Can You Really Rub a Wrinkle Into Your Face?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

You can’t “rub a wrinkle into your face.”

Before we dive into debunking this myth, let’s have a quick anatomy lesson on the three main layers of the skin to better understand their functions.

What your skin structure has to do with it

ishonest No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

No.222 - Fine Lines & Wrinkles

Collagen and elastin fibers support the structure of the skin and work as a team to provide shape and firmness. Elastin is a protein with highly elastic properties that allows skin to stretch and bounce back, keeping skin tight. For this reason, it’s often referred to as a stretchy rubber band. Collagen provides the structural framework for the skin and helps keep it firm.

As we age, these fibers become thinner and they don’t bounce back in quite the same way they once did in our younger years. In addition, lifestyles factors such as smoking, UV damage, and gravity pull these bands down constantly and play a much larger role in sagging and wrinkles.

Debunking the myth

So, what about the advice in beauty magazines and the secret of applying skin care in an upward motion to prevent sagging and wrinkles?

It’s based on a theory that upward motion pulls these bands up helping to prevent sagging. However, our skin’s fibers don’t “lock” in place in an upward fashion. Motion in any direction will stretch these bands and our skin doesn’t have the ability to recognize whether it’s up or down.

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In fact, aestheticians perform facial massage in a combination of upward and downward motions. Both directions help to stimulate blood flow and oxygen to the skin, but the downward massage in particular helps drain water retention from the face. We wouldn’t be trained to do so if it causes sagging.

As for wrinkle formation, think of it this way: We apply skin care products to our faces for only a few short minutes a day. It’s not physically possible for a wrinkle to form in such a short amount of time.

You can’t “rub a wrinkle” into your face. For a physical element to cause a wrinkle, it takes prolonged period of time, such as sleeping with your face squished against your pillow for several hours a night or making repetitive facial expressions like frowning or smiling.

The verdict

Bottom line, it doesn’t matter the direction you apply your products. Stretching these bands in either direction leads to weakening them. While gravity is an ever-present force, just be gentle and help slow down the natural process by protecting your skin with sunscreen.

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