Happi anniversary to me! I’ve been writing this column for 25 years and have enjoyed the challenge of finding a suitable subject for a monthly discussion. After a quarter century, it is fitting that this month’s topic is something that I, and everyone else for that matter, have collected over the years—wrinkles.
These days, nearly everyone knows that ultraviolet radiation and lifestyle choices such as smoking, diet and alcohol intake are responsible for the lion’s share of wrinkle formation. But there are other, somewhat offbeat, steps that people can take to look younger and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Some of them were detailed recently in an online article written by Dr. Ruthie Harper, founder of Nutritional Medicine Associates, a health and wellness center in Austin, TX.
Dr. Harper mentions seven factors, all illustrated with a photo of a girl with perfect skin. The obvious target was “women,” although I am sure some men are also concerned.
Fall Back to Sleep
Her first wrinkle-reducing suggestion? Sleep on your back. That’s because when your skin is crunched against a pillow all night, side sleepers can end up with wrinkles on their cheeks, chins, and chest. To combat chest creases, Dr. Harper advises using a sleep bra (do you hear that, men? Will her suggestion create a comeback for the Mansierre?).
Another tip is to be extra gentle when putting on contacts. Tugging on the area around the eyes can take its toll on delicate skin because there are fewer oil glands in this area. Furthermore, she suggested consumers pat gently—don’t rub—when applying a moisturizer.
When outdoors, always wear large, polarized sunglasses that curve around your eyes. The reason? Squinting at the sun overworks the muscles that control facial expressions around the eyes, leading to “crow’s feet.”
It is also important to reduce sugar intake in your diet; not just candy and cake but carbohydrates too, such as bread and pasta.
“Glycation is one of the leading causes of premature aging and occurs when blood sugar levels in the body are poorly controlled,” according to Harper. “Excessive blood sugar binds to collagen in your skin, stiffening the fibers and causing wrinkling everywhere on your body.”
Sucking through a straw causes pursed lips which forms wrinkles. “Once in a while won’t matter,” maintains Dr. Harper, “but if you frequently drink through a straw, the muscles contract enough to create permanent lines.”
Her solution is simple: don’t suck; instead, drink directly from the cup.
The last two suggestions concern protection from the sun. Driving in a car with closed windows does not prevent sun damage to your hands, forearms and face.
“Recent studies have shown that glass allows some of the sun’s most damaging rays through, putting your skin at increased risk,” noted Dr. Harper.
Her last bit of advice, then, is to wear sunscreen—even if you’re just running out your front door to your car door.
A Shot at Youth
One temporary way to reduce the appearance of wrinkles is to get a shot of Botox in your face. Botox is Botulinum Toxin Type A, a bacterium that causes botulism (an often fatal food poisoning). The FDA has approved its use for the removal of certain wrinkles. A small diluted quantity of Botox prevents furrows in the forehead, “crow’s feet” around the eye and creases between the eyebrows.
Botox can also improve certain medical conditions such as Dystonia, which is a syndrome of involuntary sustained and repetitive muscle spasms. I have a friend who has this disease. He gets a shot of Botox every three months which apparently reduces the amount or frequency of the muscle spasms.
Harvey M. Fishman
Harvey Fishman has a consulting firm in Wanaque, NJ, specializing in cosmetic formulations and new product ideas, offering tested finished products. He has more than 30 years of experience and has been director of research at Bonat, Nestlé LeMur and Turner Hall. He welcomes descriptive literature from suppliers and bench chemists and others in the field.