Fine lines and wrinkles are an inevitable part of aging, but you can stop their premature appearance in your skin and considerably lessen their appearance as you age with a few proactive activities. You must also understand how lines and wrinkles develop.

How Lines and Wrinkles Develop Due to Loss of Collagen

Collagen is a group of proteins that naturally occurs in tissue. Steady collagen production makes skin elastic and firm. However, as you age, your skin naturally produces less collagen and thus becomes less elastic and firm over time. Skin naturally becomes full of fine lines and wrinkles as collagen production slows, particularly in areas in which the skin experiences a lot of movement. As the skin moves more in these areas and loses its ability to bounce back quickly, lines form. On the face, these areas particularly include around the mouth and eyes.

How Lines and Wrinkles Worsen and Develop Prematurely

While diminished collagen production is largely unavoidable, there are several other factors that contribute to premature fines lines and wrinkles, and make the appearance of these lines worse over time. The first factor is UV damage from sun exposure, which thins the outermost skin layer, leads to an overproduction of melanin (which, in excess, is responsible for skin cancer) and prematurely breaks down collagen.

The second factor is free radical damage. Free radicals, unstable oxygen molecules, are exposed to the skin due to tobacco smoke, pollution, and again, UV rays from the sun. When exposed to free radicals over time, the skin's collagen production breaks down.

Delaying and Reducing Lines and Wrinkles

As you may have guessed, limiting your exposure to UV rays and free radicals can greatly extend the productive life of the collagen in your skin, leading to a delayed onset of fine lines and wrinkles. Plus, once lines and wrinkles do appear, they'll be less prominent.

First and foremost, wear sunscreen with SPF of 30 or higher religiously, even in colder months and on cloudy days. If you're naturally lighter-toned, embrace your paleness, because although tanning is popular, pale skin actually makes you look younger and will make your skin stay younger-looking longer. If you have dark skin, it can especially be easy to forget sunscreen because you naturally have more protection against UV rays and don't burn as easily; however, it's because of this that you must remember to make a point of applying sunscreen.

Second, don't smoke and try to spend as little time as possible around people smoking. Moving to a less congested area may also help reduce your exposure to free radicals from pollution. If you live in an area with high levels of pollution, you can offset some of the damage by getting six to eight hours of sleep each night, drinking a lot of water each day and ingesting healthy levels of fruit, vegetables and fish.

There's no way to remain completely free of fine lines and wrinkles as you age, although cosmetic treatments can temporarily reduce or eliminate the appearance of wrinkles. However, you'll have a more natural look without as much effort if you take steps to naturally reduce wrinkles and lines as soon as possible.