9 Types Of Fine Lines & How To Help Your Skin Glow
As we age, our skin changes. This is a natural and normal part of life—one we can't avoid, nor do we need to. What we can do is make sure our skin ages healthfully, so it looks more vibrant long term—and see, this is less about the aesthetics of it all and more about ensuring your skin is functioning optimally. Because, get this, when your skin functions better, it looks better.
So as you age, there are some common concerns many people voice—namely, fine lines, texture changes, and the like. Now, in some capacity these will happen to all of us, but they do signify skin damage of some sort, be it from barrier damage, muscle and fat loss, bone density, cell DNA damage, or depletion of structural proteins like collagen, elastin, and ceramides. All of these things contribute to the signs of aging we've come to know: crow's feet, crepey skin, forehead wrinkles, bags.
And if any of these things is an area you'd love to tend to, we have you covered. Read on and click through to find the best holistic advice from derms and experts for glowing, radiant skin:
1. Crepey skin
When your skin thins over time due to a lack of collagen and elastin, it takes on a tissue-paper-like quality. The skin looks wrinkled, fragile, and fine; "It may also sag or feel loose," says board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. It can occur in most sun-exposed areas of the body, but common areas include the upper arms, eyelids, and neck.
Collagen makes skin look super plump, so a loss leads to that paper-thin exterior. There are a multitude of factors that can cause this loss of collagen, including age, sun, and pollution. You can help your dermal layer thicken with collagen-boosting routines.
2. Orange peel skin
Slightly dimpled texture around visible pores. That's the comparison for a very specific type of skin texture, colloquially called "orange peel skin." This is not a dermatological diagnosis, we should note, merely a descriptor.
"'Orange peel skin' is a phrase used to describe skin that resembles the peel of the orange. Imagine skin that is thick and shiny with tiny divots in the skin," says board-certified dermatologist Zenovia Gabriel, M.D. "With orange peel skin, the pores appear to be enlarged and dimpled."
"The cause for 'orange peel skin' is mainly due to deeper skin structures that impact the surface, such as muscle contraction, sebaceous gland size, and collagen and elastin loss," says Gabriel. "With aging, our sebaceous glands (pores) enlarge and our skin loses firmness and elasticity, causing pores to look deeper and enlarged."
For more info on how to tend to this skin texture, see our explainer.
3. Crow's feet
Crow's feet, which are the small lines that appear on the side of your eyes, can appear every time you emote throughout the day. People usually take concern, however, when they stick around. Our skin thins as we age (due to a loss of collagen), and the eye area, in particular, is usually the first to show signs. "When we start to have less collagen and elastic fibers in skin as it ages, this very thin skin shows lines earliest," explains board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD. That thin skin is also why the area is more sensitive to sun damage, pollution, and oxidative stress—all of which can contribute to sagging skin and wrinkles.
4. Under-eye lines
The area under our eyes is usually the first to sag. In fact, according to board-certified dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare Ellen Marmur, M.D., our entire eye socket sinks in as we age: "The bones thin, the fat shifts, and the blood vessels wither, providing less vibrant skin and more wrinkles," she tells mbg.
Your eyes also emote quite a bit throughout the day (not to mention throughout your lifetime), making it a vulnerable spot for fine lines. According to Marmur, there are over 10 muscles around our eyes squinting, smiling, and expressing, and constantly contracting those muscles can create wrinkles.
5. Bags, circles, and puffiness
Here's another aging concern for the area: bags, circles, and puffiness, which all get worse as you age. They do so for many of the same reasons you get wrinkles. The skin's structure becomes weaker with age, and thus the delicate skin area is more susceptible to changes.
For bags, the underlying fat pads under your eye (we all have them) droop, and the skin is no longer able to hold them in place. This result is sagging "bags" that droop from under your lid. Dark circles are actually caused by a variety of factors, including natural pigmentation, dilated blood vessels, and thinning skin. Each of these things can present themselves at any age but do tend to get worse as the years go on. Finally, puffiness is more of a consequence of lifestyle habits—however, when you're young, our skin is able to bounce back easier; not so much, though, as you lose collagen.
6. Stress wrinkles
Stress wreaks havoc on the body, this we know. And the damage it can do includes wrinkles. Many wrinkle types are caused by fairly straightforward external aggressors. This includes things like sagging from sun damage, fine lines from regular facial movement like crow's feet or smile lines, or "resting lines" from your sleeping position. But stress wrinkles form internally, at the cellular level.
Stress wrinkles are caused by oxidative stress. When your body goes through periods of prolonged stress, it triggers your body's inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation results in free radical damage and, therefore, oxidative stress. So if you can keep your body from enduring oxidative stress, you'll lessen your chance of developing stress wrinkles.
7. Sleep wrinkles
Sleep wrinkles aren't your average fine lines: While expression lines can form over time from repeatedly moving your face, these wrinkles form exclusively from your sleeping position—say, if you curl up on your side or sleep on your stomach, face smashed into the pillow.
That's why one study on facial aging identified a distinct set of wrinkles that form from sleep alone, which brings us to the anecdotally dubbed "sleep wrinkles."
Find out about sleep wrinkles and what to do about them here.
8. Smile lines
These are the unique lines that form like a pair of parentheses around your mouth, usually running from around the nasal folds to just past the lips. (The fancy word for them is nasolabial folds.) They're called smile lines because they mimic the natural lines that happen when you smile. And listen, our skin moves, stretches, and folds with the movements of our bodies and faces. This is a good thing, as it allows us to express and emote. When people typically start complaining is when those lines and folds stick around, even on a resting facial expression.
9. Forehead wrinkles
These horizontal wrinkles etch above the brow, forming from repeated muscle movement in the area. It's not necessarily the movement that's the problem, however. Instead, it's the fact that with age comes a loss of collagen, elastin, ceramides, and other major parts of our skin structure. And as we lose these vital skin components, our epidermis isn't as able to bounce back from these movements. And thus, permanent lines settle in.
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