The 5 Different Types of Wrinkles and What To Do About Each

Different Types of Wrinkles

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.

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 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 facial wrinkles and what you can do about them after you have them.

Basically, there are five different types of wrinkles: expression wrinkles, elastotic wrinkles, atrophic wrinkles, gravitational wrinkles, and compression wrinkles. And what works for one wrinkle does not always work for the other one.

Keep reading to learn more about different types of wrinkles.

Expression Wrinkles

Expression wrinkles or expression lines form as a result of repetitive muscle contraction (1). Your expressions, frowning, smiling, form these wrinkles. You can see them on the corners of the eyes (crow’s feet), on the forehead, and around the mouth as well. And over time, they become more prominent.

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.

As you can’t really stop making expressions, you can’t really get rid of them either. However, the best way to temporarily get rid of expression wrinkles and to delay their formation is to get Botox injections. In fact, Botox works best especially for these types of wrinkles.

Other than a good skincare routine or maybe getting injections, there’s one another thing you can do to delay the formation of wrinkles. Stop making unnecessary facial expressions. What would that look like?

Squinting your eyes when watching TV because you’ve been postponing a visit to an eye doctor, or watching a Netflix drama and getting too caught up in the story without realizing you’re frowning, or raising your eyebrows while aggressively biting your nails… These daily habits can worsen the look of expression wrinkles.

Elastotic Wrinkles

Elastotic wrinkles are caused by the loss of skin elasticity (2). And the main reason for loss of skin elasticity is sun exposure. Elastotic wrinkles become permanent in time. What sets this type of wrinkle from the rest is that it’s majorly about unprotected UV exposure. It’s no secret that the sun is a very important factor in skin again.

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, neck, chest, and body.

Elastotic wrinkles don’t disappear when you pull or stretch your skin. Pull your cheeks up and you’ll see that the nasolabial lines, even though slightly faded, are still there.

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 their appearance, you can try active ingredients like retinoids and chemical exfoliants to stimulate collagen production. You can also try antioxidant serums made with vitamin C, E, or green tea, to neutralize damage from sun exposure. And lastly, you can try dermal fillers to plump up the appearance of creases.

Atrophic Wrinkles

Atrophic wrinkles usually form as a result of collagen loss in the skin. 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. And they disappear when you stretch the skin.

As they are very fine lines, as opposed to deep-set forehead wrinkles, they give the skin a dry, thin, crepey-like look. Similar to elastotic wrinkles, you can try topical treatments with retinoids and antioxidants while leading a healthy lifestyle.

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.

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.

These types of wrinkles require tightening procedures, which tend to be more aggressive. 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. When injected into the right area, you can cancel out the sagginess of the skin. It’s not really a treatment but more of a temporary correction for aesthetic purposes.

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 (3).

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. 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. The best way to treat sleep wrinkles is to avoid sleeping on your face or on your side and paying attention to your pillow.

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!

Read Next: How To Get Rid of Under-Eye Wrinkles


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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,
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