News: deep face wrinkles may start abruptly ~ age 33 |

News: deep face wrinkles may start abruptly ~ age 33

Doctors often hear “I went sleep one night, and woke up the next morning with wrinkles.” While overnight may be exaggerating a tad, it turns out that facial wrinkling may be more abrupt in onset than common sense might suggest. Something critical seems to happen with the response to mechanical forces (e.g. facial muscle movement, gravity, etc) at the junction of skin layers during the first part of the fourth decade of life. According to a study just published (see abstract below) the forces that previously might result in fine lines would instead induce deep furrows. And at a still tender age.


Skin wrinkling morphology changes suddenly in the early 30s.
Skin Res Technol. 2012 Jan 11.
Kuwazuru O, Miyamoto K, Yoshikawa N, Imayama S.
University of Fukui, Fukui, Japan.


Does the morphology of wrinkles alter gradually with aging or suddenly at a certain age? On the basis of the theoretic wrinkle simulation of ideal skin, we have suggested that the wrinkle morphology suddenly changes from stratum corneum wrinkling to epidermis wrinkling; the former induces shallow fine furrows, and the latter induces deep prominent wrinkles. To examine the existence of drastic change in wrinkling morphology, we developed a new measurement system for facial skin wrinkling test.

The mechanical compression test of facial skin was carried out for 102 Japanese women aged 25-56 years. The test was performed on the right temple area skin, and the area of wrinkles induced by the compression was measured using a digital video camera. The rate of increase in wrinkle area during compression was defined as the skin wrinkling rate, and it was calculated for all subjects automatically by image processing.

The test results showed that the skin wrinkling rate underwent a step increase at the age 33, which means that the wrinkling morphologies of young and old skins are completely different, and so it changes suddenly in the early 30s.A new skin measurement system was developed to validate our theory of wrinkle formation mechanism with aging. The results demonstrated the wrinkling morphology changes suddenly at early 30s.


There are also some other lines of evidence pointing to the early 30’s as a critical time in the continuum of skin aging, relating back to stem cell biology and cytokine signalling systems. We will explore some of those in upcoming posts.

We are planning to expand our content here at BFT, and in particular want to share with you some of the latest information about skin aging. An in depth understanding of the dynamics of aging skin leads to a much clearer perspective in terms of determining approaches to prevention and rejuvenation strategies. There are many ways to look at aging — from the macro (organ/tissue level) to the micro (cells and extracellular components) to the nano & pico (subcellular, molecular).


  1. smithers says:

    Thanks for validating what I already knew. I woke up one morning with wrinkles, and they have never gone away. I was 35 then, not too far from your age average. I wasted years thinking I had some strange skin disease, and consulted doctors about it. They all thought I was crazy.

  2. Ada says:

    I am 22 years old and am already experiencing a rapid decline in my skin’s elasticity. I use an organic moisturizer, Retin A 0.025 and salicylic acid for blackheads. The area around my eyes already had dryness and premature wrinking, and I have hard creases; one on my forehead, two at the sides of my mouth and one where I get my single dimple. Other women around my age (who don’t use sunscreen as frequently as I do) are doing FINE! I am Fitzpatrick IV so I’m fairly certain that it’s not sun damage. What is causing my rapid decline?

    • drjohn says:

      Hard to know from your history alone, Ada. How about other women in your family? There is always that genetic component to consider. If it truly is elasticity, then watch out for elastases in the products you are using. Consider soy isoflavones as a well established way to increase elastin production.

  3. Erg says:

    Regarding the recommendation to use soy: topically, orally or both?

    • drjohn says:

      We have examined the benefits of topical soy (isoflavones) as an anti-aging strategy for skin, but taken orally soy (including other parts of the extract) has a number of benefits to offer.

  4. crimsonyuri says:

    I am 52 and just over the past several months have noticed a rapid decline in the elasticity of my skin, larger pores and a “meanie line” between my eyes. I’ve taken good care of my skin since I was 12-13 yrs old and am genetically blessed with good skin but this appeared out of nowhere!

