve skin elasticity and firmness

How to Improve Skin Elasticity and Firmness at Home

Take steps to improve skin elasticity and help regain skin firmness. It’s actually easy to improve skin firmness with a combination of skin care and lifestyle changes. Knowing what works best to improve skin elasticity will get you the most return on your efforts. As a fair skinned 63+ year old dermatologist who grew up in the sun, this topic is of great interest to me both personally and professionally. I keep up on the latest advances - and filter out the hype - and my patients and I have proven what works over the years. I'm going to give you my summary of the top proven recommendations to improve the firmness of your skin and explain why they work. 

I've also created two medical-grade skin care kits that use the best proven ingredients to improve skin firmness and elasticity and I depend on them for my own skin: 

Best facial skin care to improve skin elasticity and firmness

Ageless Rejuvenation Facial Skin Care Kit 

This routine combines retinol, glycolic acid, green tea antioxidants, mineral sunscreen and skin soothing products into a complete skin care routine to help boost your facial skin's precious collagen and elastin - the keys to improving skin elasticity and firmness. 

Ultra-Fast Triple Action Body Smoothing Kit

Fights loss of firmness and elasticity on the arms, hands, chest and legs using a powerful glycolic acid body lotion.

best skin care routine to improve skin elasticity and firmness on arms and legs

Read on to learn why skin loses elasticity and what doctors and scientists know will help you to prevent the loss of your skin's elasticity and help reverse any that already exists. 

What does it mean when skin loses elasticity and firmness?

skin elasticity definition

Definition: Skin elasticity is your skin’s ability to resist stretch and sag – including from gravity.

what causes loss of skin firmness

Your skin loses firmness and elasticity due to loss of collagen and elastin in the dermis, thinning of the epidermis and reduced water binding throughout the layers of your skin. With the loss of skin elasticity, skin becomes crepey, wrinkled, saggy and fragile. Fine wrinkles deepen into deep wrinkles that defy reversal. What most people don’t realize is that with the loss of skin elasticity their skin also becomes thin, fragile, prone to dryness and slower to heal.

actinic purpura

This skin fragility eventually results in easy bruising (called senile purpura)  and tearing. Bruising ultimately leaves permanent blood iron pigment (called hemosiderin) underneath the skin that, in my observation, further reduces the vitality and wound healing ability of skin. This is especially obvious on areas of the skin such as the forearms and shins.

At the same time, and for some of the same reasons, thin skin also loses some of its ability to hold water, becoming drier and more prone to eczema.

Loss of skin elasticity and firmness is not just a cosmetic concern. Thin skin is fragile skin. It's important to do what you can to keep your skin strong over the course of your lifetime. – Dermatologist Dr. Bailey

Maintaining skin elasticity and firmness is important for having strong and durable skin.

The good news is that there are many ways to increase skin firmness and prevent loss of skin elasticity with subsequent dryness and fragility. The sooner we start working on improving and preserving skin elasticity the better - and it's never too late to make big improvements that will give you healthier and stronger skin for the rest of your lifetime.

I'm going to start with the solutions first! This is the good news that empowers us to keep our skin strong and healthy. The second half of this article will be the scientific explanations of why these recommendations work to help maintain skin firmness and counter the otherwise inevitable skin thinning that happens with age. 

Dermatologist’s 8 recommendations to improve skin elasticity and firmness

1. Sun protect your skin daily to prevent collagen and elastin loss

skin elasticity tip wear zinc oxide sunscreen

Be generous, targeted and consistent with your daily sun protection including the use of the right sunscreen, hats, sun protective clothing, seeking the shade and reapplying a good broad spectrum mineral sunscreen during prolonged sun exposure. 

Key points for skin sun protection:

  • Your sunscreen MUST be broad spectrum, meaning it blocks UVA as well as UVB. UVA rays penetrate skin deeply and are harder to block with sunscreen. Use a product labeled 'broad spectrum' and that has an SPF of 30 or higher.
  • Reapply sunscreen every 2 hours of sun exposure and after sweating, swimming or activities that remove sunscreen from your skin.
  • Utilize UPF 50 fabric to cover as much skin as possible and wear a real UPF 50 hat with full scalp protection and a minimum of 3-inch full circumference brim during intense UV exposure.
  • how to tell if you are exposed to uv rays
    Avoid direct sun exposure of your skin when possible by seeking the shade. Test your exposure with the UV Detecto Ring - you will be surprised. 

