If you're reading this post, it's likely you can identify the characteristic appearance of crepey skin. Large areas of skin that were once smooth and taut, now appear paper thin, loose and wrinkled. And the name? It's derived from the fact that the appearance of crepey skin is reminiscent of the crepe paper used to make party streamers. As festive as that sounds, no one wants their skin to look like a birthday decoration.
We often blame crepey skin on aging, suggesting that it's a natural part of getting older. And while it's true that chronological aging can cause our skin to become thinner and more wrinkly, crepey skin often develops prematurely due to sun exposure. When UV rays penetrate the skin's surface, they encourage inflammation and the formation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which break down vital proteins like collagen and elastin that give skin elasticity and strength. This constant exposure to UV rays ultimately causes DNA mutations in skin cells, causing them to function improperly. The result is skin damage that shows as crepey skin and many of the aesthetic characteristics we associate with aging skin, like hyperpigmentation, wrinkling, thin skin, rough texture and laxity. (Not to mention the worst risk of all - an elevated risk of skin cancer.)
Because of the important role that the sun plays in the onset of crepey skin, you often see it in areas that are most exposed, including the cheeks, undereye area, hands and legs. However, it can also appear after losing weight or due to loss of muscle tone, in which case you may see crepey skin on arms and thighs. Additionally, mild cases of crepey skin may be attributed to skin dehydration or dryness.
Solutions to Improve Crepey Skin
As is often the case when working to address signs of skin aging, the best way to treat crepey skin is through a combination of optimized home care and professional esthetic treatments.
At Home Solutions
As mentioned, crepey skin can be due, to some degree, to improper skin hydration. This is why you'll sometimes notice that crepey skin looks better after a moisturizer, body lotion or eye cream is applied to the skin.
To optimize skin hydration on an ongoing basis, all areas of skin should be properly moisturized at least twice per day; more if skin is prone to dryness. On the face, look for a hydrating moisturizer appropriate for your skin type that contains 1) humectants to draw moisture to the skin, 2) occlusives to prevent transepidermal water loss, which is the evaporation of moisture from the skin, and 3) emollients to soften and smooth the skin's surface. For the body, look for a lotion that includes these three classes of ingredients.
During the day, moisture levels can be maintained through the use of hydrating toners, like Lexli Tone & Balance, that can be applied over makeup.
Exfoliation is a must in any skin care routine due to its numerous benefits to the skin but its especially useful in minimizing the appearance of crepey skin. Exfoliation removes the outermost layer of keratin (dead skin cells) that build up on the skin and, in doing so, minimizes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. What's more, by thinning the keratin layer, the skin's dermis layer thickens in response, which improves the efficiency of cell turnover while increasing collagen production. Over time, this results in healthier skin and a reduction in the signs of aging.
While exfoliation can be done via physical (e.g. scrubs) or chemical (e.g. acids) means, at Lexli we are partial to chemical exfoliation using alpha-hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, which is used in Lexli AloeGlyC. This is because it is an ingredient well tolerated by most skin types, including those with sensitive skin, while being extremely effective.
From stimulating collagen production to smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, peptides can improve skin in many ways, which is why they are a vital part of any anti-aging skincare routine. When used daily for an extended period, peptide serums can greatly improve the appearance of crepey skin. However, it's important to keep realistic expectations from this and any other topical skin care product. For dramatic improvement, professional treatments are vital.
Professional Treatments for Crepey Skin
If crepey skin is a concern, it is advised that you schedule a consultation with a licensed esthetician or dermatologist who can evaluate the causes at play and develop a customized treatment plan. Among the more popular professional treatments that estheticians may utilize to improve the appearance of crepey skin are:
- Fraxel laser treatments to regenerate the skin and stimulate collagen production
- Radiofrequency treatments, which offer skin tightening benefits while encouraging new collagen and elastin production
- Dermal fillers that plump the skin from within, leaving it looking smoother and more voluminous
Another option is to consult a plastic surgeon who may evaluate your skin to determine if you may be a candidate for a neck lift, body contouring and other surgeries that can generate dramatic improvement.
Preventing Crepey Skin
It goes without saying that it's best to avoid crepey skin altogether by taking care to prevent it from occurring. Of course, it's no surprise that one of the best ways to do this is by practicing sun protection.
At minimum, be sure to apply sunscreen with at least spf 15 every morning. It's easiest to implement this daily when your moisturizer includes sunscreen, as most daytime formulations do. Additionally, it's important to reapply sunscreen every few hours and more frequently when spending extended time outdoors.
It's also important to wear protective clothing, including hats, sunglasses and UV-resistant fabrics, any time you go outdoor, even if simply running errands. UV exposure is cumulative so every minute your skin is exposed matters.