Does Dry Skin Cause Wrinkles?
Many people think so but the real answer is no! Cosmetic consumers are bombarded with moisturizers in every price range claiming to eliminate or reduce the appearance of wrinkles by improving the moisture content of skin. Ads boasting a 150% improvement in skin's moisture frequently show up in fashion magazines. All of this helps maintain the myth that dry skin causes wrinkles. Dry skin's enduring association with wrinkles is as inseparable in the mind of the consumer as love and marriage. Nonetheless, the simple truth is dry skin and wrinkles are not related in the least. I know that statement may be hard to accept because we're so conditioned by advertising and product claims to think otherwise, but believing the myth can hurt your skin by inducing you to concentrate on treating your dry skin or loading up on moisturizers hoping it will get rid of wrinkles. It just doesn't work that way.
Abundant research has made it perfectly clear that wrinkles and dry skin are not related in terms of cause and effect. Extensive studies and analysis have shown dry skin is frequently a by-product or result of other assaults on skin that are really the cause of wrinkles. In other words, dry skin is primarily a symptom of other factors causing wrinkles.
If dry skin doesn't cause wrinkles, what does? Wrinkles are permanent lines etched into skin from environmental causes (sun damage and pollution) and internal causes (genetic changes, muscle movement, estrogen loss, and fat depletion). Nowhere (outside of ads and product claims) is dry skin ever mentioned as a cause of wrinkles. (Sources: Current Molecular Medicine, March 2005, pages 171-177; Cutis, February 2005, Supplemental, pages 5-8; Rejuvenation Research, Fall 2004, pages 175-185; Journal of Dermatology, August 2004, pages 603-609; Contact Dermatitis, September 2002, pages 139-146; and Fertility Sterility, August 2005, pages 289-290).
Sun damage is by far the most notable cause of wrinkling, which is easily proven by something referred to as the backside test of aging. In other words, compare the areas of your skin that rarely, if ever, see the sun with the parts of your body exposed to the sun on a daily basis. Those areas with minimal sun exposure (such as your backside) are rarely, if ever dry, and they also have minimal to no signs of wrinkles or aging skin. They will also have far more of the firmness, elasticity, and color of "younger" skin, because they have not been subjected to years of cumulative exposure to sunlight.
So why are so many people convinced that dry skin and wrinkles are related? Aside from the continuing misinformation propagated by cosmetic salespeople, estheticians, and advertisements for moisturizers, confusion also stems from the fact that dry skin looks more wrinkled, and wrinkled skin looks better after a moisturizer is applied. Women with oily skin may are perceived as having less wrinkles, but that's because they have their own built-in moisturizer, which creates a smoother skin texture. The skin's own oil doesn't forestall or in any way change wrinkles, but keeping them lubricated (the same principle as applying a moisturizer) makes wrinkles look temporarily better. When skin is dry or dehydrated, any amount of wrinkling or flaws look more exaggerated. Applying a moisturizer will make wrinkles look less apparent but they will not be permanently altered nor will they go away.
As discouraging as this information may be, the good news is, as you will see below, there are many state-of-the-art ingredients that go further than just making wrinkles and dry skin look better temporarily.
While just "moisturizing" skin does not have long-term or any real notable 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 does. These worthwhile ingredients can help skin achieve a level of repair and collagen formation that has a far more positive and long-term effect on wrinkles. What are these state-of-the-art ingredients? Antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and ingredients that mimic the structure of skin. Antioxidants decrease free-radical damage and reduce inflammation which causes collagen to break down and negatively impacts the skin cell's DNA structure. Cell-communicating ingredients help skin cells form in a healthy, "younger" manner. Ingredients that mimic the structure of skin help protect it from the environment and create a smoother surface.
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. When your skin-care routine includes products (such as an effective sunscreen) that protect skin from further collagen damage, it will go about its business of making more collagen to repair environmental damage. This process is further encouraged by topical application of products that contain a complement of antioxidants, anti-irritants, and cell-communicating ingredients. Such agents work in tandem with the skin's natural processes to rebuild collagen and improve cell structure. In practice, the more you can do to reduce irritation and inflammation to skin, the better.
One more point I want to be sure and mention is the benefit of ongoing topical application of alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acid (AHAs and BHA, respectively). Because sun-damaged skin causes the outer layer of skin to become thick in a way that is unhealthy, exfoliating this flawed buildup almost instantly helps skin look better. There is also research showing these ingredients stimulate collagen production and prevent collagen deterioration (Sources: Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, April 2005, pages 1156-1162; Experimental Dermatology, December 2003, pages 57-63; and Dermatologic Surgery, May 2001, pages 429-433). Combining daily sun protection and exfoliation with ingredients that reinforce skin's intercellular matrix, mitigate oxidative damage, and reduce irritation will help improve the appearance of wrinkles beyond the lesser, superficial benefits obtained from a standard moisturizer.
Any moisturizer rated as a Paula's Pick on my website www.CosmeticsCop.com meets these criteria. The Paula's Pick rating is reserved for products that exceed expectations for a product in its category and are unequivocally recommended with minimal to no concerns. A product that receives a happy-face rating is highly recommended because of its performance or impressive formulary characteristics, but it has not quite reached the extraordinary level of a Paula's Pick for various reasons (inferior packaging, lower quantities of state-of-the-art ingredients, etc.).