It’s an unexpected moment. One minute you’re nonchalantly going about your day and the next minute you happen to just bend your arm a particular way. That’s when you notice it … That weird skin texture that sends shivers up the spine of every woman. Skin crepe (insert horror-themed music).
What is Skin Crepe?
Crepey-looking skin appears more saggy or crinkly than usual. It could be deemed similar to a piece of thin crepe paper or a crêpe – hence the name.
Crepe skin is due to lowered levels of elastin and collagen—proteins that help your skin to stretch, bounce back and stay plump-looking. The thinning of both the top epidermis layer and the deeper dermis layer, as well as a drop in production of these proteins create that crepey appearance.
Now crepey skin should not be confused with wrinkles. Wrinkles are singular marks (or groups of singular marks) caused by repetitive motion over one area of skin. You’ve probably been told at least once in your life to stop worrying or you’ll get worry lines. This isn’t far from the truth. The crease you may see form between people’s eyes is called the “worry crease” as it occurs right on the spot where that expression takes place. Other common wrinkles are the squinting creases we see at the outer edges of the eyes or the smiling creases that tends to happen around the corners of the mouth.
Crepey skin instead affects skin texture, resulting in saggy, crinkly areas, as opposed to a furrowed crease or line.
As you enter your 30s, protein production in your skin begins to gradually drop. These proteins once allowed your skin to stretch and bounce back with youthful suppleness but this drop in proteins results in thinner skin that becomes less efficient at bouncing back. Think of an overstretched waistband or hair tie that gradually stops snapping back over time.
Crepe skin can take years to appear, but it often starts to become noticeable in your 40s – though it may show up earlier or even later. Genetics may also play a significant part in when you first start to notice the signs of crepey skin.
Crepey skin is most often recognizable around those areas that are naturally thinner-skinned like the neck, the decolletage, the face, or the hands.
How Your Lifestyle Causes Crepey Skin
We’ve looked at what causes crepey skin physically but how about what causes it to be brought on earlier or made worse. Outside of age and genetics there are many other factors which can upset the very sensitive collagen and elastin proteins, critical to maintaining a youthful appearance. Let’s take a look:
- Dry Skin – Skin often becomes much drier with age, as less oil is produced, and dehydrated skin can trigger crepey skin.
- Drastic Weight Loss – Crepey skin is thinner skin, caused by a loss of fat. Loss of fat is due to aging but it can also be caused by yo-yo dieting and not looking after ourselves.
- Sun Exposure – Fairer skin tones tend to experience crepey skin faster. African American skin is thought to offer more protection against “photo-aging” from UV light.
- Cigarettes – Cigarette smoke deprives the skin of oxygen and the toxins break down skin elasticity. You only need to look at a long time smoker to see how evident this is.
- A high sugar diet – A diet high in sugar can cause glycation which leads to the stiffening of the proteins collagen and elastin
- Hormones – A decrease in female hormones leads to drier skin and increase the likelihood of crepey skin.
Treatments For Crepey Skin
- Become Sunsmart – Slap on sunscreen every single day – even in the cooler months – and don’t sunbake or use tanning beds. Wear protective clothing in the sun.
- Moisturize, Moisturize! – Combat dry skin and make sure you’re moisturizing your body and face at least twice a day. Choose a cream with glycerin, hyaluronic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid, or glycolic acid which both deeply moisturize and improve the skin’s appearance by gently exfoliating the skin.
- Check Your Cleansers – Ensure that both your face and body cleansers are not so harsh that they strip your skin of its natural lipid and protein barrier.
- Watch Your Diet – Ensure that you’re eating a diet that is low in sugar and high in omega-3 healthy fats which helps to prevent dehydration in cells.
Specialist Options For Crepey Skin
Lastly, there are several more complex options you may also consider for crepe skin. These can be rather expensive, and offer no guarantee, but some people have found success with them.
Fractional laser treatment (Fraxel) – Lasers heat small areas under the skin, which encourages the growth of new collagen.
Ultrasound – Ulthera ultrasound treatment also relies on heat to stimulate collagen growth deep within the skin
Fillers – Injected into the skin to stimulate the growth of collagen, filler (such as Radiesse or Sculptra) can improve the appearance, texture, and thickness of crepey skin.
If you’re currently in your 20s, there’s no time like the present to start taking charge of your skin health. If you’re a little older, and already starting to see the signs of crepe skin, take comfort in the fact that – though we can’t change our age or our genetics – there are plenty of factors that we do have control over. Knowledge is power in combating the visible signs of aging!