Let’s talk about wrinkles. A lot of folks want smoother skin with less wrinkles; that’s because wrinkles can make us look old. One of the ways that wrinkles can come about is through the aging process; they’re basically a bug in skin regeneration. Without getting too complex about it, our skin is naturally getting micro-tears on a pretty regular basis through movement and wear and tear. These micro-tears are replaced by healthy collagen and elastic fibers, but once and a while, the body will misconstrue how the skin needs to be repaired, and replace elastic fibers with long, stiff fibers. These long stiff fibers in turn tear, and can be replaced by short, stiff fibers, causing wrinkles. That’s the theory, anyway; the entire process isn’t perfectly understood, but we know that we can reduce harm by reducing exposure to UV rays and moisturizing, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles using Botox and other cosmetic procedures.
Wrinkles because of aging are just one part of the vast wrinkle spectrum, though. You’ve probably noticed that after a shower or bath, your fingers and toes begin to wrinkle; some folks call those wrinkles pruning. There’s a long and storied history behind why we think water causes wrinkling, and we’re still not entirely sure. For quite some time, scientists assumed the extremities were absorbing water, and this caused their surface area to become bigger and develop folds. By 1935, though, we realized that nerves seem to be related to water-related wrinkling, because patients with nerve-damage in the fingers didn’t seem to develop wrinkles from water. From there, a lot of theories have been devised; one of the most prominent is that we get wrinkles in the water because they make us more able to grip wet objects. This would be especially useful in the era where we ran without shoes, the wrinkles on our feet allowing us more traction on slippery surfaces, not unlike the treads on a tire.
Our ideas of what causes wrinkles, and what advantages the wrinkles might have, have changed dramatically over time. In the same way, our approaches to treating wrinkles have developed and evolved. That’s the power of science and human progress, truly a sight to behold.