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Cracking the code of crepey skin: Causes and prevention

Skincare experts share what you can do about this common sign of aging.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 10, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Kristen Jokela, NP-C
Woman with Crepey Skin
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Nov 10, 2023 • 7 min read
Medically reviewed by Kristen Jokela, NP-C
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

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Have you ever looked at your skin and thought it resembled crepe paper? If your answer is yes, don’t worry—it’s more common than you may think. Crepey skin is one of those things that many of us will encounter, especially as we age. But the good news is that you can take certain preventative measures and use effective treatments to regain that youthful glow in your skin.

Let’s dive deep into what causes crepey skin, how to prevent it, and which effective treatments can help make it an issue of the past. 

What is crepey skin? 

Crepey skin is a bit like the skin’s version of crepe paper: fine, loose, and a bit wrinkled. You’ll often spot it in areas like your face, neck, arms, and legs.¹ It happens due to age-related volume loss². Various treatments and creams may provide some improvement , but nearly everyone encounters crepey skin as they age.

What causes crepey skin? 

Let’s discuss the two main culprits behind crepey skin: sun exposure and aging.

First, let’s tackle the sun. You know how you feel after a day at the beach? Refreshed, but a bit too “crispy?” That’s your skin experiencing what’s known as photoaging. The sun’s rays can wreak havoc on your skin’s elasticity over time, especially if you don’t use sunscreen properly before heading out. So, while a suntan might look good for a few days, the sun’s impact accumulates and can make your skin crepey in the long run.

Now, aging is a part of life we can’t escape. As we age, our skin loses volume and collagen, and what does that lead to? You guessed it: crepey skin. Volume loss due to aging is a key factor in contributing to crepey skin, making your skin loose and finely wrinkled.³

Sun exposure and the passage of time are the main factors behind crepey skin. But don’t worry; there are ways to prevent this harmless but aesthetically frustrating skin condition.

How to prevent crepey skin? 

There are some straightforward ways to keep crepey skin at bay or improve its appearance. These prevention techniques include moisturizing, antioxidants, and sunscreen. Let's break it down.

Moisturizing

Keeping your skin moisturized can help reduce those fine lines and wrinkles that give your skin a crepey texture. Research shows that using the right moisturizers can help you attain more youthful-looking skin.⁴ Curology’s Moisturizer is a solid choice thanks to its hydration-focused formula created by dermatology experts. Its lightweight, buildable nature allows for daily use without feeling heavy.

Antioxidants

Why are antioxidants good for your skin? They help prevent the damage caused by free radicals, which are implicated in various skin conditions and the skin aging process. Antioxidants can neutralize these bad guys, helping to keep your skin healthy, youthful, and safer from diseases.⁵

When it comes specifically to treating crepey skin, a recent study showed that an oil-based anti-aging antioxidant moisturizer showed significant improvements in crepey skin compared to a control group.⁶ Look for products rich in vitamins C, B3, and E. Why these, you ask? Well, these antioxidants can penetrate your skin thanks to their small molecular weight.⁷ So, it’s not just a surface-level treatment.

Sunscreen

Curology's The Sunscreen

Last but certainly not least, sunscreen. Sunscreen isn’t just for beach days; it’s an everyday must. Studies confirm that using SPF can help fight against photoaging.⁸ Which, as mentioned before, leads to crepey skin. Curology has an excellent sunscreen that could be your new go-to.

So, to sum up, keep your skin hydrated with a solid moisturizer, fight off those aging free radicals with antioxidant-rich creams, and don’t skip the sunscreen to help prevent crepey skin. Your skin will thank you!

Treating crepey skin 

If you have crepey skin, there are some treatment options you can consider.

Microfocused ultrasound

First, there’s microfocused ultrasound. One study suggests it’s a safe and effective way to tighten crepey skin, especially around the eyes, chest, arms, and knees. But it can have drawbacks. Some folks felt moderate to severe pain during the treatment, so you might need pain relief; but on the plus side, the benefits last up to a year and a half.⁹ 

Speak to a dermatology provider first to determine if this treatment is best for you.

Hyaluronic acid fillers

Another option is a hyaluronic acid filler called Belotero Balance. This filler blends into your skin smoothly and maintains its structure, even in areas with a lot of movement. It’s not just a temporary fix; it also stimulates your skin to produce more collagen. Effective for up to a year, it may be a good option to help you combat crepey skin.¹⁰

Hyperdilute calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA)

Now, let’s discuss hyperdilute calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA). It sounds like something from a sci-fi movie, right? But it’s an effective treatment that stimulates new collagen and elastin fibers. It’s a non-surgical option with little downtime. So if you’re dealing with sagging or uneven texture along with crepey skin, this is a viable option.¹¹

Enhance your skin with Curology

Crepey skin may naturally emerge as a result of the aging process. Still, you can regain radiant and youthful skin with the proper preventive measures and treatments.

