One of the best parts of SunWindSnow is that I get to talk to some amazing women about their skin, aging, what excites them and what bugs them.
When we’re talking aging, what bugs them is the same old media crap about looking perfect and put together, and hiding your age. Why do we have to hide who we are or the age we are?
But, then as we talk further, there’s often one or two things that they focus on when they look in the mirror. The conversation usually goes something like this:
“Yeah, I have a few wrinkles. I’m ok with that. What really bothers me, though, is ….”
I completely understand. If I were talking, it would be-
“Yeah, I have a few wrinkles, and I earned them. What really bothers me are the little sags that are starting to form on my lower face.”
This is one of the top things that bother people about their faces, along with the area around the eyes and loose skin on necks (we’ll talk about this in the next few weeks). Including me.
The truth is…just about everyone develops jowls to some degree as they age. How much depends on a number of factors.
Why your lower face seems to sag
Jowls happen when the skin on your lower face thins, loses its elasticity, and its structural underpinnings. There are several reasons for this. Usually it’s a combination of them.
Our friends, collagen and elastin
These two proteins are critical for skin structure, firmness, and elasticity. The sad fact is that as we grow older, our bodies naturally make a little less each year.
When the amount you make is less than the amount you lose, your skin will lose its tautness and bounciness.
Some collagen and elastin loss is a biological part of aging, but things like photodamage from the sun, smoking, poor diet, and lack exercise can make it happen a lot faster.
I’ll readily admit I haven’t always been good about sunscreen or wearing a hat.
I’m an outdoor girl and that means a fair bit of sun over the years. Sometime in my 30’s, I got skin care religion and began (almost) always wearing sunscreen, moisturizing, and taking good care of my face.
It’s made a huge difference.
If you can lose less collagen and make more, you can offset this process somewhat. We’ll talk about that below.
I come from a long line of jowlers (as I call them), so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by their appearance.
Some families are genetically more prone to forming jowls. If your mother or father, grandmother, or grandfather had jowls, the chances you will later in life are greater.
You can’t change your DNA, but you do have some say over its expression with good lifestyle choices and great skincare.
A few years ago, I went on an unplanned divorce diet (I’m one of those people that loses their appetite when stressed). I lost a lot of weight and, unfortunately, the lovely fat pads on my face.
When that happens, your skin droops because those fat pads aren’t supporting your cheeks the way they used to.
Result= your lower face isn’t as taut as it used to be. Small sags start to show along your jawline.
Of course, if you lose weight for better health, this is a small price to pay. And there’s a lot you can do to make it less noticeable (see below).
As you get older, especially after menopause, you lose bone. You mostly hear of this in relation to large parts of your body like your hips or back. But you also lose bone in your face, especially your jaw. With less support from your jawbone (mandible), your lower face and neck skin can sag.
Other lifestyle factors
These factors are not necessarily causes of sagging on your lower face, but they can make it worse. Like all habits they can be a challenge to break.
Habitual facial expressions can stretch your skin over time. As your skin loses elastin, it won’t bounce back into place like it used to.
Tech neck: Looking down at your computer or device for long periods of time causes some of your muscles to become too tense (upper back, neck and shoulders). This combined with the effects of gravity can cause the skin on your lower face and neck to become looser and saggy.
Make sure your device is at a level where you’re not constantly looking down. And take breaks (maybe outside?) frequently so the muscles have a chance to relax.
Smoking: Nicotine and the chemicals in cigarettes can cause faster collagen and elastin breakdown. Smoking can also cause your blood vessels to become narrower. This limits your blood’s circulation and prevents your skin from getting enough nutrients to keep it healthy.
Fixes for Jowls
Lest you think the list of causes is long and depressing, and there’s nothing you can do, take heart. There are a number of things you can do.
Of course, the best fix is prevention. The same things that are good for your skin in general are also how you can minimize sagging in your lower face.
-Wear your sunscreen and avoid over exposure to the sun.
-Eat a diet with loads of veggies and fresh ingredients. Avoid sugar and processed foods.
-Drink plenty of water.
-Get enough sleep
-Have a regular skincare routine.
If you’re already starting to notice more sagging than you’d like, you should still do all the preventative things plus:
You’ll want to add products that encourage collagen and elastin production to your skin care routine.
-Sunscreen, every day whether it’s sunny or cloudy. And remember to reapply!
Studies have shown that certain exercises for your lower face are effective in reducing and preventing sagging. Next week, I’ll post a video of some easy and effective exercises for your lower face.
The thing is that you need to do them a minimum of once a day, and preferably two or three times a day, for them to work.
At home collagen induction therapy
You might also want to try at home collagen induction therapies like dermal rolling. You can do dermal rolling at home. A dermal roller is a small roller with tiny needles on it. You roll it over your skin (see video). It’s like aerating uyour lawn. The tiny holes it makes stimulates your skin to make collagen and allows your products to penetrate better. For it to work well, you need to do it consistently a couple of days a week. It’s a longer term solution, not a quick fix.
Because sagging and jowls are bothersome to so many, there are a number of professional treatments. Depending on your philosophy, your budget and risk tolerance, and how much the changes in your face bother you, these are other ways to address jowls.
Acupuncture works very well on the lower face and neck. Treatments are usually twice a week for 5 weeks and then need some maintenance every month or two. In my experience, your results continue over time, especially with regular maintenance. Be sure your acupuncturist is trained in cosmetic treatment.
Injectables- There are hyaluronic acid based injectables that can fill out your cheeks or along your jawline and reduce the appearance of sagging.
Surgeries. A neck lift will remove sagging in your neck and lower face. This is the most expensive option out there and the one with the most risk. However, It’s an option if nothing else is getting you the results you want and your neck/lower face is really bothering you.
No matter how you choose to deal with jowls, or not deal with them, it’s a smart idea to keep taking good care of yourself and your skin as time goes on. Skin is your largest organ and keeping it healthy will go a long way in keeping you feeling good and looking your best.