    I expected the aging of my skin to begin soon and assumed it would be a gradual process but having it happen so quickly had me worried. I blamed it on having Lymphoma (which may still be partly to cause) but now I know that this happens to other people too. Thanks for the article!

    • drjohn says:

      You are most welcome. Reminder -you don’t have to regard these changes as “inevitable”…. there are therapeutics you can use to slow (and even reverse) the skin aging process.

      • Kath says:

        Please…you can’t just tell a female looking online for months on end for honest, scientific, not stock-driven, unfraudulent , not wanting to keep experimenting-but-buyer of skads of different facial products, scammed by TIA ( non-return policies and safe but effective skin care information that these “changes” are inevitable, then proceed to state cryptically “there are therapeutics that not only SLOW (and on top of that , miraculously, (I would think) , REVERSE the skin aging process and leave that female hanging. What do you mean specifically?; Are you talking products? Are you talking re: facial topicals? facial exercises? surgery? Care to share?

        • drjohn says:

          Hi Kath. We don’t have any “miracles” in our pockets quite yet., and I would be very suspicious of anyone saying they do. We don’t talk much about products per se here, but about ingredients and technologies. We don’t test products (other than our own, of course). Sometimes products come onto our radar screen as good (e.g. Lifeline) or egregious (e.g. Ageless Secret) examples, so we talk about them. We go on the science, examine it closely, see if it makes sense physiologically, and what evidence exists for efficacy (and safety). We need to put up a table of such ingredients soon (working on it). It will include such things as certain peptides (not all), kinetin, Vit A (retinoids), Vit C, Vit D, Vit E, niacinamide, panthenone, ubuiquinone, isoflavones, a host of botanical antioxidants, and others. We work with cytokines, so of course we confess bias as we tell you about that technology. We do talk about lasers, lights, procedures, fillers, and the like as well, but in a different context. We focus more on anti-aging topicals, trying on the one hand to look to the innovative present and future, and on the other hand warn you about the mass deception out there that fills the vacuum. I invite you take a peek around. We also participate in some online forums where these things are regularly debated in depth (e.g.

  5. ToldYouSo says:

    Interesting article… makes it seem even more imperative to practice good skin care habits at as young an age as possible.

    • drjohn says:

      Hi jom. Active ingredient is “human fibroblast conditioned medium” Basically fibroblasts grown in culture medium, as they expand their numbers in culture they secret cytokines (incl growth factors). So, what’s not to like about that? Nothing really, except that it is sooooo 2002. I believe that is the year (a decade ago) that SkinMedica releases their flagship TNS, which is the same exact stuff. Except that in the Skinmedica product it is 94% protein, while in AQ it is only 42%. What’s in it besides cytokines? Matrix proteins (procollagens & collagens, the stuff that fibroblasts make in your body). Is that good ? – well, little of that gets absorbed, because most of the molecules are too large. Collagen fragments can either speed up or slow down fibroblast function, so hard to be sure). But the cytokines are good, right? Yes, if they are being absorbed (neither of these products uses liposomes or nanosomes). Are the cytokine patterns as good as cytokines form stem cells? No way. Even stem cells from fat have a much better ability to concentrate cytokines. Mesenchymal stem cells are highly specialized mobile drug stores with just the right cytokines at just the right time. So, why doesn’t SkinMedica switch to stem cells? Because they have been very successful selling TNS. Why mess with a good thing? Current customer base might be put off. (And who knows – they might be working on it right now ). We have a lot of respect for SkinMedica – classy company, good science, no nonsense. AQ is doing a “me too”, which is OK. But at $250/oz for their more concentrated product, I would probably stick with Skinmedica if I really wanted human fibroblast conditioned medium.

  6. jom says:

    Thanks, I hope you don’t mind but I have another skin care line that I’m curious about. If you’re tired of critiquing thinkgs for me just let me know, I completely understand. There’s information about the line, Le Metier de Beaute, here that is better than the information on their website.

