Wrinkles mainly happen on the parts of the body that get the most sun exposure, including the face, neck, the backs of the hands, and the tops of the forearms. Wrinkles fall into two categories: fine, surface lines and deeper furrows. If your wrinkles bother you, or if you’re looking to prevent them in the first place, you have options.
What Causes Wrinkles?
Factors that promote wrinkling include:
- Skin type (people with light-colored skin and blue eyes are more susceptible to sun damage)
- Heredity (some families wrinkle more)
- Sun exposure.
Though you can’t control all of those factors, you can do something about two of them: Minimise your sun exposure and don’t smoke.
There are several ways to minimise the appearance of wrinkles and even remove them.
- Retinoids (tretinoin, Retin-A, Renova). Among medical treatments, this is by far the most proven and effective way of bettering signs of aging such as uneven pigmentation, roughness, and wrinkling. At first, these medications cause redness and peeling. Although this can be unpleasant, improvement comes once the peeling stops.
- Alpha-hydroxy acids. These are the so-called “fruit acids” and include glycolic and lactic acid. Preparations containing these fruit acids are quite safe and cause no more than mild and temporary irritation. The improvement they produce is, however, relatively subtle.
- Antioxidants. These include vitamins A, C, and E, as well as beta-carotene. Products that have antioxidants may provide some sun protection (though you should still wear sunscreen) and mildly improve wrinkles.
- Moisturisers. These may temporarily make wrinkles look less noticeable. Ads often say that they “reduce the appearance of fine lines.” But they don’t make those lines go away permanently.
- Glycolic acid peels. These superficial peels can make a very slight difference in the intensity of fine wrinkles.
- Deeper peels. These peels use ingredients like salicylic acid and trichloroacetic acid and penetrate somewhat deeper into the skin. These deeper peels do a better job of smoothing fine lines. In general, however, the deeper the peel, the greater the chance of side effects, such as scarring and changes in skin color. Such peels can be uncomfortable, so ask ahead of time what to expect.
- Dermabrasion. This procedure “sands” the skin. Depending a great deal on the skill and experience of the professional who does it, dermabrasion can make a big difference. Side effects, including scarring and permanent changes in skin color, are also possible.
- Laser resurfacing. Doctors can use lasers to stimulate the skin’s production of collagen, which plumps up skin. There are different types of lasers, and you should ask your doctor about how many treatments you’ll need, how much “down time” you’ll need for your skin to heal, and any risks.
- Plastic surgery. Face-lifts, brow lifts, and other cosmetic surgeries help some people. For others, more minor procedures are enough. Talk it over with your doctor before you decide what, if any, procedure you want to do.
- Injections. Some injections, including Botox, relax muscles that produce the “frown lines” on the forehead, fine lines around the eyes, and other wrinkles. Improvement lasts several months and must be repeated to sustain improvement. Others are wrinkle fillers. You should only get injections from a doctor.
If you’re thinking about getting a cosmetic procedure done, consult experienced doctors. Tell them your goals and ask about risks, benefits, and costs.
Reviewed by Debra Jaliman, MD
What you eat, how you wash your face, even how you sleep can take a toll on your skin. These 9 easy fixes can help turn back the clock.
Sleep On Your Back
Sleeping in certain positions night after night leads to “sleep lines” — wrinkles that become etched into the top layers of skin and don’t fade once you’re up. Sleeping on your side leads to wrinkles on cheeks and chin, while sleeping face down gives you a furrowed brow. To cut down on new wrinkles, sleep on your back.
Eat More Fish Like Salmon
Salmon (along with other cold-water fish) is a great source of protein, one of the building blocks of great skin. It’s also an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids. Experts say that essential fatty acids nourish skin and keep it plump and youthful, helping minimise wrinkles
Don’t Squint — Get Reading Glasses!
Making the same expressions over and over — like squinting — overworks facial muscles, forming a groove beneath the skin’s surface. Eventually the groove becomes a wrinkle. Keep those eyes wide: Wear reading glasses if you need them. And get savvy about sunglasses, which can protect skin around the eyes from sun damage and keep you from squinting
Slather On Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
These natural acids lift away the top layer of dead skin cells, reducing the appearance of pores, fine lines and surface wrinkles, especially around the eyes. And stronger forms of AHAs may help boost collagen production. Using AHAs can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so wear plenty of sunscreen every day.
Don’t Over-Wash Your Face
Tap water strips skin of moisture and natural oils that protect against wrinkles. Wash your face too often, and you wash away its protection. And unless your soap contains moisturisers, use a gel or cream facial cleanser instead.
Wear Your Vitamin C
Some studies have found that creams with vitamin C can raise collagen production, protect against damage from UVA and UVB rays, help reduce dark spots and uneven skin tone, and reduce redness. You have to use a skin product with the right type of vitamin C, though. L-ascorbic acid may be the best for wrinkle relief. You may also see a vitamin C ingredient listed as ascorbyl palmitate.
Soy for Skin Care
Soy may improve the appearance of your skin and may even protect it, too. Studies suggest soy applied to the skin or taken as a supplement may help protect against or even heal some of the sun’s damage. And it has also been shown to improve skin’s structure and firmness, and to even out skin tone.
Trade Coffee for Cocoa
Try a wrinkle-reducing drink. In one study, researchers found that cocoa with high levels of two antioxidants (epicatechin and catechin) protected skin from sun damage, improved blood flow to skin cells, helped hydration, and made the skin look and feel smoother. Delicious!
Practice Good Skin Care Basics
If you really want to keep your skin looking young, start with the essentials. You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it’s important:
- Avoid the sun
- Wear sunscreen
- Wear sun protective clothing
- Don’t smoke
- Use moisturiser.
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD