Apothecary Marián García.

The well-known phrase “wrinkles are beautiful” may be true in terms of fashion… but the truth is, when it comes to skincare, wrinkles are not on anyone’s wish list.

We all know that aging is a physiological process and that, sooner or later, expression lines will make their debut appearance so it is best to know the factors that cause them to try and prevent them as much as possible.

There are internal factors such as genetic predisposition. Lines may appear sooner for some people than for others, but as we age it is inevitable that the gradual loss of collagen and elastin leads to a decrease in firmness and elasticity. Elastic fibres tear, the skin loses its ability to recover and gestures and expressions start to leave their mark on the face: these are the so-called expression lines. There are also other external factors with the main one being exposure to the sun as approximately 80% of wrinkles are caused by ultraviolet radiation. Consuming toxic substances like cigarettes and alcohol also has an impact as well as a poor diet with a deficiency of antioxidants.

What can we do to stop expression lines from appearing?

One of the best strategies is to use a sun photoprotector daily, even in winter! Even on a cloudy day, ultraviolet radiation is able to pass through the clouds to a large extent.

Choosing the right treatment for you is very specific and the pharmacist can help you make a personalised choice. Moisturising your skin is still the key and in this case the serum format can be very useful. In serums the concentration of active principles is greater and the composition and texture helps the active principles to penetrate the skin, which is half the battle won already.

What are some of the most commonly used active principles?

1. Antioxidants
Perhaps the antioxidant most relevant for the skin is vitamin C. As well as its activity against free radicals, this vitamin contributes towards the production of collagen, the levels of which, as we mentioned earlier, decrease with age. Vitamin C improves the skin’s brightness and alleviates the signs of tiredness. Other compounds that have an effect on free radicals are vitamin E and other antioxidants deriving from vegetable compounds like soya or grapes.

2. Retinoids
It is important to know that retinoic acid can only be dispensed with a medical prescription as it can be very aggressive and must not be used by pregnant women due to its powerful teratogenic effect. It is included in the formula of retinol products, which are less effective but are also less irritating and safer. These compounds encourage cell renewal stimulating the production of collagen and elastin. When using retinoids it is important to take extra precautions in terms of sun photoprotection.

3. Chemical exfoliants
The main representatives are alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic acid and beta hydroxy acids like salicylic acid. They also stimulate cell renewal. They should be applied progressively and following the correct advice specific for each skin type, as they can irritate the skin.

4. Botulinum toxin
Because of its muscle relaxing capacity, botulinum toxin (commonly known as “botox”) is the most popular solution for many women for getting rid of expression lines. The molecular size of botulinum toxin prevents its absorption therefore it must be injected. There are currently some popular alternatives that can be applied topically and are based on the idea of reducing muscle contraction such as nucleosides (Adenosine) and peptides (Argireline and Octamioxyl).

Should we worry about the appearance of expression lines?

Although we don’t exactly welcome them with open arms, expression lines are still a little logbook of our life and the experiences we have had. As we said at the start, we might not be able to see them as “beautiful”, but we shouldn’t fixate on them either. Daily skin care along with following a good diet and healthy habits are the key to delay the onset of wrinkles.