Fine lines and wrinkles are so last year. How about when your skin starts folding and hanging? That’s when it gets real. Tightening loose skin is no simple task—and is in many ways harder than smoothing lines and wrinkles—but luckily, there are many solutions out there that don’t involve going under the knife. And our favorites happen to be those that don’t even require leaving the house.
What Causes Sagging Skin?
As we get older, skin aging can become a bit of an uphill battle. Over time, we naturally produce less and less collagen and elastin, two proteins that provide volume and elasticity to the skin. To top it off, the connective tissue that supports our bones and cartilage also weakens with age, causing the fat that was previously distributed nice and evenly below the skin surface to succumb to gravity, forming clumps that hang down. UV exposure, smoking, drinking, poor diet, and extreme weight loss can all expedite this not-so-flattering process.
9 Skin Tightening Treatments To Try At Home
Here’s our round-up of the simplest skin tightening home remedies you can conquer without ever leaving your couch.
1. Face Yoga
You may have already written off the plump, firm skin of your youth, but don’t be so convinced. That volume loss can often be offset with a little muscle mass. Meet facial yoga: a favorite of Meghan Markle—and the new workout your skin’s been missing. It improves muscle tone and stimulates circulation, which allows more oxygen and nutrients to reach the cells for a healthier, glowing complexion. And it’s shown some pretty promising results in research studies.
Here’s a good one for skin tightening under the chin, one of the most popular problem areas: With your head facing straight ahead, place your fingers at the base of your neck, and gently pull the skin downward as you tip your head back. Tilt the head down again towards the chest, and repeat two more times.
As with any kind of exercise, you’ll have to put in some work. Facial yogis recommend as many as six 20-minute sessions a week, but you should start to see some positive changes as soon as the two-week mark.
Retinoids are by no means a newcomer to the anti-aging game. But in a trend-driven, fickle industry like skincare, there’s got to be a reason when something sticks around for this long. Retinoids are clinically proven to reverse signs of skin aging—and they may be the most researched and validated non-invasive anti-aging treatment out there. When it comes to addressing elasticity and sagging skin specifically, few topical ingredients even come close. If you’re new to retinoids, start slow, as they can be irritating to unaccustomed skin.
3. Silicone Patches
Looking for a pain-free, chemical-free, no-mess, no-hassle solution for sagging skin? Who isn’t? Silicone patches are comfy, stick-on pads that adhere to the skin and train it into place, flattening out wrinkles and plumping up depleted skin. The SiO Beauty FaceLift covers most of the top complaint areas when it comes to sagging (the brow area, eyes, and even neck), but the full product line checks off just about every nook and cranny of your face and décolletage, so definitely explore your options!
4. Egg White Masks
Egg white masks are a tried-and-true way to make your skin feel tighter and look more radiant. Egg whites contain a protein called albumin which may help to improve resilience in the skin. It’s also super hydrating, which gives the surface texture a firmer, smoother appearance.
To make a DIY mask, combine one egg white with a teaspoon of lemon juice and a teaspoon of raw honey (for added humectant and antibacterial benefits). Smooth the mixture over your face, and allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
A word of caution: Make sure you don’t have any open wounds or broken skin before using and wash your hands well when you’re done.
5. Clay Masks
The biggest perpetrator behind drooping skin is a lack of collagen that once held it taut. Natural clay has actually demonstrated an ability to enhance collagen synthesis, which strengthens the core of the skin and results in a lifted, toned look. Clay also has the added benefit of extracting impurities and shrinking the pores.
To try it out, mix about two tablespoons of bentonite or kaolin clay with enough water (or rosewater if you’re feeling fancy!) to form a thick paste. Apply it evenly to the face and neck, then leave it on for about 15 minutes before rinsing well with cool water.
6. Dark Chocolate
Best news ever! A scientific study revealed that daily consumption of cocoa flavanols (a naturally-occurring compound in cacao beans) enhanced elasticity, diminished wrinkles, and improved signs of sun damage. Not all chocolate bars are created equally, so look for those with high levels of flavanols, 70-80% or higher cacao content, and non-Dutch varieties (because they’re lower in antioxidants). There you go... the excuse you’ve been waiting for to eat chocolate on the daily.
7. Witch Hazel
About ready to cast a spell on that sagging skin? Us too. Witch hazel is a plant extract that comes from the leaves and bark of the hamamelis virginiana shrub. It dates back centuries to Native American medicinal tradition, and it’s pretty ubiquitous today at health and beauty stores around the world. You’ll find it as a key player in skin tightening face creams and toners because it’s really good at shrinking pores, soothing inflammation, and improving skin tone. Witch hazel contains polyphenols (plant compounds that activate skin enzymes that boost skin elasticity). To reap its many benefits, skin tightening included, moisten a cotton pad nightly with alcohol-free witch hazel and apply it with upward strokes to your face, neck, chest, and anywhere else that could benefit from a little firm-up.
8. Coconut Oil
The millennial’s favorite fix-all strikes again. Virgin coconut oil is rich in antioxidants that protect the skin cells from harmful free radicals. Studies have shown coconut oil to have a positive effect on the skin barrier, skin aging, photoaging, and inflammation, with the added ability to increase collagen production and collagen turnover. Obviously, this is all great news for those of us looking to do something about our loose skin because chances are, you already have coconut oil in your pantry or medicine cabinet. Coconut oil is ultra-soothing, gentle, and perfect for sensitive skin. But if you’re acne-prone, you may want to start with a small area and see how your skin reacts before going all in.
Here’s one you might not have ready at arm’s reach, but it just might be worthy of a spot in your Amazon cart. Microneedling is the act of rolling tiny needles over the skin to create controlled injury and prompt skin healing and cell turnover. Microneedling has been praised for its impressive effects on a wide range of skin issues, including scar healing, acne, and various signs of aging. One recent study declared that “four microneedling treatments of facial skin, spaced four weeks apart, significantly improve lines, wrinkles, skin laxity, and skin texture.” The key here, for our purposes: its effect on skin laxity. Now, if paying a visit to the medical spa or dermatologist’s office is your thing, snag an appointment stat. But for those of us homebodies, there is no shortage of roll-on microneedling tools, often called dermal rollers, on the market. They may not pierce the skin as deeply as the medical-grade versions, but they are still an effective and accessible skin-tightening solution.
What About At-Home Skin Tightening Machines?
Beyond the natural skin tightening kitchen concoctions and drug store remedies, there are some pretty fancy tech tools you can use from home, too. They’re usually less-powerful versions of the kinds of services offered by a licensed esthetician, but that often makes them less painful or intense, which may be a plus. And they are certainly more cost-effective and convenient.
Two popular options are Radio Frequency (RF) machines and microcurrent devices. RF offers serious tightening for thighs and abs, in addition to the face and neck, and it’s safe for all skin tones. Microcurrent is another buzzy solution for facial contouring and firming that uses a painless, low-level current, which can provide long-term anti-aging results.
Don’t let anyone tell you you’ve got to pay big bucks or undergo painful, invasive procedures—let alone leave your house—to see an improvement in your sagging skin. There is a buffet of at-home options at your fingertips, and between advancing technology and scientific research on what causes premature skin aging and how to counter the process, it’s no wonder that facelifts, forehead lifts, and the like are trending downward. Natural topical ingredients can offer hydration, vasoconstriction (the narrowing of blood vessels that create a firming effect), and protection from the sun, and although the results may be less immediate than more intense procedures, over time they can have pretty striking results.