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Do you have thin, dry, crêpe paper-like skin on your hands, neck, chest, arms, or legs? If so, you may have crepey skin. While this is a normal part of aging, it’s frustrating and can make you feel like a stranger in your body.
Crepey skin can take a once confident woman and leave her hiding from the world in long sleeved shirts and too-baggy pants. It may cause you to stop chasing after the things you want, and it may even have you feeling like you need to accept that you’re “getting old.”
But you don’t have to live like this.
You don’t have to let crepey skin dictate your confidence levels or how you live your life. You can reverse crepey skin and feel FABULOUS in your body. Because nothing - not even age - should hold you back from living your best life.
Here is everything you need to know about crepey skin so you can ditch the sweatpants and start feeling like the bold, beautiful woman you are.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
WHAT IS CREPEY SKIN?
When the skin starts to lose its elasticity, it can become thin and finely wrinkled. This is known as crepey skin. The skin tends to look like paper – specifically, dry, tissue-thin and wrinkly crepe paper (hence the name). Skin of any age can take on a crepey appearance, but it is most common in women ages 40+ and is most prevalent on fair skin.
Crepey skin is both preventable and treatable. The appearance of crepey skin on the neck, chest/decolletage, arms, hands, legs, stomach, and knees can be reduced over time, leaving behind tighter, younger-looking skin. Crepey skin usually starts out as tiny “dots” around the hair follicles. These dots later merge together and connect. While wrinkles are often caused by repetitive motions such as squinting, crepey skin is caused primarily by a thinning of the skin and a loss of elasticity over time.
WHAT DOES CREPEY SKIN LOOK LIKE?
If you’re reading this, you probably already know what crepey skin looks like. You know the fine lines and saggy skin above your knees that you constantly cover with long pants - even in the hottest part of summer. You know the thin, fragile skin that lies on your chest and neck, taunting you and reminding you of the firm, youthful skin you once got to show off in v-necks and bright jewelry. You know crepey skin all too well. You know it deep in your bones.
Crepey skin can have a different appearance depending on the part of the body on which it occurs. On the hands, crepey skin can look blotchy and even have dry patches. Crepey skin on the body looks saggy and fragile, and can sometimes appear scaly. Because crepey skin is fragile and thin, it can sometimes cause the veins underneath the skin to be visible, leading many people to cover up crepey skin with clothing or make-up. Crepey skin tends to show up first on the back of the hands and décolletage.
CREPEY SKIN VS WRINKLES
You’ve been battling the appearance of wrinkles on your face since your 30s - investing in the good night creams and choosing the right cleansers for your skin type. But what happens when the wrinkles are on your body?
First, it’s important to note that wrinkles on your body are not wrinkles. Wrinkles are caused by the skin creasing in the same place over time - for instance from smiling, frowning, smoking, or squinting. When we’re young and we do repeat these actions, our skin is elastic, so it’s able to bounce back without leaving a mark. But as we lose elasticity, our skin is less and less able to bounce back, leaving small marks in the way of wrinkles. Some wrinkles can become much deeper, like crevices in the skin.
When you see “wrinkles” on your body, these are different. We’re certainly not squinting our thighs and knees ...The appearance of wrinkles on your body are actually crepey skin.
While wrinkles are something that happens on the skin, a crepey texture is something that happens to the skin. The skin itself becomes thinner and more fragile. The lack of elasticity causes the skin to hang loosely from the body.
Also, just because skin is loose or sagging doesn’t mean it’s crepey skin. To be considered “crepey skin,” it must have the characteristic fine lines and thinness associated with crepey skin.
WHAT CAUSES CREPEY SKIN?
The most common causes of crepey skin are:
Sun Exposure: Ah, the sun. So easy to love, yet so universally damaging to our skin. It makes sense that sun exposure is a leading cause of crepey skin. After all, the areas 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 elastin (the elastic fibers that allow your skin to stretch and “bounce back”) cannot. Fortunately, there are some products and ingredients that can improve the elasticity of skin. More on that later.
Aging: Crepey skin affects some areas 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: 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.
Genetics: You can’t talk about any beauty-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 elastin 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 dark spots. 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.
HOW TO GET RID OF CREPEY SKIN?
Once you realize that crepey skin is the issue, it’s time to take action. Unlike aging itself, crepey skin is reversible and treatable. Here are some easy, at-home methods to start seeing firmer, tighter, younger-looking skin.
1. Wear Sunscreen: Prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays damages the support structures of the skin, including collagen and elastic fibers. This causes the skin to become loose and less firm. And yes, we know that wearing sunscreen religiously may have been more beneficial if we’d all started 30 years ago, but it’s still vitally important. Wearing sunscreen won’t reverse past sun damage, but it will help prevent further damage and the appearance of sunspots. We recommend a broad spectrum SPF 50 or above.
2. Hydrate: There are all kinds of reasons to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day, but here’s one more to add to the list. Your skin is your largest organ. It’s made up of cells that need water to survive. Without water, your skin will look dry and flaky, which can worsen the appearance of crepey skin.
3. Focus on Nutrition: You are what you eat, and as it turns out, your skin is also what you eat. When it comes to skin health, the two golden rules are 1) avoid sugar and 2) eat clean, whole foods. Sugar is one of the most damaging ingredients you can consume - causing everything from diabetes to cancer. And it’s seven times more addictive than cocaine! But it’s not just your longevity that pays the price. Sugar causes collagen to break down, leading to your skin becoming less elastic over time. Even worse, sugar cells bond with fat or protein molecules to make “advanced glycation end products (AGEs).” The aptly-named AGEs cause your skin to become dry and less elastic over time, causing your skin to age rapidly and appear to have a crepey texture. On the other hand, eating healthy, fresh, whole ingredients will help you avoid fillers and additives that can be toxic to the skin.
