"When water evaporates from skin, it shrinks. And like a grape, it can go from plump to shriveled," says Ellen Marmur, MD, chief of dermatologic and cosmetic surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
To see if dryness is magnifying your creases, take this simple test: Apply a moisture mask like Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Masque ($40; dermalogica.com), and leave it on for the recommended time. When you rinse it off, how does your skin look? Fresher? Fuller? Smoother? That means your skin was dehydrated. If it doesnt look any different, your lines are age-related. Sneak some wrinkle-fighting retinol, peptides, or antioxidants into your daily routine. We like RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum ($22; Walgreens).
Do you really have sensitive skin?
More than 40% of Americans believe they dobut not all self-diagnoses prove correct. Derms check for the condition, in part, by asking a series of questions:
Does your skin typically turn red and blotchy when irritated?
Is it prone to allergic reactions?
Does your skin sunburn and windburn easily?
Does it flush from changes in temperatureboth hot and cold?
Is it dry, delicate, and thin?
At home, studying your face in a magnifying mirror can reveal another clue to sensitivity. "The pores of sensitive skin tend to look pink due to inflammation," says Dennis Gross, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. If you do have sensitive skin, avoid gritty scrubs and harsh ingredients like alcohol, acids, and benzoyl peroxide; use calming cleansers and lotions containing natural anti-inflammatories and antioxidants.
Got sun damage?
Pinch the top of your cheekthe fleshiest partand hold it for five seconds. When you release, see how quickly the skin flattens. "If it doesnt bounce back immediately, start using a cream with retinol or peptides to build new collagen," says Jeannette Graf, MD, a dermatologist in Great Neck, New York.
Collagen is the protein that keeps skin strong, plump, and prettyand UV rays are its kryptonite. "When the sun weakens our collagen and elastic tissue, wrinkles form and skin starts to sag," Dr. Graf says. "But what many women dont realize is that newly enlarged pores on the nose and cheeks, particularly in dry skin, are also a sign of poor elasticity. As the skin starts to hang, pores stretch out."
In addition to revving up collagen production, make your pores look smaller by keeping them clean with a weekly grime-extracting mud mask, such as AHAVA Purifying Mud Mask ($30; ahavaus.com).