What causes wrinkles?

The Cause of Wrinkles

They are as inevitable as taxes: wrinkles. As people age, once smooth skin becomes marred by tiny, then large, lines. What causes wrinkles, though, and can they be prevented?

brainlagoon_what_causes_wrinklesSource: Piotr Siedlecki

In the 1989 classic, Steel Magnolias, Julia Roberts’s character, Shelby, is complaining about Crow’s Feet to the rest of the women. Dolly Parton’s character, Truvy, says, “Honey, time marches on, and you eventually realize it’s marching across your face.” Truvy is right, the simple passage of time leads to wrinkles. According to the Mayo Clink, as we age, our skin becomes “less elastic and more fragile.” We stop producing as much oil, which makes skin dryer and contributes to the loss of elasticity. Additionally, we lose the fat in deep layers of our skin, which makes our skin looser and saggier. This looser skin makes the lines more pronounced.

While the passage of time cannot be stopped, some of the other major factors that cause wrinkles can be avoided. The first is exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. Most UV light comes from the sun, so people who spend a lot of time outdoors without proper sunblock most often suffer from wrinkles. According to the Mayo Clinic, the exposure to UV light breaks down “collagen and elastin fibers, which lie in the deeper layer of the skin.” Because skin has lost the tissue holding it together, it begins to sag and wrinkle. Thus, long exposure to the sun speeds up the aging process. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), the damage from UV light can be prevented by using SPF 30 sunblock every day, especially while on the beach or working outside. It advises that, if a person wants to look tan, they should use one of the many tinted moisturizes available.

Smoking also increases the aging process as it changes the blood supply to our skin. Dr. Michael Fiore, Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention chaired a 2008 report titled, “Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence.” In that report, Dr. Fiore and his fellow researchers claim that one of the benefits to quitting smoking is smoother skin. Dr. Jonette Keri explains that the chemicals in cigarettes break down the layers of the skin. While this breakdown occurs naturally (as explained above), but cigarettes speed up the process.

Finally, frequent, repeated facial expressions can etch themselves onto a person’s face. According to the Mayo Clinic, every time a person uses a facial muscle, “a groove forms beneath the surface of the skin.” Since skin becomes less elastic as we age, when we use a facial expression, the skin can no longer slip back into place. These lines become a permanent fixture on our face. While smiling is a good thing, the AAD suggests wearing sunglasses to avoid squinting.

Along with avoiding the sun, smoking, and squinting, there are other ways to slow wrinkling. The AAD advises less alcohol as it dries the skin just like smoking. The organization also suggests more exercise and a healthier diet. In an article posted by the Huffington Post, “8 Foods that Fight Wrinkles”, Nicolette Pace, certified nutritionist and dietician, describes how skin requires proper nutrients. If it is supplied with these nutrients through food, the signs of aging can be slowed. The eight anti-aging foods listed are tomatoes, berries, green tea, yogurt, fish, nuts, avocados, and honey.

While wrinkles are a natural part of aging, they can be slowed by avoiding smoking, the sun, and alcohol and adding healthy foods to a diet.