4. Take Supplements: After protecting your skin with sunscreen, you may want to consider taking supplements like antioxidants and an adrenal fatigue supplement. Antioxidants can help protect against harmful UV rays, as well as fight some of the signs of aging, like wrinkles and loss of elasticity. With daily use, they can also reduce the look of sunspots and calm inflammation. One powerful antioxidant is Coenzyme Q10 (aka CoQ10), a natural substance our bodies produce that fights the signs of aging, like the appearance of wrinkles and the loss of elasticity in the skin. In several studies, taking a CoQ10 supplement has been proven to reduce wrinkles and improve the smoothness and appearance of skin. Adrenal fatigue can also cause damage to your skin, resulting in a lack of moisture, excessive wrinkling/crepiness, and even breakouts.
5. Practice Self Care: Self-care is about more than bubble baths and face masks. It’s about getting adequate sleep, proper nutrition (see above), and taking steps to reduce stress (and cortisol levels). The skin is receptive to our state of mind and mental health. It’s why we can sometimes break out or get rashes when we’re under more stress than usual. When you take the time to properly care for your body and mind, your skin will reap the benefits.
6. Exercise: Not only is exercise part of a healthy, balanced life, but it also has the added benefit of helping your skin look firmer and younger. When your muscles are toned, the skin on your arms and legs looks tighter - reducing the appearance of crepey, saggy skin.
7. Prescription Retinoids: Retinoids can help with exfoliation, allowing your skin to shed old cells and regenerate newer, younger skin cells more often. Unfortunately, retinoids are also very drying, so without proper administration and doctor oversight, they can make the appearance of crepey skin worse.
8. Laser Treatments: A dermatologist can use lasers to encourage new collagen production. Since the breaking down of collagen is a primary cause of crepey skin, creating more of it can undo some of the damage and give your skin a firmer support structure. This method effectively smooths out wrinkles and crepiness from the inside out.
9. Microneedling: Microneedling is the process of creating very small holes in the top layer of the skin with a fine-needle roller. Microneedling causes a “controlled injury,” and the subsequent healing process stimulates collagen production. This may help reduce the appearance of crepey skin over time, though the process is often expensive and invasive.
10. Skincare Routine: If prescription retinoids, laser treatments, and microneedling are not for you, a better alternative is a skincare routine that has been proven to effectively reverse crepey skin. So how to choose the right cream? There are many products on the market that claim to treat crepey skin, but to deliver results they must treat both the texture and moisture of your skin. Find a 2-step system that first exfoliates and then hydrates and firms with safe, effective ingredients. Exfoliation removes dead skin, allowing younger skin cells to rise to the top. It also improves circulation, which may improve the appearance and health of your skin over time. Meanwhile, a good moisturizer infuses your skin with hydration, gradually increasing its elasticity while simultaneously making it firmer, more supple, and softer than before.
DOES CREPEY SKIN WORK?
Yes! To find a skincare system that will effectively reduce the appearance of crepey skin on the neck, chest/decolletage, arms, hands, knees, legs, and stomach, make sure to choose one with several steps and the right ingredients. Typically, you’ll want to start with a body scrub. Body scrubs remove dead skin and improve circulation, speeding the process of new skin regeneration. After exfoliation with a body scrub, you’ll want a deep moisturizer, targeted to address crepey skin, that can replace lost oils and encourage the production of collagen to boost elasticity. And when it comes to the neck and chest area, it’s also valuable to seek out products specifically formulated for this type of skin because these areas often have long vertical lines (fountain lines) that make treatment more difficult.
Look for these ingredients:
When reviewing product alternatives, remember two things. First, to effectively reduce crepey skin, you need skincare products that intensely hydrate the skin and also strengthen the skin’s structure by boosting collagen and elastic production. Second, choose natural and organic whenever possible. The skin is the largest organ, and everything we put on our skin makes its way into our body.
Matrixyl 3000: A revolutionary skincare innovation, this combination of two “super peptides” boosts collagen and elastin production, making it a formidable fighter against crepey skin to help the skin retain its elasticity, strength, and firmness.
Wakame Bioferment (Aka Fermented Seaweed): Seaweed is extremely nourishing and hydrating, leaving skin plump and soft.
Plant Stem Cells: Stem cells are natural anti-aging ingredients. They help your skin look younger, with a noticeable glow.
Sugars: Organic sugars are one of the best natural exfoliators. They’re gentle enough to not irritate the skin, while still being strong enough to slough away dead skin cells and boost circulation.
Oils and butters: Since our skin naturally produces less oil as we age, products with oils and butters, especially organic oils and butters, are effective to boost hydration and increase elasticity.
Vitamin C and Peptides: These promote healthy collagen production, boosting elasticity in the skin by repairing damage done by free radicals and the sun.
Hyaluronic Acid: Hyaluronic acid is intensely hydrating, allowing for the skin around the neck and chest to become more plump and firm.
Just because crepey skin has started to creep in on your body and your confidence doesn’t mean you have to live with it. Crepey skin is treatable and reversible with the right products.
And once you start to address your crepey skin - once you start to see results and notice that the skin on your body looks tighter and younger, you’ll see all kinds of residual effects. You’ll hold your head higher and be more confident in your body. You’ll begin to reclaim your life and try new things.
And you’ll throw away those clothes that hide your chest, neck, and knees - because we don’t have time for self-doubt anymore. We have mountains to climb!
Are you serious about tackling your crepey skin and reinventing yourself? Check out our products page to find the option that will work best for you.