As many of usage, we are plagued with the dreaded discovery of skin that is not snapping back the way it used to. This is the result of a breakdown of the collagen and elastin that keep our skin tight and smooth. Collagen is a protein that forms the connective tissue found throughout the body that is required to keep our skin firm. As we get older, collagen production slows down and the inner elastic layers of skin begin to thin, leaving us with looser, wrinkled skin.
Others find they have loose skin after pregnancy or losing weight. Carrying excess weight forces the skin to stretch, and collagen and elastin fibers are damaged. This prevents the skin from returning to its previous level of firmness. This is especially problematic if a person loses a significant amount of weight. This leaves many of us wondering how to tighten skin.
Though we cannot prevent the aging process or completely reverse the effects weight loss has on our skin, there are many steps we can take to tighten areas of concern. The best course of action will depend on the area of the body that is experiencing the sagging, and the degree of sagging that has already occurred.
Exercise for Tight Skin
Exercise is a great way to tighten the skin on the body, and some believe certain exercises are beneficial for the face as well. Researchers have even suggested endurance training might reverse some of the effects aging has on the skin. After starting a group of participants over the age of 65 on an exercise program, researchers biopsied skin and found noticeable improvement. Layers of skin more closely resembled those typical of younger people than they did at the outset of the program.
Though they are not entirely sure how exercise rejuvenates skin, there was a definite benefit, so starting a regular exercise routine is recommended. An exercise boost can increase myokines, the substance experts believe may be responsible for the changes in skin that are discovered after participants began the exercise program.
Experts recommend that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. That works out to about five 30-minute workouts in the appropriate target heart rate range for your age and level of fitness. You can choose from a variety of cardio workouts including, walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, or bike riding. Just remember to use sunscreen if you are going to be outside, because the sun can cause even further damage to your skin.
Tighten Skin Routine for the Body
In addition to the cardio workout to improve the body’s ability to maintain the elasticity of the skin, a more targeted tightening approach can be applied to specific areas of the body. Some of the areas prone to sagging are the stomach, buttocks, arms, and legs. The building or toning of muscle in these areas will improve the look of sagging skin. Two to three workouts a week are recommended.
Stomach: Any abdominal tightening exercises will be beneficial. Core strengthening workouts will improve posture and tone the areas under the skin. Both of these benefits will improve the appearance of any sagging in the stomach area.
Buttocks: Squats are an excellent exercise for lifting the buttocks and firming the skin. Not only will they build the muscle beneath the skin, they can also help to reduce the subcutaneous fat that is stored just beneath the skin. This fat is sometimes mistaken for sagging skin. If you are new to this type of exercise, you might want to invest in a stability ball. Using the ball will help you determine the appropriate point at which to end the squat and protect you from injury. They also work as an assistant while you are building the muscles in your legs and buttocks.
Legs: Squats are also great for legs, but lunges will really target the thighs if that is a problem area that needs tightening.
Arms: A simple set of hand weights is all you need to tone up the arms. Weights come in sizes ranging from one to ten pounds, so even those who have not exercised in a while can find an appropriate weight set. Exercises targeting the triceps will improve the area most prone to sagging. Push-ups are also an excellent exercise for the triceps.
Tighten Skin Routine for the Face
Though there is some debate about the effectiveness of targeted facial exercises, some people swear by them. The face has over 50 muscles, many of which we do not use regularly. The theory is that by exercising these muscles, we will be able to lift specific parts of the face. Exercise promotes blood circulation and the flow of oxygen, so your skin also receives more nutrients.
Areas of the face that are especially prone to sagging include the jowls, neck, chin, and forehead. It is recommended that exercises be performed on these areas for about 20 minutes three to five times a week.
Topicals for Tight Skin
Many of us would also like to know how to tighten skin without exercising. Another method of skin tightening utilizes the application of cream or lotion topicals. As a preventative, the best topical you can use on your skin is sunscreen. Too much time in the sun without proper protection will degrade collagen and elastin in the deep layers of skin. This results in premature aging and loose skin. The following are the active ingredients typically found in firming creams:
Retinol is also known as Vitamin A. This substance blocks the enzymes that are responsible for breaking down collagen. It is available in both over the counter and prescription formulations and can be found in varying price ranges.
- Collagen Boosting Peptides
Collagen or collagen-boosting peptides are amino acids that can help to moisturize, nourish, and support the structure of the skin, among other benefits. This results in a firmer, tighter texture.
Caffeine is used primarily as a temporary boost, but it is believed that it might also benefit future collagen production. It works by stimulating blood flow and improving circulation on the area of application. This can give tired eyes a fresher look and gives the skin a tighter appearance.
- Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid pulls moisture from the air to plump up the skin and make it appear firmer. The best products are those with a higher molecular weight. This substance can bind over one thousand times its weight in water. That amount of hydration gives skin a tight, smooth appearance.
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
AHAs can change the texture of the skin, brighten, tighten, and plump. They come in different formulations, so it is best to ensure the product you choose promotes tightening.
- Polyglutamic Acid (PGA)
PGA is found in the skin naturally. It is a humectant that seals in moisture and promotes elasticity. It holds more moisture than hyaluronic acid and is also used as a preventative product to keep skin firm.
Tighten Skin Process for the Face
Each topical should be used based on the product instructions. However, most topicals are applied to the face after cleansing and before moisturizer and sunscreen. Some have stronger ingredients and are only used a few times a week, while others can be applied for a daily boost.
Tighten Skin Process for the Body
Tightening creams for the body should also be applied based on product instructions. However, some also find it beneficial to incorporate massage into the application. Massage is long known for stimulating circulation and improving overall health. The improved blood flow can have an anti-aging effect.
Supplements for Tight Skin
What we put in our bodies also has an impact on our skin. In addition to a healthy, balanced diet, some people have reported improvement in sagging skin after taking supplements. Supplements promoting skin health include:
- Collagen Hydrolysate
Taking collagen as an oral supplement may boost collagen levels, increase hyaluronic acid, and promote the growth of cells responsible for making connective compounds. One study found that after 4 weeks of oral collagen peptide supplementation, there was a significant increase in collagen density in the dermis and a decrease in the breakdown of the dermal collagen network.
Antioxidants reduce skin sagging by neutralizing reactive oxygen species (ROS). They also promote the growth of collagen and elastin. Antioxidants include vitamins (A,C,D,E), coenzyme Q10, selenium, zinc, and epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC). Many of these can be found in food in addition to supplements.
Consistency is key to any skin tightening routine. Though there are some products that will supply a temporary and more immediate effect, it is important to continue a regular regimen for long term results. Combining several approaches is probably the most effective course of action, especially for those with more than mild sagging issues.