That Is The Question

“Wrinkles will only grow where the smiles have been”

Jimmy Buffet

Hello Boomers.  

In follow up to my last blog on aging gracefully, I thought it would be appropriate to spend a little time talking about the wrinkle-factor, which unfortunately is a by-product of the aging process.  Like it or not, as we put on the years, the lines we see on our face, in particular, begin to show up, become more prevalent, and actually deepen over time.

How many advertisements do we see each day for creams and serums of all kinds, injections and facial rollers, you know those crazy fad products that you roll around on your face.  There are so many options out in the market and so many promises to take away wrinkles and years off while looking younger in just a few weeks.  Bunk!  So, I’m here today to talk about what is truth and what is myth, and what you can do look better before you drop a bunch of money on all these over-hyped miracle products.  We’ll look at what experts and dermatologists have to say about aging skin, and what really makes a difference from a personal standpoint.  In addition, I will pass along some of my helpful hints at reducing or at least softening those lines.  

“Wear a smile and have friends, wear a scowl and have wrinkles”

George Eliot

Here are my five myths about wrinkles.

Myth #1.  Sleeping causes wrinkles. You may have heard that sleeping on your back will help you avoid wrinkles.  Studies are quite inconclusive and because we change positions 16-to-20 times a night, it’s hard to stay face-up.  What we do know is that a good night’s rest can help to prevent wrinkles.  Our skin switches into a healing mode when we sleep, and the body kicks up collagen production, it secretes skin-thickening growth hormones, and it increases blood flow to the epidermis for faster cell turnover.  “There is no injectable, laser, or product that can do what sleep does,” says Doris Day, M.D., a spokesperson for the American Academy of Dermatology.  So, the message here is to prioritize your beauty sleep and your skin will look its best.

Myth #2.  My mother has lots of wrinkles, so I will too.  Myth-buster—you are definitely not destined to see your mother in the mirror.  While genetics play a role in wrinkles, other factors especially sun exposure and smoking, hinder the production of collagen and elastin and have a big impact on how your face weathers over the years.  Ultraviolet (UV) rays are responsible for as much as 80% of sun damage that ages us.  Your ethnic background also factors in.  Caucasians are much more likely to show signs of aging sooner, whereas Africans, East Asians and Latino women may not develop wrinkles even a decade later.  Even if you have a darker complexion, i.e. more UV protective melanin, you still need sunscreen.

Myth #3.  Moisturizing will prevent wrinkles.  Myth-buster—moisturizing makes the skin look and feel softer but for wrinkle prevention, apply sunscreen early and often.  Studies show that SPF may allow the skin to repair itself as well as prevent future damage.  Make sure your sunscreen offers protection from UVA rays, which penetrate more deeply and lead to weathered and aging skin and possibly cancer.  Follow up with an antioxidant serum—something that contains resveratrol and retinol, and Vitamins C and E are an effective one-two punch against damage from sunlight.  Need more food for thought?  Raspberries, green tea, and lutein-rich foods like broccoli, egg yolks and leafy green vegetables may also be good protection.

Myth #4.  Injectables are the only true fix.  Myth-buster—nope!  Actually there are many skin treatments from which to choose, with injectables being only one.  Few ingredients have a better wrinkle erasing record than retinol, a topical form of Vitamin A that stimulates wrinkle-smoothing collagen.  Peptides are similar to retinol but aren’t as strong and therefore not as effective.  And with lasers, which can indeed be a therapeutic approach, you get a targeted zap of heat that “essentially causes a bunch of little wounds, and the skin creates new collagen as part of the repair that can add volume to your skin,” says Boston-based dermatologist Ranela Hirsch, M.D.  After effects of redness and swelling might last for a few days, and multiple sessions are usually required.  Injectable fillers have been out for years, and so has BOTOX (also used to treat migraines).  I tried an injectable filler for lip lines and it only lasted one or two months, and of course there was the humorous side where friends said I looked like a duck.  Then I wondered where it went inside my body.  It was the one and only time I tried it.   Please note, these treatments are not long lasting and do cost a whole lot of money.  

Myth #5.  Facial exercises prevent wrinkles.  Myth-buster—exaggerated expressions meant to tone facial muscles do not fight off wrinkles.  Pulling out your cheeks, sticking out your tongue and puckering your lips may even deepen the lines that naturally occur over time, say Rachael V. Reynolds, a dermatologist at Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.  Your grandchildren might like you to make faces, but it won’t help your skin one bit.  Of course, that doesn’t mean you should aim to be expressionless, especially when it comes to smiling.  Simple activation of those muscles can bring on actual feelings of happiness.  

At the end of the day, sunscreen is the most important factor in conditioning your skin and preventing wrinkles, along with a good night’s sleep and a healthy diet.  If you were to follow my regime, I use a high value SPF sunscreen virtually everyday whether I’m outdoors in the sun or not.  I find its skin softening and therapeutic effects to be most beneficial, especially considering most of it is so reasonably priced.   And, please, include your BoomerGuy in all this.

“We have to be able to grow up.  Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life.  They are what we have been through and who we want to be”

Lauren Hutton

Boomers, love your skin and be the best you can be at every age, put on a smile and conquer the day.

Postscript:  My BoomerGuy and I are heading to northern California for a week of business, a location near the Sierra foothills where we used to live.  Therefore, I will not be posting anything on my blog next week, but look for another installment the week of November 15th.   It will be either discussing relocating or downsizing, and will probably include several photos from our trip.  Many Boomers are planning these steps in life, so stay tuned.

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