Skin changes that cause wrinkles do accompany aging, as the deeper layer of skin, the dermis, gets thinner.
But it happens more quickly in sun-exposed areas and in people who smoke. The breakdown of two kinds of molecules, collagen and elastin, is at fault.
Collagen type 1 is the molecule that makes up the bulk of the skin. Loss of this type of collagen, the same type found in bones, affects the elderly, and smoking can make it worse.
At least five studies have found that smoking is associated with “smoker’s face,” one that is prematurely aged by fine wrinkles that can accentuate the coarser wrinkles that occur along the lines of expression.
As for elastin, the stretchy molecules that help support the skin, ultraviolet rays cause direct damage, breaking the molecules down.
To help avoid wrinkles as you age, avoid smoking, stay out of the sun, routinely use hats and sunscreens, and use a good moisturizer, which holds water in the dermis and plumps it up.