Before you freak about looking in the mirror and wondering what happened to your neck, arms, and areas of your face that are sagging and loose, let’s figure out what crepey skin is and how to prevent it. As an aging woman, your skin is vital to your well-being and overall health. It tends to lose its collagen and elasticity based on what you eat, the care your offer, and the specific products you choose to nourish your face and neck.
What is crepey skin?
Crepey skin is thin and looks finely wrinkled like crepe paper, which may also sag or feel loose. While crepey skin is similar to common wrinkles in many ways, the condition tends to impact larger areas, and this skin feels noticeably more fragile and thin. Crepey skin is most common under the eyes and on the upper inner arms.
The causes of crepey skin
Unfortunately, sun damage is the most common cause of crepey skin, but it certainly isn’t the only cause. Crepey skin can also result from aging, a lack of moisture, excessive weight loss, or any combination of these. The ultraviolet light in the sun’s rays break down collagen and elastin in skin that help it stay tight and wrinkle-free, and once these fibers break down, the skin can loosen, thin, sag, and wrinkle.
Age is also a factor. You produce less collagen and elastin — the fibers that help your skin look supple and smooth — the older you get. Pollution, stress, and smoking cigarettes all take a toll on skin over your lifetime and can contribute to visible signs of aging. Know this, as you age, your skin produces less oil than it did when you were younger.
And it’s these oils that create an important lipid barrier that protects your skin and helps seal in moisture. Hormonal changes can also lead to drier skin and less natural oil production. In fact, dryness--for any reason--can cause crepey skin. If you have crepey skin that comes and goes depending on the day or the season, a lack of moisture is most likely the cause.
Ways to prevent crepey skin
It’s incredibly important to properly protect your skin from sun damage to prevent crepey, saggy, and loose skin. If you’re going to be in the sun for lengths of time, always wear proper sunscreen SPF and sun-protective clothing. Slather on a good moisturizer or body lotion, which goes a long way for protecting the skin.
Products with glycerin or hyaluronic acid to prevent or improve the appearance of crepey skin are recommended, as these ingredients pull in and hold moisture so your skin stays hydrated and looks plump. Moisturizing oils like coconut oil, olive oil, and cocoa butter can also help moisturize and soften your skin. While there aren’t any supplements or particular foods that have been shown to improve crepey and loose skin, a well-balanced diet that is high in antioxidants — like the kinds you find in colorful fruits and vegetables — can help support the health of your skin and the rest of your body.
Vitamin C, in particular, may be beneficial for skin health because it plays a role in collagen production. However, eating more antioxidants won’t fix your skin overnight. You can’t go eat a pint of blueberries and expect your skin to look instantly better, but it does help prevent that breakdown of collagen over the years.
Crepey skin treatments
Multiple treatments may be used to reduce crepey skin and improve skin health. Your particular skin, the cause of creping, and the location on your body will determine what treatments are best. Regardless of what you choose, the sooner you treat crepey skin, the easier it will be to create a noticeable change in its appearance, texture, thickness, and support.
Your dermatologist can help you determine the right treatments for your skin and make sure you are on the right track for a glowing neck, face, and upper arm area.
- Dermatological treatments - There’s a host of skin treatments that can improve the appearance of saggy or loose skin. A topical retinoid, for example, encourages the exfoliation and speed of cell turnover. However, these products can be drying and make crepey skin worse if they aren’t also used with proper precautions and a hydrating moisturizer
- Laser treatment - This treatment uses lasers to heat up small areas under your skin, which encourages the growth of new collagen, helping to support your skin and smooth out wrinkling from the inside out. Crepey skin around the eyes responds well to treatment with a dual laser.
- Ultrasound (Ulthera) - Similar to a laser treatment, Ulthera is a skin-tightening procedure that uses targeted ultrasound to heat the supporting tissues below your skin. This intense heat breaks down some of the cells and stimulates the growth of collagen to tighten your skin. This treatment is typically used on the face and neck and not on the upper arm, mainly because topical anesthetics aren’t effective, and nerves in the upper inner arm can make the treatment uncomfortable.
- Cryolipolysis (CoolSculpting) - Cryolipolysis is a noninvasive procedure that helps to remove localized areas of fat. The treatment freezes the lipids in fat cells to cause them to slowly dissolve. Cryolipolysis is used when loose skin is over excess fat, as the treatment tightens skin by removing the fat underneath the surface.
- Fillers - Fillers have become more popular, similar to Botox, in that the treatment can improve the appearance, texture, and thickness of crepey and loose skin. These filling agents are injected into your skin to stimulate the growth of collagen. Typically performed by a professional dermatologist, fillers give your skin a more youthful appearance.
- Surgery - Surgery is most often carried out on people who have lost a large amount of weight and have been left with an excess of crepey skin. A plastic surgeon may recommend an operation to remove the skin, but people should consider this carefully as it does carry some risks.
- Hydration - You can keep your skin hydrated by using a good moisturizer to trap water under the skin to keep it looking young and healthy. Also, drinking adequate amounts of water will also keep the skin hydrated and decrease the drying.
- Nutrition - What you eat can affect your skin dramatically as you age. Try to reduce the chances of developing crepey skin by following a balanced diet, Increase antioxidant-containing foods, such as carotenoids, tocopherols, and flavonoids. Eat foods high in vitamin A, C, D, and E--or take a supplement to stay on top of these crucial skin vitamins, and eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids.
What about over-the-counter treatments?
Skin that is very sun damaged or aged can benefit from products with ingredients like retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, or peptides. When included in skin care products, these ingredients can help encourage new cell growth and remove dead or damaged cells. Lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid can also help to moisturize the skin and improve the skin’s appearance.
Consider at-home treatments
A simple sugar scrub may help remove dry, dead skin cells and improve the appearance of your skin overall. However, the best thing you can do at home is make sure you’re using face and body cleansers that don’t strip your skin of its natural lipid and protein barrier and properly moisturize when you’re done cleansing. Remember that good self-care can help even the most saggy and loose skin just look better.
Although it is similar to wrinkles in many ways, crepey skin is not necessarily linked to old age, however, as you do get into your advanced years, your skin can become more loose and flaccid. Crepey skin typically affects large areas of skin and can make it noticeably more fragile and thin. Sun exposure and poor diet are the two most prominent risks to developing crepey, loose, and saggy skin.
Be sure and moisturize, follow a well-balanced nutrition plan, and stop smoking, and get plenty of rest. Talk with your dermatologist first to understand the severity of your crepey skin, whether you need any types of radical treatment, and to receive their guidance on natural protocols to adhere to in mitigating the dryness. Don’t let crepey skin stop you from living life to the fullest!