“Don’t rub your face—you’ll get wrinkles!”
“Don’t squint too much—you’ll get wrinkles!”
“Don’t frown like that—you’ll get wrinkles!”
How many of us have heard some version of one of these refrains about what causes all kinds of wrinkles?
Under-eye wrinkles, frown wrinkles, neck wrinkles—there's always something that we're doing that we, in fact, absolutely shouldn’t if we don’t want wrinkles. Too bad they don’t suit us as much as they suit our furry friends…
The thing is:
Wrinkles are a completely natural sign of aging and many men and women wear theirs with pride.
However, wrinkles can also be prematurely caused by stress and worry—not to mention sped up by smoking, drinking, and even drug use.
How we look as we age is down to internal factors (like genes) and external factors, like the ones that I just mentioned.
Both of these combined play a huge role in how wrinkles form—but first, we need to know more about wrinkles in the first place.
So what do we know about wrinkles?
There’s an old-school line of thought that used to group them into just two categories—static and dynamic.
What are static wrinkles?
(Image source: https://www.beautyonfleeck.com/womens-beauty/premature-under-eyes-wrinkles/)
Static wrinkles are the type of wrinkles that appear with the gradual loss of volume and elasticity in the skin.
Under-eye wrinkles, neck wrinkles, and chest wrinkles usually fall into this category—places where you're obviously not stretching and manipulating the skin.
Their formation can be sped up by exposure to the sun (just to name one factor) as it's one of the most common causes of signs of premature aging.
What are dynamic wrinkles?
(Image source: https://www.onlymyhealth.com/health-slideshow/amazing-health-benefits-of-jack-fruit-seeds-you-were-not-aware-of-1488267191.html)
Dynamic wrinkles, as their name suggests, are caused by repetitive and exaggerated motions over time—the kind of wrinkle that might be caused by squinting, frowning (and smiling!), or smoking, to name a few.
So smile wrinkles, crow’s feet and forehead wrinkles all fall into this category, and how soon you’ll get them completely depends on how often you make these expressions.
These repetitive motions cause creases in the skin, which over time deepen as a combined result of recurring motions and general loss of volume.
However, there’s a lot more to wrinkle science than we first thought. A 2006 study from a Belgian university has put old-school thinking on its head and regrouped wrinkles into four different types of categories:
○ atrophic crinkling rhytids
○ permanent elastotic creases
○ dynamic expression lines
○ gravitational folds
I know what you’re thinking—weren’t things so much easier when we called wrinkles, wrinkles?
The thing is:
We’ve got to go in deep and understand exactly how they’re formed so we know how to prevent and get rid of them.
The 4 Scientific Categories of Wrinkles
1. Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids
This takes the cake for having the weirdest name (crinkling rhytids?!) but it’s basically a very scientific way to say that skin has wrinkled due to damage.
We all know that atrophy is a general type of weakening, but what on earth is crinkling?
So, scientifically, a wrinkle is a single crease in the skin. A good example of this is that strong ‘1’ line that some folks get between their brows—it’s a very clear, defined line.
With that in mind, a crinkle is more like a crumpled wrinkle think of the difference between folding a paper neatly in half (someone’s 1 line), vs roughly scrunching it in half.
That's the key tell for these types of rhytids (scientific speak for wrinkles in general) — they're not folds in an otherwise smooth area, they're a grouping of creases. Another tell is that if you gently pull the skin taut, the wrinkles disappear (the opposite of forming when the skin moves).
Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids are static, so they’re formed by a combination of gravity and volume loss over time. A common example of this type of wrinkle is the wrinkles that many women get on their chests and décolletage.
(Image source: https://bradora.com/how-do-cleavage-wrinkles-form/)
So... how to get rid of chest wrinkles?
Because these are static wrinkles, there’s not much to be done about them from a procedure point of view—there’s no muscle to freeze underneath that would prevent them from deepening.
In this case, there’s actually far more to be done in the game of prevention instead of cure.
When it comes to basically all Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids, they occur in areas that are frequently exposed to the sun.
And what do we know about the sun?
It’s the number one cause of photoaging, aka premature wrinkles and skin damage caused by excessive UV exposure. Over time, UV rays damage the skin and weaken the collagen matrix—kickstarting the atrophy that leads to these lines forming.
Your best line of defense?
Wearing a broad-spectrum SPF everywhere you’re exposed and reapplying to ensure that you’re fully protected.
2. Permanent Elastotic Creases
These types of wrinkles are interesting because they don't necessarily fall into one category—they're kind of dynamic, kind of static.
They develop from normal folds in the skin (say, for example, the lines on the back of your neck or the lines that appear when you purse your lips) and eventually deepen into creases that don't go away.
One of the most visible forms of Permanent Elastotic Crease are lip wrinkles caused by smoking—constantly pursing lips to inhale, combined with the already wrinkle-causing effects of cigarette smoke accelerates the formation of deep lip grooves.
These mouth wrinkles form over time through a combination of natural lip wrinkles (we all have them!) deepening into lines that go beyond the natural borders of the lips.
