They're sometimes called laugh lines, but they don't usually bring on giggles. Wrinkles are not funny.
"Not too many people just laugh them off," said Judy Weaver, a skin-care specialist. "Everybody wants to look younger, and getting rid of wrinkles is usually the first step."We're not talking here about character or frown lines; those are largely genetic. Wrinkles are the fine lines and creases that occur from repeated intensity of actions like squinting, yawning and smiling, and they happen most to aging skin that is allowed to become dry and taut.
"Everyone has creases to begin with, but the wrinkles that come later are the ones that can be prevented," Weaver said.
Wrinkles tend to show up first and most in the area surrounding the eye; the skin there is thinner, and usually more sensitive. Rubbing the eyes, or using makeup removers with harsh cleansers, can make the delicate area even more sensitive, thus more prone to wrinkling.
Skin around the mouth runs a close second in many men and women; the forehead and cheeks are wrinkle zones, too.
What to do? Moisturize. Then moisturize again.
"A good lotion or cream will keep that top layer of skin moist, and that will help prevent those fine lines," said Linda LaVelle of Spa d'Esthetiques in Florida. "Fix them now and they won't turn into big lines later."
Regular facials are also a boon, since they help gently remove dead cells from the top layer of skin. Cells that are allowed to remain may proliferate and clog skin and pores, causing fine lines.
And don't smoke.
Skin sometimes wrinkles when less than adequate oxygen reaches the capillaries of the skin; smoking blocks the oxygen flow. "We can always tell in the facial room who smokes and who doesn't," LaVelle said.
The sun is skin's most damaging enemy. But air-conditioning also robs the skin of moisture.
Spritzing the face with water may be a great quick fix on a scorching day, but water evaporates quickly. A better bet? Drink it.
"Think of it as becoming beautiful from the inside out," Weaver said.