Crepey skin, like the ability to pull off the scent of Chanel No. 5, is just one of those things that comes with age. It happens when skin loses its collagen and elastin so it can’t bounce back the way it used to. This results in sagging and crinkling, which makes our skin look like, well, crepe paper, hence the a-little-too-on-the-nose name.
While the fact that it’s going to happen is pretty much inevitable for many of us, if it’s something that bugs you there are a few things you can do to manage it—both inside and outside of the dermatologist’s office. So we chatted with the pros to find out why crepey skin happens, how you can prevent it, and how to get rid of crepey skin (if you so choose).
First things first: Why does crepey skin happen?
To put it simply: Age. But there’s a bit more to it than that. “Crepey skin occurs when your skin grows thin and loses its ability to return to normal after being stretched,” explains Andrew Ordon, MD, FACS, a California-based plastic surgeon. “It tends to impact larger areas, as opposed to wrinkles, which usually form from facial expressions such as smiling, frowning, or squinting. It affects the skin’s texture, resulting in saggy, crinkly areas, as opposed to a furrowed crease or lines that are known as wrinkles.”
Everyone loses collagen and elastin as they age, but crepiness tends to happen more frequently to people in certain demographics. “The most susceptible to crepey skin are those with fair skin, individuals over 40, and those with greater sun exposure damage,” says Amy Perlmutter, MD, at New York Dermatology. Factors that can exacerbate crepey skin include UV exposure, dehydration, hormone changes, substantial weight fluctuations, and pollution.
“A lot of the reason crepey skin happens is dryness, a lot of it happens with age, when our muscles shrink a little bit or skin kind of wrinkles because there’s nowhere for it to go, and sun damage is a big part of it,” says Ellen Marmur, MD, an NYC dermatologist. While it tends to be most common in larger areas of your body like your chest and neck, it can also occur on your face. “Facial crepey skin happens around the eyes, and around where you smile and some people get what my patients call ‘corduroy’ along the cheeks and jawline,” says Dr. Marmur, referring to the fine, close-set lines that you might notice in that area.
Before crepiness happens, your best bet is to try to stave it off by practicing healthy habits through good diet, sleep, and exercise, and staying far away from the sun. And also? Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. “Moisturizing is key toward preventing wrinkles and crepey skin. Just because winter is over, doesn’t mean your moisturizer should go into hibernation. No matter how much oil skin produces, a good moisturizer is crucial for soft, smooth skin,” says Dr. Ordon.
How to get rid of crepey skin at the dermatologist’s office
According to Dr. Marmur, the solution for how to treat crepey skin is two-fold, and takes place largely in the dermatologist’s office.
1. Lasers: First come fractional (or fraxel) lasers, which replenish the elastin and help put the stretch back into the skin. “The fractional lasers are boosting your collagen with a laser, which also helps put the moisture in your skin,” she explains. Take note: There is substantial downtime from this kind of a laser so you want to do it well in advance of any big event.
2. Fillers: Another solution is looking to hyaluronic acid-based fillers to add back some suppleness. “The fillers are actually humectants themselves, and just like a hyaluronic acid cream or serum is going to hold water to the top of the skin to hydrate.”
How to get rid of crepey skin at home
1. Boost collagen: And then, there are the topicals, which don’t require a trip to the dermatologist’s office to use. Dr. Ordon works closely with the brand Crepe Erase, a cream that he recommends to patients to help reverse signs of aging in the body. “It contains powerful phytonutrients that support healthy collagen and elastin to help maintain your skin’s natural elasticity,” he says.
2. Exfoliate: Dr. Marmur also suggests moisturizing masks that tap ingredients such as alpha-hydroxy acids to help even skin and hyaluronic acid and emollient ingredients to keep it moisturized and plump.
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