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Wrinkles on the face are mainly a consequence of two things: life on the surface of the Earth and the social nature of human beings. No matter where a person is - at school, in the office or on top of a mountain - the Earth's weight pulls his skin, pulls it down. In addition, when it is outside, ultraviolet radiation coming from the sun passes through the outer layer of the skin, damaging its deeper structure. On top of that, a person constantly bends and folds his skin - by smiling, frowning, raising his eyebrows. As the years go by, those wrinkles are etched into the skin, leaving a visible trace of all the conversations he has had, all the tears he has shed.
Some people get very few wrinkles. This can be partly caused by genetic inheritance - if someone's parents, grandparents didn't have many wrinkles, that person probably won't have them either. If the skin is naturally dark, then it will be less prone to wrinkles, because the dark path helps protect from the sun. The monks who spent most of their lives in dark and quiet monasteries are an example of how the skin ages slowly if it is protected. They do not spend much time in the sun, and their way of life is generally not lively, but relaxed and full of thinking. That is why an eighty-year-old monk can look like a sixty-year-old because of his smooth and mostly undamaged skin. Why not as a fifty-year-old or a forty-year-old? Because even a monk in the sanctuary of a monastery cannot escape the power of the Earth's gravity. The skin relaxes as it is heavier it relentlessly pulls and leaves us with bags under the eyes and a throbbing jaw. And part of the tissue under the skin dies over time, but the body does not compensate for it. The cheeks and temples are sunken. The skin becomes too large for the tissue over which it was once tightened, and instead falls in loose folds.
In most people, the main culprit for wrinkles is exposure to the sun's rays. Ultraviolet radiation damages a part of the dermis, the inner layer of the skin. Collagen fibers, which are made up of proteins and are found in the dermis, hold the skin structures together. Under the action of ultraviolet radiation, collagen fibers shrink, so skin support weakens. Radiation can also thin the skin, and wrinkles are easier to create on thinner skin. Just as it is easier to bend thin paper than a thick pile of paper, so thinner skin bends more easily. As the skin wrinkles with each change in facial expression, wrinkles are easier to create on the one damaged by the sun. However, the skin is easy to protect from ultraviolet radiation - you should not sunbathe and spend too much time in the sun unless the skin is previously protected with a sunscreen that prevents radiation from penetrating the skin.
Smoking also creates wrinkles - smokers get wrinkles earlier than non-smokers. And the more cigarettes smoked, the more wrinkled the face. People who smoke a lot are five times more likely to get excess wrinkles. The reason for this is that smoking damages collagen in the skin. Also, the smoke goes into the smoker's eyes, which causes him to blink, which creates small wrinkles around the eyes. And finally, smoking in smokers creates small wrinkles above the lips, which are also created when whistling.
• Kathy Vollard, And why ?, Belgrade: Laguna, 2006