Medical Review By: Camila Yepes, PA-C
No one wants to look older than they are. But with so many myths about wrinkles, it can be hard to know what’s true or how to keep your skin looking as smooth and youthful as possible.
Camila Yepes, PA-C, a board-certified physician assistant at Water’s Edge Dermatology, debunks some of the most common misconceptions about wrinkle prevention and treatment and explains what it really takes to keep fine lines and creases at bay.
Myth 1: How much you wrinkle depends mainly on your genes
Fact: Your genes play a role in how your skin ages, but how quickly you develop wrinkles depends mostly on sun exposure.
“You may have good genes, but if you’re not protecting your skin from ultraviolet rays, that’s going to cancel out any genetic advantage you may have,” Yepes said.
Consider what causes wrinkles. They happen because the fat in deep layers of the skin shrinks with age, and because the skin naturally thins and becomes less elastic. Spending too much time in the sun makes things worse by speeding the breakdown of collagen and elastin, proteins that make skin look plump and firm.
Getting too much sun exposure isn’t the only lifestyle factor that encourages wrinkles. Smoking and over-consuming alcohol do, too, Yepes noted.
So even if your parents look great for their age, don’t assume the same will be true for you. To prevent wrinkles, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher every day, skip the cigarettes and vape pens and curb any excessive drinking.
Myth 2: Botox is always the best treatment for wrinkles
Fact: There are two main types of wrinkles, and Botox is effective against only one of them.
“Botox is a good treatment for dynamic wrinkles, such as crow’s feet and forehead lines, which are caused by muscle contractions that happen with repetitive facial movements,” said Yepes. Botox injections work by temporarily paralyzing the muscles so they can’t contract.
But Botox won’t do anything for the other type of wrinkles, called static wrinkles. These develop due to the loss of elasticity and fat in the skin. Examples of static wrinkles include neck wrinkles, wrinkles under the eyes and marionette lines, which start at the corners of the mouth and extend to the chin.
If you’re bothered by static wrinkles, ask your dermatologist about wrinkle treatments that help minimize them, including retinol cream and dermal fillers such as Juvéderm and Restylane.
Myth 3: Facial exercises are good for preventing wrinkles
Fact: Repetitive movements lead to dynamic wrinkles, so facial exercises and “facial yoga” aren’t going to take years off your face.
“Performing these movements could actually make dynamic wrinkles worse because you’re forcing your facial muscles to contract,” Yepes said.
Whole-body physical exercise, on the other hand, can benefit the skin.
“People who exercise regularly usually look younger than those who don’t,” Yepes noted. Chalk up the benefits in part to better blood flow, which means that more oxygen and nutrients reach the skin and cellular waste and toxins are whisked away faster.
Myth 4: People with oily skin wrinkle less
Fact: People often associate dry skin with wrinkles, but generally speaking, oily skin is just as prone to developing these hallmarks of aging.
“Dry skin sometimes looks older because lack of moisture can make wrinkles and sagging look more prominent, but oil production has nothing to do with how quickly the skin ages,” Yepes said.
One caveat: There’s some evidence that people with oily skin do tend to have shallower forehead wrinkles, thanks to a greater density of sebaceous (sebum-producing) glands in the forehead, which is associated with thicker skin.
If dry skin is making you look older, you may need to use a more effective moisturizer. “Look for one with hyaluronic acid, which is particularly effective at maintaining moisture,” Yepes suggested.
Myth 5: Collagen supplements can reduce wrinkles
Fact: Collagen loss plays a major role in skin aging. But if collagen supplements work for treating wrinkles or sagging skin, there’s no good evidence to prove it.
“Good nutrition is important for the overall health of your skin, but taking extra collagen can’t firm sagging skin,” Yepes said.
Some studies have shown slight improvements in skin appearance with collagen supplementation, but these studies were small and sponsored by the product manufacturers. In reality, it’s not clear whether collagen supplements even enter the bloodstream. Acids in the stomach may break them down before they get there.
“If you want to build collagen, it’s better to use topical products that have been demonstrated to do so, such as retinol cream and vitamin C serum,” Yepes advised.
Article Written By: Jessica Brown, a health and science writer/editor based in Brooklyn, New York. She has written for Prevention magazine, jnj.com, BCRF.org, and many other outlets.