We’re bombarded with ads for creams, serums, injections, and facial rollers that promise to smooth lines and wrinkles every day. There are loads of options - and a lot of misinformation.
But the reality is, wrinkles are a natural part of ageing. As we get older, skin loses elasticity and produces less collagen (a fibre that gives skin more strength), leading to fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, forehead, mouth, and even your neck.
While genes do play a role (thanks, mum and dad!), some people are simply more prone to wrinkles than others, including those of certain ethnic backgrounds, research shows. Caucasian women are much more likely to show signs of ageing sooner.
Still, that doesn’t mean you have no control over how you look as you get older. You don’t need a magic potion or pricey products to prevent wrinkles. Here’s what experts have to say about ageing skin - and what really makes a difference in reducing those pesky lines.
Choosing not to smoke tobacco is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. In addition to decreasing your risk of several cancers and heart disease, you’ll also prevent wrinkles (all over your body!) for a longer period of time.
Often, wrinkles in smokers don’t appear until much later in life, but one study of 350 nonsmokers, current smokers, and past smokers found evidence of
“microscopic superficial wrinkling” in current smokers aged 20 to 39 years old.
That’s because the nicotine in cigarettes actually narrows the blood vessels in the top layer of your skin, halting blood flow in the process, according to the Mayo Clinic. This decrease in oxygen prevents beneficial nutrients, like vitamin A, from reaching your skin. On top of that, tobacco is loaded with chemicals that damage your collagen and elastin, while certain facial expressions (like pursing your lips) may also speed up the appearance of fine lines.
Skip the intense facial exercises
You may have heard that you can give your face a natural lift by firming up facial muscles with exaggerated expressions like puffing out cheeks, sticking out tongue, and puckering lips. Studies are inconclusive and dermatologist Rachel Reynolds warns that doing this may even deepen lines that naturally develop over time.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should keep your smiles in check, even if Kim Kardashian reportedly advised not smiling as a wrinkle-proofing tip. Simply activating the muscles involved in smiling can bring on actual feelings of happiness and make you seem more trustworthy, per a 2017 meta-analysis of 138 studies.
That’s right, getting your beauty sleep is for real. Our skin switches into a healing mode when we sleep - increasing skin-thickening cell turnover, collagen production, and blood flow for faster cell turnover.
“There isn’t an injectable, laser, or product that can do what sleep does,” says dermatologist Dr Doris Day. The National Sleep Foundation recommends clocking in at least seven to nine hours per night.
And put to rest any concerns that being on your back is best. During an average night we change positions 16 to 20 times, so it’s not worth losing sleep over how you rest your head. Though what you rest it on is a different story, as a silk pillowcase may be gentler on skin than a cotton one.
Never leave the house without sunscreen
You probably know this already but it bears repeating: To prevent wrinkles and other forms of sun damage, apply sunscreen early and often-and preferably don’t just rely on makeup with SPF. That’s because UV rays are responsible for as much as 80 percent of the sun damage that ages us. This applies to even those with darker complexions.
Need another good reason to slather on the sunscreen? Slathering on the SPF may allow your skin to repair itself by reducing dark spots, improving texture, and boosting brightness, according to 2016 research in the journal Dermatologic Surgery.
Look for a broad-spectrum formula with a minimum of SPF 30 to ensure your sunscreen protects against both UVA rays (which penetrate more deeply) and UVB rays (which cause burns). Always reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating. If you hate reapplying over makeup, a powder sunscreen can be a helpful option for touch-ups.
Try wrinkle-fighting skin care
While Botox and facial fillers are a fast fix, they’re not always the most natural-looking solution, not to mention the price and - yikes - needles. There are many other treatment options that help prevent wrinkles without a doctor’s visit. They just require a little more patience. Here are a few key ingredients to look out for in your skin care:
- Retinol is an over-the-counter topical form of vitamin A that stimulates wrinkle-smoothing collagen.
- Peptides are strings of amino acids that help make up our collagen and elastin. They are similar to retinols but aren’t as strong or as irritating.
- Resveratrol is an antioxidant that fights against free radicals (unstable molecules that can harm your skin cells) to prevent collagen and elastin damage.
- Hyaluronic acid is a humectant that draws water to the skin to temporarily plump fine lines.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps produce collagen and brightens the skin.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant that works well with vitamin C to protect the skin, nourish the skin barrier, and soothe inflammation.