What Is "Crepey Skin" & How To Tighten It, From A Derm
The phrase "crepey skin" is constantly flying around the beauty space, but what does it really mean? Crepey skin doesn't refer to deep, imprinted wrinkles or settled expression lines. Yet it's not the same as dry skin, either. To get to the bottom of this textural skin concern, we consulted board-certified dermatologist Hadley King, M.D. Here, she explains what crepey skin actually is and how to encourage the opposite effect.
What is crepey skin?
"Crepey skin is thin and looks finely wrinkled, like crepe paper," King says, hence where it gets its name. "It may also sag or feel loose," she continues. One of the main differences between crepey skin and other kinds of fine lines is the area in which they appear. King says you generally find crepey skin on the upper arms, eyelids, and neck. These areas naturally have thinner skin, and thus begin to sag and "crinkle" earlier than other parts of the body that have a thicker dermis.
In terms of what causes crepey skin, we can boil it all down to a lack of collagen and elastin in the skin, both critical protein compounds that help the skin appear taut and plump. Your collagen levels naturally decline as you age, but other factors like sun exposure and smoking can also influence collagen decline and thus accelerate the appearance of crepey skin.
However, it's important to note that gaining and losing substantial amounts of weight can also contribute to crepey-looking skin, and in those cases, the change in weight would cause the skin to sag, rather than the aforementioned internal factors.
How can you tell if you're dealing with wrinkles, fine lines, or crepey skin? "The skin feels noticeably more fragile and thin," King explains. Essentially, it's more about the texture of the skin than actual etchings.
How to tighten crepey skin.
Similar to wrinkles and fine lines, the earlier you start paying extra attention to these thinner areas, the better. Yes, this means prioritizing sun care, hydration, and topical actives that promote collagen production (such as vitamin C, glycolic acid, and retinol). But that's not the whole picture. To truly combat crepey skin, you'll need to look internally, as that's where the natural skin aging process persists regardless of topical methods.
You see, when you're younger, your collagen production is generally balanced with degradation, but this scale tips as you age because aged fibroblasts produce less collagen1. One way to support your natural balance, research demonstrates, is through collagen supplementation.* Studies show that hydrolyzed collagen peptides are able to enhance your collagen production by stimulating fibroblasts2, those same cells that make collagen and elastin to begin with.*
Of course, not all collagen supplements are created equal. Some collagen supplements work better than others, and we're proud to say our beauty & gut collagen+ blend has been formulated to deliver high-quality and comprehensive results that go far beyond supporting natural collagen balance (read more about our standout ingredients here).*
We know that a lack of skin hydration contributes to skin aging as well, which is why we added hyaluronic acid to our formula. This way, your skin's internal hydration stays supported from the inside out (side note: HA supplementation is great for encouraging joint comfort as well).*
To sum up:
The term "crepey skin" is tossed around left and right in the beauty space, often without much concrete explanation. This term refers to loose, crinkly skin that can be caused by an imbalance in collagen production and degradation, among other factors. Research shows collagen supplements can help, and experts recommend prioritizing topical hydration, too.* Consider adding a nourishing body lotion to your routine to encourage softer, tighter skin—here's our top pick.
Hannah Frye is the Assistant Beauty Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.S. in journalism and a minor in women’s, gender, and queer studies from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Hannah has written across lifestyle sections including health, wellness, sustainability, personal development, and more. She previously interned for Almost 30, a top-rated health and wellness podcast. In her current role, Hannah reports on the latest beauty trends, holistic skincare approaches, must-have makeup products, and inclusivity in the beauty industry. She currently lives in New York City.