What are wrinkles and what causes them? Wrinkles are unfortunately an inevitable part of the aging process. As we age, the skin loses its elasticity and firmness. This is due to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, resulting in fine lines or creases around the forehead, eyes, and mouth area. The skin becomes thinner and small capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the skin become more visible. The skin may also be drier than usual requiring the use of creams and moisturizers to stay hydrated. Below are a few factors that contribute to the cause of aging and a few tips to help delay them for as long as possible.
Normal aging causes physical changes in the skin. The skin cells die and are not renewed as quickly as they are in a younger person. Similar to the workings of a clock, as time goes by aging causes everything in the body to slow down. Our metabolism slows down causing weight gain, energy levels are lower and our bodies heal slower than before. Elastin is what makes the skin able to stretch for facial expressions, smiling etc. With collagen and elastin decreasing, the skin does not retain as much moisture. Normal aging is one known cause of lines and wrinkles.
The Production of Free Radicals
Free radicals are tiny molecules that enter the body causing tissue damage contributing to the cause of aging and wrinkles. These molecules attack the healthy cells causing them to die and the system can become overrun with them. A few factors that contribute to the production of free radicals are an improper diet, alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking and lack of adequate sleep. Antioxidants found in certain foods and other products control free radical production and eliminate them from the body. Foods that contain antioxidants are grapes, apples, berries, tomatoes, pomegranates, mangoes, sweet potatoes, and many other fruits and vegetables. Any food that contains Vitamin A, C, and E are rich in antioxidants.
Ultraviolet Radiation (UV rays from the sun) is another cause of premature aging. The UV rays damage collagen production in the tissues and cause an over production of elastin. The skin can stretch but not return to its previous form contributing to the loose, sagging skin around the jaws and neck area. Collagen and elastin are vital elements needed for the skin to repair itself and stay healthy. When damaged, it can no longer keep the firmness of the skin therefore causing it to wrinkle and furrow.
Smiling, squinting, frowning and looks of surprise are movements caused by the contraction of muscles in the face. These facial expressions are repeated so often that it is a natural occurrence to see lines, grooves and furrows when those muscles contract. In younger skin, the skin snaps back to its former elasticity but in aging skin, these actions make depressions in the skin also known as wrinkles.
Our skin and organs regenerate when we sleep which is why getting a good night’s sleep is so important. In fact it constantly renews itself but this also slows down with normal aging. Research into alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking revealed that these factors cause a reduction in the production of collagen contributing the formation of wrinkles.
Genetics also play a big part in the aging process. It is true that we take after our parents, so if your mother or father developed wrinkles early in life then it stands to reason that this disposition may affect you as well. Height, weight and physical characteristics are all things attributed to our genetic makeup.
Tips for Preventing or Delaying the Appearance of Wrinkles
- Stay out of the sun during peak hours. Limit sun exposure during the hours of 10am and 3pm when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Shady areas provide some protection as well as protective clothing such as hats, sunglasses and cover-ups.
- Always wear sunscreen. Choose products with SPF30 that block UV rays. Apply it prior to applying makeup and cover every inch of exposed skin. Skin that repeatedly gets sun exposure wrinkles faster than non-exposed areas. This is why the face, neck and chest areas wrinkle sooner than areas covered by bathing suits.
- Hydrate the skin frequently. Dry skin shows wrinkles and fine lines quicker. Moisturizers by themselves do not prevent wrinkles, but keeping the skin hydrated and moisturized keeps it elastic. Get plenty of fluids by drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily. Skin that is well hydrated and dewy masks the appearance of any lines and imperfections.
- If you smoke, stop! No matter how long you have smoked, quitting now significantly reduces the effects on the skin and helps the lungs and circulatory system repair itself as well.
- Get good nutrition. Vitamins A, C, B and E play a significant part in controlling the free radicals attacking the body daily. A diet rich in green, leafy vegetables, protein, calcium and whole grains keeps the body healthy and nourished.
- Invest in anti-wrinkle creams. The earlier you start protecting your skin the more you can delay the appearance of wrinkles. Dermatologists recommend using anti wrinkle creams before wrinkles become visible. Wrinkle creams containing retinol, alpha hydroxyl acids, peptides and antioxidants Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10 and Wakame, are some ingredients shown to be effective in combating wrinkles.
While you cannot stop the process of physical aging, you can still look young and healthy by being proactive when it comes to preventing wrinkles in the first place. Take care of your skin, improve your lifestyle and sleep 8-10 hours a night to keep your body functioning at the rate needed to repair itself. You can delay the appearance of wrinkles for many years with proper skin care.