Never skimp on sunscreen; you need the right sunscreen for all of your needs. This includes:

  1. a facial product that you love wearing daily,
  2. a powder sunscreen for easy facial reapplication during prolonged sun exposure on days when you are wearing makeup,
  3. a water-resistant product for the back of your hands/arms/chest/neck when they are exposed, and
  4. a highly water-resistant product when you are sweating or swimming.

FAQ: Mineral zinc oxide gives the best broad spectrum UV sun protection.

My recommendations - and the products that I trust and use daily - are all pure mineral with zinc oxide being the primary form of mineral protection. They include: 

dermatologist recommended facial sunscreen for skin firmness

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Matte Tinted SPF 30 Sunscreen for daily facial use. The tinting blends into all skin tones to appear invisible (including on a man's skin), feels lightweight and completely non-greasy, is acne-friendly and provides SPF 30 protection plus iron oxide to help reduce exposure to visible and screen light known to also damage skin. When I need water resistant facial UV protection, I apply my Matte Tinted on top for extra protection and to blend any white cast from the untinted mineral product into my skin tone with a tinted product. 

best sunscreen to prevent loss of skin elasticity on arms and hands

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Water-Resistant SPF 50 Spray Sunscreen for wet and sweaty activities providing 80 minutes of water resistance. It rubs in almost invisibly and binds tenaciously to skin. It is acne-friendly and light weight on your skin. This is a tough sunscreen that you can trust to protect you while you work or play hard in the sun.

dermatologists recommend zinc oxide mineral sunscreens

Sheer Strength Pure Physical Liquid Sunscreen SPF 50 provides moderate water resistance up to 40 minutes. It is good for daily wear on arms/chest/neck/hands, rubs into hairy skin and is light weight. It is acne-friendly and almost invisible when well rubbed in. 

best powder sunscreen to block blue light

Sheer Strength Pure Physical SPF 50 Refresh Powder Sunscreen is ideal for facial and hand reapplication. Tinting comes from iron oxide over the requisite 3.2% to protect skin from visible and digital screen blue light that can cause free radical skin damage over time. Keep this in your purse, pocket or backpack for the easiest way to reapply sunscreen throughout your day to prevent loss of skin firmness! 

how do dermatologists go in the sun

You also need UPF 50 sun hats and a range of sun protective clothing that fit your activities. The key with sun protection is that you need to be prepared in advance so that you never step into the sun unprotected. I recommend you stock up on the sunscreens, buy the hats you need and go shopping for UPF 50 clothing. The pic here is of my 30 something daughter and her 60 something mom at a garden tour - UPF 50 hats, umbrellas, sunglasses, sunscreen and mom in a UPF 50 shirt. We make it work!

2. Reduce your intake of sugar and foods that your body reads as sugar such as alcohol to slow skin aging and thinning

foods that fight the loss of skin firmness

Bathing your skin in the physiologic consequences of too much sugar leads to glycation, a process where the excess sugars attach to proteins – like collagen and elastin fibers – and damage them. The result is advanced glycation end products, aka AGEs. AGEs cause premature skin aging, skin becomes crepey, saggy, wrinkled and crosshatched.

Instead of sugar and refined carbs, bath your skin in whole foods rich in antioxidants, vitamins and lean protein. When it comes to skin firmness, antioxidant rich foods are important for your skin. This is where the rainbow diet comes in and I've been writing about it since I launched my website over 13 years ago – kale, kiwi, oranges, berries, carrots, tomatoes, avocados, winter squash, spices like turmeric plus omega-3 rich fish like salmon, whole grains and nuts, beans etc. fight skin aging and other skin problems.

Yep, basically, I recommend that we eat the 'spa diet' on a regular basis. Trust me, it gets easy and it doesn’t have to break the bank. Pass up the overpriced junk food and reach for the filling whole foods to fight the loss of skin elasticity and firmness. - Dr. B

3. Stack your lifestyle choices to resist excess free radical formation and inflammaging that leads to skin thinning and collagen loss

Stress, poor sleep quality, physical inactivity, smoking and exposure to pollution all lead to premature skin aging - and this leads to loss of firmness and elasticity.  Some of this happens due to free radicals and some happens due to overall physiologic inflammation called inflammaging. Make the opposite choices. I give you more detailed information in the second half of this article. The executive summary is:

  • lifestyle choices to improve skin firmness and fight collagen loss
    Eat a healthy, wholefoods diet
  • Get 7 to 9 hours of sleep (in the dark - including no screen light) as recommended by the National Sleep Foundation
  • Exercise regularly
  • Say no to excessive stress (let your skin give you the permission!)
  • Don't smoke
  • Limit your exposure to pollution

 

4. Sleep with a medical-grade retinoid to regain skin firmness and prevent collagen loss 

best retinol to fight loss of skin elasticity and firmness

Retinoids are vitamin A compounds in skin care products that are:

They also help your skin to produce water binding hyaluronic acid to quickly plump skin and reverse crepey skin sagging.

