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The thin and finely wrinkled skin that often appears on the chest, neck, knees, hands, and stomach as we age is known as crepey skin. Crepey skin is most often associated with people over 40, but age isn’t the only catalyst for crepey, dry skin. Ultraviolet rays from the sun, aging, genetics, lack of moisture, and environmental or lifestyle factors can all play a role in the loss of elasticity and firmness. Most of the time, some combination of these factors leads the skin to become crepey in appearance.
These are the most common causes of crepey skin.
One of the primary causes of crepey skin is sun exposure. It makes sense when you consider that the area most often affected by crepey skin - the neck, hands, arms, legs, and decolletage - are all exposed while sunbathing. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from spending time outdoors (or from the use of tanning beds) damages the support structures of the skin, including collagen and elastic fibers. Collagen can repair itself somewhat over time, but elastic fibers cannot.
Crepey skin affects some area that are not often exposed to the sun - areas like the inner arms, upper thighs and stomach. For these areas, aging is the most likely cause. As we age, our skin’s ability to regenerate and repair itself slows down significantly, leading to the loss of smoothness and elasticity. There are two important proteins that contribute to the appearance of our skin, collagen and elastin. Collagen contributes to the appearance of smoothness in our skin, while elastin contributes to our skin’s ability to “bounce back” after being stretched or pinched. Collagen and elastin break down as our skin ages, leading to inelasticity, sagging, and a bumpy, crepey texture. The process usually starts in our 40s, though some women see signs of crepey skin as late as their 50s or 60s.
LACK OF MOISTURE
Another factor that can reduce the elasticity in our skin, leading to a crepey appearance is a lack of moisture. Our skin naturally produces oils, which help lock in moisture and keep our skin looking smooth and supple. While the amount of oil our skin produces differs from person to person, as we age, our skin tends to produce less oil. The less oil we produce, the less capable our skin is of retaining moisture. This can lead to dry skin, wrinkles, and crepiness.
You can’t talk about any health-related topic without touching on genetics. Our genetics hardwire us from birth, making us more susceptible to certain issues and ailments. And better suited to fight against others. Genetics affect our skin in several ways. First, women with more melanin in their skin (the pigment which gives skin its color) are less likely to develop crepey skin because the melanin acts as a protectant. Fair skinned women are therefore more likely to struggle with a crepey appearance on their necks, chests, arms, stomachs, hands, and legs. Our genetics also affect how quickly our skin can repair itself. Great skin genetics can give you more years or decades with smooth, firm skin before your collagen and elastins begin to break down.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND LIFESTYLE CAUSES
Environmental factors, like pollution and the presence of free radicals in the air can speed up the effects of aging on the skin. Lifestyle factors like smoking and excessive drinking can also have a negative effect on the skin and increase the prevalence of crepey skin, as well as dry skin, wrinkles, discoloration, and spotting.
Another less frequent cause of crepey skin is rapid weight loss. When we lose weight quickly, it can cause the skin to be very loose and saggy with fine wrinkles. This usually happens because the skin can’t “bounce back” as quickly as the weight loss is happening.
No matter your age, you have a right to live a bold and vibrant life, and crepey skin shouldn’t get in the way of that. If crepey skin is standing in your way of living a full, happy, passion-filled life, then it’s time to make some changes and tackle your crepey skin once and for all. Here are some proactive ways to minimize the appearance of crepey skin and develop firmer, younger-looking skin over time.
Because life after 40, 50, 60 is meant to be exhilarating!