Middle-aged woman touching her cheeks with both hands.

Signs of ageing Loss of volume

From the age of 25, general skin ageing begins and changes start to occur in every layer of the skin. This is due to a combination of internal processes and external factors.


General skin ageing and loss of volume

The way we age is partly due to our genetics. This intrinsic ageing combines with environmental and lifestyle factors to trigger the slowing down of key processes and functions in the skin. It is this slowing down which causes the most visible signs of aging: fine lines and wrinkles and a loss of elasticity and a loss of radiance.

One of the main changes that causes these visible signs is the decrease of volume-giving cells.

This loss of volume, together with wrinkles and a loss of radiance and a loss of elasticity, causes facial skin to start looking older. Sometimes difficult to describe, a loss of volume is very common and alters the structure and shape of the whole face. It can also sometimes be referred as saggy skin, loss of contours or ‘looking drawn‘, and is often associated with a negative look to the face.

Graphic presentation of the skin and its layers with volume-giving cells.
Skin’s structure changes with every passing year.
Woman showing loss of volume by stretching facial skin.
The shape of the whole face changes over time and can be explained by loss of volume.

How to recognise a loss of volume

The triangle of beauty

As a loss of volume can be difficult to describe or indentify, a visual reference can be helpful. It clearly shows how this particular sign of ageing changes the shape and structure of the face in several subtle but transformative ways. The ‘triangle of beauty’ demonstrates how diminishing volume can cause the face to take on a negative, sad or stressed look. This in turn can lead to incorrect perceptions of a person’s mood or outlook.

The even distribution of volume in our facial skin when we are young helps it to look attractive. The main features of a younger looking face can be clearly seen as part of the ‘triangle of beauty’. These include:

  • High cheekbones
  • Full jowls
  • Smooth skin
  • A lean, well defined jaw line

These features combine to create a face shape and structure that is wider as the top, tapering down to the narrowest point at the chin. The over-all look is relaxed and positive.

The triangle of beauty presented on an illustrated female face.
The triangle of beauty is associated with a youthful attractive appearance.

As we age, the signs of a loss of volume mean the triangle is inverted. This is due to the following changes:

  • A wider, slacker jaw line
  • Sagging facial shape
  • Flatter cheeks
  • The forehead and brows wrinkle
  • The corners of the mouth point downwards

It’s the combination of these factors that equate to an aged appearance. As is seen here, the triangle is now turned upside down, and now the wider area is towards the bottom of the face. As volume diminishes and skin sags, the perception of the face is altered. Now this facial appearance could be perceived as sad or stressed.

The inverted triangle of beauty presented on an illustrated female face.
Over time the triangle of beauty inverts and leads to a negative sad perception of the face.

Why does the triangle of beauty invert?

Apart from chronological, internal ageing, the processes that lead to a loss of volume are contributed by a variety of factors, both internal and external.

Hormonal changes
In puberty, oestrogen levels are high. Skin is smooth and elastic and the skin contours are defined. As we age, hormone levels decline and volume-giving cells decrease in both size and number, leading to a loss in volume and less defined facial contours.

As part of general skin ageing a loss of volume is also caused by the same external lifestyle factors that also contribute to wrinkles and a loss of elasticity and radiance. These include:

  • Smoking: Nicotine and chemicals in cigarettes further degrade the collagen in the skin.
  • Sun: Spending too long in the sun can contribute to more damage to collagen and a compromised skin structure.

These lifestyle factors combine to cause oxidative stress. This occurs when molecules known as ‘free radicals’ are formed internally and attack cellular structures including those that help the skin look smooth and firm. Once the structure is weakened, and collagen and elastin decline, general skin aging is accelerated. The visible signs including fine lines and wrinkles, a loss of volume, and a loss of elasticity, and less radiance are more apparent on the surface.

Face of a middle-aged woman.
During the menopause, women experience significant changes in their hormonal balance.
Woman protecting eyes from the sun with her hand.
Skin tolerance to sun exposure differs according to skin type and condition.

Why does a loss of volume occur?

