What Actually Causes Wrinkles and How You Can Keep Your Skin Looking Younger, Longer

By September 26, 2018

Although aging can show up in a variety of different ways, including pigmentation, loss of radiance, and overall changes to the structure of the face, one of the most well-known signs of aging is wrinkling. Here, we’re talking about what exactly causes wrinkles, and what you can do to prevent those pesky lines.

The major cause of aging is simply, well, aging. In the medical community, this is referred to as chronological aging. Nothing in biology is built to last forever. Over time, your body loses the ability to heal itself the way it did when you were younger. DNA breaks down, every system slows down, and so on. Naturally, you can either mitigate or exacerbate this process, but you cannot stop it completely.

Using products that stimulate cell renewal and collagen synthesis will help a lot, as they encourage skin to act the way it did when it was younger. In this case, vitamin C and retinoids are your best bets. Growth factors, such as EGF, are also very helpful (try Easydew EX Repair Control EGF). However, just as you cannot stop the passage of time, you also cannot completely fight chronological aging, only lessen its impact.

RELATED: A Beginner’s Guide to Retinol

Many seemingly innocuous behaviors can definitely exacerbate the inevitable, that is, aging. The factors we discuss below all contribute to premature aging, so staying on top of them will help ensure that your skin looks youthful and fresh as long as possible.

The Sun

If you’re a regular Klog reader, or you’re even the smallest bit familiar with skin care, you know that the sun is Public Enemy No. 1 when it comes to age prevention. The most powerful anti-aging product in your cabinet is also the least sexy, and that is sunscreen. I dare you to find any dermatologist or aesthetician (or Korean woman) who says otherwise. In the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Repeated and prolonged sun exposure can lead to pigmentation, one of the earliest signs of aging to appear, but it also severely damages the collagen and elastin in your skin over time. Since those two proteins give skin its bounce and hold it up, damaging those proteins results in wrinkles. It’s that simple. Look for sunscreens with broad spectrum protection, like the Neogen Day-Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50/PA+++, which will protect you from the burning UVB rays and the aging UVA rays.

As a tip, any sunscreen with a PA rating and an SPF is broad-spectrum, since SPF measures the protective factor against UVB ratings, and PA measures how protective the sunscreen is against UVA rays. Make sure you apply enough sunscreen to ANY exposed body parts, use a big pair of sunglasses, and go forth confidently, knowing you are preventing future wrinkles.

RELATED: Warning Signs to Look Out for to Detect Skin Cancer Early

Muscle Use

Another reason wrinkles appear is repetitive muscle use. I’m by no means telling you to stop being expressive with your face. Faces are meant to convey emotions, and I personally am a sucker for very expressive faces. It is, however, a fact that many of the first wrinkles people notice correspond to the most overworked muscles in the face; think of how you move your face, and how that may trigger laugh lines, crow’s feet, and the little lines between your eyebrows. Please, do not go through life as a stoic simply to avoid getting a wrinkle, though! If you have a sensible skin care regimen and you protect yourself from the sun and other environmental factors, chances are, these lines will not be so deep that they cause real distress.

If they upset you deeply, well, this is why neurotoxins exist! Botox really is magical, just make sure you go to someone highly skilled so that you can retain some natural expression in your face. The neurotoxins work by blocking the signal from your brain to your muscles, preventing the muscles from contracting and therefore the wrinkle from forming (or deepening, depending on how advanced the wrinkle is). Fillers are also an option here.

If you do not want to go quite so extreme, I encourage you to seek out skin care products with growth factors, hyaluronic acid, and argireline. All of these, when used correctly, can help ease the look of  dynamic wrinkles.

Like anything that causes wrinkles, however, there are ways to decrease your facial movements without sacrificing your ability to express yourself authentically. If you frown a lot, try smiling more. It will not only improve your mood, but did you know it also uses far fewer muscles? If you regularly drink from a straw, consider ditching it! Everyone’s doing it these days, and in addition to being more environmentally-friendly, it can help keep your lips wrinkle-free.

Smoking

Another major culprit when it comes to wrinkles is smoking. Smoking is bad for you. We all know this, right? If you are a regular smoker, I highly encourage you to quit, if only for the vain reasons I will outline below. I can always tell when someone is/was a longtime smoker by their skin. Long-term smokers develop a certain pattern of lines on their cheeks, not to mention the duller, drier skin that inevitably results from starving your cells of oxygen every time you light up. Like the sun, cigarette smoke breaks down collagen and elastin. Look at someone you know who smoked for a long time, and you’ll notice the creases I’m talking about.

Smoking not only chemically leads to wrinkles, it also causes those dynamic wrinkles we talked about above. In this way, smoking is really an aging double-whammy. For all you e-cigarette users, please know that you are still risking wrinkles caused by puckering your lips around the device even though you’re greatly diminishing the burden to your skin by choosing the e-cigs over the “real deal.”

Your Diet

Now we get to my least favorite cause of aging. It’s totally unfair, but eating a diet high in sugar can contribute to wrinkle formation via a process called glycation. Glycation is when a sugar molecule bonds to a protein or lipid molecule. As a reminder, you have both proteins and lipids in your skin. Glycation can inhibit the functioning of the lipids or proteins that it affects, which is bad news for your skin. After glycation, the protein or lipid is referred to as an Advanced Glycation End-Product, or AGE for short. Honestly, it’s all too appropriate, as AGEs have been implicated in many degenerative diseases in the body, such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. Research into the effects of glycation on skin aging is relatively recent compared to the wealth of knowledge we have about its role in other types of aging, but the bottom line remains the same. Cut back on your sugar intake for better skin (when I cut back, my persistent redness and inflammation went down a lot) and fewer wrinkles!

Even if limiting your sugar consumption is not miraculous for wrinkle prevention, it can’t hurt, and it will have other positive effects in your body that may show up on your skin.

RELATED: How Popular Diets Like Keto and Whole30 Affect the Skin

Bottom Line

Wrinkles are essentially caused when collagen and elastin break down, and the upper layer of your skin is no longer supported by the lower, more structural layers. You cannot totally stop this breakdown from happening, but by using sun protection, taking good care of your skin (keeping it hydrated and calm), and modifying some other behaviors, you can keep your skin looking better for longer without drastic intervention.

+What other anti-aging-related questions do you have? Ask them below!