    Their main active ingredient is retinol but they claim the unique feature of their line is the delivery system. They call it Syntoc Actif. LMdB’s exclusive and patented Syntoc Actif Delivery System, which carries the ingredients through the dermis, is the most effective delivery system available without a prescription today. Because the ingredients are delivered 24 times deeper into the skin through this unique delivery system, the products are safer and more effective than “comparable products on the market today.”

    The delivery system was supposedly developed by an Australian biotech guy and he called it total penetration matrix. I have done internet searches but I have not been able to find out anything about it.

    Do you think there is anything to this or is it just marketing?

    I am most interested in what you think of the Replenishing Daily Solution.

    • drjohn says:

      Bunk. Easy to spot because the marketing people (or scientists, or both) are clueless about dermatology. Start with this stupidity: “the most scientifically advanced and efficacious technology delivering the most innovative anti-aging moisturizing and hydrating ingredients 24 times deeper into the skin.” What’s wrong with this statement? You don’t want moisturizers and hydrating agents penetrating 24x deeper into the skin (which puts them where?). All symptomatic issues (dry skin, pruritis, etc) occurs in the stratum corneum. You can have really dry stratum corneum and totally hydrated skin just beneath. In fact. senile xerosis is just that. <20% water in SC, meanwhile 70% water in epidermis below the SC. Every textbook says the same thing. It's the surface SC, stupid. Not 24 layers later (there are not even 24 layers in the skin). Obviously the people at this company have never read a textbook. All issues of moisturizing are about the the SC. So, pushing your moisturizers 24x deeper is total whack. Maybe they just can’t count. Here's another clue: "the products are safer and more effective than comparable products on the market today." Again, the opposite is true. The deeper a substance penetrates the more likely it is to reach dermal capillaries and be absorbed systemically. How does this make it safer? Right – it doesn't and never will. If it can’t be held in the SC how does that make it more effective? Le Metier de Beaute is operating a scam.

  7. jom says:

    Thanks for your bluntness! I didn’t think I wanted ingredients 24 times deeper into my skin (deeper than what?)

  8. Aria says:

    Wouldn’t just eating really healthfully and avoiding direct sunlight help more.. instead of putting all these chemicals on your skin.

    • drjohn says:

      It helps, but only to a certain extent, unfortunately. That’s why the world of aesthetic medicine exists – research, clinical practice, devices, and cosmeceuticals.

  9. Katie says:

    I turned 34 in December of 2015 and have been breastfeeding my first child since late April 2015. I’ve developed many, many wrinkles since giving birth–I feel like I’ve aged 10 years in the last 10 months. I’ve been told that you gain wrinkles while breastfeeding because low estrogen levels cause a decrease in collagen production. Is this true, and, if so, will any of my wrinkles go away once I stop breastfeeding?

    • drjohn says:

      Katie: Perhaps it is merely that you became pregnant and passed the 33 year old mark within a year of one another. In a twin study published in a plastic surgery journal Determinants of breast appearance and aging in identical twins the conclusion was that women who breastfed had less attractive areolar size and shape but better skin quality than their identical twin sisters who never breastfed. So it can’t be that. In fact that finding suggests you should breastfeed as long as you can. The lower estrogen after pregnancy really is more a return to normal (high levels during pregnancy) than actually low levels. At least compared to menopause. It needs to be lower to allow lactation to proceed. Which is why you don’t normally lactate during pregnancy. Prolactin and estrogen are on a teeter totter. What you should do is maintain a healthy diet, avoid smoking and all that bad stuff, use moisturizers daily and sunscreens religiously. Once you are done breastfeeding is not too early to start preventive strategies using biochemical approaches such as retinoids, antioxidants, and growth factors.

  10. sky says:

    I am 34 and have no wrinkles or lines
    when I have a blank face

    When I smile I do get lines around my eyes

    I use NO skincare products
    I do not smoke and never have
    I do not use drugs including pot, and never have
    I don’t drink regularly either
    I avoid the sun as much as I can

  11. Cal says:

    What is your opinion on facial exercise such as Facial Magic or FaceTime, etc? These are suppose to lift the Facial muscles and tighten the skin. I am 42 and have developed a large discoloured wrinkle near my mouth. I hate it. Any suggestions to lesson it?

