Wrinkles and sagging skin are a natural part of ageing and are nothing to be ashamed of, but they can also be affected by your lifestyle, diet and habits.
If you want to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and other signs of ageing, taking action now could help to keep your skin smoother for longer.
Read this guide to find out what cause wrinkles, the best ways to prevent them from forming and what anti-wrinkle treatments are available to make them less visible.
Wrinkles are a product of both nature (known as intrinsic ageing) and nurture (extrinsic ageing).
Genetics can determine how prone you are to wrinkling and when this starts to happen, based on how much collagen and elastin your body produces. These proteins help to keep the skin elastic and they both decrease with age, but this happens earlier for some people than others. You may also be more prone to wrinkles if you have thin or dry skin.
While genetics may be outside your control, your skin is also affected by things you do every day that may be managed. Exposure to UV radiation, smoking, stress, poor nutrition and other factors can all cause the skin to age prematurely.
You can't avoid all wrinkles, but you may be able to delay their appearance and improve how well your skin ages by taking action ahead of time. These are our top suggestions for preventing wrinkles and sagging skin – some easier than others.
Harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun are the main cause of skin damage, especially in sun-kissed climates like the Gold Coast. As well as premature wrinkling, sun exposure can also increase your health risks for diseases such as skin cancer and lip cancer.
To reduce your sun exposure, apply sunblock of SPF 30 to 50 every time you go out, even on overcast days. You should also try to stay in the shade, cover up your skin with light-coloured clothes that reflect sunlight and wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover your face. Wearing sunglasses with UV protection helps to protect your vision from sun glare and the skin around your eyes from UV rays.
If you like a tan, tanning oil is better for your skin than the sun or sunbeds. If you do get sunburnt, a moisturising after sun lotion can reduce the effects.
As well as increasing many general health and oral health risks, smoking also leads to premature skin ageing. Tobacco smoke damages collagen and elastin fibres in the skin, while nicotine constricts the blood vessels, reducing the flow of oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Pursing the lips to smoke can also lead to premature wrinkles developing around the mouth.
If you find it hard to quit completely, cutting down on the amount you smoke will normally reduce its effects proportionally. For advice about quitting, talk to your doctor about strategies or talk to a counselling service such as Quitline by calling 13 78 48.
Making facial expressions involves contracting the muscles. The more often this is done, especially as your skin starts to lose its elasticity, the sooner permanent wrinkles form. This doesn't mean you have to avoid being expressive, but you can reduce its effects by avoiding unnecessary or exaggerated facial movements as much as possible.
If you often squint to read, getting an eye test or a pair of reading glasses can reduce the formation of crow's feet around the eyes. Quitting smoking can also reduce squinting from cigarette smoke, preventing crow's feet and wrinkles from pursed lips.
Stress contributes to skin ageing in a couple of ways. By prompting frowning, the facial muscles are contracted more often, which can lead to deep forehead wrinkles. Stress can also cause hormonal changes that reduce proteins in the skin, including collagen, reducing its elasticity.
If you suffer from stress frequently, trying to avoid stressful situations could help to prevent premature ageing and lower your overall health risks too. Getting more exercise, practicing meditation, yoga or breathing exercises or talking to a counsellor could also be effective.
Healthy eating benefits your skin as well as your overall health. Foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help to combat ageing by improving the skin's elasticity and protecting it from damage.
Healthy food and drink for more youthful skin includes:
Studies have also found links between eating red meat and sugary snacks and a higher amount of wrinkles, particularly among women. Cutting down on sugar can also lower your risk of tooth decay and other dental problems that can lead to tooth loss and deterioration of the jaw, which also causes a prematurely aged appearance.
Dry skin is less elastic and more prone to wrinkling. You can help to keep your skin hydrated and healthy by drinking the recommended two litres of water per day, or more if you're exerting yourself. If you don't like to drink plain water, coconut water is another very hydrating alternative.
You should also wash your face twice daily to help it to stay naturally moisturised, but take care not to over-wash, as this can strip the skin of natural oils.
Applying moisturiser to your face every day helps the skin to retain water, particularly if you are older or have dry skin. Some moisturiser products contain nutrients such as hyaluronic acid and vitamin C that can also help to prevent the onset or deepening of wrinkles.
Be gentle when washing and cleansing your skin, as scrubbing can cause irritation and accelerate wrinkling. Some skin care products contain compounds that can cause allergic reactions or even skin damage for some people, so check with your doctor or a dermatologist if you're not sure which products are safe to use.
Getting around 8 hours of sleep each night is important for keeping your mind and body healthy, including your skin. A well-rested body produces more human growth hormone (HGH), which helps to maintain skin elasticity, while sleep deprivation can cause the body to produce excess cortisol, a hormone that damages skin cells.
Your sleeping position is important too. Studies have found that sleeping on the back can reduce the appearance of wrinkles by reducing sleep lines on the face in the morning and compression of the skin.
You may be able to reduce or delay wrinkles, but they're still an inevitability of ageing. If you're not happy with the appearance of wrinkles and want a clearer complexion, your pharmacist, doctor or dentist may have solutions.
It's important to check the possible risks and side effects before using any anti-wrinkle treatment so you can set realistic goals and make fully informed decisions.
Essential oils including frankincense, lemon, lavender and sandalwood may help skin to regenerate and remain firm when applied twice daily. These can cause allergic reactions in some people however. This can be tested by dabbing a small amount on the inside of your elbow and waiting for a few days to see if there's a reaction.
Certain plant oils that contain fatty acids can also help to moisturise the skin and improve its elasticity. These include oils normally used for cooking, such as castor oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, olive oil and sunflower oil.
Skin care products that contain retinoids can improve the appearance and texture of skin for some people. Retinoids are derived from vitamin A and can help skin cells to regenerate and create new blood vessels.
These products are available at pharmacies in creams and gels or by prescription from a doctor or dermatologist. Not everyone has tolerance to retinoids, with side effects including skin peeling.
Wrinkles on the face and neck may be smoothed or reduced in appearance through careful application of anti-wrinkle injections. These can be provided by a doctor or dentist who is suitably qualified and experienced in their use.
There are two main types of wrinkle injections based on different compounds. They work by relaxing facial muscles to restrict their movement and restoring lost fullness to the skin. Both types may be used in combination, depending on the type of wrinkles you have and the results you want to achieve.
Anti-wrinkle treatments are temporary and their effects usually wear off after 6 to 9 months. Regular treatments will be necessary if you want to maintain a more youthful appearance.
Your doctor or dentist will make sure you understand the possible risks, which can include allergic reactions, bruising, swelling and muscle weakness. These risks will be minimised when you choose a reputable practitioner.
For more information about anti-wrinkle injections and other beauty treatments our experienced Gold Coast dentists offer, call us today on 07 5575 9100 to book a consultation at Robina Town Dental. You can also book an appointment here.
Better Health Channel. Wrinkles [Online] 2018 [Accessed May 2021] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/wrinkles
Better Health Channel. Cosmetic treatments - injectables [Online] 2019 [Accessed May 2021] Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/cosmetic-treatments-injectables