Everyone has crepey skin. If you don’t believe me, go ahead and take a good look at your elbow or your knee. The crepey skin you just saw is sometimes referred to as “elephant skin” because of its crepe-like, crinkled texture.
At first glance, this type of skin may seem a little scary, but it is both preventable and treatable. This article will answer all the most pressing questions you have about crepey skin, including:
- What is crepey skin?
- Where is crepey skin most common?
- How is crepey skin different than other wrinkly skin?
- What causes crepey skin?
Best of all, we’ll show you how to fix crepey skin and achieve younger-looking skin without resorting to risky, painful, and expensive surgeries or injections. But before we get to that, let’s examine crepey skin in a bit more detail.
What is Crepey Skin?
Crepey skin is your body’s response to low levels of elastin and collagen—proteins that allow your skin to stretch and contract. As you enter your 30s, protein production in your skin begins to drop, resulting in thinner skin that will eventually start to wrinkle and sag. On parts of your body where thin skin is constantly being stretched and pulled, crepey skin is more likely to form.
Essentially, then, your skin is like a rubber band. When it’s new, your skin is able to snap back after repeated motion just like a new rubber band. But as you age, your skin’s elasticity begins to break down. When that happens, your skin that is both thin AND repeatedly stretched will have a tendency to wrinkle and become crepey. Just like an old rubber band that loses its spring and eventually breaks. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen to our skin!
But this crepey texture doesn’t come about suddenly like a pimple. Instead, crepey skin takes months, or even years to set in. That means you can use the time while your skin is still smooth to prevent crepey skin altogether. Learning all of the causes and solutions for crepey skin will help you avoid this unsightly problem, ensuring that your skin matches your youthful disposition.
Where Is Crepey Skin Most Common?
Crepey skin can occur anywhere, but some parts of your body are more likely to experience this crinkling than others. The areas most susceptible to crepey skin include your décolleté (neck and shoulders), your décolletage (neck, shoulders, back, and chest), elbows, knees, knuckles, and finger joints.
Crepey skin is also common around your eyes and mouth. Really, any skin that is thin and gets stretched a lot is prone to crepey skin. But what sets crepey skin apart from regular wrinkles? We’ll answer that question in the next section.
How Is Crepey Skin Different Than Other Wrinkly Skin?
The difference between crepey skin and a wrinkle is that a wrinkle forms when there are repeated motions in one area. Crepey skin, on the other hand, results when your skin grows thin and loses its ability to return to normal after being stretched.
Let’s return to the skin on your elbow for a moment. Bend your elbow like you’re flexing your bicep and feel the tip of your elbow. There’s very little skin covering the bone in that area (i.e., the skin is thin there). Now think about how many times every day you bend your elbow to some degree. That’s a lot of stretching for such thin skin to handle. It’s no wonder these areas of your body are the first places you see crepey skin.
What Causes Crepey Skin?
While aging plays a primary role in the formation of crepey skin, it is definitely not the sole culprit. In fact, there are quite a few factors that can contribute to crepey skin. We can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can change our habits for the better to prevent crepey skin. Let’s see how by examining some of the other causes of crinkly skin.
Drastic Weight Fluctuations
Sudden changes in weight increase your chances of developing crepey skin. When you’re young, your skin is stretchable and recoils easily (like the rubber band mentioned above) because young skin naturally produces an abundance of collagen and elastin.
Yet with age, your skin’s elasticity may no longer be able to keep up with your diet and exercise habits. When this happens, your skin can no longer bounce back like the new rubber band it used to be. Repeated stretching, then, results in thin, loose skin like on your elbows and knees.
The sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays damage the collagen and elastin that supply your skin with support, tone, and structure. When enough damage has occurred, your skin begins to sag, droop, and become crepey.
But the sun does more than just contribute to the breakdown of collagen. Excessive exposure to UV light causes existing collagen molecules to become stiff and inflexible. When that happens, smooth, young-looking skin is more likely to turn into crepey skin.
Smoking is a catalyst to aging. The amount and duration that you smoke has a direct correlation with the likelihood of crepey and wrinkled skin. Crepey skin is not only found on the mouths of smokers but on all parts of their bodies, including the inner arms, chest, and above the knees.
Why is cigarette smoke so bad for your skin? Because there are over 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke. Many, if not all, of these chemicals damage collagen and elastin, which are the origins of skin’s strength and elasticity.
Smoking, or even being exposed to secondhand smoke, is so bad for your skin that, unless you stop smoking, all the other preventative measures you try will likely fail. Cigarette smoke is just that bad. So, if at all possible, we strongly encourage you to stop smoking.