    • drjohn says:

      Cal, facial exercises for wrinkles has been studied, but no conclusive data. If there is an effect it seems too weak to detect. If a wrinkle is dyspigmented, it likely is related to inflammation. I would go for some anti-inflammatory topicals and maybe try microneedling. If that doesn’t work, probably RF (e.g. Venus Viva) or laser.

  12. Maria Costa says:


    I have been on the combined pill for twelve years. Now, at age 34, I have come off. I’ve noticed in the last four months since coming off, my skin seems slightly thinner and I have a faint line developing between my eyes, as well as a shallow indentation forming there. I don’t have any other wrinkles. When I smile, I have under eye creases, but they’ve been there forever!

    I’m wondering, did the excess oestrogen from the pill deplete and left me with the face I always had or have I aged overnight due to my age? I’ve always been told I look young for my age and I feel as if I’ve been ‘spoilt’ with this. I only ever seem to age hormonally, when I come off the pill. I am a religious sunscreen wearer and use rosehip oil and variations of vitamin A and C.

    Thank you.

    • drjohn says:

      Maria, it is true that coming off the pill may mean hormonal fluctuations affecting skin, including dermal thickness. And yes, normal aging changes may be more obvious in the aftermath. But rather than returning to the pill, we would recommend using matrix stimulating products (stem cell growth factor being the top of the pyramid to replicate what the estrogens do. If you want a more direct mimic, use a product with isoflavones (best studied is soy isoflavones) which have estrogen like effects on skin. But because they are topical they will not have the potential side effects of systemic sex steroids, i.e. the pill.

  13. Ally says:

    What’s up, Docs? 😉

    I’m one of your (relatively youngish) readers and I’ve been chuckling away and following you guys since I stumbled onto EDS. I read BFT whenever there’s a new post and, though dirt poor, I have invested in a full-size AnteAge duo and I don’t regret it! (I can see old acne scars healing over and I’m used to seeing not-much-of-anything-at-all (’cause most of that good stuff requires a leap of faith; SPF, vitamin C, vitamin A, BHAs & AHAs and Retin-A micro). AnteAge I can see working NOW!

    I’m 29 and the females in my family are remarkably ageless despite all their sun-worship. (My mom, especially annoying, only started to age recently, in her 50s.)

    But apperantly external factors trump any good genes. I think my skin’s been ravaged by sun by the time I was 16 (I’m very pale and lived in a climate with intense UV until I got a clue (=Paula Begoun) and started wearing sunscreen at 21. Also, living with uncontrolled blood sugar (thanks Diabetes!), I think I’m at a fair disadvantage against my peers. And this is DESPITE being “a good girl.” (I wish all those years of being sickly pale and slathering on the SPF while my friends were looking like suntanned goddesses paid off, but life had other plans.)

    I experienced a remarkable and dramatic worsenening of my skin when I started applying those copper peptides sold by SkinBiology. It’s as if whatever was holding my undereyes taut and unlined broke down and left a creppy, loose skin instead. I’ve yet to figure out how this could’ve happened and how I can reverse the damage (through the magic of science?!), but SB’s claims are that CPs break down collagen to rebuild it better, and my collagen simply didn’t feel like doing any such thing.

    This happened within weeks of application and got worse over the next few months. Though it’s been 2 years since, the damage never quite reversed. There are still lines and when I smile my undereyes creases where it didn’t before. I still wonder if this was an allergic reaction or simply bad timing. Maybe this was when the damage simply came to a head (26) and there’s nothing I could’ve done?

    What do you guys think about this company and 2nd generation CPs? I know Dr Des Fernandes (whom I respect) is not a fan… I would love to see a post (or your postulation) on the mechanisms behind how something like this can happen, and even better, how something like this can be reversed (unfortunately, I’m not the only one).

