Unless you are after the wise, old sage look, most people nowadays are not happy when they see wrinkles appearing on their skin as they get older. Looking younger and preserving the appearance of the skin is a mega-business all its own, and there seems to be an endless number of products designed to cater to the needs of folks concerned about such things. Let’s see if we can bring some sense to this whole arena and understand what causes wrinkles and the safest and most effective ways to reduce wrinkles naturally.
What Are Wrinkles?
Wrinkles are nothing more than lines and creases that form on your skin as a natural part of the aging process. As we get older, our skin gets less elastic, thinner, and drier. It also progressively loses its ability to protect and rejuvenate itself. Some folks have a genetic tendency to keep younger-looking skin longer as they age, while others may run into wrinkles and more wear and tear on their skin as an inherited trait. But next to genetics, the two most important factors that influence skin texture and possible wrinkles are the amount of time spent in the sun and whether or not you are a smoker or exposed to secondhand smoke.
There’s a slew of products and procedures available to help smooth out, cover over, prevent, minimize, or otherwise eliminate wrinkles and other consequences of aging skin. Still, the truth of the matter is that none of them are permanent because as we continue to age, new wrinkles will appear. So whatever “treatment” one chooses, it will have to be repeated sooner or later, usually on a regular, continuous basis. Some remedies work better than others, and some are actually very good for your skin and can help protect it from further damage. However, some have dangerous side effects that you should be aware of if you consider going the “wrinkle cure” route.
What Causes Wrinkles?
Wrinkles basically come in two main varieties: fine lines and deeper furrow-like crevices. Certain places on the body are more susceptible to wrinkles. Common spots include the eyes, mouth, and neck. Some factors that cause wrinkles are somewhat under our control; others are not. The major causes of wrinkles are:
Aging Causes Wrinkles
The skin is our largest organ, and like all other parts of the body, it is susceptible to the aging process. Our skin is quite visible, too, so we notice the effects of aging on it much easier. Young skin has a higher natural oil and fat content that gives it a plump, supple look. As we age, the deeper layers of skin produce less of these emollients, and the outermost layers of skin begin to get drier and less flexible. The older we get, the more likely wrinkles are to stay around longer and eventually become permanent skin features.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light Causes Wrinkles
There are two types of UV light. The first and most common one we are exposed to is UVB, short-wave UV. This is the type of UV that causes sunburn and results in most damage to the skin. A certain amount of sunlight is perfect for our bodies in many ways, both physically (great source of Vitamin D, helps to regulate the hypothalamus gland) and emotionally. However, too much of it cannot only lead to wrinkles but skin cancer as well. You can take steps to limit your exposure to the right amount and quality of UVB rays. The second type of UV is called UVB, and you should avoid this totally. UVB is what you receive in many tanning booths or salons. It speeds up the aging process of the skin and is definitely a risk factor for skin cancer. There are sunscreen products that claim to protect you from UV and UVB, but beware! Many of them contain toxic substances that you do not want to rub into your skin. Remember, whatever goes on your skin, ends up in your body.
Smoking Causes Wrinkles
Smoking contributes to wrinkles and aging of the skin in a few ways that you might not be aware of. The obvious one is that the smoke itself is an irritant to the skin, making it drier and generally less healthy. But as far as causing wrinkles go, smoking does even more damage. Research has shown that wrinkles may be encouraged to form around the lips because of changes in blood supply to the area. Repeated expressions that smokers make, such as pursing the lips or squinting the eyes to keep out the smoke, may also encourage the growth of wrinkles. Even the consistent heat from a lit cigarette close to the facial skin can help cause wrinkles.
Repeated Racial Expressions Causes Wrinkles
Remember what Mom always said: “If you don’t stop making that face, it’s going to freeze like that!” Well, maybe Mom was right to some degree. When we make the same expressions over and over again, such as squinting, frowning, or smiling, the deeper layers of facial skin muscle form a groove. As we age, the outer layers of skin find it harder and harder to “bounce back” out of the groove and eventually form permanent wrinkles. “Crow’s feet” around the eyes are a good example of this. They are usually found in older individuals who had a lifelong habit of smiling or laughing a lot. So you see, wrinkles are not all bad.
Other Risk Factors that Causes Wrinkles and Aged skin
Complexion and skin type
Those who have fair skin and light-colored eyes are more likely to suffer from sun-damaged skin and the resulting wrinkles.
Certain hairstyles protect the face from the sun better than others.
Occupation and recreational choices
Jobs and hobbies (such as farming or sailing) that expose you to more sun will increase your risk for wrinkles.
Let’s talk about less invasive anti-aging options that many have found helpful to reduce wrinkles naturally.
How Can I Reduce Wrinkles Naturally?
