Are Your Wrinkles Caused by Dry Skin?


In This Article:

Here's a common question: Does dry skin cause wrinkles? The simple answer is no. Dry skin is often the result of a damaged skin barrier, and, as we will explain, a damaged barrier can also play a role in the development of wrinkles. But while the root cause of both dry skin and wrinkles can be the same, one condition does not lead to the other!

Think of it this way, kids can experience dry skin and many suffer from conditions such as eczema, but kids don't have wrinkles.

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OK, So What Does Cause Wrinkles?

Sun damage, as well as muscle movement, estrogen loss, and fat depletion are the primary causes of wrinkles. [1, 2, 3] Outside of ads and product claims dry skin is never mentioned as a cause of wrinkles, certainly not in any research that we’ve found. [4]

What about those fine, dry lines that many moisturizers claim to eliminate? That's simply another way to describe how your skin can look when it's dry, and while such lines are alleviated by the application of moisturizer, they are not the same as wrinkles.

The "Backside" Test of Aging

How can you know for sure that sun damage is by far the most notable cause of wrinkled skin? Easy! You can prove this by doing what we refer to as the "backside" test of aging. Here's how it works: If you are over 35, simply compare the parts of your body that rarely, if ever, see the sun with the parts of your body exposed to the sun on a daily basis.

Look at your backside, inner arms, and abdomen. You may be surprised to see that these areas have minimal to no signs of "aging." In fact, they have far more of the firmness, elasticity, and color of "younger" skin than the sun-exposed areas! Now that's a bit of anecdotal evidence of just how strongly sun exposure and wrinkles are connected.

How Wrinkles and Dry Skin Are Related

Time to dispel some confusion over why so many people are convinced that dry skin and wrinkles are related. The misinformation stems from the fact that dry skin looks more wrinkled than skin that isn't dry. Not surprisingly, wrinkled skin looks better after a moisturizer is applied. [5]

Those with oily skin may be perceived as having fewer wrinkles, but that's because they have their own built-in moisturizer, which creates the appearance of a smoother skin texture. When skin is dry or dehydrated, any amount of wrinkling or flaws look more exaggerated. Applying a moisturizer will make wrinkles look less apparent and can help skin look and act younger, but that is not the same thing as giving skin what it needs to repair (or protect) itself. Read on to find out what actually helps in the fight against wrinkles.

What You Can Do to Help Dry Skin and Wrinkles

While using a standard, ordinary moisturizer does not have any significant effect on actual wrinkles, using a product that contains state-of-the art ingredients whether they are in a toner (liquid), serum, lotion, cream, or gel form and regardless of the name, does. Not all products are created equal, which is why you need our help to find the best ones for your skin's needs.

Antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients are the types of ingredients that you should be looking for in your skincare products. Below, you'll discover how each one of these critical ingredient categories works.

  • Antioxidants decrease free-radical damage and reduce inflammation, which causes collagen to break down and negatively affects the skin cell's DNA structure. [6, 7] When formulated in an effective sunscreen, antioxidants also help your skin defend itself against the #1 cause of aging, the sun. [8, 9]
  • Cell-communicating ingredients help skin cells form in a healthy, "younger" manner. They also work to "tell" damaged cells to start acting more like normal, younger, healthier cells. [10]
  • Skin-repairing ingredients are substances that skin has lost due to sun exposure and external irritants. Ceramides are an example of a skin identical ingredient. [11] In order to improve, your skin desperately needs these repairing ingredients to fight environmental damage that leads to moisture loss and dull skin that looks older than it really is.

As significant as these ingredients are to the improvement of skin's structure, it is still of vital importance to use an effective sunscreen rated SPF 30 or higher 365 days a year. We know the topic of sunscreen might not quite as buzz-worthy as the latest anti-wrinkle miracle, but without sunscreen, you have no chance of helping your skin resist wrinkles and numerous other signs of aging. It really is that important!

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! Learn more at Shop Paula's Choice.

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References Cited:

  1. Flament F, Bazin R, Laquieze S,Rubert V, Simonpietri E, Piot B. Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2013;6:221–232.
  2. Hall G, Phillips TJ.Estrogen and skin: the effects of estrogen, menopause, and hormone replacement therapy on the skin. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005;53(4):555-68.
  3. Farage M, Miller K, Elsner P, Maibach H.Characteristics of the Aging Skin. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle). 2013;2(1):5–10.
  4. White-Chu EF, Reddy M.Dry skin in the elderly: complexities of a common problem. Clin Dermatol. 2011;29(1):37-42.
  5. Hashizume H.Skin aging and dry skin. J Dermatol. 2004;31(8):603-9.
  6. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(8):118–126.
  7. Baumann L. Skin ageing and its treatment. J Pathol. 2007;211(2):241-51.
  8. Edlich R, Winters K, Lim H, Cox M, Becker D, Horowitz J, Nichter L, Britt L, Long W. Photoprotection by sunscreens with topical antioxidants and systemic antioxidants to reduce sun exposure. J Long Term Eff Med Implants. 2004;14(4):317-40.
  9. Chen L, Hu J, Wang S. The role of antioxidants in photoprotection: A critical review. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2012;67(5):1013-24.
  10. Lloyd S, Modlin R. Toll-like receptors in the skin. Semin Immunopathol. 2007.;29(1):15-26.
  11. Coderch L, López O, de la Maza A, Parra JL.Ceramides and skin function. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2003;4(2):107-29.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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