    • drgeorge says:

      Ally, what a story you tell. There is no doubt your adoption of good sun protection at a young age has been nothing but helpful to your skin. I wish my wife had done the same; decades of playing tennis with her girlfriends, all of whom used less than adequate sun protection, has proved a recipe for “older” rather than “younger” looking skin. With solar radiation responsible for 80 to 90% of skin damage, you can never be too young to be proactive. We slather our grandbabies with sunscreen to get them into a life-long habit.

      As to copper peptides, we are aware of issues from people who have contacted us over the years. Give us a bit of time and we’ll tackle copper peptides is an upcoming post. Right now, too much to do with too little time to do it, is plaguing your BFT hosts.

  14. Eleanor says:

    This study was done on Japanese women. Do you think deep face wrinkles probably begin earlier on white Europeans?

    • drgeorge says:

      It has long been known that ethnicity is an important factor is skin aging, especially with regards to wrinkle development and pigment abnormalities. The Fitzpatrick grading system, primarily focused on propensity to “burn” or darken in response to solar radiation, correlates strongly with ethnicity.

      The abstracts below address relationships between ethnicity and facial aging. Caucasians show signs of aging earlier when compared to Asian, Hispanic and African ethnic groups. Those most prone to show signs of aging at later ages are those of African ancestry.

      Dermatol Surg. 2017 Nov;43 Suppl
      Signs of Facial Aging in Men in a Diverse, Multinational Study: Timing and Preventive Behaviors.
      Men are a growing patient population in aesthetic medicine and are increasingly seeking minimally invasive cosmetic procedures.
      To examine differences in the timing of facial aging and in the prevalence of preventive facial aging behaviors in men by race/ethnicity.
      Men aged 18 to 75 years in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and Australia rated their features using photonumeric rating scales for 10 facial aging characteristics. Impact of race/ethnicity (Caucasian, black, Asian, Hispanic) on severity of each feature was assessed. Subjects also reported the frequency of dermatologic facial product use.
      The study included 819 men. Glabellar lines, crow’s feet lines, and nasolabial folds showed the greatest change with age. Caucasian men reported more severe signs of aging and earlier onset, by 10 to 20 years, compared with Asian, Hispanic, and, particularly, black men. In all racial/ethnic groups, most men did not regularly engage in basic, antiaging preventive behaviors, such as use of sunscreen.
      Findings from this study conducted in a globally diverse sample may guide clinical discussions with men about the prevention and treatment of signs of facial aging, to help men of all races/ethnicities achieve their desired aesthetic outcomes.

      J Dermatol Sci. 2016 Sep;83(3):219-25.
      Extrinsic skin ageing in German, Chinese and Japanese women manifests differently in all three groups depending on ethnic background, age and anatomical site.
      It has been suggested that extrinsic skin ageing manifests differently in Caucasians versus East Asians. In particular, from previous studies it was concluded that Caucasians are more prone to develop wrinkles, whereas pigment spot formation is the hallmark of extrinsic skin ageing in East Asians. However, these assumptions are based on a very limited number of studies which did not include different East Asian populations.
      We here compare the manifestation of extrinsic skin ageing signs in German, Japanese and Chinese women by specifically elucidating the age and anatomical site dependence of any potential ethnic difference.
      In the present study, we assessed skin ageing in N=902 German, N=165 Japanese and N=1260 Chinese women ranging from 30 to 90 years by means of SCINEXA™. Linear regression analysis was used to test for ethnic differences and their age and site dependence adjusted for educational level, sun exposure, smoking and sun protection behaviours.
      Pigment spots and wrinkles on the face were present among all three ethnic groups and differences were influenced by age and anatomical sites independently of further influencing factors. Pigment spots on the forehead were most pronounced over the whole age range in Chinese and German women and least developed in Japanese. Pigment spots on cheeks were a typical extrinsic skin an ageing sign in the two East Asian populations in all age groups. However, in older German women they reach the same level as observed in the two East Asian populations. In contrast, pigment spots on arms and hands were significantly more pronounced in German women ≥45years of age. Wrinkles were not exclusively a skin an ageing sign of German women but were also very pronounced in Chinese women on forehead, between the eyebrows and in the crow’s feet area.
      These results corroborate the previous notion that the occurrence of pigments spots and wrinkles is different between Caucasians and East Asians. In addition, this study shows that this difference depends on age and anatomical site and that it also differs between different ethnic groups from East Asia.