The first and most obvious is to protect yourself while in the sun. Use common sense and, if possible, limit your time outside during the peak hours of UV exposure, typically 10 am-4 pm. Wear clothing such as hats, long sleeve shirts, and sunglasses to cover your body as much as possible. Choose a safe sunscreen that is broad-spectrum and composed of zinc oxide and other natural ingredients that are not harmful to your body. Some products will also moisturize and condition your skin as well, which also helps prevent wrinkles. And remember that the sun can damage your skin on cloudy days just as much as on sunny days—sometimes even more because you may not be as careful on cloudy days. Protect yourself year-round as well, as sunshine can cause damage in the winter too.
Another no-brainer is don’t smoke. But, if you do, quit. Even if you have smoked for years, stopping now can not only save your life but help reduce wrinkles naturally as well as premature skin aging.
Natural Skincare – Moisturize
Using an age defense moisturizing cream that helps replenish the natural oils in your skin will keep your skin in a less likely state to produce wrinkles. This is a classic example of treating the root cause and not the symptom after the fact. Again, you must be careful what skincare products you use. As with sunscreens, many commercial moisturizers contain dangerous chemicals that can enter your body through the skin. Finding a natural and non-toxic sunscreen is important. I highly recommend and personally use Purely Ageless, a natural anti-aging moisturizer from Oasis Serene Botanicals Natural Skincare.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement
Hormone levels decrease with age, which can change your skin quality and make wrinkles worse. During menopause, lower estrogen and progesterone levels can have a big impact on your skin. For example, less estrogen makes you prone to thinning, sagging, and wrinkling. Fortunately, you can relieve some of the skin-related effects of aging by taking care of your specific skincare needs.
Menopause causes many changes to your skin. Your body stops making as much collagen. As a result, you lose some fat under your skin, and your skin’s elasticity drops. That, combined with dryness caused by hormonal changes, can cause sagging — especially around the neck, jawline, and cheeks — and fine lines and wrinkles. The lines and wrinkles you get with menopause are often crow’s feet and lines above the upper lip.
According to Dr. John Lee: “Thinning and wrinkled skin is a sign of lack of hydration in the skin. It is common in peri and post-menopausal women and is a sure sign of hormone depletion. Transdermal bioidentical progesterone is a skin moisturizer. When used as a skin cream, not only is progesterone well absorbed, but it restores skin hydration. As a result, the skin becomes more youthful in appearance, and most small wrinkles disappear.
Researchers, in a 2014 study, looked for a link between skin issues and stress. The researchers were familiar with previous research that linked changes in the nervous system to psoriasis flare-ups and stress to inflammatory skin conditions. In fact, animal studies have also found that stressed participants developed skin cancers more quickly than those not exposed to stress.
The researchers concluded that “Recent research has confirmed skin both as an immediate stress perceiver and as a target of stress responses.”
Stress can also cause the skin to release hormones that stimulate inflammation and irritate the nerves (leading to allergic reactions), disrupts barrier function (dries skin and increases the risk of wrinkles), and decreases the production of moisturizing lipids, and slows down wound healing.
Conquering stress naturally is something we all need to do daily. Some stress-relieving tips to help reduce wrinkles naturally are exercise, scripture reading, daily walks in nature, learning to play a musical instrument, art therapy, time with loved ones and friends, listening to music, mindful breathing, and even reading a good book.
Get Enough Restful Sleep
Getting enough restful sleep can begin with something as simple as making sure you have a sleep friendly bedroom. Given that most people sleep in their bedroom for eight hours every day, the average person will sleep for 229,961 hours in their lifetime or basically one-third of their life. That’s a long time to be in one room! So it just makes sense that we should want the one place in which we spend one-third of our life to be a healthy, sleep friendly sanctuary of-sort – conducive to restful sleep and mindful that sleep is the time and place the body does the most healing and repair work.
In a 2015 study, researchers observed 60 women categorized as poor sleepers and good quality sleepers. The researchers evaluated their skin with a variety of photos, sun exposure tests, and laboratory tests. The “scores” were added up from each of these tests to get an overall “skin aging” score. This score included measurements of wrinkles, fine lines, reduced elasticity, uneven pigmentation, and sagging. Women with a higher score had an appearance of being older.
Results indicated that good sleepers had an average score of 2.2, while poor sleepers had an average score of 4.4 — meaning that skin looked older. One more result to mention is that after five nights of poor sleep, participants had up to double the number of fine lines and wrinkles and up to three-quarters more brown spots – very telling!
“Our study is the first to conclusively demonstrate that inadequate sleep is correlated with reduced skin health and accelerates skin aging,” said Dr. Baron, Director of the Skin Study Center at UH Case Medical Center and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. “Sleep-deprived women show signs of premature skin aging and a decrease in their skin’s ability to recover after sun exposure.”