(Image source: https://www.workswithwater.com/blog/how-smoking-can-cause-acne-wrinkles-and-poor-skin-tone/)
Of course, the wrinkles around mouth area aren't the only type of Permanent Elastotic Crease—they also appear as neck wrinkles. As I said, they tend to show up where there's already a fold, or flexibility to the skin.
In case you're already cursing skin for having folds in the first place, think about this:
If our skin didn't have these essential folds, we wouldn't be able to move our heads—our skin would be too tight.
Neck wrinkles are the second most common wrinkle that shows up—whether they’re on the back of the neck or the front, they’re still a type of Permanent Elastotic Crease.
So, how to get rid of neck wrinkles?
Like Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids, these wrinkles aren’t necessarily able to be fixed with botox.
However, what you can do is delay any wrinkle onset—keep your skin protected from skin-damaging ultraviolet rays that speed up the skin’s aging process.
Also, consider quitting smoking before it’s too late—while there’s no denying that cigarettes are horrible for your skin and health, if deep mouth wrinkles haven’t formed yet, you might still be able to quit without them ever showing up!
3. Dynamic Expression Lines
Ok, these are the wrinkles that perhaps all of us are more familiar with than we want to be...
This is the updated classification of what we used to call just regular dynamic wrinkles.
Expression lines, forehead wrinkles, smile lines, crow’s feet—they ALL fall into this category.
Like I covered before, they’re usually formed by repetitive movements of the muscles underneath the skin, basically reinforcing creasing and wrinkles in that specific spot. These are the wrinkles that just come from being alive and actually having emotions.
(Image source: https://www.fatherly.com/health-science/forehead-wrinkles-treatments-for-men/)
There isn't much that anyone can do to 100% prevent these types of wrinkles from showing up—even the best skincare that promises to get rid of wrinkles is lying.
However, that doesn't mean it's a lost cause!
If you've googled "how to get rid of deep forehead wrinkles" and found all manner of DIY things to do, sorry to break it to you, but they don't work—but injectables might.
So, how to get rid of forehead wrinkles and other dynamic wrinkles?
Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a cream that can really undo a wrinkle when it’s formed—you need to tackle it internally, starting with the muscle that’s responsible for the wrinkles appearing in the first place.
If you’re not familiar with how botox works, it basically paralyzes the muscles underneath the skin, stopping them from moving and thus getting rid of the wrinkles in that area.
It’s a procedure with minimal side effects—plus, it naturally wears off over time, so if you don’t like how the end result looks, it’s not permanent.
However, it’s important to remember that Botox is only effective on dynamic wrinkles. It won’t work for the other types of wrinkles on this list.
4. Gravitational Folds
Gravitational folds, like the name suggests, occur when skin can no longer fight the good fight against gravity and stay in the same place it did when you were twenty.
Wrinkles that fall under this category are nasolabial folds, drooping eyelids, marionette lines, just to name a few.
(Image source: https://shopbiowellness.com/blog/beauty/the-different-types-of-wrinkles-and-what-to-do-about-them/)
Basically, as our facial volume naturally decreases with age, things tend to fall slightly out of place.
This is one of those things that’s part and parcel with aging—no amount of collagen supplements, facial exercises, or ‘instant lift’ gimmicks can help.
Like dynamic wrinkles, they’re going to need some surgical intervention to be gone completely. Because they can occur on so many different parts of the face, there isn’t a one size fits all approach here.
How to get rid of gravitational folds?
For example, you wouldn’t treat drooping eyelids with filler—in this case, the excess skin can be removed with a blepharoplasty.
What you can treat with filler, however, are sunken tear troughs and deep nasolabial folds.
Funnily enough, the Belgian study found that subjects with 'fatter faces' had less obvious gravitational folds since they had a little bit of excess fat to make up for the overall loss of volume in their faces.
(I'll leave it up to you what you want to do with that information...)
So, is it really impossible to prevent wrinkles?
Aging is a natural process that happens with time and just isn’t preventable—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that you can do to slow it down.
Remember how we said that one of the ways to reduce Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids was by staying out of the sun?
Well, that basically goes for every single type of wrinkle, too. One of the best ‘wrinkle creams’ that you can actually use is a broad spectrum, SPF30 facial sunscreen every single day to avoid premature aging thanks to the damaging effects of UV rays.
Seriously—your future self will thank you.
Your lifestyle makes a difference too—other than UV exposure, a smoking habit is the second culprit that often causes people to look older than they really are.
Remember that study comparing twins that smoked vs. their non-smoking siblings?
It found that the twin who smoked almost always looked older than the other twin—that's not just coincidence.
Cigarette smoke is full of harmful chemicals that speed up the signs of aging, so they're definitely something to avoid if you want to get compliments on looking younger than you really are.
Other must-do tasks on the wrinkle minimizing list?
Eating well, getting enough sleep, exercise and regular relaxation to ensure that you look your age...
Or hopefully, younger!