Wrinkles are a natural part of aging. These lines and creases in the skin are most likely to form on skin that's often exposed to the sun, such as the face, neck, hands and forearms. Pollutants and smoking also speed the aging process. Using sunscreen every day and quitting smoking help prevent some wrinkling.

If your wrinkles bother you, many options are available to help smooth them or make them less visible. These include medicines, skin-resurfacing techniques, fillers and surgery.


Wrinkles are the lines and creases that form in your skin. Some wrinkles become deep and may be especially noticeable around the eyes, mouth and neck.

When to see a doctor

If you're concerned about how your skin looks, see a doctor who specializes in the skin. This type of expert is called a dermatologist. Your doctor can assess your skin, help you create a skin care plan and discuss wrinkle treatments.


Wrinkles are caused by several factors — some you can control, others you can't:

  • Age. With aging, the skin naturally becomes less elastic and drier, with less fat and collagen in the deeper layers. This process results in the lines and creases typical of wrinkling. It also causes loose, saggy skin.
  • Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight and other sources speeds the skin's aging process, especially in people who tend to sunburn easily. It breaks down the elastin fibers and collagen in skin. Without these supportive connective tissues, the skin loses strength and flexibility.
  • Smoking and pollution. Smoking and air pollutants speed the aging process.
  • Repeated facial expressions. Facial movements and expressions lead to fine lines and wrinkles. For example, every time you squint, smile and frown, tiny grooves form beneath the surface of the skin. As skin ages, it loses its flexibility and can no longer spring back. These grooves then become features of the face.
  • Family history. The genes you inherit play a big part in the look and feel of your skin.


Here are some tips for slowing the effects of sun exposure and other causes of wrinkles:

  • Protect your skin from UV radiation. Avoid indoor tanning and limit the time you spend in the sun, especially midday. When you're in the sun, wear sun-protective clothing, such as wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts and sunglasses. Also, use sunscreen every day year-round. Choose a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, even on cloudy days. Apply sunscreen generously. Reapply every two hours, or more often if you're swimming or sweating.
  • Wash your face and moisturize. Dry skin shrivels plump skin cells, which can lead to fine lines and wrinkles. Make it a habit to gently wash your face and moisturize it every day. Moisturizing traps water in the skin.

    Moisturizers often have active ingredients that are intended to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Look for ingredients such as retinol, niacinamide and vitamin C. Many such products also come with a broad-spectrum sunscreen in them. Read the product labels for when and how to apply. Products with retinol or retinoids are not for use when pregnant.

    Another option you can buy without a prescription is adapalene (Differin). This is a vitamin A-derived product that can help prevent fine lines and wrinkles.

    It may take a few weeks or even months of regular use of the product before you notice any improvement in your skin. Or you may see no change at all. Moisturizers and wrinkle creams that you can buy without a prescription aren't classified as medicine, so they aren't required to undergo scientific research to prove they work. If you're not happy with the results, talk with your healthcare team about moisturizers with prescription-strength anti-wrinkle ingredients, such as retinoids.

  • Don't smoke. Even if you've smoked for years or smoke heavily, you can still improve your skin and prevent wrinkles by quitting smoking.
  • Eat a healthy diet. There is some evidence that certain vitamins in your diet help protect the skin. More study is needed on the role of nutrition in preventing wrinkles, but it's good to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.