There are plenty of well-known rules and remedies for anti-aging. We all know eye cream is a necessity and retinol is a game-changer. We’ve been told to schedule facials monthly and wash our makeup off before bed. But there are a few common wrinkle-causing actions you’re probably doing on the regular—without even realizing it. I know, we were scared when we first heard too.
I spoke with experts about the aging factors that are prevalent in our daily routines. Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group explained, "Pretty much anything that causes the facial muscles to contract can cause deep wrinkles with repeated use—just like a paper creases deeper and deeper every time it's folded, your skin responds the same way by making deeper and deeper wrinkles. Some causes of wrinkles are obvious (smiling leads to crow's feet), but some are lesser-known, usually because you don’t even realize you’re using your facial muscles.” Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch adds that while static wrinkles are a natural part of aging, "certain environmental factors such as UV light and smoking" can speed up the process.
Read on for everything you need to know about fine lines and wrinkles—and how to best treat and prevent them.
Meet the Expert
What Causes Wrinkles?
Wrinkles are caused by repeated use of certain muscles—especially in the form of common facial expressions. And while fine lines are an inevitable part of the aging process, there are some unexpected culprits you should look out for and habits you can avoid. Ahead read about the environmental and static factors that contribute to wrinkles.
Eye Makeup Application
“Next time you’re applying eye shadow, mascara, or eyeliner, look at the face you’re making in the mirror. Most people raise their eyebrows up high and create lines across their forehead. With time, those lines will remain when your face is at rest,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian.
“Similar to smoker's lines around the mouth, little lines can form with repeat pursing of the lips," explains Dr. Nazarian. "The tighter you purse your lips, and the harder you contract those muscles, the deeper the lines.”
“Tech-neck is a new term that has popped up for wrinkles around the neck from staring down at your phone all day. Pay attention to the creases and folds that form when you’re peering down at your email—a wrinkly neck is sure to age your appearance quickly," Nazarian adds.
“If you’re squinting to read things clearly, you’ll not only strain the muscles in your eyes, but you’ll develop many more fine lines around them," says Nazarian. "Much like classic crow's-feet, repeating squinting and contraction of periocular muscles eventually lead to many lines around the eyes. So, pay attention to what makes you squint—an outdated weak prescription, walking around on a sunny day without sunglasses, etc.”
Certain environmental factors can speed up the aging process: notably, smoking and UV light exposure, says Dr. Hirsch. The dangers of smoking are well-documented, but the habit also contributes to wrinkles, likely due to its impact on your skin's collagen production. Also, UV light exposure from too much time in the sun can lead to skin damage and fine lines. In short, your mom was right about wearing sunhats and cutting back on nicotine.
How to Treat Wrinkles
While there's no magic formula to rid yourself of wrinkles permanently (despite what marketers might have you believe), there are some effective, clinically proven strategies to reduce their appearance.
When I asked about simple fixes, Nazarian answered, “That’s easy—these lines are classified as ‘dynamic wrinkles,’ meaning they’re caused by muscle contractions. Those types of wrinkles are candidates for neurotoxin injection (with either Botox, Dysport, or Xeomin).”
She continued, “Oftentimes I notice that getting these injections trains the person to stop making the repeated movements, and they require fewer injections over time.”
There are also several non-invasive options for fine lines and wrinkles—"tweakments," if you will. Lasers, energy-based devices, and micro-needling are all facial therapies that help regenerate your skin from what Hirsch calls a "wound response." These treatments "create a controlled wound response. That wound healing stimulates the development of new collagen."
Tips for Wrinkle Prevention
Last but not least, with fine lines, prevention is the name of the game. Wrinkles are a natural part of the aging process, but there's no shame in wanting to delay their appearance and keep your skin healthy.
Wear Your SPF
When asked about prevention, Dr. Ranella Hirsch says sunscreen is a good place to start. "UV Rays are known to speed up the aging process," she explains. It's also important to note that SPF is best used in combination with "other sun-protective strategies like seeking shade, sun-protective clothing, and avoiding the hottest sun hours."
Make Sure to Hyrdrate
Thirsty skin lacks radiance and bounce, which can make wrinkles appear more pronounced. "Dehydrated skin lacks the plumpness we associate with healthy skin," explains Hirsch. She recommends plenty of water and a good moisturizer to temporarily improve the appearance of fine lines.
Avoid Unnecessary Repetitive Movements
If you’re not into injections (I feel you), it’s best to try to do these movements as little as possible. Drink straight from your glass and visit the eye doctor frequently. Dr. Hirsch explains she often sees patients with a "wrinkle pattern around the eye—they are compensating for worsening vision by using the small periocular muscles."
Also, keep off your phone as much as possible. If, like me, your phone is a part of your job, try to hold it at eye level each time you check your email (or Instagram, more likely).
Of course, a well-researched skincare routine can also help prevent fine lines. Topical retinoids help "stimulate upregulating cell turnover," which Hirsch explains can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and prevent new ones. Topical antioxidants (like Vitamin C) can also help protect your skin from free radicals and prevent sun damage, she adds.
In short, there are products with ingredients that pack a really effective punch. Below, find our anti-aging essentials.
What causes wrinkles?
Repetitive facial movements, skin aging, and environmental factors like sun exposure.
Can you get rid of wrinkles?
There's no quick fix, but there are a host of options that can reduce their appearance from injectables to treatments that stimulate collagen and cell turnover. Your best bet is prevention.
How do you prevent wrinkles?
Avoiding the sun, wearing sunscreen regularly, and investing in a quality skincare routine can help prevent the onset of fine lines.
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