Collagen production slows with age, which can contribute to wrinkles.

Does Smiling Break Down Collagen?

by Hilary White

As the saying goes, smile and the world smiles with you -- but the lines and creases from smiling might leave you with a frown. While there are several factors that cause facial collagen to break down, there are also many options for treating and preventing wrinkles that will turn your frown upside-down.

1. About Collagen

Collagen is the most abundant protein in human body, making up about 25 to 35 percent of the protein content in the whole body. The main component of connective tissue, collagen protein helps keep skin firm, supple and elastic and strengthens skin by preventing absorption and spreading of harmful substances such as environmental toxins and cancerous cells. Hair and nails are mainly made up of collagen, and collagen is also present in all smooth muscle tissues, such as the heart, blood vessels, the digestive tract, gallbladder and kidneys.

2. Causes of Collagen Loss

Repetitive movements, such as smiling, cause the skin to repeatedly crease in the same place, wearing down the tissue in that area and creating a line that remains after the muscles relax. While young skin can bounce back quickly from repetitive movements, with age the skin becomes thinner and less elastic as fat and collagen decline, and facial movements such as smiling and squinting are more prone to crease and wrinkle the skin around the mouth and eyes. Other factors that contribute to the breakdown of collagen and wrinkles include exposure to UVA and UVB rays, smoking and poor nutrition.

3. Treatments

Consider a range of at-home or professional treatment options that can lessen the appearance of smile lines and crow's feet. Topical treatments such as prescription or nonprescription creams or serums containing active ingredients such as retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, copper peptides, kinetin, coenzyme Q10 and antioxidants may help lessen the appearance of wrinkles and promote collagen production. Professional wrinkle-reducing treatments include dermabrasion, microdermabrasion, laser treatments, chemical peels, Botox, and injectable soft tissue fillers.

4. Prevention

Wear sunglasses daily to avoid squinting, which can cause lines around the eyes. Protect your skin by using sunscreen daily year-round and limiting time spent in the sun. Choose products that are broad spectrum, blocking UVA and UVB rays, with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30. Keep skin moist and hydrated by using a moisturizer, which can plump skin and mask fine lines. Help prevent wrinkles, especially around the mouth, by quitting smoking. Vitamins can help protect skin and keep it strong, so eat a healthy, balanced diet that includes vitamins A, C, B-3 and E.

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