Difference Between Fine Lines and Wrinkles & How to Treat

What Are Fine Lines?

Fine lines are the initial signs of wrinkle formation that appear with age. They emerge from a natural and continuous process that usually starts when you reach your mid-20s. This process is characterized by mild textural changes resulting in subtly accentuated skin lines (1). These lines often form around your mouth, near your eyes, and in those areas of your face that experience movement when you laugh, squint, smile, frown, or make any facial expression.

You may not usually notice these fine lines. However, they are visible when you make facial expressions since your skin starts to reveal them. Wrinkles less than 1 mm in depth and width are defined as fine lines (2). But these fine lines can turn into deep wrinkles if not treated on time.

What Are Wrinkles?

Wrinkles refer to the visible folds, creases, or ridges on your skin (2). They may appear fine, moderate, or deep-set (1). Facial wrinkles often form on your cheeks, forehead, neck, eyelids, upper lip line, and near the eyes and mouth (1), (3).

Wrinkles more than 1 mm deep or wide are called coarse wrinkles (2). Such wrinkles are deep enough to be easily visible on your face even when in a neutral position. However, some of them may become visible only when you make any facial expression. Wrinkles can cause deep creases to appear on your skin if their progress is not checked right in the initial stages.

Now that you know about fine lines and wrinkles, let us understand what causes them to appear on your skin.

What Causes Fine Lines And Wrinkles?

A variety of factors can lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. These may include intrinsic factors like your metabolic processes, genes, and hormones, and extrinsic factors like pollution, toxins, chemicals, and sun exposure (4278179/' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' >2), (4).

Some of the common causes of fine lines and wrinkles on the face are as follows:


Human skin derives its strength and suppleness from two proteins called collagen and elastin. With age, your body starts losing its ability to produce these proteins in large quantities. As a result, your skin loses its suppleness and elasticity and experiences wrinkles. Further, your skin has a fat layer below its surface that maintains its structure and form. This layer could thin out with age and cause the skin to sag and form creases.

Sun exposure causes your skin to experience the effects of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Damage caused by UV rays includes wrinkles, pigment irregularity, brown spots, and red patches, among other skin issues (2).

Exposure to air pollutants can have a significant impact on skin aging. The pollutants may cause wrinkle formation as well (2). Exposure to outdoor air pollution, including air pollutants from vehicles, can cause premature skin aging and wrinkle formation (691/' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' >5). Additionally, indoor air pollution may also directly impact skin aging, leading to wrinkles and pigment spots (6).

Current smokers tend to have more facial wrinkles than non-smokers and past smokers. A lifelong smoker has twice the risk of getting moderate to severe wrinkles compared to that in smokers who have been indulging in this unhealthy habit for a shorter period (78179/' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' >2), (5), (7).

Facial expressions, when repeated frequently, may also cause wrinkles on your face (1), (5), (8). For instance, squinting is one of the most common reasons people have fine lines around their eyes. Frequent frowning leads to deep wrinkles and creases, often between the brows and on the forehead (5).

Wrinkles are categorized into four major types. We have discussed them in the next section.

What Are The Different Types Of Wrinkles?

Atrophic Crinkling Rhytids Atrophic wrinkles are fine lines that occur on your skin due to the loss of skin elasticity. They may appear on any part of your face or body. But these wrinkles disappear when you change your body posture or move your body (9), (10).

Elastotic wrinkles refer to those creases on your skin that may gradually become permanent. 9058146' target='_blank' rel='noopener noreferrer' >Exposure to the sun further increases this risk. These wrinkles often appear on the cheeks. They may also appear at the base of the neck or on the upper lips (9), (10).

Dynamic expression lines appear due to facial muscle contractions. These wrinkles are also known as smile lines or frown lines. They may become permanent due to repeated muscle contraction (9 ), (10).

Gravitational folds or wrinkles occur when time and gravity start taking their toll on your skin. As a result of these factors, your skin may begin to sag and form wrinkles (9), (10).

