March 22, 2012 Wrinkles are a result of aging, unhealthy skin and make us look older than we are. Preventing skin damage and wrinkles are the reasons we use sunscreen and face creams. Once you understand the science behind how and why wrinkles form, you can make the appropriate adjustments in your skin care regimen and lifestyle to prolong the youthful look of your skin. We can not stop time but we can take preventative measures to slow the wrinkling process down and keep our skin looking smooth and healthy longer. WHAT ARE WRINKLES? The wrinkle process happens in the dermis, the second layer of skin which contains the structural elements of the skin, mostly proteins that give the skin its elasticity and strength, like collagen and elastin. As we age, the cells divide more slowly, the dermis begins to thin and the network of collagen and elastin fibers begin to loosen, causing depressions on the surface. This is because the dermis is made of 80 percent collagen and as we age, the collagen production slows down. Oil secreting sebaceous glands enlarge as we age yet they become less efficient in lubricating the skin leaving it looking dry and dull, enhancing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. There are many factors that encourage the wrinkling process like sun exposure (the number one reason the skin ages), lack of antioxidants in our diets and smoking. WHAT CAUSES WRINKLES? Sun Exposure breaks down the collagen and elastin fibers, damages the cell DNA, depletes the skin of antioxidants necessary for collagen production and skin repair and lowers the immunity functions of the skin. That is why the anti-aging focus is always on sun protection, every day, all year, rain or shine. Smoking destroys collagen and elastin fibers and slows new collagen production resulting in wrinkles. It also causes a narrowing of the blood vessels in the skin leading to slower delivery of vital oxygen and nutrients to the skin. Antioxidants are nutrients and enzymes in the body that counteract the damaging, although normal effects of the process of oxidation in the body. Beta-carotene, Lycopene and Vitamins A, E and C are antioxidants that can be found in certain vegetables, fruits, nuts and oils necessary to slow this process down, resulting in better protection for the body and skin. Antioxidant ingredients can also be beneficial to the skin when applied topically. Sugar in the bloodstream attaches to proteins which form harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products due to a natural process in the body called glycation. The collagen and elastin which make up the firmness and elasticity of the skin are damaged by these AGE’s and the result over time is more wrinkles, sagging skin, particularly after age 35. Limit the amount of processed foods and sugars in your diet to slow this process down. Dr. Lawrence Jaeger of New York is an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of skin conditions and is board certified in dermatology and dermatologic surgery.