Are “Worry Lines” Really Caused by Stress?

Many people know them as worry lines. Others call them frown lines or 11s. Whatever name you give them, forehead wrinkles are easy to spot. What causes these deep creases?

Worry Lines Aren't Just Because of Worrying

Some people will tell you that worry lines mean you’ve been frowning too much. That’s not really true. Yes, worrying can make you crease your brows, but so do many other facial expressions.

For example, squinting while you’re reading a book or looking at a bright screen can do the same thing. Even smiling makes certain parts of your skin wrinkle a little. In other words, wrinkles are caused by all of your facial expressions, not just the frowns.

Those funny faces you made to get a laugh from your little baby? Tiny wrinkles. That surprise anniversary party? That’s right, extra wrinkles. If you’ve ever felt angry, sad, scared, happy or overjoyed, you’re going to get some wrinkles as part of the deal.

The Main Cause of Wrinkles Is Aging

The truth about wrinkles is that your facial expressions are only a minor part of the cause. Any wrinkles you have are going to form along the same unique lines that appear when you frown, smile, or act surprised. But the real reason those wrinkles stick around is because of skin changes caused by aging.

Healthy skin has an essential protein called collagen. Collagen keeps skin firm and elastic, like a rubber band. In your early 20s, collagen levels are through the roof, so your face feels exquisitely smooth, supple and fresh.

As we get older, the body slows its production of collagen. Fine lines usually start to appear by the late 20s because of this. Even people in their early 20s can get wrinkles if they spend a lot of time in the sun, because UV rays – you guessed it – hurt your collagen levels.

But... Stress Speeds Up Aging

Even though worrying isn’t the main cause of frown lines, it’s still a good idea to avoid anxiety as much as possible. Scientists are discovering that too much stress can speed up your body’s aging process. When you’re feeling stressed, it releases a hormone called cortisol into your bloodstream.

Cortisol breaks down collagen. In other words, chronic stress can trigger premature wrinkles. A lot of other things caused by worrying are bad for skin, too, such as not getting enough sleep and forgetting to drink plenty of water. When you’re exhausted, skin looks dull instead of vibrant.

5 Things That Help With Worry Lines

Some wrinkles are just a part of your emotion-filled life. You may not be able to erase worry lines completely, but you can make them less visible.

  • Exercise: Doing exercise naturally improves cortisol levels, making you feel happier, keeping skin healthier and fighting inflammation.

  • Spa visits: If you ever wanted an excuse to go to a health spa, this is it. It’s not just the pampering, beauty treatments and massages that make your skin have a healthy glow again. It’s also the benefits your whole body gets from reducing stress levels.

  • Moisturizing creams: One of the best (and most overlooked) ways to take care of forehead wrinkles is to apply moisturizer every night. Plus, massaging your facial muscles with skin cream feels heavenly.

  • Homemade masks: Use plain yogurt, lemon juice, honey and vitamin E for wrinkles. This mixture cleanses and lightens your skin so wrinkles aren’t as noticeable.
  • Antioxidants: Include red fruits in your diet and benefit from the skin-protecting effects of antioxidants.

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