Wrinkles. They’re a fact of life. Perhaps you see yours as a happy reminder that you’ve laughed a lot over the years. Maybe you embrace each line and furrow as a sign that you’re lucky to have got older when so many people didn’t get that chance. But philosophical questions aside, what actually are wrinkles and what causes them? We asked a top London doctor.
Perhaps you love your wrinkles and see them as the stripes of honour that go hand in hand with the passing of time. Or maybe you love being older but would prefer that you had (just slightly) smoother skin?
They are one of the first signs of ageing and some of us dread them, but exactly what are wrinkles? Why does our skin begin to crease and fold as we get older?
We spoke to Dermatologist Dr Daniel Glass from Dermatology Clinic London to find out why these ageing lines occur and if there is any way we can fight back and stay looking younger for longer.
What causes wrinkles?
The real cause of wrinkles is age. “As we age, our hormone levels change, and our oestrogen levels will start to decline,” explains Dr Glass.
“Our skin will begin to lose its firmness, as the levels of fibroblasts and collagen decrease. This can also lead to a loss of skin thickness, resulting in fine lines and wrinkles.”
There are certain lifestyle choices which will accelerate the process, but for a number of reasons as we get older our skins ability to renew itself and stay plump and firm is reduced – from the outside layers to the very top of your skin.
Your epidermis, the outer layer of your skin, reproduces about every 60 days. The cells on the surface of your skin rub and flake off, continuously being replaced with new ones from below which gives your skin a youthful glow.
As you get older, it takes longer for your epidermis to renew itself – and it shows more and more signs of your age.
Underneath the epidermis lays the dermis which is fed by blood vessels and contains the collagen and elastic fibres which keep young skin plump, taut and wrinkle-free.
The amount of collagen and elastic fibres in your dermis falls away as we get older – until we get to 40 our bodies tend to produce plenty of collagen easily. This, combined with the fact we lose fat from under the tissue of our skin as we get older, leads to sagging skin and wrinkles.
Why are there mainly wrinkles on my forehead?
It’s always on the forehead that the first wrinkle seems to form, “The most basic causes of forehead wrinkles are no different from the causes of wrinkles found elsewhere on the face,” says Dr Glass.
They can be the first to appear simply because we move the skin so much in that area of the face to express emotions from the day we are born. If you are a very expressive person you may use these muscles more than other people.
When we are young the skin bounces back after we move our eyebrows, as we get older a more permanent line appears.
How can we slow down the wrinkle process?
Before we get into slowing down the wrinkling process we have to take a reality check – wrinkles are going to happen. “Even if you’re not experiencing a lack of oestrogen, the natural process of genetic aging results in the breakdown and weakening of collagen and elastin over time,” explains Dr Glass. “Whether it’s the result of hormonal shifts or just of time and age, the breakdown of these two proteins leads to the formation of wrinkles.”
Collagen is made in the body by fibroblasts. In younger skin, they also pull tightly against your collagen, helping it to stop your skin from deflating. But as you get older, their collagen-making slows down and the connections between your fibroblasts and your collagen also start to break. This is why you get progressively more and deeper wrinkles. But you can make sure you take steps to slow this process a little with some lifestyle changes.
“If you already have a high level of free radicals in your system due to environmental factors like exposure to UV rays (sun damage), toxins and cigarette smoke, this process may be accelerated,” explains Dr Glass.
So using a high SPF sunscreen, not smoking or drinking to excess and eating foods rich in antioxidants which help blast those free radicals is a good idea. A supplement, such as Lumity’s can also help you consistently supply your body with what it needs to be at its wrinkle-fighting best!
Why have I got more wrinkles than my friends who are the same age?
Life is not fair when it comes to ageing and although you may think you should be looking younger than your friend who breaks all the anti-aging rules you still might not. “Wrinkles can be genetic,” confirms Dr Glass. “Premature forehead wrinkles and fine lines can be found in younger people without correlation to age and could be passed along by parents or grandparents.”
If you have a mum who could pass for your sister then your genes are playing in your favour!