What Causes Crepey Skin And How To Fix It

Written by Jessica Cyrell — January 21, 2020

What Causes Crepey Skin And How To Fix It

Crepey skin got you down? You’re not alone. Loose, puckered skin has a number of different causes, but if one thing’s for sure, time is not on our side! True, it’s a common side effect of aging, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s beyond our control. There are plenty of options for tackling crepey skin, both in and out of the dermatologist’s office.

What Is Crepey Skin?

Crepey skin is pretty much what it sounds like. Fragile, thin, crepe paper-like skin that often appears around the eyes, décolletage, inner upper arms, and legs. It usually makes its first appearance in our 40s, although it can also strike as early as our 20s, depending on genetic makeup, skin type, and various external factors. Unlike wrinkles and folds, crepey skin usually covers a larger area and is not caused by the kind of repeated movements that create lines (like smile lines or frown lines, for example).

What Causes Crepey Skin?

Generally speaking, crepey skin occurs due to collagen depletion as we get older. Loss of collagen is normal as we age, but how fast it goes down can vary depending on our lifestyles and behaviors. For example, sun damage from excessive sun exposure (especially if you have fair or sensitive skin), smoking, and drinking alcohol can all accelerate the reduction of collagen and elastin (the protein in our skin that normally keeps it smooth and taut). It also doesn’t do us any favors that skin produces less oil as we age, which is why it’s extra important to moisturize. Dry skin is crinkly skin!

How to Get Rid of Crepey Skin: 6 Effective Treatments

Here are some stellar options you can take to delay or decrease the appearance of crepey skin—both topical and professional treatments for the win.

1. Moisturizing and Firming Ingredients

A lot of skincare products claim to be “anti-aging,” “firming,” or “smoothing.” With so many choices, how do you know what will actually work? In a moisturizer, you want to look for emollient ingredients like glycerin, olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter—as well as phytonutrients like ginseng, cinnamon, and dill extracts, which have all demonstrated an ability to smooth and improve elasticity.

2. Skincare Acids

When it comes to crepey skin, your plan of action should include not only moisturizing and nourishing but also hydrating and exfoliating. The latter is where acids come into play. Hyaluronic acid is a water-binding molecule that occurs naturally in our skin, and it’s a big part of what gives youthful skin a bouncy, pliable texture. When the skin becomes dry and papery, hyaluronic acid serums are a great way to replenish our natural supply. Other acids such as alpha-hydroxy acids (which include lactic acid and glycolic acid), beta-hydroxy acids like salicylic acid, and retinoic acid (also known as vitamin A) exfoliate and stimulate the skin repair process to reveal fresh, rejuvenated skin.

3. Hydrating Masks and Patches

In addition to your daily routine, it’s never a bad idea to supplement with a weekly or twice-weekly moisture mask. You can always DIY a yogurt and honey mask or avocado and eggwhite mask, both of which are excellent choices full of humectant and healthy acidic properties—but sometimes you’re not in the mood to whip something up or risk dripping breakfast ingredients onto your couch. We love the mindlessness of a silicone patch, which you can stick on your facedécolletagehands, or anywhere that crepiness strikes. You can even put them on before bed and allow them to work their magic while you sleep. They hug the skin surface, flattening fine lines and locking in moisture, so you can see and feel a major difference in texture and hydration. SiO Beauty makes a wide range of patches to fit just about every area affected by loose, crinkled skin.

silicone patches for wrinkles

4. Antioxidant Serums

“Antioxidant” is a word that’s frequently thrown around in skincare circles. But what does it mean? Antioxidants are natural compounds that block or delay cell damage by removing harmful waste particles, known as free radicals, from our cells. Free radicals can come from pollution, smoking, UV rays, or other toxins, and they wreak havoc on our skin, causing premature aging in the form of loose skin, wrinkles, and even hyperpigmentation, among other doozies. But antioxidant ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, lutein, and lycopene all can help to neutralize free radicals, strengthening the skin’s protective barrier and diminishing the appearance of fine lines and puckered texture. So, get ahold of a serum containing some of these potent antioxidants, and you’re one step closer to gleaming skin.

5. Dermal Fillers

When we lose collagen and elastin fibers over time, we’re actually saying goodbye to the structural elements of the skin that keep the cells firm and standing tall, which can result in a sagging effect. Fillers can help replace some of that structure by filling in the gaps. Radiesse or Sculptra, known as biostimulatory fillers, can thicken and smooth the skin texture, while hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvederm and Restylane plump and hydrate. And, while fillers offer the quickest fix, as an added bonus, they may also stimulate the body’s own anti-aging capabilities for long-lasting benefits.

6. Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy (RLT), also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT), has long been a popular treatment and alternative to painful laser procedures when it comes to wrinkles and skin firming, and it’s performed quite well in studies. In contrast with lasers, RLT doesn’t cause painful damage to the skin surface, instead gently penetrating through to the deeper layers of the skin to repair from the inside out. RLT can be performed at medical offices for more serious skin conditions like psoriasis and wound-healing, but for more common texture issues, you can also buy your own at-home device to fight crepiness on the regular.

Natural Home Remedies to Try

You don’t have to drop major cash or waste hours at the beauty store and dermatologist’s office to experience smooth, firm skin. Nature offers some of the best remedies out there to both treat and prevent crepey skin. And the best part? You can enjoy them from the comfort of your own home.

Plant-Based Oils

Just cut to the chase. Get your hands on all-natural, skin-smoothing oils in their purest form. Olive oil, coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter can all work well on both the face and body, although if you’re acne-prone, it’s worth doing a patch test first, just to be safe.

Sugar Scrubs

A homemade sugar scrub is an effective and gentle physical exfoliator that you can easily make at home by combining two parts granulated sugar with one part oil of your choice (we love avocado, olive, or coconut). Exfoliating not only physically removes the top layer of dry skin, but it also increases blood flow and promotes cell turnover, which translates to a creamy, soft, polished skin surface (goals!).

Coffee Masks

But first, coffee? Caffeine has exhibited significant antioxidant properties that help protect against photoaging caused by UV radiation as well as encourage the microcirculation of blood in the skin. So, just as it wakes us up in the morning, it can also wake up those skin cells, resulting in a nourished and refreshed-looking skin surface. Coffee grounds specifically may even help to slow the decrease of collagen production that we naturally experience as we age, keeping crepey skin at bay. To reap the benefits of a coffee face mask, mix ¼ teaspoon of finely ground spent coffee grounds with one tablespoon of plain yogurt (yogurt contains lactic acid, another skin hero that both brightens and exfoliates). Gently massage the mixture into your face, neck, or anywhere else in need of a tune-up, and leave on for five minutes before rinsing thoroughly with warm water. Ta-da!

The Last Word

Whether your crepey skin stems from dryness, sun exposure, bad habits, or the normal effects of aging, it’s not too late to push pause. You may prefer to leave it to the professionals, or maybe you’d rather take matters into your own hands. But moisture masks, exfoliating scrubs, injectable fillers, and light therapy are just a handful of solutions that can help you ditch that crepey skin for good.

crepey skin