The best skin care retinoids for collagen stimulation include prescription tretinoin and non-prescription retinol over 0.5%.

It's simple to use a retinoid at bedtime such as Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream. It comes in 0.5 and 1% medical-grade retinol in a pharmaceutical-grade formulation. Be consistent for best results. Retinoids are primarily effective for facial, neck, chest and hand skin.

FAQ: Retinoids are inactivated by light, including visible light, making them the ultimate and obligate night treatment to improve skin elasticity and firmness. This is why I say "always sleep with a retinoid to fight skin thinning, wrinkling and fragility due to age and sun damage."

Dermatologists uniformly agree that retinoids plus sunscreen are the two most important skin firming products that you can use. Frankly, as a dermatologist, I can tell you that we all use them ourselves! 

5. Add glycolic acid to your body and facial skin care routines to enhance skin firmness and elasticity

Glycolic acid is a natural alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) that was originally derived from sugarcane. The benefits of AHAs for skin firmness have been known for thousands of years. Cleopatra bathed in sour milk, which is rich in the AHA lactic acid, to keep her skin soft. Glycolic acid, the most effective AHA, works wonders for both face and body skin. In my 35 years of clinical practice, I've found that glycolic acid is the single best option to improve firmness for body, arm and leg skin. 

Glycolic acid is my number one choice to fight crepey skin on your arm, leg and body skin.

improve skin firmness on arm hands and legs with glycolic acid

Apply a medical-grade glycolic acid body lotion such as my Glycolic Acid Body Lotion where thinning body skin needs intervention the most, which is at a minimum your arms, legs and the back of your hands.

My favorite way to use glycolic acid on the body is with my Ultra-Fast Body Smoothing Kit. I combine the perfect physical shower exfoliation followed by applying my Glycolic Acid Body Lotion. If you use it on your entire body, I promise you will have the a more velvety and soft skin texture than you ever thought possible. I’ve used it for so long that my husband of 40 years actually thinks that soft skin is normal. Yes, he uses it too.

best skin care for firmness on arm leg chest and hand skin

Glycolic acid also works additively with retinoids to prevent loss of skin firmness and elasticity for facial skin.

glycolic acid face cream for facial skin firmness

Reverse crepey skin changes by adding a medical-grade glycolic acid cream to your facial skin care routine such as my Glycolic Acid Anti-Wrinkle Face Cream. 

Glycolic acid is compatible layered with retinoids and you can top your retinol with it. Alternatively, you can use it during the day under your sunscreen. - Dermatologist Dr. Bailey

You will read that 'experts' discourage the use of glycolic acid with retinol. When you dig into their rational, it's because both ingredients can be irritating to sensitive skin. I've successfully combined them for 3 decades in my dermatology practice and on my own face and the results are additive! That said, using glycolic acid with a retinoid is something you need to work up to because both can be irritating to sensitive skin. I give you tips for how to do this on my Tips for Success tabs on the product pages. 

Another way to incorporate glycolic acid into your facial routine is to have professional AHA chemical skin peels done every 4 to 8 weeks.

FAQ: Glycolic acid products must be formulated over 10% in an acidic pH no higher than 4 in order to improve skin elasticity and firmness. Medical-grade glycolic acid products such as mine are.

This means they will irritate sensitive skin. When used in combination with a retinoid, the potential for irritation increases - but so do the benefits. For facial care, I recommend starting with retinol and adding glycolic acid slowly and cautiously once your skin has adjusted to the retinol.

6. Apply antioxidant skin care products daily to protect skin from the damaging free radicals that cause skin thinning

the best antioxidants to prevent skin thinning

Protect what’s precious from oxidative free radical damage with an ever-present army of antioxidants; antioxidants neutralize damaging free radicals before they can destroy skin collagen and elastin. You need to eat them abundantly but you can load your skin with supraphysiologic levels of antioxidants when you apply medical-grade antioxidants to your skin from the outside. It's proven to work.

