Skin elasticity is a concept that’s frequently mentioned when discussing aging and skin health.
But what does the term really mean? And why should you care so much about it?
We’ve got your complete guide to skin elasticity, including easy and natural ways to improve it at home.
What Is Skin Elasticity?
Elasticity is one of the many properties of your skin. It refers to your skin’s ability to bounce back after being stretched, tugged or pulled.
Like elastic fabric, elastic skin has its own “memory” that allows it to return to its previous shape even after being stretched out.
Elastic skin appears full, plump and smooth thanks to its ability to retain its original shape.
Why Is Skin Elasticity Important?
High skin elasticity and a youthful appearance go hand-in-hand.
That’s because elasticity is what holds your skin in place. Without it, your skin will droop, sag and wrinkle because it’s not able to snap back to its original position.
Over time, gravity takes its toll on non-elastic skin, causing sagging jowls, under eye bags and deep wrinkles.
This is why so many anti-aging treatments emphasize their elasticity-restoring effects. It’s an essential component of healthy, youthful skin.
How Do You Know if You Have Enough Skin Elasticity?
Not sure if your skin’s elasticity is at a healthy level? Try this easy skin elasticity test.
Gently pinch your under eye skin between your thumb and index finger, hold it for a few seconds, then release it.
If it snaps back right away, or within a second or two, your skin elasticity is likely fine.
However, if it takes longer to return to its original shape, chances are you’ve lost a lot of skin elasticity.
What Causes You to Lose Skin Elasticity?
There’s a medical term for loss of skin elasticity: elastosis.
The term refers specifically to a loss of elastin, the protein in your skin that’s responsible for giving your skin elasticity.
Elastin loss has many causes. Here are the most common.
It’s completely normal to lose elastin as you age. Starting in your 20s, your skin begins producing less elastin and other skin proteins — around 1% less per year.
This really adds up over time, though, resulting in visible skin elasticity loss by the time your reach your late 30s or early 40s.
UV rays from the sun are the enemy of healthy skin. They cause skin cancer, dryness, sunspots and even the destruction of skin proteins, including elastin.
When your skin is exposed to UV light, an enzyme called cathepsin K is activated. This enzyme attacks and breaks down your elastin, causing rapid elasticity loss.
Smoking and Air Pollution
Cigarette smoke, exhaust, industrial fumes and other air pollutants cause toxins to build up in your skin. This destroys your elastin and inhibits your ability to produce more.
Additionally, if you smoke, you’re inhaling chemicals that harm your elastin — and not just in your skin, either. Your lungs also contain elastin, and without it, they can’t inflate and deflate properly.
Your skin needs certain vitamins and minerals in order to produce elastin. Without these nutrients, your elastin production won’t be able to match the rate at which your elastin decays.
Vitamins A, C and E, omega fatty acids and zinc are some of the essential nutrients for elastin production. If your diet is lacking in these nutrients, your skin will lose elasticity faster than it should.
How to Improve Your Skin Elasticity
Clearly, your elastin faces daily attacks across many vectors.
Thankfully, there are also many ways to protect your existing elasticity and boost production of new elastin.
Foods for Skin Elasticity
Eating a skin-friendly diet can make a huge difference in your skin elasticity. Try incorporating some of these foods into your meals to enable your skin to stay bouncy and young.
Gelatin isn’t just a fun dessert — it’s also one of the best ways to boost your skin elasticity.
That’s because gelatin is actually a form of collagen. Collagen is another skin protein that contributes to skin elasticity, firmness and youthfulness.
In fact, collagen and elastin need each other for their full effects to come through. Elastin helps your skin retain its shape, while collagen firms and strengthens it, making it less likely to get stretched out of shape.
So switch out that nightly bowl of ice cream or plate of cookies for a helping of Jello. You’ll be helping your skin without disappointing your sweet tooth.
Fatty fish like herring, salmon, mackerel, tuna and anchovies are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids.
These essential fatty acids are necessary for the production of collagen, elastin and other proteins.
And if you leave the skin on your fish, you’ll be ingesting the high levels of collagen that it contains as well.
If you can’t or don’t eat fish but still want to boost your omega fatty acids, it’s time to get nutty.
Almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts contain high levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are vital for skin elasticity.
