Fine Lines & Wrinkles: Is There A Difference?
Ever wondered whether your fine line was in fact a wrinkle? Or vice versa? But wait, aren’t they basically the same thing? Actually no, they’re quite different.
Fine lines and wrinkles – it’s like you can’t have one without the other. And we’re probably just as much to blame for this as the next skincare company, because whenever we talk about the visible signs of aging it’s all ‘fine line and wrinkles’ this and ‘fine lines and wrinkles’ that.
However, while lines and wrinkles are the most common signs of skin aging, they don’t always come as a package deal. In fact, they’re quite different. So, let’s have a quick look at what they're really about, shall we?
What Is A Fine Line?
Fine lines are the babies of the wrinkle family. They’re shallow, less than two millimeters in depth and more like small creases, if you will.
Fine lines can appear anywhere on your face, but they’re usually more prevalent on and around areas that experience repeated muscle movement because repetitive motions like frowning and smiling cause weakness in your skin. When you’re young, your skin is able to easily bounce back, but as you get older, it becomes thinner, weaker, drier and less elastic which is why fine lines appear near expressive areas around your eyes, mouth and across your forehead.
Of course, your natural aging process isn’t the only cause of fine lines. Many other factors come into play including the usual suspects: sun damage, smoking, pollution and stress. Research also shows that darker skin is thicker and therefore stays smoother, firmer and with less lines than fair skin. But whatever your skin type, they're kind of inevitable at some point.
What Is A Wrinkle?
Wrinkles, on the other hand, are fine lines that have simply grown-up. Over time, repeated use of your facial muscles, along with the continual degradation of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid cause fine lines to become thicker, deeper and more noticeable. This is when that innocuous fine line graduates into a big, bad wrinkle. Oh, and all those other external aggressors battling away at your skin for years and years don’t help either…
But it’s not all bad news, folks, because fine lines and wrinkles might not be the same thing, but what you do to prevent them is. Can we get a 'hooray' for that?
The 3 Most Important Ways To Prevent Lines & Wrinkles
It’s perfectly normal for your skin to age and, in all honesty, expression lines around your eyes and mouth are all part of living your best life. However, there are certain other external factors you can control to help manage the rate in which your lines appear and mature into wrinkles.
1. Look After Your Barrier Function
Your skin’s barrier (aka the stratum corneum) is its uppermost layer and vital for protecting your body and keeping you alive.
Like the mortar that holds your skin together, your barrier is primarily made up of ceramides, fatty acids and cholesterol and it has three essential roles.
First, your skin’s barrier protects you from external toxins, allergens, pollution and UV radiation. Second, it works hard to reduce moisture loss. And third, it helps transport essential nutrients to the underlying layers of your skin. When your barrier works properly it maintains healthy skin by keeping it soft, supple, hydrated. It also keeps it safe from sensitivities, irritation and of course, environmental damage.
On the flipside, when it begins to weaken and function poorly, your skin becomes more prone to dryness, dehydration, inflammation and premature aging. Hello, fine lines and eventually wrinkles…
So, how can you look after your skin’s barrier function? Well, of course you shouldn’t smoke, get stressed or skip zzzs. But neither should you ever over-exfoliate. And this is really important because it’s one of the biggest mistakes people make with their skin. Sure, gentle exfoliation works wonders for increasing cellular turnover and boosting radiance, but too much of a good thing breaks down your skin’s barrier, causing it to become everything you don’t want for your complexion.
Our advice is to exfoliate your face just two or three times a week, using either a physical exfoliator like a scrub or cleansing brush; or try a treatment cleanser or toner that contains chemical exfoliating acids like lactic, glycolic or salicylic.
2. Apply Topical Antioxidants
Free radical damage (aka oxidative stress) is a killer for aging you up before your time, so doing everything you can to keep it under control is super important. Of course, maintaining a healthy barrier function will instantly help you ward off free radical damage from the sun and environment, but you should also include topical antioxidants in your daily skincare routine.
Antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that help protect your skin from oxidative stress by neutralizing free radicals. This stops free radicals from attacking all the good stuff in your skin that keeps it soft, strong and supple (yes, we’re talking to you, collagen and elastin), therefore reducing damage and helping your skin defy the signs of extrinsic aging.
Want to say ‘hold on a minute’ to fine lines and wrinkles? Then apply at least one topical antioxidant to your skin every day. Obviously, we’re massive fans of vitamin C, but vitamin E, niacinamide, retinol and hyaluronic acid also have antioxidant qualities that effectively get the job done. Not sure which one is right for you? Here’s some help choosing your perfect weapon.
3. Wear Sunscreen Every Day
If we had a dollar for every time we’ve stressed the importance of sunscreen we’d be millionaires... no, billionaires by now. But we’ll continue to bang on about it and make no apologies for it. Why? Because that big ball of fire in the sky is THE NUMBER ONE cause of external skin damage. Lines, wrinkles, dark spots, sagging, poor texture, the works. According to The Skin Cancer Foundation, a massive 90 percent of skin aging is caused by the sun and people who wear a daily sunscreen of at least SPF 15 or higher show 24 percent less skin aging than those who don’t.
Apply a good amount of sun protection (foundation, tinted moisturizer, powder... literally anything!) as the last step in your morning routine and we promise you, those lines will be much slower in coming.
Lecture over. For now.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.