What are the best skin care antioxidants to fight a loss of skin firmness and elasticity?

Green tea polyphenols, vitamin C and vitamin E are the best antioxidants for fighting free radicals. All three are well proven to neutralize damaging free radicals that form from UV rays, pollution exposure and the normal metabolic processes of being alive.

Green tea is my top choice antioxidant for skin care.

best face antioxidant to prevent loss of elasticity and firmness

My observation over my years of clinical practice is that green tea sooths skin inflammation, reduces the risk of skin cancer and helps even the most sensitive complexions tolerate retinoids and AHAs. The benefits of green tea polyphenol antioxidants for fighting skin aging are well proven scientifically. My Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy has the right EGCG polyphenol green tea antioxidants at the highest concentration available; the equivalent antioxidants from 500 cups of brewed green tea per ounce of cream.

My Green Tea Cream is at the foundation of almost every facial skin care routine I create for good reason.

I recently started using this product and in just a week I can already see amazing results! It literally makes your skin silky smooth and is visibly reducing prior sun damage and unevenness. Liz P

I recommend applying my Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy twice daily after cleansing your face. It's what I do and I never travel without this key antioxidant product. 

Vitamin C and vitamin E are the second and third antioxidants that I recommend in skin care.

I include them in many of my skin products in amounts that function as antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals to fight skin damage. You will see vitamin C highly touted by other experts for skin firmness, brightness and antioxidant benefit. But you need to know two important points about vitamin C that are not openly discussed by skin care companies.

Why vitamin C is not my first-choice ingredient for boosting skin collagen

  • First, for vitamin C to stimulate collagen formation (which is something it can do, though to a lesser extent than retinoids or AHAs) the vitamin C in a product must be formulated to a very acidic pH just like glycolic acid. Both products are not always well tolerated by sensitive skin. For collagen stimulation, I feel that retinoids and AHAs are more effective and where you should first put the investment of your time, effort and skin irritation risk.
  • best vitamin c serum in airtight pump
    Second, vitamin C is rapidly inactivated on contact with air so using a product that is NOT in an airtight pump means that the active form of an expensive vitamin C product is inactivated fairly quickly when you open the container. You see evidence of inactivated vitamin C in your serum as an amber color. Thus, what may have started as a sufficient concentration for collagen stimulation may now be inactivated. My Vitamin C Professional Anti-Wrinkle Serum is dispensed with an airtight pump and aimed at collagen stimulation. I typically have people apply this Vitamin C Serum during the day after the Green Tea. Also, the supraphysiologic levels of vitamin C that are needed to stimulate collagen last for at least 4 days. This means that you can use a vitamin C product as little as every 4 days and potentially maintain benefit, allowing you to work it in with an AHA and retinol if your skin can tolerate the trio. 

Vitamin C is an important skin care antioxidant to reduce free radical damage, regardless of its ability to stimulate collagen. Many of my products include vitamin C in low concentrations and without an acid pH for the antioxidant benefit. The formulations combine vitamin C with other antioxidants such as vitamin E, superoxide dismutase, ergothioneine, glutathione and CoQ10. It's like 'eating the rainbow' when it comes to skin care antioxidants! 

7. Use a hyaluronic acid serum when you want to immediately plump crepey facial skin

Nothing like the instant gratification of using a really good hyaluronic acid serum. Hyaluronic acid binds up to 1000 times its weight in water for immediate skin plumping. Hyaluronic acid won't build collagen, but it quickly plumps the skin structure that's present to help even out crepey skin changes.

best hyaluronic acid serum to increase skin firmness fast

For this strategy to work, it’s important to use a high-quality hyaluronic acid serum that stratifies hyaluronic acid in all the portions of your top skin layers. My Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum uses the highest quality fractionated hyaluronic acid combined with other water binders including sodium PCA (part of your skin’s natural moisturizing factor abbreviated NMF) and glycerin. Additional antioxidants glutathione and ergothioneine help neutralize free radicals.

Apply Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum right after washing in the morning and under Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy for plump and antioxidant infused skin throughout your day.

