If you’ve ever seen skin with lots of fine wrinkles, you may have been seeing crepey skin. It gets its name because it looks very similar to crepe paper—think the paper you decorated your best friend’s basement with for their birthday party as a kid. (Way to ruin your childhood memories, huh?)
Although crepey skin is typically associated with older individuals, the truth is that these fine wrinkles and sagging skin can develop much earlier in life. What causes crepey skin, and is there any way to prevent and treat it? Here’s the down-low on crepey skin.
Symptoms of Crepey Skin
Fine wrinkles such as those seen with crepey skin are also commonly present with sagging skin. The skin may also appear (or feel) loose and seem delicate in texture.
The most common places for fine-wrinkled and delicate skin to appear are under the upper arms, the neck, and around the eyes, which makes sense considering that the skin in these areas already tends to be delicate. However, crepey skin can appear virtually anywhere on the body.
Another characteristic of crepey skin is that it tends to affect larger areas rather than smaller patches. When we think of youthful-looking skin—aka plump, glowing, and firm skin—you can think of a crepey texture as the opposite—wrinkled, loose, and sagging.
What Causes Crepey Skin?
Like many skin conditions, especially skin aging, skin with a crepey appearance is caused by a combination of factors. You may know that your skin contains collagen and elastin, both proteins that help keep your skin firm, smooth and plump.
However, cellular turnover also plays a role in keeping skin firm and healthy. As we age, collagen and elastin in the skin decrease and cellular turnover slows down. Although these are natural processes, they can be made worse by our lifestyles.
Combine natural skin aging with sun damage, lack of nutrients in your diet, tobacco, and alcohol use and you have the answer to the question “what causes crepey skin?”
- If you’re a sun lover or use a tanning bed, crepey skin can show up much sooner than you think—as early as your 20s. Sun damage is the primary cause of finely wrinkled skin and damage to the skin that causes premature aging and a crepey appearance.
- A lack of nutrients such as polyphenols, antioxidants, fatty acids, proteins, vitamins, and even probiotics in the diet can influence aging skin, increasing your risk for sagging, loose or wrinkled skin earlier in life. There’s even research that suggests a diet high in sugar can disrupt collagen fibers in the skin, potentially leading to a more aged appearance.
- Smoking and alcohol consumption both significantly impact the skin and can lead to a loss of volume in the face, which can lead to sagging skin.
However, that’s not all. If you’ve lost a significant amount of weight—or have lost and gained weight over the years—skin can contain less elastin. As a result, excess skin may become loose, sag, or have fine wrinkles commonly seen in saggy skin. Dehydration or lack of moisture can also cause or accelerate the formulation of wrinkled, thinning skin.
Treating Crepey Skin
While, of course, prevention is the best medicine, that’s not possible for everyone. If you’re dealing with skin that has a crepey appearance now, you want to know how you can improve its appearance of it so you can restore your self-confidence.
Part of what causes crepey skin is a lack of moisture. So taking care of your skin—including exfoliating it, keeping it moisturized, and using sunscreen to prevent further damage to your skin—can all help improve the appearance of crepey or paper-thin skin.
Remember that as you age, your skin isn’t staying as moisturized as it once was, meaning you may have to do a bit more legwork by drinking water and applying moisturizer daily to keep your skin looking healthy and plump.
Retinol may help improve cellular turnover and the appearance of crepey skin, especially if you have a prescription-strength formula. Research shows that retinol can increase skin thickness, boost collagen production and reduce wrinkles after 12 weeks.
YOU can also seek expert help with laser resurfacing, microneedling, and dermal fillers to restore skin fullness and firmness. Laser resurfacing and microneedling can help the skin get firmer by boosting collagen production. Dermal fillers can help restore lost volume in places like the eyes, neck, and upper arms.
You may have thin and wrinkled skin as the result of significant weight loss. Cosmetic surgery can help remove excess skin and tighten skin to improve your appearance. Cosmetic surgery may be a better option for severe crepey skin.
Is It Possible to Prevent It?
Now that we’ve looked at what causes crepey skin, let’s find out how we can prevent it.
- Use sunscreen to protect your skin from damage that could contribute to the thinness and wrinkles associated with crepey skin.
- Exfoliate and moisturize to help keep skin firm, smooth and help prevent those fine wrinkles from forming.
- Consider a collagen supplement to help support your skin’s collagen production. Collagen supplements and topical collagen skincare products may help improve the appearance of aging skin, particularly fine lines and wrinkles.
- Focus on skincare ingredients that can help soften skin and prevent wrinkle formation, such as hyaluronic acid and plant-based oils. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid and lactic acid, are chemical exfoliators. They can also help prevent it, improving skin texture, elasticity, and wrinkles.
- Eat a healthy diet and drink plenty of water. Vitamin C and other antioxidants are great for your diet and for your skincare products. So, bring on all the veggies and fruits you love (bonus: these foods have a high water content too!).
- Limit unhealthy habits such as smoking, alcohol consumption, not getting enough sleep, not drinking enough water, too much sun exposure, and being stressed out to protect your skin from the accelerated aging that can happen with inflammation and free radical damage.
Find Out Your Skin Type With Our Free Quiz
Skin aging is natural. Still, you may minimize or avoid crepey skin as you age by taking excellent care of YOUR body and skin. Start finding the best skincare products for your unique complexion now by taking our free quiz!