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Have you ever wondered why people who get Botox or fillers still have wrinkles? Well, while Botox may work wonders on some wrinkles, it doesn’t help with all. It’s because there are different types of wrinkles. And each type of wrinkle has a different cause. Therefore, each type of wrinkle requires a different treatment or prevention approach.
This is the conclusion I came to when I realized that I still have fine lines and wrinkles even though I regularly get Botox injections and follow a strict anti-aging skincare routine. So if you’re like me and wondering why your skincare treatments work so well for certain areas on the face and for certain wrinkles but not so much for others, relax. I did the research.
Wrinkles are sometimes categorized into two depending on the severity; fine lines and deep wrinkles. Other times, wrinkles are classified based on where they appear on the face. The ones around the eyes are called crow’s feet and the ones between the brows are called the frown lines and so on. But I find these to be too superficial.
There’s a more practical way to classify wrinkles based on cause, appearance, and treatment. This is the best way to understand how you can prevent the formation of those facial wrinkles and what you can do about them after you have them.
Keep reading to learn more about different types of wrinkles and what you can do to treat and prevent them.
Types of Wrinkles
1. Expression Wrinkles
Expression wrinkles or expression lines form as a result of repetitive muscle contraction on the face (1). Your expressions, frowning, and smiling, form these wrinkles. Examples of expression wrinkles are:
- Crow’s feet: Wrinkles that appear on the outer corners of the eyes
- Forehead lines: Wrinkles that appear horizontally on the forehead
- Glabellar lines: Vertical lines between the brows, which are also called worry lines, frown lines, or 11’s
- Laugh lines: Wrinkles around the mouth, which are also called smile lines or nasolabial folds
Expression wrinkles become permanent over time. These wrinkles are present on both young and old skin. But because the skin is still healthier on young skin, the expression wrinkles are not visible when there is no expression.
That’s when these wrinkles are called dynamic wrinkles. But as we age, expression wrinkles are visible even if there is no muscle movement on the face. That’s when they become static wrinkles.
What You Can Do
As you can’t really stop making expressions, you can’t really get rid of expression wrinkles. However, there are things you can do to prevent the early formation of expression wrinkles and minimize their appearance.
Avoid making unnecessary facial expressions. For example, don’t squint when watching TV as these types of daily habits can cause wrinkles and worsen the look of expression wrinkles.
Additionally, establish a good skincare routine suitable for your skin type and include a gentle cleanser, a daily moisturizer, and sunscreen.
Lastly, you can consider injectables like Botox because it’s the best way to temporarily get rid of expression wrinkles and delay their formation. In fact, Botox works best specifically for these types of wrinkles.
2. Elastotic Wrinkles
Elastotic wrinkles are caused by the loss of skin elasticity (2). And the main reason for the loss of skin elasticity is sun exposure.
It’s no secret that sun exposure is a major factor in aging skin. It damages the skin’s integrity, depletes its antioxidant network, and destroys collagen and elastin.
Because sun exposure is the main cause, elastotic wrinkles form on sun-exposed areas of the face such as cheeks, neck, chest, and body. And because these wrinkles are related to sun exposure, they’re called solar elastosis (3).
Elastotic wrinkles look like a crisscross pattern on the skin made of multiple overlapping lines. And they’re more common on mature skin with years of sun damage.
Elastotic wrinkles don’t disappear when you pull or stretch your skin. And they become permanent over time, giving the skin a coarse, rough texture.
What You Can Do
You can prevent elastotic wrinkles by wearing sunscreen, avoiding unnecessary sun exposure, and wearing protective clothing. This won’t completely reverse current wrinkles, but it’ll prevent them from becoming more prominent.
To soften the appearance of elastotic wrinkles, you can try using active ingredients like retinoids and chemical exfoliants in your skincare to stimulate collagen production.
You can also try antioxidant serums made with vitamin C, E, or green tea, to neutralize damage from sun exposure.
3. Atrophic Wrinkles
Atrophic wrinkles usually form as a result of collagen loss in the skin (4). They form when the mechanical properties of the skin are damaged, due to internal aging, bad diet, or bad habits.
Even though sun exposure can play a role, it’s not the main cause of atrophic wrinkles because they can appear in areas not exposed to the sun too.
