How Did Wrinkles Become the Enemy?
By Dr. Chau Phan, Pharmacist and owner of Pleasant Care Pharmacy
It occurred to me, as I was doing research for my book, Age Gracefully: Make the Right Decisions for Your Skin, that the skin care products I compound at Pleasant Care Pharmacy might just be part of the answer to the question posed in the title of this article. In other words, by helping you slow the development of wrinkles on your skin, I might be contributing to wrinkles’ bad name in our culture. So I began to think about how (and when) wrinkles acquired that bad name.
After all, what did wrinkles ever do to make us view them with such suspicion? Well, for one thing, they seem to
appear out of nowhere. In the midst of our busy lives, we look in the mirror one morning and there it is, a creaseline that didn’t occur because we slept wrong on our pillow. Our reaction? Panic. “When did that happen? And, oh no, there’s another one…and another!”
Now before you ask, “What are you suggesting – that we stop smiling?” let me remind you that frowning – over time – also causes wrinkles.
As I explain in my book, here’s how wrinkles happen:
- The muscles in your face start to atrophy naturally over time. They weaken or disappear in places.
- The lack of muscle mass behind the skin causes the skin to appear less tight, and wrinkles develop where the muscles used to be.
- As the three layers of the skin – the epidermis, the dermis and the hypodermis – get thinner, they are less able to provide the barrier your body requires. Reduced skin thickness causes wrinkles.
- Over time, the dermis layer of our skin loses collagen and elastin, and with that loss comes a reduction in elasticity, strength and resistance, creating wrinkles.
- Also over time, our bodies begin to lose more water than we take in, making it more of a challenge to stay hydrated. It also becomes harder for water to enter our cells. Our skin is not a high priority in comparison to our vital organs, so the signs of dehydration will show first on our skin.
Notice how many times in the previous paragraphs I used the expression “over time”. To me, that expression has positive, as well as negative, connotations. As I explain in my book, over time, we have control over many of the extrinsic factors that contribute to the occurrence of wrinkles.
To prevent wrinkles, we must stop the loss of muscle mass and the thinning of the skin, as well as maintain the integrity of the skin’s collagen and elastin with lifestyle changes that include avoidance of:
- Secondhand smoke (as well as avoiding/eliminating smoking as a habit yourself)
- UV radiation
- Alcohol consumption (or at least reducing it)
- Repetitive facial muscle movements, such as frowning and squinting
- Stress (or, again, at least reducing it)
At the same time, we can embrace:
• Hydrating with appropriate water intake
• Eating foods high in protein to maintain muscle mass
• Getting enough sleep
• Exercising our forehead and eyes
• Using protection against wrinkles, such as sunscreen and lip balm
Chapter four of my book includes details about these lifestyle changes if you want to learn more.
In the meantime, to get back to the original question posed in this article, maybe the answer lies in our making a friend out of those wrinkles – even as we do what we can to avoid them. After all, don’t we as women want to be taken seriously? With age comes wisdom, right? You’ve heard that expression “She has grown comfortable in her own skin.”
Yes, let’s make friends with those wrinkles we can’t avoid. They are a badge that shows the world we’ve been here long enough to know a thing or two.
If you would like more information about Pleasant Care Pharmacy or about my skincare products, you can contact me at email@example.com or call me at 510.200.9984.