General skin ageing takes place as the skin’s processes and systems slow down with age. Most importantly with this particular concern, a gradual drop in the ‘filler’ substances that keep skin looking firm and feeling smooth lead to a loss of volum, reduced definition and sagging skin.

This occurs in the following areas of the skin’s structure:

Graphic presentation of skin structure with different layers.
1 Epidermis 2 Deeper layers of the skin

The Epidermis. As we age, the upper layers of skin produce less Hyaluronic Acid and fewer lipids.  Skin is less able to bind in moisture, becomes drier and, as a result, fine lines and wrinkles appear. Skin also appears thinner, and its texture may be dry and rough.

The deeper layers of the skin. A 1% annual loss of collagen worsens the thinning effect together with a declining level of elastin. As elastin is partly responsible for the skin’s elasticity and strength, a decrease in these two substances together results in a sagging, less elastic skin. The volume-giving cells that keep skin ‚filled out’ reduce in size and number, leading to a shrinking of these layers. The result is a more drawn and sunken look to the skin, with hollow cheeks.

Over time, the blood flow delivering nutrition slows, resulting in dullness and a tendency towards dehydration and slower healing. Skin undergoes a further loss of elasticity and deep wrinkles start to form.


What can be done?

Although a loss of volume is a complex concern and is in many ways inevitable, the visible effects can be treated in a variety of ways.

Active ingredients

Formulas containing the following ingredients can address the causes of skin sagging, loss of volume and poorly defined facial contours. Treating these issues can help to restore a youthful look to the face.



  • Magnolol
    Magnolol, naturally-derived from the bark of the Magnolia tree, is a highly effective ingredient in anti-ageing products.  In-vitro research has shown that it activates volume giving cells by increasing their number and size.  Products, which contains a high concentration of Magnolol, can help to address the causes of skin sagging, loss of volume and poorly defined facial contours. When used alongside daily volumising care products, it can help to restore a youthful look to the face.
  • Oligo Peptides
    Extracted from Aniseed fruits, these peptides stimulate and support the collagen network in the dermis. This strengthening of the skin’s structure helps to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Oligo Peptides also have a stimulating effect on metabolic skin activity, reactivating skin cell interactions. They are a key ingredient in the Eucerin Volume-Filler range which treats a loss of volume and also helps to restore radiance.
  • Hyaluronic Acid
    Hyaluronic Acid is a substance formed naturally by skin cells and is part of the connective tissue of the skin. One of its key functions is to retain moisture, and it has the ability to bind in between 1,000 and 10,000 times its own weight in water (i.e. between one and ten litres). As we age, the skin's natural ability to produce Hyaluronic Acid depletes and wrinkles start to form and deepen. Used alongside volumising care products, this intensive skin care treatment can help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It is also an effective, active ingredient in the Eucerin Hylauron-Filler range and in the day and night care products in the Eucerin ELASTICITY+FILLER range.


Middle-aged woman looking into the mirror touching her left cheek.
When used in anti-ageing face cream formulas, ingredients such as Magnolol, Oligo Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid can help to restore a youthful look..
Woman applying cream on her face.
A daily face care routine, using volumising care products, can help to reduce the visible loss of volume.

Invasive dermatologist treatments

Fat transfer
This involves surgically removing fat from one area of the body and transplanting it to another. It’s most commonly used to replace volume in the cheeks and is long lasting. Swelling is not unusual and the treatment usually requires a period of downtime.

Injectables are used to temporarily replace volume and give instant, short-term results. Usually used for under the eyes, cheeks, temples and lips.

One of the main changes that causes these visible signs is the decrease of volume-giving cells.

Injectable Hyaluronic Acid can also help with wrinkles.

Hand with injection.
Volume-giving invasive treatments should be performed in a clinical setting.
Marking the incision line with a felt tip pen.
The pros and cons of plastic surgery should be considered in advance.

Other dermatologist treatment options

Uses radio frequency technology to heat the deep collagen layers of the skin. This heat promotes the production of new collagen and tones the existing collagen with the aim of restoring poorly defined facial contours.

This treatment uses ultrasound to lift, tone and tighten loose skin.

Woman is getting a dermatological facial treatment.
Dermatological ageing treatments can be useful.