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Face Wrinkles: Causes and Treatment Options

Kristin Hall, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 8/15/2021

As you get older, there are a few parts of your body that tend to reveal how old you really are — never mind that you’d rather keep that figure a little hush-hush.

On your face, the wrinkles that line your forehead, eyes, cheeks and mouth can be dead giveaways of your age. 

At other times, these face wrinkles can add five or ten years to your appearance when they show up prematurely.

Regardless of when and how they happen, they’re a bummer.

Facial wrinkles are visible lines or folds in the skin. And while these creases and folds are normal, expected parts of the aging process, it’s also normal and expected to want to manage their appearance for as long as possible.

To help get face wrinkles under control, you should know the different factors that may be responsible for these changes to your skin, as well as potential treatment options to help with managing them.

Types of Wrinkles

When examining the lines that criss-cross your face, it’s easy to lump them into one big annoying category: wrinkles. 

While they are ultimately wrinkles, every line or fold isn’t created equally, with each having distinguishing features. 

The different types of wrinkles include:

Dynamic Wrinkles

You’re likely to develop these wrinkles if you make a habit of frowning at everything — everything from unwanted questions, to the menu at your favorite restaurant or even the sun being in your face. 

Dynamic wrinkles may also be found along the forehead and cheeks, as well as around the eyes — what you may know as crow’s feet.

These frown lines and other dynamic wrinkles are the result of muscles contracting under a layer of skin (such as the outer corners of the eyes). 

When these muscles go through repetitive contraction, they can cause the skin to squeeze closely together, encouraging lines to form.

Static Wrinkles

Like the name implies, these wrinkles are always set, and may not depend on continued facial movements like frowning, smiling or squinting to show up. 

These static wrinkles may be the result of prolonged dynamic wrinkles, or they may appear as a result of continued damage to the skin.

Wrinkle Folds

Wrinkle folds may also result from a repeated facial expression. 

While you may express joy through smiles and hearty laughs, repeatedly putting your facial muscles through these movements may form what is known as nasolabial folds. 

These wrinkles may first appear as dynamic before setting to become laugh lines or smile lines

Marionette lines or jowls are also examples of face wrinkles. They just go by mandibular folds, instead.

Wrinkles may also be considered fine lines in instances where they’re less than 1mm in depth and width. 

Deep wrinkles that are more than 1mm in depth and width are considered coarse wrinkles.

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Causes of Wrinkles

The forehead wrinkles, laugh lines or crow’s feet you may be sporting can be traced to internal or external factors. 

These factors usually have the effect of causing the outer layer of the skin to thin, or they may cause the skin to lose its elasticity, while also encouraging a fragile appearance

The causes of wrinkles include:

Sun Damage

The sun and your skin might appear to be a good combination on a summer afternoon, but this pairing can encourage premature aging without the right protection. 

Sun-damaged skin may appear thick, leathery and wrinkled, thanks to the effects of dangerous ultraviolet light produced by the sun. 

These UV rays may not only cause dry skin, but they may also alter the structure of elastin fibers in the skin, which usually help with the skin’s elastic and youthful appearance

Usually, your skin tries to undo the damage caused by the sun through shedding and peeling

However, with time, your skin cells may find it harder to repair, leading skin to develop wrinkles and fine lines.

Genetics

In certain cases, your ethnicity could have a role to play in just how quickly you start noticing the signs of aging. 

In most cases, caucasians will show signs of facial aging faster than other groups, while Asians will have later signs of wrinkling, usually in a less severe form when compared with their white counterparts.

People with darker skin-tones will typically retain a younger look to their skin when contrasted with other ethnic groups.

Smoking

There aren’t very many things smoking is good for.

In addition to its ability to complicate health and wellbeing (like by causing death, for instance), smoking is also a bad idea when it comes to improving the appearance of the skin.

The harsh chemicals produced by cigarette smoke have been shown to reduce collagen and elastin within human skin — key components for the structure and healthy appearance of skin. 

Reduced collagen and elastin may cause the skin to slack, harden and become less elastic. 

Smoking may also affect nasolabial folds on the face, and may hinder the skin’s ability to repair itself when damaged

Repeated Facial Movements

While the sun, genes and smoking may be to blame for the appearance of wrinkles, in some cases, the fine lines that appear on your face could be the result of facial moves you make consistently. Normal wear and tear, frankly.

Forehead wrinkles, crow’s feet and smile lines could be the result of repeatedly raising your eyebrows, squinting at images and smiling over time.

Like we mentioned earlier, these adverse effects are usually due to facial muscles doing the same dance over and over again for a period of time.

Treatments for Face Wrinkles

While wrinkles and fine lines may look like they’ve made a permanent home on your face, there are certain steps you can take to manage their appearance. These include:

Botox®

Otherwise known as botulinum toxin if you’re feeling fancy, this treatment can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines when injected into affected portions of the face. 

This injection of botulinum toxin helps relax those taut, contracted muscles that form wrinkles, reducing the appearance of fine lines and facial aging.

However, the effects of the toxin injection lasts only about three to four months, sometimes longer. 

It may be necessary for your dermatology provider to repeatedly carry out this cosmetic procedure for a regularly youthful appearance

It’s important to note that this procedure can sometimes cause an allergic reaction, and may lead to redness at the sight of injection.

Topical tretinoin

Tretinoin is maybe the most popular retinoid medication in skincare. You may know it for its benefits in managing acne, but this treatment is also a potent anti-aging tool. 

To help with getting wrinkles and fine lines on your skin under control, tretinoin helps increase the production of newer, fresher looking skin cells, while also helping boost the production of collagen, known to affect skin elasticity, hydration and appearance.

Our Anti-Aging Wrinkle Cream made with tretinoin, niacinamide, azelaic acid and other ingredients, can help improve the appearance of wrinkles on your face.

Chemical Peels

A chemical peel for men requires the use of chemicals to take off a layer of the skin surface. This treatment can produce an effect that encourages even, tight skin, to help manage the appearance of wrinkles. 

A chemical peel may be superficial or medium, while deep peels usually have the highest concentration of chemicals to manage skin conditions.

With common side effects like persistent redness, darker skin color and scarring, coupled with the use of sometimes harsh chemicals to produce results, it’s important that this process be carried out only by a licensed dermatologist.

For more tips on managing face wrinkles, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using broad spectrum sunscreen, avoiding tanning and moisturizing to keep your skin hydrated, as well as steering clear of products that may burn or irritate it.

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Last Words on Face Wrinkles

Nobody wants to look in the mirror to find a person much older than they feel staring back. 

Facial wrinkles, despite being an inevitable, and often welcome part of the aging process — can sometimes deal a heavy blow to how you feel about your looks.

With the sun, genes, smoking and repeated facial movements being the bad guys where premature facial aging is concerned, managing their effects and improving your skin health may require simple changes. 

Things like using sunscreen and making sure your skin stays moisturized, for instance. 

For more targeted improvements, using Botox, products that contain tretinoin, or getting more invasive treatments can help to improve the appearance of the skin against aging.

16 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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