Okay, fine, I'm only 25, and yes, I have a face that could easily pass as a 12-year-old's. But lately signs of ageing have started to creep up on me… or so I thought. Every single day, without fail, I'll take a glance in the mirror around 11 a.m. and find a forehead that resembles those contour lines that appear in the sand when the tide goes out.
A closer look reveals a series of fine crevices that have appeared seemingly out of thin air and are now playing host to my foundation, which has nuzzled its way in and has left the skin looking oddly striped. Sound familiar? The melodramatic me thinks, This is it—age is finally here to slap me around the face. But considering its effects haven't started popping up on the rest of my face, I sought advice from the experts, who assured me that maybe these lines aren't wrinkles after all.
Keep scrolling to discover what these lines are and how you can get rid of them.
No, those lines aren't just (in the words of Harry Styles) a sign of the times—in fact, they could simply be down to a harsh case of dehydrated skin. Apparently I'm not alone in this: According to dermatologist Anjali Mahto, MD, after a night of excess alcohol intake, many of us wake up feeling slightly worse for wear and think we've aged drastically overnight after we look in the mirror. (Yep, been there, done that, have multiple T-shirts.)
Why is this, you may be asking? "This seemingly accelerated aging can often be a result of dehydration, which causes skin to appear dryer and thinner," she explains. The result is a complexion that looks crêpey, like pleated velvet, with a network of gorge-like wrinkles running through it. "[Your skin] loses its ability to bounce back and will begin to look sallow," adds Mahto. And it isn't just a hangover that can leave your skin this way—Mahto reckons dehydration can also be caused by things such as sun damage, smoking and central heating.
Assured that these lines are more a temporary addition rather than a permanent one, I persuaded Mahto, along with facialist and skincare expert Antonia Burrel, to share with me their three-step action plan to stave off these dehydration lines and allow me to go on with my life. And I can happily report that by following it to the letter, my forehead lines have been significantly reduced—in fact, I barely notice them now.
If you've been nodding along, you're going to want to try this—keep scrolling and I'll let you in on their secrets.
How can you tell the difference between dehydration lines and wrinkles?
Unfortunately, if your forehead wrinkles are as a result of ageing, there isn't a quick fix, so it's important to identify what you're working with here. "Dehydration lines tend to be much finer, and in the first instance, they may not be super obvious, as they are a lot more superficial," explains Burrell. "With ageing lines, on the other hand, you can see a physical difference in the skin, as they're caused by a lack of collagen."
"They won't fluctuate day to day," Mahto adds, so if they don't seem to change as the weeks go on, it's likely these are permanent wrinkle.
Step 1: Drink more water
Once you've identified the dehydration lines, the first step is to rehydrate the body. Whenever I spot the first signs of them, I down a litre of water, and I have to say, it really helps (although there's still little scientific evidence to prove that drinking more water leads to hydrated skin).
Burrell believes it can make at least a little bit of difference: "Water can certainly help, but hydrating your body from the inside out is not the only solution—hydration of the outermost layers of the skin has to be done both internally and externally." Which leads nicely on to step two…
Step 2: Supercharge your skincare routine
The next step is to plump the skin from the outside and the golden child of all hydrating ingredients is, of course, hyaluronic acid. "It's one of the most hydrophilic (or "water-loving") molecules found in cosmetic products and has an enormous water-binding capacity."
In fact, it has this rather impressive ability to hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water. Turn to The Ordinary for this, as its Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 is only £6. I've been applying a light layer of this every morning and night, and the difference is noticeable.
You'll also want to take a look at your moisturiser— "Use a moisturizer containing humectants like glycerin as these ingredients attract water from the environment into the skin to keep it soft and plump," recommends Mahto.
Don't forget a helping of vitamin C too. "It's good for fine lines and cellular renewal," explains Burrell. Adds Mahto, "Regularly applying vitamin C within your skincare routine helps to protect your skin against free radical damage caused by the environment, which can breakdown your collagen and encourage wrinkles and sagging."
In other words, it'll be extremely helpful in insuring those dehydration lines don't turn into full-blown wrinkles. I adore SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic (£129), which tastes gross but works a treat, and Lumilixir Serum by Mabel + Meg (£29) makes a worthy but more affordable option.
Step 3: Massage, Massage, Massage
"Facial massage promotes circulation, restores energy, relieves tension and reduces lines," promises Burrell. "Just a five-minute facial massage at home can improve the appearance of your skin." And all it requires is to take a little extra time when applying your skincare in the morning. Smooth your serum and moisturiser onto skin in upward circular motions before using small circular movements to massage the forehead with your middle three fingers on both hands.
"You can also use light, tapping movements on your skin, focussing on areas of concern such as the forehead, with your middle and ring fingers for around 60 seconds or as long as you want to," Burrrell adds. "This stimulates the blood circulation to the skin and reveals a glowing, radiant complexion."