Melissa Piliang, M.D., a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, states that “When you sleep on your side or stomach, your face is smushed down against the pillow, pushing the skin into creases.” She goes on to say that “If you lay like that for 6 to 8 hours, the wrinkles become etched into your face.” Unfortunately, this smushing, creasing, and etching isn’t just restricted to your face. It occurs on other parts of your body as well.
Your décolleté, for example, is extremely susceptible to wrinkling caused by side sleeping. When you lie on your side, gravity pulls the top breast down toward the bottom breast. You then add pressure, heat, and friction into the mix when your arm pushes against the top breast as you sleep. All of these negative forces—gravity, pressure, heat, and friction—can wreak havoc on the thin skin of your décolleté and lead to crinkly, crepey skin.
Gravity is not our friend as we age. What goes up must come down, and our skin is no exception to this rule. Sadly for us, crepey skin and gravity go hand-in-hand. Gravity is always pulling and stretching your skin out of place. As we discussed above, that can lead to crepey skin.
As you age, your body loses its ability to hold as much moisture as it did during its youth. When that happens, skin becomes dehydrated and dry, setting the stage for crepey skin and wrinkles to make their debut.
A Diet High In Sugar
When you have a diet high in sugar, a process called glycation occurs. Glycation is the bonding of a protein or lipid (fat) molecule with a sugar molecule. Eventually, what are known as “advanced glycation end products,” or AGEs, begin to form. AGEs cause protein fibers to stiffen and form incorrectly.
The proteins in skin most affected by glycation are collagen and elastin. By now, you are fully aware that these proteins are critical to maintaining a youthful appearance. When collagen and elastin combine with renegade sugars, they become weak, discolored, and less pliable. As a result, wrinkles, sagginess, and, of course, crepey skin ensue.
How To Treat and Repair Crepey Skin
Crepey skin may be a harmless, natural part of the aging process, but it can be quite lethal to your self-esteem. Fortunately for you, there are preventative measures you can take to maintain your skin’s elasticity, repair already affected areas, and regain confidence.
We all wish that magic could be sold in a bottle. If it were possible, we’d run out and snatch up the fountain of youth bottle. Creams may not work wonders, but they do one thing well: they help keep skin moisturized.
Adding moisture to your skin is an excellent way to prevent crepey skin. It’s certainly not the only way, nor even the most effective, but it’s a strong start. We suggest looking for a wrinkle-fighting cream that contains the following ingredients:
- Vitamin C matrix.
- Shea butter.
- Licorice root.
- Black, white, and green tea.
- Sunflower seed oil.
- Coconut oil.
- Vitamin E.
Creams are amazing, but by far the most effective solution to crepey skin are silicone patches from SiO Beauty. SiO Beauty’s Face, Brow, Neck, Eye & Smile, and Décolleté patches visibly reduce wrinkles in just one night. In fact, all of the SiO Beauty patches are a clinically-proven, pain-free, recovery-free method for removing and preventing crepey skin without the use of needles or knives.
The process of using SiO Beauty skin patches couldn’t be easier. Simply exfoliate your skin from your forehead down into your cleavage (we recommend SiO Beauty's Décolleté Cleansing Discs for the delicate skin on your décolleté). Then apply the patches of your choice and go to sleep. It’s just that easy.
While you dream, the silicone patches support your skin to prevent gravity from causing wrinkles. The silicone patches also create a nourishing microclimate on the surface of your skin. This microclimate pulls moisture from the lower layers of your skin, keeps it from evaporating, and focuses it on the surface where it is most needed. As if that’s not enough, SiO Beauty patches work to restore and normalize collagen production so your skin can retain its youthful, smooth appearance longer.
In the morning after wearing your SiO Beauty patches, simply remove them, store them in their protective sleeve, and apply a healing lotion for all-day moisturizing and protection. That’s 24-hour healing and prevention in just three easy steps.
Lose Weight Slowly
With any rapid weight change, your skin doesn’t have time to adjust. This is especially true when your skin is already less elastic due to collagen and elastin loss. So instead of trying to lose a lot of weight as quickly as possible, shoot for one to two pounds per week. This slower pace will give your body time to repair your skin so that it doesn’t become loose, saggy, and wrinkled.
Of course, rapid weight loss and crepey skin can be caused by illness and other uncontrollable factors. But it can also be caused by some aggressive weight-loss programs. Instead of making it your goal to lose as much weight as you can as quickly as possible, aim toward the lower end of the scale and try to lose a more healthy one pound per week through a healthy diet and exercise.
Losing one pound per week may not seem like much when you’re just getting started. But when you look at that rate of weight loss over a long period of time, it really adds up: four pounds per month, 24 pounds in six months, almost 50 pounds in a year. At that rate, your skin will have time to adjust and tighten to accommodate your new, lighter body, and you can avoid the crepey skin that comes with rapid weight loss.