8. Collagen supplements have been shown to increase skin collagen

Recent studies have shown that animal based hydrolyzed collagen supplements powder to mix into a beverage may increase skin collagen and improve skin elasticity. This is new and a bit counter intuitive as the animal meat that you eat is rich in collagen that is absorbed into your body when your stomach digests it. That said, the studies are interesting. If you don’t mind taking supplements, I think that there may be benefits to a high-quality animal-based hydrolyzed collagen supplement product.

 

I've just given you my recommendations to fight skin thinning and loss of elasticity. Now I'm going to give you more details on why these recommendations are important.

What are the top causes of the loss of skin elasticity and firmness?

UV ray sun damage leads to a profound loss of skin elasticity

what causes loss of skin firmnessOver 80% of skin aging is caused by sun exposure and this includes the loss of skin firmness. UV exposure over many years causes thinning and weakening of skin in:
  1. the living skin layer of the dermis (where collagen and elastin reside),
  2. the living cell layer of the epidermis (top living cell layer),
  3. the connection layer between the epidermis and the dermis called the basement membrane, and
  4. stratum corneum dead cell barrier layer.

How skin collagen and elastin is lost due to sun damage

Collagen and elastin are proteins that form the scaffolding of your skin and are responsible for much of your skin's firmness and elasticity. They undergo structural change secondary to UV ray exposure. Healthy collagen and elastin have a fibrous structure and this changes to a more amorphous and weaker structure called an elastotic change. I describe this to my patients as going from a healthy and strong spaghetti-like protein structure woven throughout the dermis to a globular lumpy pudding-like structure. You see this elastotic change through the skin as a sallow yellowing skin tone associated with a fine lumpy skin texture that has loss of firmness and elasticity.

solar elastosis and loss of skin firmness

The sun damage change to dermal collagen and elastin is called solar elastosis (also called actinic elastosis or elastotic degeneration) and involves deposition of damaged elastic fibers in the superficial dermis that impart a yellow, sallow and lumpy color to the skin. - Dr. Bailey

Sun and age also lead to a loss of water binding and water holding capacity in both layers of skin. This deflates the dewy and youthful character of younger skin.

Aging skin naturally loses firmness and elasticity

As your body ages, your skin loses the firmness of youth. With the passing of years, the production of both collagen and elastin is reduced even without sun damage. The structure of these protein fibers also change with age. Yep, even without sun damage, your skin loses about 1% of its collagen production each year starting when you are 20!

That said, only about 3% of your overall skin aging is due to this intrinsic skin aging. The rest is due to factors such as sun damage. This means that there are many lifestyle changes that you can leverage to reduce the loss of skin collagen and elasticity. - Dr. Bailey

Menopause leads to loss of skin elasticity and collagen

why does menopause cause skin thinning

A woman’s hormones help her maintain youthful skin.  The changes in your skin after menopause result in as much as 30% dermal collagen reduction within the first 5 years. This is followed by a continued loss of about 2% per year for the next 20 years. That’s a lot of collagen loss.

In addition, a woman’s skin after menopause holds less water, loses more water and suffers more from oxidative damage due to free radicals. Hormone replacement therapy may help some women slow these changes. Clearly, menopause is a wakeup call for us to take steps to protect our skin’s firmness and elasticity – or else!

Medicines such as cortisone can cause loss of skin collagen and firmness

Corticosteroids, including topical, oral and inhaled cortisone for asthma are well known causes of collagen loss and skin thinning. Sun exposure accelerates the collagen loss from cortisone treatment.  Even low doses of inhaled and oral or injected cortisones are capable of inducing collagen loss quickly. Anyone who has been treated with oral, inhaled or topical cortisones is at greater risk for loss of skin firmness and elasticity than if they had not been treated with cortisone.

Glycation leads to loss of skin firmness and elasticity

glycation loss of skin elasticity

Definition: Glycation is a chemical reaction that happens in your body when excess sugars damage proteins like collagen resulting in Advanced Glycation End products (AGEs), which in the case of skin, result in a loss of elasticity.

What causes glycation skin damage?

  • glycation skin injury loss of firmness
    Excess alcohol consumption, including binge drinking and chronic drinking will lead to a loss of skin elasticity by this mechanism.
  • Surprisingly, eating heat seared foods also leads to glycation collagen damage! Yep, bad news for the BBQ lovers. That delicious caramelized coating on hot cooked foods leads to AGEs.
  • Eating foods that are high in sugar also leads to glycation collagen injury and loss of skin elasticity.

Wet cooked foods, such as steamed, boiled and slow cooked stews, have fewer AGEs and less glycation skin injury. 

