We buy serums and creams to keep the creases at bay. But the bottom line is that eventually we’re going to get, well, a few lines.
And that’s OK — maybe even a bonus.
After all, fine lines can be just as beautiful as the round-cheeked looks of youth. There’s something endearing about a laugh line and something genuine about an eye crinkle.
We’ve got the details on types of wrinkles, what can cause them, how to slow them, and why we should think of the ones that ultimately appear as art rather than imperfection.
Some of us will experience “the elevens,” those vertical forehead lines that can make us look like we’re always in deep thought — even about what toppings we want on our froyo. Others will get more prominent crow’s feet, giving us the appearance of a life chock-full of intense emotion, especially joy.
The folds or furrows that might bedeck our faces fall into two categories: dynamic and static.
- Dynamic wrinkles. These develop from repeated facial movements. If you pucker your lips around a straw frequently, for example, you might get lip lines.
- Static wrinkles. These result from a loss of elasticity and the takeover of gravity. Wrinkles that come with jowls are static.
Dynamic wrinkles can become static wrinkles over time. Fine smile lines morph into more prominent nasolabial folds when our cheeks lose plumpness and do a slight plummet in middle age, for example.
Although we can map out what wrinkles might appear, we’re all going to reframe the wrinkle story a little differently. Our unique set of lines says something to the rest of the world. So instead of removing our story lines, we should think about what they say first.
Researchers have been busy studying how facial creases can impact how people perceive us. Depending on the wrinkles you start to get, they might impede your poker face or enhance it. Or if you were never one to hide how you feel, maybe your fine lines amplify the way you express emotion on your face.
They mirror our overall disposition
Even when our faces are resting or neutral, we still provide cues to our emotions, and the wrinkles that form are part of what give us away, a recent study shows.
This is especially true for people with positive dispositions. If you’re habitually beaming and develop laugh lines as a result, or crow’s feet from smiles that reach the eyes, you’ll likely be perceived as a happy or joyful individual.
They can mimic contempt or RBF
Just as some people’s neutral faces may indicate positivity, other people’s relaxed mugs may indicate displeasure — but without that intention. In recent years, the phrase “resting bitch face” (RBF) came about online to describe this moody-looking countenance.
Researchers have actually studied the phenomenon of RBF, now used as a scientific term, via a technology that reads hundreds of points on the face to determine emotional expression. The technology registers a larger percentage of contempt to be present on images of some people.
Certain wrinkles, like marionette lines, can accentuate RBF by giving the appearance of a downturned mouth. Forehead, worry, and lip lines can indicate displeasure, as well. To determine if you have RBF, you can take the researchers’ test.
If you do — own it. You’re under zero obligation to smile for the sake of others. Many celebs rock the steely look. And some people who have RBF consider it their secret weapon to success.
But if it concerns you in any situation, just slide the corners of your mouth back slightly. This will evoke a neutral face, neither scowl nor grin. For something extra, go for a micro eye squint.
They can highlight sincerity
Crow’s feet are nothing to screech about. They can be an indication to others just how genuine you are, says a recent study.
The eye crinkle we sometimes make when expressing both positive or negative emotion is called the Duchenne marker, and it’s linked to how others perceive the intensity of our emotions.
And since wrinkles can indicate the expressions you’ve made over your lifetime, a pair of crow’s feet can make you appear more authentic. The same goes for bunnies since we often wrinkle our noses during a big smile or when wincing in agony.
The lines that will eventually etch your face will depend on several factors including genes and lifestyle. We can’t change our genes or the effects of gravity over time, but we can do our best to thwart skin damage that could lead to earlier or more prominent wrinkles.
1. Protect and repair
That bright orb that rises in the sky every day is one of the leading havoc-wreakers of skin damage, but we can’t spend our lives living under a rock. Arm yourself with sunscreen of at least SPF 35 or higher, make hats a part of your everyday clothing and sporting gear, and don sunglasses that protect against UV rays.
Keep in mind that incidental sun exposure counts too and adds up. So be mindful of sun protection while walking the pooch, just as you would lying by the pool.
UV rays and other free radicals like air pollution cause oxidative stress to our bodies, which can, in turn, bring on the wrinkles. We can help combat and even repair daily skin damage by slathering on an antioxidant serum like vitamin C.
2. Make healthy lifestyle choices, when possible
No, you don’t have to swear off craft beer or get 12 hours of sleep nightly with cucumbers on your lids to do right by your skin. But you might find that people say you look younger than your years if you naturally incorporate good-for-you choices into your day.
Leave room for flexibility, fun, and personal needs and taste, of course.
Our skin can benefit from what we put into our bods, but that doesn’t mean nachos are a no-no.
Skip smoking, which is a major health hazard and can make you look older than you are, both from the chemical effects and the repeated pucker required to take a drag.
3. Choose products based on your skin’s condition
Life can get hectic at times, making getting enough sleep and reducing stress easier said than done. And chronic illness and other situations can inhibit or prevent the ability to exercise.
Plus, a diet packed with superfoods isn’t always the simplest or most affordable thing to come by. That’s why turning to a few product powerhouses can help.
- No sign of wrinkles forming yet? Keep your product arsenal simple, if you like. Rosehip oil can be a multipurpose workhorse in your skin care routine, serving as a moisturizer, brightener, antioxidant, collagen booster, and more.
- Starting to feel a bit dry with age? Tap into the elasticity-boosting and moisturizing action of hyaluronic acid. This will be your bestie, keeping your skin pampered and plump.
- Feel a sag coming on? Retinoids and vitamin C serums are excellent go-to crease fighters. These bad boys will battle sagging before it begins and reduce fine lines and under-eye circles. Look for a product that pairs these ingredients together.
- Don’t forget to moisturize. Products that contain shea butter are a winning wrinkle weapon. SB’s soothing and smoothing properties repair damage from oxidative stress to prevent further creasing. And it softens and smooths existing lines.
4. Adjust crease-causing habits
Being mindful of certain wrinkle-making motions and incorporating changes can help you maintain smoother skin.
Sleeping on your back, for example, can help inhibit creasing. Try this hack. And watch out for resting your face in your hands while leaning forward at your desk or lying on your stomach. These positions can unnecessarily crease your skin.
Relax your forehead and brow while studying, reading, or working. You might find releasing these muscles eases headaches too.
If you’ve got itchy eyes from allergies or another issue, see your doc about the best solutions so you aren’t constantly clawing at your face. Have shades handy for bright days, and if you’re crinkling to get a closer look at things, get your peepers checked in case you need glasses, contacts, or an updated prescription.
Don’t hold back expressing joy or other emotions. Our fine lines can represent life’s worth-it moments like uninhibited laughter and grins that have stretched across our faces. Embrace wrinkles for what they are — the mark of our years lived to the fullest and without regret. What’s more beautiful than that?
Jennifer Chesak is a Nashville-based freelance book editor and writing instructor. She’s also an adventure, fitness, and health writer for several national publications. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill and is working on her first fiction novel, set in her native state of North Dakota.