Does Dry Skin Cause Wrinkles?

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Here's a common question: Does dry skin cause wrinkles? The simple answer is no. Abundant research has made it perfectly clear that wrinkles and dry skin are not related in terms of cause and effect. 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?

Wrinkles are primarily caused by sun damage as well as muscle movement, estrogen loss, and fat depletion. Nowhere (outside of ads and product claims) is dry skin ever mentioned as a cause of wrinkles. What about those "fine, dry lines" most moisturizers claim to eliminate? That's simply another way to describe how your skin can look when it's dry. But those "fine, dry lines" are not the same as wrinkles, which don't go away simply by applying a moisturizer.

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 call 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 proof positive 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 distributed by the cosmetics industry keeps us confused, but it also stems from the fact that dry skin looks more wrinkled than skin that isn't dry. So, not surprisingly, wrinkled skin looks better after a moisturizer is applied.

Women with oily skin may be perceived as having fewer wrinkles, but that's because they have their own built-in moisturizer, which creates 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 itself.

What You Can Do to Help Dry Skin and Wrinkles

While using a standard, ordinary moisturizer does not have any significant effect on 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, do. Not all products are created equal, which is why you need our help to find the best ones for your skin's needs.

What are the state-of-the-art ingredients you should look for? Antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and skin-repairing ingredients. 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 impacts the skin cell's DNA structure. When formulated in an effective sunscreen, antioxidants also help your skin defend itself against the #1 cause of aging, the sun.
  • 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.
  • Skin-repairing ingredients are substances that skin has lost due to sun exposure and external irritants. 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 15 or higher 365 days a year. We know the topic of sunscreen is kind of boring and certainly not 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!

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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 helping you find the absolute best products for your skin, using research-based criteria to review beauty products from an honest, balanced perspective. Each member of the team was personally trained by Paula herself.

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