A sedentary lifestyle also increases the damage to skin by AGEs. 

Inflammation/inflammaging causes accelerated skin aging and loss of firmness and elasticity

Your lifestyle choices have big ramifications for helping or hurting your skin’s firmness due to something called inflammaging. 

inflammaging of skin loss of skin firmness

Definition: Inflammaging is the process whereby low-grade physiologic inflammation degrade vital structures – including your skin. 

The mechanisms of how skin inflammaging leads to collagen decline are complex but the simplified explanation is that chronic metabolic whole-body inflammation leads to long-term dermal damage including damage to skin collagen and elastin. 

Stress accelerates the loss of skin elasticity and firmness.

can stress lead to loss of skin firmness

The amount of stress that you ask your body to endure will play out on your skin's firmness. It's hard to believe, but stress and skin elasticity are connected. Research has confirmed that skin, the body’s largest organ perceives stress. Even repeated short term stress induces free radicals that deplete the skin's antioxidant reserve, leading to free radical damage of skin collagen and elastin – hence skin loss of firmness and thinning. Chronic stress can definitely accelerate skin aging along with a number of other skin problems.  The brain-skin access is real, and it's linked to increased overall physiologic inflammation with resultant skin aging.

Poor sleep is linked to increased signs of skin aging. 

A bad night's sleep is well known to adversely impact your facial appearance including the presence of a sallow complexion with more fine lines and wrinkles. Poor sleepers have shown accelerated skin aging and reduced resilience from other skin stressors such as UV damage. 

Inadequate overall amount of sleep will lead to inflammaging which is hypothesized to reduced protection of collagen and elastin, as well as heightened risk of other age-related health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer. Sallow complexion and sagging skin are both a short-term and long-term consequence of poor sleep.

Smoking is another lifestyle choice well documented to lead to premature skin aging.

Smoking leads to about 20% loss in collagen synthesis. Smoking has long been associated with the visible signs of accelerated skin aging including facial wrinkles and loss of skin firmness. Free radicals and oxidative damage are involved in the mechanism of how smoking damages skin. 

Exposure to airborne pollution is proven to result in oxidative skin stress and collagen breakdown.

Pollution's adverse impact on skin is getting a lot of attention in recent years. Pollution generates free radical within skin that damage vital structures like collagen and elastin.

A nutrition-poor diet will speed up the breakdown of collagen that leads to loss of skin firmness and elasticity.

Eating a diet filled with whole foods and fruits and veggies will not only fight diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, it will help keep your skin firm and elastic. It also loads your skin with an army of antioxidants from the inside out. 

Beyond high sugar foods, a diet of low nutrition foods such as refined carbohydrates, highly processed foods and excess animal products relative to fresh produce and whole foods is well linked to inflammaging and skin aging. 

A sedentary lifestyle will increase inflammaging.

Studies have shown that both short and long-term exercise programs have the ability to reduce the signs of physiologic inflammation. It's never too late to start an exercise program that reduces physiologic inflammation that can help slow the loss of skin firmness as you age.

Your diet and lifestyle choices impact physiologic inflammation, and that in turn impacts how fast your skin will lose firmness and elasticity.

The list of lifestyle choices that lead to a loss of skin elasticity and firmness is long and so is the opportunity for intervention. Yes, some lucky people start with thicker skin that resists thinning and loss of elasticity and stands up better to poor lifestyle choices. You can’t change your genes but you can change how they express themselves over the course of your lifetime. 

The bottom line with how to improve skin elasticity and firmness:

  • Sun protect your skin to halt the major cause of collagen loss that leads to wrinkling and a lack of skin firmness. Use only the best sunscreen and reapply it during extended sun exposure.
  • Stack your lifestyle to resist collagen loss including stress reduction, regularly getting a good night's sleep, exercising, eating a healthy diet, limiting alcohol and sugar and not smoking. When possible, limit your exposure to airborne pollution. 
  • There are supplements and medicines that impact collagen include hormone replacement therapy after menopause and hydrolyzed collagen powder, both of which have been shown to reduce collagen loss. Cortisone reduces collagen; talk with your doctor if you are on skin thinning cortisone medicines including inhalers and topical creams. 
  • Be consistent with a skin care routine that includes collagen stimulating products with retinoids (retinol over .5% and/or prescription tretinoin) and glycolic acid over 10% or higher formulated to an acid pH of 4. 
  • Load your skin with antioxidants from the inside out with your diet, and the outside in with your skin care routine. I recommend applying products with EGCG green tea antioxidants, vitamin C and E, which I feel are the best proven to benefit skin. 
  • Take advantage of the plumping benefits of a really good hyaluronic acid serum to temporarily plump crepey skin.
    use this dermatologist's product to improve skin elasticity and firmness