Just in case you’re wondering—if you experience a difficult night’s sleep, trying to play “catch up” by taking a nap the next day won’t help your skin. Instead, make it a point to get 7-9 hours of restful sleep every night. You will not only feel better; chances are you will look better.
In 2004, researchers found that lines in the same area of the face were caused by the sleeping position. They called them “sleep lines,” and stated that “sleeping position should be considered as an aetiological factor in the formation of wrinkles.”
Consume More Vitamin C
Adding more vitamin C into your diet may help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. The results of a 2007 study that included 4,000 women found that those who had a higher intake of Vitamin C had fewer wrinkles and dryness.
At the same time, those with higher cab and fats intake were more likely to have wrinkles. So a healthy diet is a great idea for keeping your skin smooth and young-looking.
A few good sources of Vitamin C are organic peppers, citrus fruits, guava fruits, dark green leafy veggies, kiwi, broccoli, and berries.
Take half a cucumber, barely puréed, and two tablespoons of plain yogurt. Whip cucumbers into a thick mixture, apply to your skin, and allow it to sit for 15 minutes before cleansing with warm water. “Cucumbers contain vitamin C and caffeic acid, two antioxidants that, when applied to the skin, help fend off wrinkles, sun damage, and more,” said dermatologist and psychiatrist Amy Wechsler.
Aloe Vera may help reduce wrinkles naturally, but it also will soften and moisten your skin. It has been used since Ancient Egyptian times. According to the researchers, aloe vera has molecules called sterols. These sterols promote the production of collagen and hyaluronic acid, which helps the skin retain moisture. Consequently, wrinkles look less noticeable. There are also many other health benefits of aloe vera.
Ozonated Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Results of a scientific study suggest that extra virgin olive may help to reduce wrinkles naturally.
A large French study indicates that the signs of skin photoaging were significantly lower in those who ate olive oil. The study surveyed close to 3,000 French men and women aged 45-60 and correlated dietary information with photographic ratings of skin photoaging.
The study’s investigators removed confounding factors that impact skin aging (such as smoking, sun exposure history, body mass index, menopausal or hormone replacement status, home geographic location, etc.), and the consumption of olive oil was still correlated with younger-looking, less sun-damaged skin. However, it’s important to note that consuming dietary fats from animal sources (i.e., dairy and meat) was not associated with this protective phenomenon, nor was consumption of the other most frequently used vegetable oils in the French study population (safflower and peanut oil).
Ozonated extra virgin olive oil provides an oxygen facial treatment like the expensive oxygen facials offered in Europe and at high-end spas in the United States. I use and highly recommend OxyBalm oxygen facial treatment.
When applied to the skin, raw honey can soothe skin inflammation and promote wound healing. It also helps the skin retain moisture, which may lessen the appearance of wrinkles.
It’s important to use raw honey on your face. Grocery-store-quality honey is overly processed and won’t provide the same benefits.
Do Mainstream Wrinkle-Cures Work?
The important thing to remember about the many various drugs and surgeries available to “restore your youthful appearance” is that most of them are just plain toxic, have varying degrees of side effects, and must be repeated. Even if your immediate wrinkles are addressed, continued aging will always bring on new ones. Another factor is that the majority of treatments are costly and are not usually covered by insurance. Let’s do a quick rundown of the most popular options:
Vitamin A acid
This product is usually applied via a cream, and it actually burns off the outermost layer of skin, resulting in less visible fine-line wrinkles. However, peeling and redness can be troublesome side effects for some people.
These “fruit-acids” are composed of lactic acid and other “natural” products from certain fruits. However, it is debatable just how effective they are at helping wrinkles, and synthetic forms of these acids may have undesirable long-term side effects. Therefore, if you choose to use a product like this, make sure it doesn’t contain potentially harmful substances that are often included in these formulas.
Botox injections are a prevalent wrinkle treatment that involves injecting areas of the skin with a muscle poison that is a known highly toxic substance that paralyzes muscles to reduce larger furrow-type wrinkles. There are many horror stories about Botox misadventures. One researcher calls Botox one of the most poisonous substances on Earth, and the fact that it is still legal to inject this stuff into your skin for merely cosmetic purposes is criminal, as far as I am concerned.
Other Wrinkle-Cure Options
Other options include a variety of procedures that are quite questionable as to their safety and effectiveness. Remember too that these expensive treatments need to be repeated. They go by a lot of different names, including “acid peels” (which can be quite painful and cause such side effects as permanent changes in skin pigment color and scarring), and “dermabrasion,” which is actually taking a power tool and sanding the face. Again, these can be painful, may come with the risk of general anesthesia, and may produce skin color changes and scarring.
Take care of your skin while you are young and live a balanced and healthy lifestyle that does not base your worth on physical beauty alone. You can then experience that greatest natural treatment for wrinkles ever invented–the freedom to age gracefully.