GlycanAge is a biological age test paired with expert advice to help guide your wellness.

Premature Ageing Guide - All You Need to Know About First Signs of Ageing

Nobody likes the idea of getting older, but since there’s no way to escape ageing completely, most people are willing to settle for ageing gracefully, staying as healthy as possible, and looking younger than their years.
The GlycanAge Team

Key points

  • Premature ageing is a phenomenon that causes your body to age before its time. 
  • Common premature ageing signs include wrinkles, dry and inflamed skin, hyperpigmentation, hair loss, greying hair, and gaunt face and hands. 
  • Things like genetics, inflammation, sun exposure, and poor lifestyle choices can cause your body to age prematurely.
  • GlycanAge test kits can help you determine your body’s true biological age, compare it with your chronological age, and find out whether you’re ageing faster than you’re supposed to. 


Nobody likes the idea of getting older, but since there’s no way to escape ageing completely, most people are willing to settle for ageing gracefully, staying as healthy as possible, and looking younger than their years. But many of us soon find out that this is not as easy as it sounds when we start seeing wrinkles on our faces and feeling older than our age. If you feel like you have started to get wrinkles and age spots or develop age-related diseases sooner than you were supposed to, read this guide to learn all about premature ageing, its causes, and ways to diagnose and reverse this issue. 


What is Premature Ageing? 

Premature ageing is very similar to normal ageing, but the key difference between the two is the timeline. Generally, it is normal for people to develop the first signs of ageing in their early to mid-30s. But if they show up earlier, it is a sign that the person may be experiencing premature ageing. Scientifically speaking, premature ageing occurs when someone’s biological age exceeds their chronological age.


Tip: Learn how to discover your true biological age using a GlycanAge kit


Signs of Premature Ageing

Signs of premature ageing are exactly the same as regular age-related changes that everyone develops when they get older. The only difference is the timeline. So if you notice any of the following before you’re in your early to mid-30s, it might be cause for alarm:

Wrinkles and saggy skin

Our skin holds its shape and remains plump and youthful because of collagen, an essential structural protein. But as we age, the production of collagen in the cells begins to slow down, and old collagen starts to break down. As a result, the skin becomes less firm and supple, wrinkles start to appear, and skin begins to sag. The first wrinkles and fine lines often appear in the areas of your face that move most frequently, such as around the eyes or mouth. 


Hyperpigmentation, also known as age spots, sun spots, or liver spots, are dark spots on your face, hands, arms, legs, and other body parts. The primary cause of hyperpigmentation is excessive sun exposure which accumulates over the years. Most people don’t start developing sun spots until they turn 40, but they may occur sooner if you have fair skin.

Hyperpigmentation in the chest area

In addition to the face, the chest is another area where hyperpigmentation is common. This can be caused by ageing and prolonged sun exposure, but it can also occur due to eczema or other skin problems. 

Gaunt hands and face

As mentioned above, as we get older, the collagen in our skin starts to break down, and the layer of fat located underneath the skin also becomes thinner. As a result, many people and especially women, notice their hands become wrinkly, thin, and veiny when they get to their late 30s and early 40s. But these changes can also occur earlier in life due to premature ageing. 


The same can also happen to your face. As the layer of fat underneath the skin gets thinner, many people (especially those who are naturally thin) notice their cheeks and eyes sink in. 

Dry skin

As we age and our skin becomes thinner, it also gets more prone to dehydration and can easily dry out [1]. Thus, a lot of people start noticing that their skin is flaking and peeling as they get to their 40s. Dry and flaking skin can also cause unpleasant itchiness. 

Hair loss and grey hair

Both men and women also experience hair loss when they get older. For men, this occurs earlier, as about half of all men start experiencing hair loss after turning 50. At the same time, nearly 40 per cent of all women aged over 70 lose some of their hair [2]. This occurs because of genetic predispositions (for instance, predisposition to male pattern baldness in men) as well as because stem cells that are responsible for new hair growth die as you get older. The speed of this process can be exacerbated by hormonal changes, diet, stress, environmental factors, etc. 



Another unpleasant side effect of ageing is grey hair, which occurs in both men and women. While most people’s hair doesn’t start greying until they get in their 50s or 60s, stress and genetic factors can cause some individuals’ hair to become grey even before they turn 30.  


Causes of Premature Ageing

There are numerous factors that cause premature ageing, and identifying them is essential to attempting to slow down or even reverse this process. 

Excessive sun exposure

This is perhaps the most common factor that contributes to premature ageing. Many people love having a tan, and, therefore, they either don’t protect their skin when sunbathing or even use tanning beds to get as tan as possible. Of course, this is a huge mistake that can make you look significantly older than your age and even cause you to develop skin cancer since UV light damages the DNA and causes mutations. Thus, if you want to avoid premature ageing, you should stay away from the sun, use protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts, hats, and sunglasses, and put on sun protection products with an SPF 30 or more. 



