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Wrinkles form the skin thins and loses its elasticity As long as the skin is supple, any creasing of the skin dissappears as soon as you stop making the expression that aused it. But skin that has lost its suppleness retains the ines formed by smiling or trowning, lor instance, even af. er you have assumed a more neutral expression. Over ime, these lines deepen into wrinkles. Some amount of wrinkling 1s a result of aging and is probably inevitable; no matter what you do, you will de- velop some lines if you simply live long enough. With ag ing, all skin cells begin to produce excess amounts of free radicals-unstable atoms and molecules that are normally removed by naturally occurring antioxidants within the skin cells. In aging skin cells, antioxidants are in short sup- ply. The free radicals generated are left unchecked to cause damage to cell membranes, proteins, and DNA. These free radicals eventually break down collagen, a protein sub- stance in connective tissue, and release chemicals that cause skin inflammation. It iS a combination of these cel- lular and molecular events that leads to skin aging and the formation of wrinkles.

The first signs of wrinkles usually appear in the delicate issuie around the eyes-smile lines or crow's feet. The cheeks and lips show damage next. As we age, our skin becomes thinner and dryer, both of which contribute to the formation of wrinkles. But other factors help to determine the rate and the extent of wrinkling, including diet and nu trition, muscle tone, habitual facial expressions, stress, proper skin care (or lack thereof), exposure to environmen tal pollutants, and lifestyle habits such as smoking. Hered ity probably also plays a role.

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