Am I Causing Wrinkles?

Although I don’t do chemical peels during these months when I’m out in the sun more, I still think about all the things I could be doing to prevent—or even cause—wrinkles.

There are seven major factors that influence the development of wrinkles; some we can control: sun damage, smoking, diet, and environment to some extent, but others we cannot control such as aging, muscle contractions, and heredity. Are you doing everything you can to prevent wrinkles, or are you causing more wrinkles?


It's true: diet may be contributing to wrinkles! In recent years, scientists have found that diets high in sugar (or carbohydrates) may contribute to more wrinkles through the process of glycation (type of chemical reaction that happens when sugar molecules attack to proteins or lipid fats). This process breaks down the skin’s underlying structure and contributes to premature aging.


Akin to smoking, harmful environmental factors can also cause premature aging of the skin. Research has shown a correlation between premature aging and living in areas where chemical exposure is higher. Oxidation is also an important factor in wrinkle development, although consuming and using antioxidants may help mediate this source. Oxidation occurs in our bodies, regardless of environment, caused by just breathing, but thought to be increased by simple stress. Even chemical peels if done incorrectly can cause premature wrinkles.


Healthy skin perpetually regenerates, although the process slows as we age. While old collagen is broken down and removed, new collagen is produced. Researchers have found that smoke causes a noticeable reduction in collagen production. A lack of new collagen results in the development of wrinkles. Smoking is an addiction, and it's not easy to stop, so if you or someone in your home is smoking, consider trying to quit.

Sun Damage

Exposure to UV (ultraviolet radiation), ahem … too much sun, can result in premature aging of skin. UV rays that cause wrinkles damage collagen fibers and cause the excessive production of abnormal elastin. When ultraviolet light damages skin tissue, an enzyme called metalloproteinase is produced. This enzyme creates and reforms collagen. During the process, however, some healthy collagen fibers may be injured, resulting in a disorganized formation of fibers. Protect your beautiful skin by using hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, sunscreen, or whatever you can find!


Genetics play a big part in the susceptibility of wrinkling by determining the makeup of skin structure as well as skin color, tone, sensitivities, and so on. Compare my pale Irish skin to that of a darker or olive tone; unfortunately, my skin will freckle and wrinkle long before the other type, which contains more melanin, the skin’s first line of defense against sun damage. Those of us with skin that is more susceptible to sun damage must be diligent with sunscreen or sunblock. Melanin notwithstanding, some people have been blessed with the gift of skin that ages better than others.


As we age, skin cells divide more slowly, and the inner dermis layer, begins to thin even more. The network of elastin and collagen fibers, which support the outer layer, loosen and unravel--causing fine lines on the skin’s surface. Older skin is also less efficient at retaining moisture, oil glands are less capable, and skin heals more slowly. Keeping the skin hydrated, nourished, and protected helps prevent wrinkles, even as we age, although nothing will keep all wrinkles away!

Facial Muscle Contractions

Those pesky lines between the eyebrows (thank goodness for botox) and crows’ feet are thought to develop after countless muscle uses that crease the overlying skin. Smiling, frowning, squinting, and other consistent facial expressions cause these wrinkles to become more prominent. Over time, the expressions, combined with the effects of aging, contribute to the formation of wrinkles.

We can't affect some of these factors, but we do have control over a few. Doing chemical peels is one way I try to undo the damage that has already been done, but we should also consider all factors that contribute to premature aging.

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