First, the good news. There is an effective way to reduce the number of those feathery fine lines that cascade from the corners of your eyes – and it doesn’t involve spending thousands on the latest cosmetic procedure. This magic solution comes in a pot or tube, and it’s called sunscreen.
Sun damage is the main contributor to fine lines around the edge of our eyes and mouth, says dermatologist and Clinical Associate Professor Saxon Smith – and in Australia, sun protection can help prevent 70 per cent of skin ageing. “Most of the fine lines around the edge of our eyes and mouth are caused by a combination of sun damage, natural ageing and the pulling effect on the skin of the circular muscles around our eyes and mouth – basically, the way we use our face to communicate with the world,” he says.
“On the other hand, those really deep wrinkles, like the ‘frown lines’ between the brow, are purely caused by movement of our muscles over time, and some people just naturally have deeper lines than others. And people age differently because of their skin type,” he adds.
Smith has bad news for pale-skinned Caucasians – this type of skin mottles with age, and is much more prone to skin cancers; it also loses collagen with age – and acquires fine lines more easily. “Whereas the collagen contained in the skin of darker skin colour types (4, 5 and 6) becomes thicker over time, so people with this skin type get deeper wrinkles as a result of that.”
So, if you’ve been less than diligent with sunscreen, what can you do? We asked three skin-care experts, including Dr Smith, for their advice. Here’s what they said:
Associate Professor Saxon Smith, dermatologist, University of Sydney
“Topical retinols and products containing Alpha Hydroxy Acid (aha), and anti-wrinkle injections can help; injections are the most effective way to treat frown lines, as they’ll soften them. Fractional laser and high-frequency ultrasound can also work well. As always, it’s important to find a qualified practitioner with plenty of relevant experience.”
“Treatments for fine lines vary from natural hydrating oils that plump superficial dehydration lines to prescription strength retinoids, which plump deeper lines by increasing collagen production. A multi-layered solution will give the best results for both treatment and prevention.
“Apply a hydrating oil-based serum during the day that prevents trans-epidermal water loss and dehydration, and apply an active treatment serum that contains Vitamin A or Vitamin C at night.”
Vivian Tam, cosmetic acupuncturist
“Fine lines usually occur when the skin loses collagen, but they can also be from dehydration of the skin. Cosmetic Acupuncture works by using ultra-fine, painless needles to stimulate collagen production to soften these lines. The treatment also encourages blood circulation, increasing hydration to dehydrated and lined skin. We recommend usually starting with 4-6 sessions to see results.”