9 Min Read
Thanks to: istockphoto.com/portfolio/PeopleImages

What is it

Wrinkles range from fine facial lines around the comers of the eyes and in between the nose and upper lip the so-called laugh lines to deep furrows that mark the neck, face, and hands. They are basically depressions in the skin, occurring after the skin has lost its elasticity and becomes thinner and drier. When combined with the effect of gravity, the skin can sag.


  • Wrinkles caused by overexposure to sunlight con show up as deep creases, furrows, or folds, particularly on the face, neck, and hands.

What causes it

A few mild facial wrinkles are a consequence of aging: the fine hair like depressions around the eyes and mouth probably occur because elastic fibers that keep the skin taut gradually loosen over time, allowing the skin to sag.

But most wrinkles, including the deepest ones, are caused by overexposure to sunlight. Although the process by which skin damage occurs isn’t known, one possibility is that ultraviolet (UV) rays increase the production of certain enzymes that break down proteins in collagen, the connective tissue located underneath the dermis (the layer of skin just beneath the epidermis, or outer layer). You can get a sense of the wrinkling power of UV rays simply by comparing the skin on your face or hands to skin at a site rarely exposed to the sun, such as the underside of your forearm.

Other factors that contribute to wrinkles include cigarette smoking (which thickens and fragments elastin, the chief constituent of the fibers that give skin its overall resilience) and yo-yo dieting (which causes weight to fluctuate dramatically, thereby stretching and pulling the skin).

What if you do nothing

Wrinkles don’t disappear on their own. They also don’t pose a health problem although the presence of severe or premature wrinkles may indicate that your skin is damaged by too much exposure to the sun, which increases your risk of skin cancer.

Home remedies

No area is as rich in hype and hokum as the market for “anti-aging” and “anti-wrinkle” skin-care products. Though the claims made for many of these creams and lotions are without substance, the ingredients in some products described here are being seriously studied by scientists and may hold some promise.


This vitamin A derivative (generic name tretinoin) is a prescription drug that, until recently, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only to treat severe acne. Years ago, however, dermatologists began to notice that in some older patients the drug not only cleared up acne but also smoothed out some wrinkles and reduced blotchiness and blemishes. Subsequent research has found that Retin-A can reduce fine wrinkles and brown spots, and produce rosier skin. A small 1991 study concluded that the drug can help clear stretch marks; a 1992 study found that it can help fade age spots.

In 1996, tretinoin was first marketed in a wrinkle-erasing preparation called Renova. The drug’s effect is quite subtle deep or coarse facial wrinkles are little improved. In addition, the immediate effect of Retin-A is skin inflammation lasting two weeks to several months. In other words, for the sake of eventual minor skin improvements, you may have to walk around with a red, swollen, peeling face for a month or more. No one knows what the long-term con- sequences may be. Finally, since much isn’t known about whether or to what extent Retin A is absorbed through the skin, and since high doses of vitamin A can cause birth defects, pregnant women or those who may become pregnant should not use the drug.

Retinyl palmitate, Retinol and other vitamin A derivatives

Because some doctors are unwilling to recommend Retin-A for individuals who don’t have acne, particular ┬áskin-care corporations are encouraging non-prescription skin creams which consists of vitamin A relatives as if these components worked against wrinkles like Retin-A, but without any side effects.

Despite the claims, the evidence that these other forms of vitamin A will reduce wrinkles is not conclusive. For instance, some animal studies have found that retinol may improve the skin’s connective tissue, which weakens with aging and damage from the sun. But the amounts of retinol and other compounds actually used in these skin-care products may be too low to have any effect on the skin. And if the concentrations were increased, the risk of side effects would rise as well.

Vitamins C and E

The theory behind using these two antioxidants on the skin is that if and that’s a big if they penetrate the outer layer of skin and settle in the dermis, they may scavenge free radicals (created by ultraviolet rays) and retard skin damage. Work by researchers at Duke University suggests that a solution of vitamin C can be absorbed through the skin and seems to protect against sun damage in people. But other studies, mostly using animals, have had inconsistent results.

The research on the anti-aging properties of vitamin E has also been inconsistent. The vitamin does have a legitimate use on the skin. Because it’s an oil, it works as a moisturizer that is, it coats the skin and keeps the natural moisture from evaporating whether it’s used as a cosmetic ingredient or applied straight from the capsule. But as such, it’s no more effective than mineral oil, petroleum jelly, or other moisturizing ingredients. There have been reports of skin irritation caused by vitamin E as well as vitamin C.

Glycolic acid and other alpha-hydroxy acids(AHAs)

Derived originally from fruit, sugar, or milk, these exfoliants have been used for years by dermatologists in facial peels. They are supposed to make the skin smoother by making it shed. Various skin creams now being marketed contain low levels of these compounds (higher concentrations are available only by prescription). Many dermatologists believe that the concentrations of AHAs in such products are too low to have any effect on wrinkles.

Nayad and liposomes

These are found in many anti-aging cosmetics. Nayad is a yeast derivative that’s touted as a restorative for the skin’s connective tissue. No published data supports these claims. Liposomes act as fatty envelopes that are supposed to help other ingredients penetrate the skin. Again, the manufacturers supply no data to support any of the claims it’s wishful thinking, at best.


Protect yourself from the sun

As much as 70 percent of skin damage comes from the sun. This damage is cumulative, starting in youth, and so much of what is considered an inevitable part of aging is preventable or modifiable. Avoid long periods in the sun; when in the sun, use a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.

Wear protective clothing

This offers protection from ultraviolet-B rays, which can dry, bum, and ultimately wrinkle the skin.

Don’t smoke

Premature aging and wrinkling of the face is the logical consequence of smoking. The nicotine in tobacco is a vasoconstrictor that decreases the amount of blood to the capillaries of the facial skin. Since smoking decreases a woman’s levels of the hormone estrogen which helps sustain overall skin elasticity women may be more susceptible to the wrinkling effects of smoking.

Share this Article