    Dermatologist's own personal facial skin care to improve skin elasticity and firmness

    My Ageless Rejuvenation Facial Skin Care Kit is a routine build on the foundation of medical-grade collagen stimulating products including Retinol 0.5% and Glycolic Acid 15% at a pH of 4. I include the best green tea EGCG antioxidant product, a pure mineral sunscreen and great cleanser and moisturizer to support the routine. 

    Add Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum if you want the benefit of fractionated hyaluronic acid to instantly plump crepey skin.

    Add Sheer Strength Pure Physical Powder SPF 50 Refresh Sunscreen for easy SPF reapplication.

    best hyaluronic acid serum to increase skin firmness fast

    best powder sunscreen to block blue light

    Dermatologist's skin care for the body to improve firmness and elasticity 

    best skin care routine to improve skin elasticity and firmness on arms and legs
    The Ultra Fast Triple Action Body Smoothing Kit is the most effective routine to improve skin firmness on the body. The best results on body skin come from the 15% acid pH glycolic acid in this routine. Topical retinol and antioxidants have not demonstrated much benefit in my observation, but the glycolic acid is a game changer for crepey body skin. 

     

    Add Sheer Strength Pure Physical Water-Resistant SPF 50 Sunscreen to keep collagen-destroying UV rays off precious body skin. 

     

    best sunscreen to prevent loss of skin elasticity on arms and hands

     

    what do dermatologists use to improve skin elasticity and firmnessfirm and healthy

    As a 63+ year old fair skin woman with a misspent youth as a tanner, who went through menopause early and can't take hormones, I depend entirely on my skin care and lifestyle choices to keep my skin firm, youthful and elastic. I use the skin care that I've just listed and I'm also serious about my diet and lifestyle choices when it comes to protect my precious skin collagen. Yep, nature conspires otherwise but I'm not giving in. The good news is that we have scientifically proven guidance to improve skin collagen, firmness and elasticity as we age - and the sooner we start working on it the better.  

    Cited Reference Sources

    1. Dyer JM, Miller RA. Chronic Skin Fragility of Aging: Current Concepts in the Pathogenesis, Recognition, and Management of Dermatoporosis. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2018;11(1):13-18. 
    2. Wright JA, Richards T, Srai SK. The role of iron in the skin and cutaneous wound healing. Front Pharmacol. 2014;5:156. Published 2014 Jul 10. doi:10.3389/fphar.2014.00156 
    3. Loss of elastic fibers cause skin wrinkles in sun-damaged human skin. Jin Young Lee, Yeon Kyung Kim et. al., JDS, VOLUME 50, ISSUE 2, P99-107, MAY 01, 2008 DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdermsci.2007.11.010 
    4. Rittié L, Fisher GJ. Natural and sun-induced aging of human skin. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med. 2015;5(1):a015370. Published 2015 Jan 5. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a015370 
    5. Varani, J et al. “Inhibition of type I procollagen synthesis by damaged collagen in photoaged skin and by collagenase-degraded collagen in vitro.” The American journal of pathology vol. 158,3 (2001): 931-42. doi:10.1016/S0002-9440(10)64040-0 
    6. Fisher GJ, Datta SC, Talwar HS, Wang ZQ, Varani J, Kang S, Voorhees JJ. Molecular basis of sun-induced premature skin ageing and retinoid antagonism. Nature. 1996 Jan 25;379(6563):335-9. doi: 10.1038/379335a0. PMID: 8552187. 
    7. Papakonstantinou E, Roth M, Karakiulakis G. Hyaluronic acid: A key molecule in skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012;4(3):253-258. doi:10.4161/derm.21923 
    8. Solar UV radiation reduces the barrier function of human skin Krysta Biniek, Kemal Levi, and Reinhold H. Dauskardt, PNAS October 1, 2012 | 109 (42) 
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    Author: Dr. Cynthia Bailey M.D. is a Board Certified dermatologist practicing dermatology since 1987. She has done well over 200,000 skin exams during her career and authors the longest running physician written skin health blog in the world.