      Skin Res Technol. 2009 Aug;15(3):306-13.
      Skin from various ethnic origins and aging: an in vivo cross-sectional multimodality imaging study.
      Ethnic differences in skin structural features have not been thoroughly investigated, and the few reported studies are contradictory. Thus, we have carried out a set of in vivo measurements on the skin of about 400 volunteers from various ethnic origins living in the same environment.
      Female subjects were distributed into four ethnic groups: African Americans, Mexicans, Caucasians, and Chinese. Inter- and intra-ethnic skin structural differences, according to age and anatomic site, were investigated using three non-invasive skin-imaging methods: ultrasound (US) at 25 and 150 MHz, and optical coherence tomography (OCT).
      The thickness of the skin is higher on the cheek compared with the dorsal and ventral forearm, with no ethnic or age-related specificity. We confirm that the sub-epidermal non-echogenic band is a sensitive marker of skin aging and reveal for the first time that it is less pronounced in African Americans. From OCT images, we bring out evidence that the thickness of the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ) decreased with age and was higher in African Americans than in Caucasians. Finally, by comparing US images at 150 MHz with OCT images, we show that papillary dermis thickness can be measured and appears to be quite constant irrespective of age or ethnic group.
      Our study confirms that skin imaging is very attractive to further our knowledge of the morphology of skin from various ethnic origins. Regarding age effects, quantitative parameters have shown that they would be delayed in African Americans compared with all other ethnic populations.

    • drjohn says:

      Dr. George and I lecture frequently in Japan, and around Asia. Of interest to this topic, Asian women are concerned less about wrinkles, and more about other signs of aging. Especially dyschromias (age spots and the like), and hair thinning. This has been a driver of our efforts to develop an Asia-centric approach to skin care (as well as scalp/hair rejuvenation) for products specifically distributed there. While there may be differences in phenotype (how aging or senescence is expressed in facial physiognomy) it is notable that the common pathway is inflammation. Remodeling of dermis in response to damage from environment (sun, pollution, chemicals, heat, etc) accomplished under inflammatory conditions yields an acceleration of aging. Senescence itself is an inflammatory stimulus. To remediate the signs of aging, whichever ones are troubling you, requires a flip of the switch to allow regeneration under anti-inflammatory (youthful) tissue biochemistry. In some parts of the world there is more solar irradiation to worry about (just back from Australia), air pollution (think China & India), or heat (closer to equator). Inflammation due to chemical exposure may actually be worse in Western nations, as we tend to slather on skin care potions that may give temporary cover (e.g. edema fills wrinkles) but in the long run is pro-aging rather than anti-aging. Maybe that is part of the reason Western women experience earlier onset of wrinkles. Wrinkles at 33 may correlate to the skin cream you started using at age 28. Somebody should do a study! Ironic as that may be, as a gerontologist & stem cell scientist it would not surprise me in the least.

  15. Eleanor says:

    Do you think the sudden onset of wrinkles at age 33 is related to the age that women start having kids (30 years old in Japan)?

    • drgeorge says:

      Hard to say, but there’s no doubt that having children will make you smile, frown and grimace more than you’re used to. I love kids so a wrinkle or two is a small price to pay for the joy they bring…until they’re teenagers. All kidding aside, the early 30s are well recognized as the age at which wrinkles start to evolve. This is also the time of the start of precipitous decline in bone marrow stem cells, the magical cells that heal injury and modulate inflammation.

      The good news is that good skin care can help, as can diligent use of sunblock. People who look better than others often can credit prophylactic efforts through the years. Oh, and let’s no forget race and ethnicity. Caucasians age less well than Asians, who age less well than blacks.

  16. Doris Itiaba says:

    I m in shock. Woke up one morning with a tomato red swollen face . Now I am left with severe wrinkles, which frightens me looking into the mirror !!!!!

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