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FAQs

What is crepey skin?

Crepey skin is a condition that manifests as thin, wrinkled, and saggy skin. Commonly affecting areas like your face, neck, arms, and legs, it’s primarily caused by loss of volume and elasticity due to aging, but sun exposure also plays a significant role. Various treatments exist, from over-the-counter moisturizers to more advanced options like microfocused ultrasound.

What is the best thing to do for crepey skin?

The best treatment for crepey skin depends on its severity and your skin type. Options include moisturizers, hyaluronic acid fillers like Belotero Balance, and procedures like microfocused ultrasound. These can improve skin elasticity and appearance, some with longer-lasting effects. Consulting a dermatology provider can help you choose the most effective treatment.

What is the main cause of crepey skin?

The leading causes of crepey skin are aging and sun exposure. Let’s remember that aging is a normal process! Aging leads to a natural loss of skin volume and elasticity, resulting in thin, wrinkled skin. Sun exposure accelerates this process through photoaging, damaging your skin’s elasticity. The combination of these factors can exacerbate the appearance of crepey skin.

Does elastin grow back?

Elastin doesn’t naturally grow back in the same way that some tissues regenerate, especially in adults.¹² However, specific treatments like hyperdilute calcium hydroxylapatite (CaHA) aim to stimulate the production of new collagen and elastin fibers, improving skin elasticity and quality.¹³

Can antioxidants help crepey skin?

Antioxidants can combat free radical damage, potentially improving your skin’s appearance and texture. That said, options like hyaluronic acid fillers or microfocused ultrasound may be more effective for targeted treatment of crepey skin.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Sasaki, G.H. and Tevez, A. Microfocused Ultrasound for Nonablative Skin and Subdermal Tightening to the Periorbitum and Body Sites: Preliminary Report on Eighty-Two Patients. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications. (August 2012).

  2. Sundaram, H. and Fagien, S. Cohesive Polydensified Matrix Hyaluronic Acid for Fine Lines. Plast Reconstr Surg. (November 2015).

  3. Sundaram, H. and Fagien, S. Cohesive Polydensified Matrix Hyaluronic Acid for Fine Lines. Plast Reconstr Surg. Ibid.

  4. Li, J., et al. Improved appearance of facial wrinkles with use of a cosmetic moisturizer containing olive derivative, dill seed extract, Pal-KTTKS, and niacinamide. JAAD. (April 2013).

  5. Addor, F.A.S. Antioxidants in dermatology. An Bras Dermatol. (May-June 2017).

  6. Rawlings, A.V., et al. The effect of a vitamin A palmitate and antioxidant-containing oil-based moisturizer on photodamaged skin of several body sites. J Cosmet Dermatol. (March 2013).

  7. Ganceviciene, R. et al. Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermatoendocrinol. (2012, July 1).

  8. Guan, L.L., et al. Sunscreens and Photoaging: A Review of Current Literature. Am J Clin Dermatol. (2021, August 13).

  9. Sasaki, G.H. and Tevez, A. Microfocused Ultrasound for Nonablative Skin and Subdermal Tightening to the Periorbitum and Body Sites: Preliminary Report on Eighty-Two Patients. Journal of Cosmetics, Dermatological Sciences and Applications. Ibid.

  10. Sundaram, H. and Fagien, S. Cohesive Polydensified Matrix Hyaluronic Acid for Fine Lines. Plast Reconstr Surg. Ibid.

  11. Sundaram, H. and Fagien, S. Cohesive Polydensified Matrix Hyaluronic Acid for Fine Lines. Plast Reconstr Surg. Ibid.

  12. Kothapalli, C.R. and Ramamurthi, A. Induced Elastin Regeneration by Chronically-Activated Smooth Muscle Cells for Targeted Aneurysm Repair. Acta Biomater. (January 2010).

  13. Lorenc, Z.P., et al. Skin Tightening With Hyperdilute CaHA: Dilution Practices and Practical Guidance for Clinical Practice. Aesthet Surg J. (2022, January 1).

Kristen Jokela is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner at Curology. She obtained her Master of Science in Nursing at the University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Kristen Jokela, NP-C

Kristen Jokela, NP-C

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