As the building blocks of your skin cells, fatty acids are essential for skin health and youthfulness. Stronger skin cells mean smoother, stronger, more elastic skin.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, arugula and bok choy are considered superfoods for a good reason.
They’re rich in many essential skin vitamins, including A, B6, C, E and K. Many also contain minerals like zinc and selenium, which your skin needs to stay elastic and resilient.
Vitamins for Skin Elasticity
Some nutrients are tough to get through foods, especially if you’re on any kind of restrictive diet.
Consider taking them in supplement form instead for a quick, easy skin nutrient boost.
Taking a daily collagen supplement is one of the best ways to ensure your skin’s continuing elasticity and youthful appearance.
It’s available in many forms, including capsules, chews and drink mixes. You can take anywhere from 2.5 to 15 grams per day, and you’ll start seeing results in just a couple of weeks.
Lutein is an antioxidant found in eggs, corn, leafy greens, grapes, squash and other foods.
It’s also available in supplement form, which makes it much easier to consume high-enough concentrations to boost skin elasticity.
In addition to elasticity, lutein also helps your skin retain water and appear luminous. As if that weren’t enough, it also helps prevent macular degeneration and blindness!
Multivitamins for Skin
For a guaranteed way to meet all of your daily skin nutrition goals, consider taking a multivitamin that’s formulated for skin health.
A skin-focused multivitamin will contain vitamins A, C and E, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It may also contain nutrients like biotin (a type of B vitamin), zinc, selenium and vitamin B12.
Some skin supplements even contain hyaluronic acid to rehydrate your skin from the inside out. Hydrated skin is healthier and more elastic than dry skin.
Herbs for Skin Elasticity
Many herbs can have positive effects on your skin elasticity when used as topicals or consumed through food, beverages or supplements.
It’s not just for sunburns: aloe vera gel is also fantastic for improving skin elasticity.
Aloe has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce wrinkling and boost collagen production in just a few months.
And it even inhibits the expression of a gene that causes collagen to degrade. This means that not only does aloe help you make more collagen, it prolongs the life of your existing collagen.
Dill has been shown to improve skin elasticity by around 30% over the course of two months when applied as a 1% extract.
It also improved skin firmness and reduced the appearance of crow’s feet and other wrinkles.
Ginseng, especially red ginseng, has been shown to boost collagen, elastin and other proteins in the skin.
Other Herbs for Skin Elasticity
Other beneficial herbs for skin elasticity include green tea, cinnamon, amla, areca nut palm, red algae, comfrey and horsetail.
Exercise for Skin Elasticity
It may not seem like exercising your body could improve the elasticity of your facial skin.
But exercise is important for overall health, and if you’re not healthy as a whole, your skin won’t be, either.
Exercise increases blood circulation, which in turn produces almost immediate improvements in skin elasticity. More blood means more oxygen, and more oxygen means more collagen production.
And working out boosts your skin cells’ metabolism, which keeps them healthier and stronger, thus increasing their ability to generate new proteins.
How to Prevent Loss of Skin Elasticity
It’s much easier to prevent elasticity loss than it is to restore it after the fact. Here are some simple prevention tips to start practicing today.
Wear Sunscreen Every Day
Don’t let the sun’s harmful UV rays destroy your collagen and elastin. Wear sunscreen every single day, even if you’re staying indoors or if it’s cloudy outside.
Your sunscreen should be broad-spectrum (UVA- and UVB-blocking) and have an SPF of at least 30. If you’re going to be swimming, sweating or otherwise getting wet, make sure it’s labeled as water-resistant, too.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
When you sleep, your skin takes the opportunity to repair itself from damage and generate new proteins.
These activities are greatly decreased while you’re awake, since your body needs that energy for moving, thinking and other functions.
If you don’t get enough high-quality sleep, your skin won’t have the time to produce the collagen and elastin it needs to stay elastic.
So make sure you get eight hours of uninterrupted sleep every night — your skin will thank you.
Quit Your Bad Habits
Smoking and drinking alcohol are two of the most common vices. They’re also two of the most skin-damaging ones, directly harming your collagen, elastin and overall skin.
If you quit smoking cigarettes, your skin will breathe and function better almost immediately, and it’ll lose elasticity much slower.
The same goes for drinking. Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum — medical guidelines recommend no more than one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.