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Can skin care products cause wrinkles?

Are Your Skin Care Products Giving You Wrinkles?

Are your fine lines really getting deeper or is your skin just dehydrated? Here, a top dermatologist explains how products like harsh cleansers can affect the appearance of lines and wrinkles, and how to achieve a more youthful complexion. 

We get a lot of great questions from readers in our inbox about common topics like acne, the do’s and don’ts of mixing ingredients like acids, and how to build a skin care routine from scratch. Recently, we got one we hadn’t heard before and we weren’t quite sure how to answer it. 

The reader who wrote in said that after he started incorporating the double cleanse method into his routine, he noticed lines developing on his forehead. He wondered whether his products were actually causing wrinkles to form and if he should stop double cleansing.

Our instinct was to tell him, “No way! Double cleansing improves your skin, it doesn’t give you wrinkles!” But to be sure, we consulted Dr. Debra Jaliman,  an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist, and her answer made a whole lot of sense.

While using a cleanser for a few weeks can’t exactly cause new wrinkles to develop, it can make existing lines that may not have been so noticeable more pronounced, depending on the formula.

“Skin care that lacks the right ingredients will end up drying your skin out. When skin lacks proper hydration your fine lines and wrinkles are accentuated,” says Dr. Jaliman.

Cleansers that contain ingredients like harsh surfactants (cleansing and foaming agents) can strip the skin of natural oils and weaken the moisture barrier. While that squeaky clean feeling may seem like a good thing at the time, your skin shouldn’t be tight and devoid of moisture after cleansing.

In addition to tautness, you can tell that your skin is dehydrated if it appears dull, has a rough texture, if you’re breaking out, or if your fine lines look deeper. For more on signs of dehydration, click here.

Look for a cleanser that contains natural surfactants like amino acids, has a low pH, and is infused with soothing and hydrating ingredients like aloe leaf extract and hyaluronic acid. The Acwell pH Balancing Bubble Free Cleansing Gel, for example, contains hyaluronic acid, and is formulated to balance the skin’s pH level and protect the moisture barrier.

RELATED: How to Shop For a Water-Based Cleanser

Once you’ve made sure that you’re using a non-dehydrating cleanser, Dr. Jaliman recommends reassessing the rest of your routine.

Any skin care routine, no matter how expansive or minimal, should include a good moisturizing product. Dr. Jaliman suggests looking for ingredients like hyaluronic acid and fatty acids that can help replenish skin’s moisture levels after cleansing. The Plant Base Waterfall Moist Balanced Hyaluronic Acid 100 is both soothing and helps skin maintain moisture. 

Then, to prevent lines from forming in the first place, Dr. Jaliman recommends incorporating an anti-aging product like retinol into your routine. “Retinol stimulates a quicker renewal of skin cells – the outer layer of the skin is sloughed off and the newer skin underneath is revealed. It also reduces the appearance of fine lines and helps with skin discoloration by fading dark spots.” Because retinol can be extremely drying, make sure you’re using it correctly and moisturizing well. Dr.Different’s Vitalift-A Eye & Neck is formulated with retinal to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face.

Lastly, reevaluate your daily habits. “Smoking and sun damage all contribute to fine lines and wrinkles looking more noticeable,” says Dr. Jaliman. “It’s important to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink at least 8 glasses of water. Your skin will look better and your makeup will go on smoother.”

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