It’s also important to mention that UV light from sunlight is not the only type of light that can cause damage to your skin. Infrared and high-energy visible (HEV) lights can also have a negative impact on the skin and decrease its elasticity. Infrared light is invisible, but we generally feel it as heat, while HEV light is emitted by electronic devices. 


There are countless reasons why smoking is bad, and one of them is that it causes premature ageing. Toxins inhaled by smokers damage cells and DNA and cause oxidative stress. They also break down elastin and collagen in the skin. This exacerbates the condition of the smoker’s skin, causing it to become dry, yellow, and wrinkly. 

Genetic factors

There are several very rare genetic conditions that cause people to age prematurity. Most of these conditions, which are often referred to as progeria, manifest in childhood, puberty, or early adulthood and decrease life expectancy. 


For example, 1 out of 1 million people is affected by Werner syndrome. The first symptoms of this disease usually appear when the affected individual is between 13 and 30 years old. People who have this disorder usually have wrinkles, grey hair, and hair loss, which often leads to balding. 


Hutchinson-Gilford syndrome is often referred to as childhood progeria because the symptoms of this disease begin in early childhood, and people affected by it have an average life expectancy of only 13 years. The good news is that only 1 in 8 million children are affected by this disorder. Kids suffering from this condition grow slower than their peers, develop baldness, and have thin arms and legs. 


Some of the other incredibly rare genetic disorders that can cause a person to age before their time include Seip syndrome, Cockayne syndrome type I or type III, Rothmund-Thomson syndrome, Bloom syndrome, and Mandibuloacral dysplasia with type A lipodystrophy.


Unlike sun exposure, inflammation is not often mentioned in discussions about premature ageing, and this is a huge mistake. Today, more and more scientists and doctors agree that inflammation plays a huge role in how quickly we age and how healthy we are. 


Inflammation is a natural bodily response to infections, trauma, and other factors. But this essential defence mechanism can often malfunction and occur in the background even though nothing is wrong in the body. Unlike acute inflammation, which usually sets in and subsides within a few days or weeks, chronic inflammation can persist for months and even years on end without you even knowing about it. 


This phenomenon can be caused by a variety of factors that are virtually impossible to escape in the modern world, including environmental factors, stress, unhealthy diet, and poor lifestyle choices. For instance, if your skin is constantly exposed to pollution in the air, your skin barrier will become weaker over time and lose its ability to adequately protect and repair itself. Thus, it will be permanently inflamed. 


Chronic inflammation has such a significant effect on the ageing process that scientists have even created a new term for it - inflammageing. Inflammageing commonly leads to skin dehydration and dryness and collagen and elastin degradation, which, in turn, causes the skin to become less plump and develop wrinkles [3]. 


But how can you tell if your body is experiencing chronic inflammation before you start noticing signs of inflammageing and take action and preserve your youth? Fortunately, GlycanAge offers a solution.

Determine your biological age with GlycanAge 

On a cellular level, inflammageing is associated with glycation. This is a cellular-level process during which sugars in your body attach themselves to proteins and fats. There are two types of glycans that can be present in our bodies - pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory. Both types are essential to keeping our bodies healthy, but the balance between them plays a huge role. As we age, the proportion of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory glycans present in our bodies changes, which leads to ageing and diseases.


GlycanAge scientists have developed an innovative science-backed method for evaluating the level of inflammation in your body and the condition of your immune system by analysing glycans that are attached to the IgG antibodies. This method allows us to determine your true biological age (as opposed to the chronological age). The results of the test will help you determine if your body is ageing prematurely and find out whether you need to take action and change your lifestyle, give up bad habits, or even consult a doctor.


How does GlycanAge work?

All you need to do is order a test kit on our website, take the finger prick test at home, mail your sample to our lab, and wait for us to send you the results. Once we process your test and get the results, we will email them to you, and you will have the opportunity to set up a free consultation call with one of our ageing specialists to help you understand what the results of the test mean. Get your test today and find out if your body is ageing prematurely!


Lifestyle factors that cause premature ageing

There are also a number of lifestyle factors that can cause your body to age prematurely, although their effect is not as significant as that of sun exposure, genetic disorders, inflammation, or smoking. 


Our environment plays a huge role in how healthy we are and how quickly we age. Therefore, if you live in a polluted area and get exposed to environmental toxins in the air, water, and food every day, it could cause your skin to develop premature wrinkles and pigmentation [4].  

Dietary habits

Eating a healthy diet is one of the easiest ways to stay healthy as long as possible and prevent numerous diseases. But scientists have also shown that overconsumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar can cause damage to the skin, which can result in wrinkles and other premature ageing signs. On the upside, a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables can slow down premature ageing [5].


Sleep patterns

It’s not a secret that the amount and quality of sleep that you get has a significant effect on your health. When we sleep, our body has the opportunity to rest and recover. Studies have shown that lack of quality sleep can exacerbate ageing signs like wrinkles and disrupt the barrier function of the skin [6]. 

