In the majority of cases, face wrinkles are just a reflection of our natural age, lines that we deserve to wear proudly, as they show our rich life experiences, both good and bad. However, in some cases, wrinkles can be a sign of something more serious, especially if these appear only on one side or part of your face, emerge or deepen suddenly, or show up at a young age. More specifically, wrinkles can be an early sign of dangerous health conditions or a hint that you’re putting yourself through too much stress. Here are 6 things your wrinkles can tell about you:
1. Cardiovascular Problems
Although this may come as a surprise, research shows that wrinkles can point to cardiovascular problems, particularly to atherosclerosis and hypertension. More specifically, deep forehead wrinkles may indicate atherosclerosis (blocked blood vessels), according to a 2018 study.
The study looked at 3,200 adults over the course of 20 years and found that the participants who had deep forehead wrinkles were 10 times more likely to die of heart disease. The researchers suggest that the correlation, though observational, can point to atherosclerosis, the leading cause of heart disease because blood vessels in our forehead are much finer, and so they are the first to be blocked by plaque buildup.
A different study drew a correlation between face wrinkles and hypertension, though only in women, pointing out that the participants who looked younger than their age had an overall lower blood pressure than their counterparts with worse skin.
Is there any function or organ in our body that isn’t affected by stress? The answer is likely no, and our skin is no different and is often the first to take the fall. Younger adults swear that the so-called “stress breakouts” are a thing, and people who have been through a lot of stress do seem to age faster than the rest of us.
Of course, the frowning, the crying, and the poor lifestyle choices don’t help (yes, we’re talking about all that junk food we eat after a hard or sad day), but stress also affects our hormones, which play a key role in our skin health, among other things. Try not to submit to stress when you can, or at least try to avoid the harmful habits that we mentioned, your skin will thank you.
3. Skin Cancer Risk
One of the major contributing factors of skin cancer (particularly melanoma) is excessive sun exposure. But skin cancer isn’t the only unwanted and non-refundable gift we get from the sun, wrinkles, and sunspots are part of the package as well.
Crepey wrinkles on the cheeks and wrinkles only on one side of the face (from UVA light exposure through the car window) are especially risky. Also, remember that even if you have no sunspots on your face, this doesn’t mean you’re safe, as we now know that the majority of wrinkles are the result of sun exposure. The bottom line is: how much and how often we wear sunscreen will show, whether we like it or not.
4. Weak Bones
Both our skin and our bones rely on this one protein to keep them healthy and strong. You guessed it, we mean collagen, the most common protein in the human body. Knowing this, researchers at Yale looked at the correlation between the presence of deep wrinkles on the face and bone density in 40-50-year-old women and found that deeper wrinkles were linked to lower bone density, irrespective of the age.
Though limited to postmenopausal women only, the results of the study let you estimate the health of your bones and your risk of fractures based on the appearance of your skin.
5. Too Much Screen Time
Remember the frowning we mentioned in the section about stress? Well, it turns out that many people do a lot of that, as well as a lot of squinting and eyebrow-raising while they’re using computers and mobile devices. Predictably, this causes premature wrinkles on the forehead, around the eyes, and especially between the eyebrows.
These have nothing to do with the light your devices emit and everything to do with the grimaces you make when you’re deeply concentrated on the task at hand.
6. Your Personality
Sometimes, it’s not a dangerous disease or bad habit that’s showing through your wrinkles, it’s just your personality. Do you have smile lines, crows feet, and bunny lines? Well, it might be just because you’re a happy person that smiles a lot. The opposite is also true, unfortunately, and lip lines, the so-called eleven-shaped wrinkles on your forehead and frown lines can point towards you often being serious or looking grumpy when your face is relaxed (the latter is also called a “resting bitch face” in youth slang).
In the end, your wrinkles may just be showing that you’re an expressive person and like to wear your heart on your sleeve, a character trait many people really appreciate.