Crepey skin is a common skin concern that takes on the look of crepe paper due to loss of elasticity. It’s characterized by dryness, wrinkling or fine lines, and thinning. In some cases, crepey skin can also be accompanied by sagging.
Crepiness can affect many visible body parts, such as the cheeks, upper arms, and chest, making those who have it dissatisfied with their appearance. Fortunately, you can heal crepey skin — so you can enjoy how your skin looks again.
In this guide from Nourishing Biologicals, we will explain the main causes of crepey skin and provide an overview of the different evidence-based ways it can be fixed.
What Causes Crepey Skin?
Crepey skin is caused by the degradation of collagen and elastin in the skin, which are proteins that keep the skin firm, supple, and elastic.
Genetics can certainly play a role in crepey skin, with those who have lighter skin tones being more likely to develop this skin concern. However, lifestyle factors play a much bigger role in crepey skin.
Essentially, the things we know are “unhealthy” contribute to skin problems. Some lifestyle behaviors have a much greater effect on your skin than others.
These are some of the main causes of crepey skin:
1. Sun Damage
Sunlight may just be the biggest factor in skin aging. According to some estimates, up to 80% of skin aging is due to the sun's harmful UV rays.
The sun contributes to sunspots, dryness, and hyperpigmentation and can also break down collagen and elastin in the skin.
The result? Greater likelihood of crepey skin.
The ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun consists of two types of waves: UVA and UVB. UVB has short wavelengths and is responsible for burning the skin. On the other hand, UVA has long rays that can penetrate deep into the skin, degrading collagen and elastin.
A little sun exposure is healthy, pleasurable, and even necessary. It is, after all, the best way to make vitamin D. To practice healthy sun exposure, you want to get about 10 minutes of UVB exposure, which is highest during midday. After this, however, there are very few benefits of staying in the sun.
As healthy as UVB rays are, you want to avoid UVA rays. These rays are out when it’s overcast. In addition, they can penetrate through windows. So, unless you’re getting intentional sun exposure, you want to wear sunscreen with at least SPF 30, avoid tanning beds, and cover up with long sleeves.
2. Rapid Weight Gain
When you gain weight too quickly, you stretch your skin without giving it time to adjust. Too many instances of rapid weight gain — especially if followed by weight loss — can make the skin more lax, leading to a crepey appearance.
What’s considered “rapid” weight gain depends on the individual. Some people have skin that’s better able to handle rapid weight fluctuations. But as a rule of thumb, you should avoid anything more than 10 pounds per month.
Smoking is one of the worst things you can do for your skin’s health and appearance.
Cigarettes can directly break down collagen and elastin, increase skin dryness, reduce healthy circulation, and fill your body with toxins. As such, it’s not surprising that those who smoke experience much faster rates of skin aging, which includes crepiness.
Aside from making you reach for skin-damaging junk food, high rates of emotional stress can increase blood levels of cortisol. This is a stress hormone that’s healthy in small amounts. However, if it’s constantly released, it can break down essential proteins in the body, including collagen and elastin.
Skin moisture comes from both outside and inside.
We know the importance of keeping our skin hydrated with moisturizing lotions, but what about keeping the skin moisturized from the inside?
Not drinking enough water can give you dry skin, which is less resilient to external stressors. This makes it more likely to become crepey due to sun exposure, weight gain, and the effects of emotional stress.
How Can You Hydrate Crepey Skin?
A holistic solution is needed to bring hydration back to crepey skin. This includes hydrating from both the inside and the outside.
Internally, it’s important to drink plenty of hydrating fluids. This includes filtered water, mineral water, herbal teas, and freshly-squeezed juices.
It’s also important to avoid drinking too many caffeinated beverages, as this can increase dehydration. Alcohol should also be avoided — for many reasons, which include dehydration.
Externally, you can hydrate crepey skin with a skincare routine containing active ingredients that are clinically proven to bring moisture to the skin.
At Nourishing Biologicals, we believe in the healing power of botanicals. Our Moisturizing Body Lotion uses a combination of avocado seed oil, jojoba seed oil, and shea butter to restore hydration, protect the skin barrier, and soften the skin.