Expression lines are most often confused with sleep wrinkles. However, there are a few differences between the two.

What Is The Difference Between Expression Lines And Sleep Wrinkles?

Expression lines and sleep wrinkles are caused by fault lines that develop due to skin distortion. More specifically, expression lines happen as a result of repeated facial expressions. But sleep wrinkles occur due to the mechanical compression that happens during sleep. Expression lines and sleep wrinkles differ in causes, anatomical patterns, and locations (11).

Skin aging and wrinkle formation are natural processes that you cannot stop. But you can slow down their progress. In the next section, we discuss a few natural home remedies to treat your fine lines and wrinkles. Take a look.

How Do You Treat Fine Lines And Wrinkles?

Aloe vera may help reduce facial wrinkles. Taking an aloe vera supplement daily may stimulate collagen production in your skin and reduce facial wrinkles (12).

You may slow down wrinkle formation by including olive oil in your diet. Olive oil contains compounds that may improve collagen levels in your skin and reduce wrinkles (13).

Vitamin C helps improve skin collagen levels. Topical application of vitamin C may also reduce wrinkling (14).

Healthy eating habits may help reduce fine lines and wrinkles too. Include plenty of fruits in your diet and avoid junk foods and processed meats (15).

Protecting your skin from sun exposure is one of the best ways to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brimmed hat before stepping into the sun. These help protect your skin from the harmful UV light.

Lotions and creams containing retinoids can stimulate the production of collagen in your skin. This collagen can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles on the forehead, cheeks, neck, and other areas of your face and body (16).

Dermal fillers are an effective treatment for reducing fine lines and wrinkles. These comprise non-surgical methods where fillers are injected into your skin to diminish wrinkles. However, they are not a permanent solution and you may have to repeat the treatment when the effect wears off. Fillers have been approved by FDA for wrinkle management (17).

Laser treatment can help strip away the upper layer of your skin to reveal the inner layer. You can use this treatment to reduce wrinkles and stimulate collagen formation (18).

Botulinum toxin injections cause localized muscle relaxation and reduce expression lines on your face (19). But you need to keep in mind that this treatment is also temporary. You may have to repeat the procedure after a few months.

Smoking cigarettes can add years to your skin (20). But you can reduce the formation of wrinkles and fine lines by quitting the habit.

There are several effective products on the market that can help treat fine lines and wrinkles. We have listed some such ingredients in the next section.

What Are The Best Skin Care Ingredients For Fine Lines And Wrinkles?

Some of the best skin care ingredients that you can use for fine lines and wrinkles are as follows:

  • Retinoids
  • Topical antioxidants and collagen
  • Topical vitamin C
  • OTC wrinkle creams
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Pentapeptides
  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs)
To Wrap Up

Fine lines and wrinkles are an inevitable part of the aging process. While you may not prevent their occurrence, you can take practical steps to slow down the process and possibly make them less noticeable. You can achieve these results through professional and natural treatment methods.

The right treatment option and some consistent effort from your end can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. You will soon be able to regain your youthful appearance!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Does drinking water reduce wrinkles?

Drinking water in sufficient amounts helps keep your body refreshed and hydrated. However, reducing wrinkles just by drinking water may not be possible. You instead must opt for a proper treatment plan to reduce wrinkles.

Does lack of sleep lead to wrinkles?

Sleep deprivation can make you look fatigued. It also results in swollen eyes and under-eye dark circles. You also risk getting more fine lines and wrinkles on your face if you deprive yourself of sleep for too long.

What food items can help slow down wrinkles?

A diet containing fresh vegetables and fruits, legumes, and olive oil may help reduce wrinkles. Try to avoid fried food items and lower your intake of margarine and butter.

How often should I use a face serum to reduce fine lines and wrinkles?

You can use a face serum once every night to reduce your fine lines and wrinkles. Applying at night is better as the serum gets enough time to work on your skin and offer the best results.

When can I see results?

This can vary and depends on the ingredients in the product. Typically, you may have to wait for four to six weeks to start seeing definite results.

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