Atrophic wrinkles are very fine lines that are parallel to each other. They can appear anywhere on the face and they’re more visible on the forehead.
And they disappear when you stretch the skin. As they are very fine lines, as opposed to deep-set forehead wrinkles, they look like dehydration lines and they give the skin a dry, thin, crepey-like look.
What You Can Do
As atrophic wrinkles are caused by collagen loss, you should focus on protecting your healthy collagen and preventing further collagen loss.
Similar to elastotic wrinkles, you can try topical treatments with retinoids and antioxidants to stimulate collagen production.
A good skin-plumping skincare routine can temporarily reduce their appearance. Hyaluronic acid serums work great as instant relief as they hydrate and plump the skin.
Also, protect your skin from sun exposure while leading a healthy lifestyle to prevent collagen degradation.
4. Gravitational Wrinkles
As suggested by the name, gravitational wrinkles form as a result of gravity. And these are more prominent on mature skin that can’t resist gravity any longer.
Gravitational wrinkles look more like folds and give the skin a saggy appearance. You can also see them as droopy jowls by the jawline.
Gravitational wrinkles are not separate wrinkles but wrinkles that have turned into folds as in nasolabial folds starting out as smile lines and turning into folds.
What You Can Do
These types of wrinkles require tightening procedures, which tend to be more aggressive. Anti-aging treatments like medium-depth chemical peels and laser resurfacing can help with saggy and loose skin.
Additionally, you can consider dermal fillers for facial contouring. Dermal fillers do not tighten your skin but they help redefine your face and draw attention away from loose skin.
That’s how they can help minimize the look of saggy skin. So fillers are not really treatments but more like temporary corrections for aesthetic purposes.
5. Compression Wrinkles
Though not officially recognized, compression wrinkles are the latest addition to the wrinkles family. These types of wrinkles form as a result of continuous pressure against the skin’s surface. And the most common compression wrinkles are known as sleep wrinkles (5).
As you sleep on your side, your face is pulled and stretched continuously for several hours every night. This results in vertical lines appearing on the sides of the face like lines on the side of the forehead and cheeks.
Sleep wrinkles are different than other wrinkles and cannot be treated with Botox injections. And they don’t make the best indications for dermal fillers either.
What You Can Do
The best way to treat sleep wrinkles is to avoid sleeping on your face or on your side. Avoid squishing your face against the pillow.
And don’t sleep on your hands either. Sleep on your back as that’s the only way to keep your face from pressing against a surface.
So these are the main types of wrinkles, what causes them, and what helps them. As you can infer, loss of collagen and skin elasticity keep coming up. And given that there’s only so much you can do about intrinsic aging, you can at least focus on things that are in your control.
And it’s the oldest story in the book: use SPF daily, exercise, cut back on sugar to preserve your collagen deposits, and take good care of your skin. At the end of the day, you need to decide what’s worth it and what’s not. Use SPF daily? That I can do. Cut back on cocktails? Absolutely not!
- Swift, A., Liew, S., Weinkle, S., Garcia, J. K., & Silberberg, M. B. (2021). The Facial Aging Process From the “Inside Out”. Aesthetic surgery journal, 41(10), 1107–1119. https://doi.org/10.1093/asj/sjaa339
- Piérard, G.E., Uhoda, I. and Piérard-Franchimont, C. (2003), From skin microrelief to wrinkles. An area ripe for investigation. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 2: 21-28. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1473-2130.2003.00012.x
- Pain, S., Berthélémy, N., Naudin, C., Degrave, V., & André-Frei, V. (2018). Understanding Solar Skin Elastosis-Cause and Treatment. Journal of cosmetic science, 69(3), 175–185.
- Quatresooz, P., Thirion, L., Piérard-Franchimont, C. and Piérard, G. (2006), The riddle of genuine skin microrelief and wrinkles. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 28: 389-395. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-2494.2006.00342.x
- Goesel Anson, MD, FACS, Michael A.C. Kane, MD, Val Lambros, MD, FACS, Sleep Wrinkles: Facial Aging and Facial Distortion During Sleep, Aesthetic Surgery Journal, Volume 36, Issue 8, September 2016, Pages 931–940, https://doi.org/10.1093/asj/sjw074
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