Protect Your Skin From The Sun
It’s true that you need a small amount of sun each day to regulate your mood, your sleep cycle, and your body’s vitamin production. But too much sun will definitely harm your skin. To prevent the sun’s UV rays from damaging and wrinkling your skin, we recommend applying an SPF 30 or 45 sunscreen to any exposed skin before you leave the house every day. Even if you just commute to work and back and don’t really spend any time outside, you’re likely still exposed to enough UV rays throughout the day to do harm. The glass in your office windows filters out some of the UV rays, but not enough to completely prevent damage. This all-day exposure can build up over time and lead to the crepey skin that you’re working so hard to prevent.
For that reason, we recommend reapplying your sunscreen every two hours for the best protection, no matter how much time you spend outside. And, whenever possible, cover your skin with long sleeves, long pants, a hat, and a scarf, in addition to the sunscreen, to really keep wrinkles, aging, and crepey skin away.
Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet
No beauty routine to prevent crepey skin would be complete without a healthy, balanced diet. When you give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs on a daily basis, it will do an amazing job of keeping your skin soft, smooth, healthy, and wrinkle-free. To get all the vitamins and minerals you need, we recommend including the following foods in your diet:
- Lean protein
- Healthy fat
Those four food groups are the foundation of a healthy diet and provide the three macronutrients that are essential for a healthy body: protein, carbohydrates, and fat. Make it a habit to eat from those four food groups every day. It’s also important to limit your sugar and salt intake so your body can process the beneficial vitamins and mineral properly.
If you’re not sure how to incorporate these foods into your diet, we suggest starting small. Eat at least one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables with every meal. For breakfast, we are so used to eating eggs, oatmeal, toast, and cereal, that it can be a real challenge to eat a fruit and some vegetables. Try whipping up a small smoothie with spinach and frozen fruit. Have that as a side with your eggs or oatmeal.
For lunch and dinner, include a small amount of lean protein, like chicken, fish, or grass-fed beef, with your servings of vegetables and fruit. And if you get hungry between meals, snack on a handful of healthy fats, like walnuts or almonds, instead of that extra-large bag of cheddar and sour cream potato chips.
Drink At Least 8 Cups Of Water Every Day
Your body’s loss of moisture is one of the biggest causes of crepey skin. Moisture promotes collagen production and growth. Moisture smooths wrinkles and fills in pores. Moisture keeps your skin elastic. Moisture makes it easier for your skin to repair itself. Moisture balances the oil on your skin to help prevent breakouts. As you can see, moisture is vital.
We take sometimes drastic measures to treat and prevent crepey skin, but the majority of these activities work from the outside in. Eating and drinking are the only solutions that work from the inside out. Eating provides the vitamins and minerals, but drinking water provides the moisture. That’s why it is just as important—if not more important—to drink at least 8 cups of water every day to keep your skin smooth and healthy.
At first, 8 cups of water every day may seem like an impossible task. Here’s a simple way to squeeze it all in:
- Drink 2 cups of water with breakfast or before you leave the house in the morning.
- Drink 2 cups of water with lunch.
- Drink 2 cups of water with dinner.
- Fill a 16-ounce (2 cups) water bottle and sip from it between meals.
That’s it! It’s really not as difficult as it sounds. Keep in mind that these 8 cups should be just water. No flavoring. No sugar. No added anything. And coffee and tea don’t count toward the total. That’s not to say that you can’t have your coffee in the morning and your iced tea in the afternoon. It just means that you’ll need to drink the 8 cups of clear water in addition to any other liquids.
Surgery or Injections
No discussion about crepey skin would be complete without mentioning surgery and injections. While these procedures can be an effective way to treat wrinkles on certain parts of your body, they’re often ineffective when it comes to treating crepey skin.
Both surgery and injections are invasive procedures. Once completed, they can require up to two weeks or more of recovery time, when you have to be very careful about what comes into contact with your skin. In addition, these options come with a long list of possible side effects, including:
- Temporary or permanent bruising.
- Temporary or permanent discoloration.
- Nerve damage.
- Paralysis of the underlying muscle.
Keep in mind when considering surgery or injections that these types of treatments typically don’t work on the parts of your body where crepey skin forms. The skin on your elbows, knees, brow, and décolleté is thin with very little underlying muscle. Trying to smooth out these areas with surgery or injections just isn’t practical.
We recommend avoiding surgery and injections except as a last resort. And always consult a doctor or dermatologist before undergoing any invasive procedures.
Don't Let Crepey Skin Drag You Down
It’s impossible to avoid aging, but knowing the causes of crepey skin and working to avoid them early in life can help you preserve your youthful complexion. With your new knowledge, you can make healthier decisions and do your best to avoid drastic weight gain or loss, sun exposure, smoking, side-sleeping, and high sugar intake.