Wrinkles are an unavoidable part of the ageing process. Whilst some may welcome them as signs of a life well-lived, most seek to find ways to prevent and reduce their appearance.

We are all aware of what they are, but how much do we know about what causes wrinkles?

With this question in mind, we’ll shed some light on the many influences behind wrinkles.

How do wrinkles form?

Our skin is split into two layers, the epidermis and the dermis. These layers work together to produce high levels of collagen and elastic fibres that keep our skin tight and firm.

What happens if these levels drop? Ultimately, our skin will struggle to maintain its firmness, causing skin to sag and wrinkles to form.

So, what causes wrinkles?


Ageing is an inevitable stage of life, and unfortunately, is also the most common cause of wrinkles. For some, wrinkles can appear from their early 20’s, though this varies.

Source: Pixabay

As we age, the cells in our middle layer of skin (the dermis) divide at a slower rate in comparison to earlier years. This causes the inner layer to thin and shrink.

This sudden change decreases collagen production and elastic fibres. The skin is then unable to repair itself and is vulnerable to damage.


Whilst age is the most common cause, it’s not the only reason we get wrinkles. Genetics is another contributory factor.

To put it simply, if it runs in your family then premature ageing is foreseeable.

The same also applies for skin tone.

It’s hard to believe that our skin tone can have any link to wrinkles but some skin tones are more susceptible than others.

Source: Public Domain Pictures

The amount of melanin within our skin contributes to whether we have dark or light features. But what does this have to do with wrinkles?

Well, the higher the amount of melanin in your skin the less likely you are to develop wrinkles at an early stage.

External Factors

Whilst there are some factors we cannot control, there are many wrinkle-accelerating habits that can be easily avoided.

Sun Exposure

Time spent in the sun can boost our mood and quite literally, brighten our day. However, too much exposure can be extremely damaging to both our skin and our health.

The sun exposes our body to powerful UV rays that can penetrate and damage our skin’s layers. Overexposure leads to sun burn, sun stroke and in some cases skin cancer.

But these UV rays also attack the collagen levels within our skin, preventing them from holding our skin together and therefore causing wrinkles to form.

Due to this, it is vital that we protect our skin by using high-SPF sunscreen whenever we are exposed to the sun.


Another notable cause of wrinkles is smoking. There’s a much greater chance that a smoker will show signs of premature ageing than a non-smoker.

Excessive smoking dries the skin and reduces blood circulation. Interrupted blood flow can cause lack of oxygen levels in your blood and nutrients supplied to the skin.

Source: PDPhotos

This excels ageing and wrinkles, particularly around the eyes and mouth.

Every time you smoke, free radicals make their way into your system and damage your skin cells.

This leaves your skin exposed to the environmental toxins that cause wrinkles.

However, even if you’re not a smoker, this is not the only passage free radicals can take. They can also be found in our food.

Your Diet

Watching what and how much you eat can really benefit your skin. Foods that are high in antioxidants protect your body from the harmful effects of free radicals.

Therefore, they prevent further cell and tissue damage, all of which can lead to wrinkles.

However, you should take into account that the antioxidant system is not everlasting. It will weaken with age and eventually allow free radicals to roam in your body.

It is also important to drink lots of water, as dehydration can speed up the onset of wrinkles. If the collagen within your skin does not receive enough water, the strands will break and wrinkles will form.

So, what can we do?

Whilst there are many causes we can’t avoid, taking simple steps towards a healthier lifestyle can help to prevent the onset of wrinkles.

Protecting your skin from the sun, quitting unhealthy habits and eating a balanced diet will help to keep our skin looking firm and wrinkle-free for as long as possible.