Fine Lines vs Wrinkles: What’s the difference?
Wrinkles and fine lines often get grouped together, and both get villainized as telltale signs of aging. However, there are some very minute and nuanced differences between them, and it’s important to know these differences so you know how to treat them!
What are Wrinkles
Wrinkles are deep lines and grooves in your face that increase in prominence with age. They get deeper and more prominent because of the thinning and loss of elasticity in the skin as you mature. Contrary to popular belief, wrinkles don’t just form when you get older, but rather wrinkles have their roots in your younger years. Each time you make a facial expression, lines will develop in your skin at the areas where the skin creases and folds. In our youth, we have an abundance of collagen and fats so the skin has the flexibility to spring back to normal after you make a face, which is why wrinkles do not show on young people and children. However, as you grow older the skin loses this property of elasticity, causing wrinkles to become more pronounced. The creases in your skin no longer have the elasticity and springiness to bounce back the way it did when you were young, causing permanent grooves in the skin to form.
What are Fine Lines?
Fine lines are slightly different. On the surface, the development and formation of fine lines and wrinkles are pretty much the same. Fine lines are caused by weaknesses in the skin’s foundation and begin to develop when the skin folds and is unable to spring back to its original shape. Fine lines are little skin creases that are created directly on the area of where the facial moves, or adjacent to it. However, fine lines can also crop up on any area of the face where the skin becomes thin and crepe-like, probably due to sun exposure or age.
So now you are probably asking: they sound the same, what’s the difference?
The main difference lies in the depth of the crease. Fine lines are milder, shallower lines while wrinkles are much deeper set. Wrinkles also typically form as a direct result of facial movement and are found in areas where the skin folds when you make a face. Fine lines can appear anywhere on the face as long as the skin is getting thin and delicate. The repetition of facial expressions contribute to why wrinkles become deeper set, the frequency of the folding is greater, hence the increased depth of the crease. To be very technical, fine lines are less than two millimeters deep and are the earliest signs of aging. You can think of them as a precursor to wrinkles, as fine lines can indeed develop into wrinkles if they get deeper.
The Aging Process
So we’ve been talking a lot about skin dryness, not being able to bounce back, and the big A-word, aging. But how exactly do all of these fit together into a logical process? Now that we know how wrinkles and fine lines develop, let’s go into what aging processes lie behind them!
As you age, your skin also ages, and the skin ages through cumulative natural processes. There are both internal and external aging processes happening within and to the skin. The internal aging will occur regardless, this is what we have no control over. As we get older, collagen production in the dermis decreases year-on-year by 1% after you turn twenty, and it totally ceases after forty. As the collagen production slows down, it results in the collagen and elastin fibers becoming thicker, clumpier, and looser, which is how the skin starts to become inelastic, delicate, and brittle. This is the above mentioned delicate and thin skin. The thinning of skin occurs as the fat cells in the subcutaneous layer shrink. The combination of thinning skin with a loss of elasticity results in the permanence of wrinkles as the skin is unable to bounce back to its original shape and springiness.
The types of facial expressions you make frequently in your everyday life also make a difference in where and what type of wrinkles will form. If your disposition is to be smiley and happy you will probably develop crow’s feet and laugh lines as these are the natural areas of creasing when you smile or laugh. On the contrary, if your natural disposition is to frown a little, you will probably develop the eleven wrinkles between the brows, and lip lines that run vertically down the sides of your lips due to the downturned motion of your mouth.
Meanwhile, the external aging process is a result of environmental factors that damage the skin. It is caused by free radicals that pull electrons from molecules in the skin, resulting in biological alterations to the cells. Skin proteins are damaged and as a result, skin becomes more brittle and less elastic. The biggest culprits of external skin damage are UV exposure (sun exposure) and smoking which exacerbate the rate of wrinkle formation and skin aging due to the presence of free radicals and harmful chemicals.
How to Prevent Wrinkles and Fine Lines?
So now we understand how wrinkles and fines lines appear, and also how the skin itself ages to result in these. The million-dollar question is, how can we prevent it?
Well, aging is inevitable and hence wrinkles are not actually preventable, However, you can prevent the early onset of wrinkles and fine lines by following the following steps!
1. Wear sunscreen every day and protect your skin from the sun
Sun exposure is the biggest culprit of premature skin aging as UV rays generate free radicals and are hence very damaging to the skin. Wearing SPF every day is critical to delaying the aging process, as it will protect your skin from UV exposure. But don’t just stop there, double up on the protection by wearing a hat whenever you go out into the sun, or carry an umbrella. Limiting direct sun exposure is a very essential and simple action you can take.
2. Stop smoking
Not only is smoking bad for the lungs and overall health, but it is also extremely detrimental to your skin. Smoking speeds up the aging process very quickly, causing wrinkles, dryness, and sallowness of the skin. You might see longtime smokers who look aged beyond their years because their skin health has deteriorated so much.
3. Start adding anti-aging products to your skincare routine
Once you hit your twenties, you should be taking active steps to preserve your skin’s youthfulness by moisturizing, adding serums, and incorporating retinoids. Start using gentle exfoliants such as a washcloth or a chemical one like alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) to boost your skin’s dead cell turnover. Be careful not to use harsh exfoliants with grains or beads as it can cause sagging and wrinkling. Incorporate serums to boost your skin’s moisture and hydration. Serums with vitamin A and vitamin C are the most helpful in anti-aging, as these have antioxidant properties to fight free radicals, and also help to stimulate collagen production.
Wrinkles and fine lines are not preventable totally, but you can definitely take early steps to ensure they do not form too early! Remember to stay out of the sun and be gentle with your skin, and you will be fine line-and-wrinkle-free for longer!