Skincare 101: What Causes Wrinkles?

Sep 13 , 2021

Skincare 101: What Causes Wrinkles?

Feeling like wrinkles are an inevitable part of aging? The truth is, wrinkles are caused by a combination of factors – most of which are in our control. Normal healthy skin is generally well hydrated, smooth in texture, has an even tone, an intact barrier and abundant collagen and elastin – proteins that help keep skin firm.

As we age, our skin naturally gets thinner, drier, is less elastic, and less able to protect itself from the daily assault of environmental damage. This leads to wrinkles, creases and lines on the skin.

But don’t kid yourself. While genetics and chronological aging cannot be prevented, the physical signs of aging, of which wrinkles are just a part,



  • Fine lines and wrinkles
  • Rough, dry, itchy skin
  • Slack skin– loss of elastic tissue (elastin and collagen) cause the skin to hang loosely
  • Uneven pigmentation, dark spots and a mottled appearance
  • Fragile and transparent– caused by thinning of the epidermis (surface layer of the skin) and dermis (layer of skin under the epidermis)
  • More easily bruised – caused by thinner blood vessel walls and a thinner, less protective dermal matrix
  • More prone to developing skin lesions such as precancerous keratoses



From the time we are born, and throughout our lives, our skin is exposed to a multitude of internal and environmental factors occurring simultaneously. It’s how our body responds to these factors that leads to biological and clinical signs of aging.

Free radicals, produced by an imbalance of oxidative and anti-oxidative processes called oxidative stress, cause aging by damaging skin cells. The more damage they cause, the higher the chance of developing wrinkles and other signs of aging. These free radicals are induced by a number of environmental factors including UV rays, smoking, air pollution, ozone and nutrition.



  • Sun Radiation
  • Air Pollution
  • Tobacco Smoke
  • Temperature
  • Nutrition
  • Stress
  • Sleep


SUN RADIATION: Exposure to the sun’s rays is the #1 cause of skin aging via oxidative stress and inflammation. Both UVA rays, which penetrate the skin’s deepest layers, and UVB rays, which cause sunburn, ultimately lead to premature aging and wrinkles. But did you know that photoaging mainly results from daily exposure to low doses of UV radiation, which does not cause visible changes at the time of exposure, but leads to greater biological changes over time. In fact, 80% of facial aging is believed to be due to daily, chronic sun exposure, what is known as incidental sun exposure from everyday activities – walking the dog, retrieving mail, driving in the car, etc.

AIR POLLUTION AND OZONE: Researchers have found that next to ultraviolet radiation, pollutants like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (chemicals that are released when burning coal, gasoline, trash or tobacco), volatile organic compounds (present in paints, coatings and car exhausts), oxides, particulate matter, ozone and cigarette smoke cause significant damage to the skin. Pollution also heightens the dangers of free radicals. By inducing oxidative stress, damaging cellular structures and depleting natural antioxidants in the skin, these pollutants can lead to inflammation, hyperpigmentation (dark spots), loss of collagen, dehydration and increased sensitivity of the skin. 

TOBACCO SMOKE: Need another reason to quit? Smoking increases free radicals in the skin, speeding up the normal aging process causing facial wrinkling, particularly around the mouth, upper lip and eyes. Nicotine in cigarettes causes narrowing of the blood vessels, impairing blood flow in the outermost layers of the skin. With less blood flow, your skin doesn’t get as much oxygen and important nutrients, such as vitamin A, resulting in dry, dull skin. Many of the more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke also damage collagen and elastin. As a result, skin begins to sag and wrinkle prematurely. Smoking has also been associated with an increased risk for acne, psoriasis and skin cancer.

TEMPERATURE: Studies suggest that heat as well as UV radiation may play an important role in premature skin aging. Repetitive and prolonged heat exposure causes protective antioxidant levels in the skin to drop and collagen breakdown that can accelerate the rate of our skin aging.11 Exposure to cold weather causes the skin to become dry and dehydrated, leading to enhanced appearance of surface lines and wrinkles.

NUTRITION: What you eat matters – to your body and your skin. Research has shown a diet rich in anti-oxidants may delay aging effects. Higher vitamin C intake has been associated with a lower likelihood of wrinkles, while consuming too much sugar, fat and carbohydrates has been associated with a higher likelihood for a wrinkled appearance. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is essential for overall body and skin health.

STRESS: Stress affects your mind, body and your skin. Research has shown stress can cause wrinkles and chronic stress can contribute to premature aging. The "fight or flight" stress mechanism triggers the production of cortisol, the primary stress hormone, also known to break down collagen in your skin. The more stressed you are, the more cortisol your body produces and the body is unable to keep pace rebuilding elastin and collagen.

SLEEP: Sleep is a time for the body to heal, renew and eliminate toxins from the skin. In a recent study, researchers found that those who didn’t sleep well exhibited more signs of skin aging including fine lines, uneven pigmentation and reduced skin elasticity. The researchers also found that those who enjoyed quality sleep recovered more quickly from stressors to the skin such as sun and environmental toxins.



Remember, you have control over 80% of how your skin ages! To help prevent premature skin aging, experts recommend the following tips:

  • Protect your skin from the sun everyday. Seek shade, cover up and use sunscreen that is broad-spectrum, SPF 30 (or higher), and water-resistant, Wearsing sunglasses can help reduce lines caused by squinting.
  • Don't smoke. While wrinkles may not disappear entirely, the return of normal blood flow will bring oxygen and nutrients back to skin cells and reduce inflammation. Topical retinoids and antioxidants, such as vitmains C and E will help bring back a healthy complexion.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Research suggests that a diet of too much sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging. Eating a diet rich in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is vital to preventing damage that leads to premature skin aging.
  • Exercise regularly. Studies show moderate exercise can improve circulation and boost the immune system giving the skin a more-youthful appearance. Physical fitness, mediation, and deep breathing exercises are also great ways to relieve stress. Remember to use sunscreen every day to protect against aging sun exposure when outdoors.
  • Get your beauty sleep. Experts recommend 7-9 hours for sleep every night for the average adult. When you're tired, it shows on your skin.
  • Cleanse your skin gently. Scrubbing can irritate your skin. Gentle washing with soap-free cleanser helps to remove pollution, makeup, and other substances without irritating your skin. Be sure to wash makeup off each night to optimize the skin's nightime renewal process.
  • Exfoliate and moisturize daily. Exfoliation is one of the best ways to renew your skin. Serums and moisturizers trap water in the skin, helping to restore the skin barrier and prevent oxidantive damage.

At NEOSTRATA®, we believe that visible results come from renewing the layers of the skin. We recognize that everyone’s skin is unique and we have created key collections which aim to achieve healthy-looking skin at every life stage.