The Root Cause of Wrinkle Formation

Shiseido’s award-winning 3D imaging technology has uncovered mechanisms in skin thanks to its ability to visually separate the skin’s components. The latest findings reveal the root cause of wrinkles and ‘pre-wrinkles.’

Researchers utilized this 3D technology to analyze the mechano-physical properties of skin in various age groups, from young to senior. They found that the balance of elasticity between the stratum corneum and dermis deteriorates with age. This, they concluded, is the root cause of wrinkle formation. Some of these study results were presented at the IFSCC Congress in 2020.

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In addition, they observed that not only visible wrinkles, but also invisible “pre-wrinkles” can be improved with treatments targeting this imbalance in skin elasticity.

Analyses were made utilizing the company’s ultra-high resolution ultrasonic technology—which enables the evaluation of skin regions with thicknesses as small as one micron (1/1,000 of 1 mm); even the stratum corneum, measuring only a few tens of microns. Skin’s elastic properties were measured by layer in 130 Japanese women, from 20 to 60 years old, via skin’s repulsive force in response to pressing.

Results indicated the stratum corneum became harder with age whereas the dermis became softer, and the greater the elasticity gap between the stratum corneum and the dermis, the deeper the wrinkles. Furthermore, in terms of young skin with no visible wrinkles, the researchers reported areas having a larger elasticity gap between the stratum corneum and dermis are more likely to form wrinkles when the skin is deformed, such as during facial expressions.

In relation, female volunteers in their 40s applied a cream containing a simple form of retinol and moisturizing and softening agents repeatedly for four weeks. The mechanical properties of their skin were measured before and after product application.

The 3D analysis revealed skin’s elastic properties were resolved whether wrinkles were visible or invisible. In addition, both visible wrinkles and temporal or expression wrinkles were significantly reduced. Based on these results, the researchers confirmed that a skin care approach combining topical and ingestible care could improve “wrinkle-proneness” in skin even before wrinkles appear.


Skin is the largest organ of the body, consisting of three layers (epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous) that regenerate about every four weeks. It functions in the regulation of body temperature, as protection from harmful elements and as sensation to pleasure, pressure and pain.

The epidermis (stratum corneum) is the outermost layer of skin and contains no blood vessels. It is a protective barrier, undergoing rapid cell division (mitosis) that forms a tough, waterproof, outer layer that is dependent upon the underlying dermis (middle layer) to provide nutrients and to dispose of waste. It contains melanin, a pigment that produces vitamin D and protects the body from UV radiation of the sun. The stratum corneum is in a constant state of change, shedding flattened, scaly epithelial cells.  As new cells are produced, older cells are pushed to the skin surface, producing keratin, a waxy, protein substance that aids in cell repair, skin, hair, and nail growth.  Its primary function is to prevent moisture evaporation necessary for proper skin hydration. 

Water evaporating through the epidermis is known as transepidermal water loss (TEWL). The measurement of transepidermal water loss is a reliable indicator of the integrity of skin barrier function.  A decrease in hydration contributes to skin disease and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles associated with aging.   

The natural moisturizing factor (NMF) of the stratum corneum, necessary for healthy, smooth and hydrated skin, is comprised of lactic acid, amino acids, sodium PCA, minerals and peptides, a mix of powerful, water soluble humectants that are byproducts of a structural protein known as filaggrin.  Skin uses these byproducts by recycling them to make NMF.

The importance of NMF to skin health is

  • To protect from mechanical damage and maintain skin elasticity.
  • To activate hydrolytic enzymes necessary for dead skin cell shedding.
  • To support the barrier function by protecting the cells from infection, dehydration and chemical damage.

The knowledge of NMF function aids in understanding and treating skin disorders. Antioxidants are the first line of defense against damage caused by the use of harsh skin care products and excessive rubbing that strip skin of natural lipids. These protective antioxidants minimize free radical damage due to aging, hormone fluctuation, poor diet, inadequate hydration, emotional stress, air pollution and UV damage from the sun.  Optimal hydration promotes cell renewal and protects the skin barrier. 

Exqus Skincare products have a host of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Natural humectants provide skin protection through moisturizing (skin’s ability to retain water molecules) and hydration (enhancing water content).  To achieve this, Exquis Skincare product ingredients draw moisture to the stratum corneum by increasing NMF to retain moisture and protect against pollutants, bacteria and irritants.  It inhibits enzyme production to even skin tone, repair sun-damaged skin and soften skin texture, repairing and healing the skin barrier for a healthy and supple appearance.  Advanced proprietary liposome delivery technology allows products to penetrate the outer skin layer, reaching the inner layer to produce significant results of healthier skin.  Exquis Skincare is committed to offering a natural, holistic skincare regimen that addresses specific skin conditions and lifestyle.

Allison Dooley
Skin care products evaluator
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