Caffeine and alcohol consumption

As much as most people love drinking a cup of coffee every morning or sipping on a glass of wine during dinner, it’s crucial to understand that these simple pleasures can also cause damage to your body. For instance, wine dehydrates your body and, therefore, your skin, which can cause your skin to become wrinkly and saggy. Some scientists claim that caffeine can have a similar effect, but the research on this is not conclusive. 


Unfortunately, stress has a huge impact on our health and the ageing process. For instance, stress can decrease the quality or duration of your sleep, and it can also cause excessive inflammation in your body, all of which contribute to ageing. Plus, cortisol, the stress hormone, inhibits hyaluronan synthase and collagen, which are essential for keeping your skin plump and hydrated [7]. 


How to Stop or Reverse Premature Ageing 

For better or for worse, nobody can stop ageing completely. However, there are steps you can take to stop and even reverse premature ageing and prolong your youth just a little bit longer. 


Your first step should be to identify what is causing your body to age prematurely and do everything in your power to eliminate those factors. This could mean quitting smoking, starting to use sunblock, improving your diet and sleep patterns, starting to exercise, learning how to deal with stress, etc. 


If you have specific concerns you want to address, here’s what we recommend doing in each case:

Gaunt hands

If the skin of your hands looks dry, thin, fragile, and has visible veins, you should start using a high-quality hand cream several times a day. Try to choose a product that contains hyaluronic acid or other deeply hydrating ingredients that can help lock moisture in the skin. You should also put on sunblock with SPF 30+ whenever you leave your home, refreshing it every 2 hours. Plus, if you regularly expose your hands to water, dirt, and chemical products when you clean, cook, or tend to your garden, we recommend always using gloves to protect your skin. 



If you what to get a professional opinion on the condition of your hands or try more advanced treatment methods to resolve the issue, we recommend consulting a dermatologist and inquiring about laser treatment, dermal fillers, chemical peels, etc. 

Dry skin

If you’re noticing that your skin feels more dry and itchy than usual, it’s a good idea to speak to a doctor and make sure that these symptoms are caused by ageing and not by other skin conditions. Once other illnesses are ruled out, you need to determine whether your skin is dehydrated or you just naturally have a dry skin type. 


We recommend using a quality moisturiser with potent active ingredients and drinking lots of water to deeply hydrate your body and skin. You should also evaluate the quality of water in your home and consider installing a filter to improve it. Plus, you should avoid using hot water when taking a shower or washing your face, as it can dehydrate it. Use lukewarm water instead.

Hair loss

Hair loss is a difficult issue to combat, but if you’re losing only a small amount of hair, you can try using a specialised shampoo and conditioner to address the problem. You can also try improving your diet by adding more fruits and vegetables to it or supplementing your food intake with vitamin supplements. 


If the hair loss problem becomes severe, you can try using specialised hair loss treatments such as Propecia (finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil). 


If you notice new sunspots on your face or body, your first step should be to make an appointment with a dermatologist to ensure that what you’re seeing is indeed hyperpigmentation. The next step is to start protecting your skin from the sun to prevent it from developing more sunspots. You can do this by reducing the amount of time you spend in the sun, wearing a hat, sunglasses, and clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible and applying SPF 30+ products to your skin every single day. 


You can also try adding products with vitamin C, aloe vera, and alpha hydroxy acid to your skincare routine. If you’re willing to undergo more invasive and expensive treatment, you can try chemical peels, intense pulsed light therapy, and cryotherapy [8]. 

Inflammation and spots on the chest

The skin in the chest area is very sensitive, so you should always take care to protect it with SPF products and clothing. You should also use a good moisturiser that contains vitamin C or retinoids to improve the condition of the skin. A doctor may also prescribe steroids or bleaching products to help you get rid of hyperpigmentation.


If you want to minimise premature wrinkles on your face, we recommend using a quality moisturiser every morning and night and implementing products with vitamins A and C, anti-oxidants, and retinoids in your skincare routine. The best way to prevent more wrinkles from appearing is to always wear SPF products, protect your skin from the sun, and quit smoking. 


A more radical approach is to try professional treatments such as dermal fillers and Botox to get rid of wrinkles. 



At what age do you start looking old?

Normally, people notice the first signs of ageing in their mid-30s and start to look visibly older in their 40s and 50s. If you notice your body ageing before this time, you may be experiencing premature ageing. 

What can cause premature ageing?

There are lots of factors that can cause premature ageing, including sun exposure, genetic factors, inflammation, smoking, stress, poor diet, pollution, lack of sleep, etc. 

Does stress cause premature ageing?

Yes, stress can cause premature ageing and lead to sagging skin, wrinkles, and other unpleasant effects. 



The GlycanAge Team

Start or continue your GlycanAge journey

Don’t be afraid to reach out to us and ask questions, provide commentary or suggest topics.