Other important ingredients for increasing skin hydration include hyaluronic acid, glycerin, squalene, and ceramides. It might take some experimentation to find the best ingredients for your skin.
What Are Some Other Ways To Fix Crepey Skin?
Increasing hydration can provide a modest improvement in the appearance of crepey skin, but some cases may require additional solutions and skincare products. Fortunately, there are various ways to increase crepey skin healing, including the following five strategies.
1. Topical Retinol
Considered the gold standard in anti-aging skincare, retinol is a vitamin A derivative, known as a retinoid, that can penetrate deep into the skin. Retinol can ramp up the body’s natural collagen production and support healthy skin cell turnover. Some studies show that only one month of retinol use is enough to produce significant changes in skin thickness.
2. Non-Invasive Procedures
The world of cosmetic dermatology has made incredible progress in recent years. If you visit your dermatologist’s office, you’re bound to see various advertisements for peels, lasers, and many other procedures that drastically improve the appearance of aging skin.
For crepey skin, some procedures are more effective than others.
Of the most-recommended procedures for crepey skin is microneedling. Using a pen with tiny needles, this procedure makes microscopic punctures in the skin. While this initially damages the skin, it also mobilizes the body’s natural repair process, increasing collagen production and skin elasticity.
Microneedling can be combined with a radiofrequency treatment, which uses radio waves to heat and tighten the upper skin layer. Radiofrequency can also be done on its own. However, it’s best when combined with other techniques.
You may also consider fillers to address crepey skin. Some fillers, like Sculptra, not only smooth out the skin but can stimulate collagen production and lead to a gradual improvement long after the procedure is done. In addition, many fillers can last as long as two years.
3. Supplement With Collagen
A collagen supplement is essentially a protein powder with higher amounts of glycine and proline — two amino acids important for elastin and collagen production. Giving your body an extra dose of these amino acids can help to support this process. Collagen may be more supportive of this process compared to regular protein powder.
While it may sound too simple a solution to crepey skin, plenty of studies show the effectiveness of collagen supplements. For instance, one 2013 double-blind placebo-controlled trial showed that collagen supplements significantly improved amounts of elastin in the skin compared to a placebo. What’s more, the results were visible after just four weeks of supplementation.
Collagen isn’t associated with any negative side effects. With its impressive results in the clinical literature, it’s certainly worth giving this supplement a try.
4. Try Intermittent Fasting
Did you know that your body recycles damaged skin cells? It does this through autophagy, which is very important for skin health.
Due to many reasons (e.g., exposure to toxins), this process can become less effective over time. The result? An accumulation of dead skin cells that promotes a crepey appearance.
Fasting is an effective way to promote autophagy. If you are new to it, many guides can serve as a primer.
Essentially, you want to decrease your feeding window as much as possible. You can start gradually, such as by skipping breakfast, and increase your fasting window as you build tolerance.
5. Build Muscle
If your crepey skin is accompanied by sagging, building muscle can help promote firmness while filling out the skin. In addition, strength training can promote healthy blood circulation, which may improve the appearance of crepey skin.
Healing Crepey Skin With Nourishing Biologicals
There are plenty of ways to heal crepey skin. From increasing hydration to using topical retinol to undergoing a non-invasive procedure, you can have smooth and firm skin again.
To support you in your skin healing journey, Nourishing Biologicals has a variety of products that are clinically shown to increase skin hydration. Discover our selection of products — for your most beautiful skin yet.
Effect of the sun on visible clinical signs of aging in Caucasian skin | PMC
Smoking and Skin Aging in Identical Twins | JAMA Dermatology
Impact of Smoking and Alcohol Use on Facial Aging in Women: Results of a Large Multinational, Multiracial, Cross-sectional Survey | NCBI
A comparative study of the effects of retinol and retinoic acid on histological, molecular, and clinical properties of human skin | Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology
Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study | NCBI
Intermittent Fasting 101 — The Ultimate Beginner's Guide | Healthline
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