Why Are My Knees So Wrinkly? The Main Cause & 3 Easy Treatment Tips
We tend to focus all our time and attention on our facial skin care routines. But the truth is that wrinkles can show up anywhere—skin is skin, after all. And sometimes the most unexpected of places can bring us anxiety.
I was recently reminded of this when a friend asked me if her knees looked "old." She's my age, which is to say the very young age of 32. We had a good laugh at the somewhat silly question, but for me, it echoed a sentiment I know all too well: I'm always jumping at the chance to talk about my "old-looking hands" because they're, well, freakishly beyond my years. I'm actually not too hung up on their appearance. I figure all I can do is be diligent with my trusted hand cream, wear sunscreen, and not stress too much about it.
But I still understand the gist of what she was getting at. And honestly, it's very normal to be conscious of an otherwise benign area of the body, knees included.
So here's why knees develop signs of aging and what to do about it.
Why do the knees appear wrinkly?
First things first is that wrinkles and a crepey appearance happen for the same reason, no matter where it is on the body: loss of collagen and elastin, thinning dermis, and cell damage from environmental stressors like the sun. The knees are no different.
However, what makes the skin on the knees unique is their function. The skin over the knees experiences tons of movement and stretch. It's not necessarily the movement that's the problem—creases and lines are part of a well-functioning face—but as you lose vital skin components like collagen, your skin isn't as able to bounce back from these movements.
It's actually the same reason places like your mouth, eyes, and forehead develop fine lines before more stationary parts of the face.
"Over time, these lines will deepen and etch into the skin, similar to the way folding paper will leave a crease," says board-certified dermatologist Cynthia Bailey, M.D., founder of Dr. Bailey Skin Care.
How do you ease the appearance of wrinkly & crepey knees?
The best skin care plan is simple: hydrate, protect, treat.
Moisturize & improve the skin barrier function
The foundation of any healthy aging skin care routine is moisture. This all comes down to the skin barrier function.
Not only will hydration help in the long term, but it offers immediate benefits too. Flooding the skin with moisture can help plump fine lines and make skin appear smoother.
Check out our favorite healthy aging body lotions here.
Protect with sunscreen & antioxidants
Many modern sunscreen formulas are made with antioxidants to help bolster their overall protection. Here are our favorite antioxidant-rich sunscreens.
Treat (responsibly) with potent actives
The above two steps are daily must-do's. Meaning: In order to have healthy, vibrant skin, these need to be part of your skin care routine. Treatment steps are add-ons but can really amp up your results as long as you have the basics down.
For fine lines and crepey skin, retinol is the gold-standard ingredient. Retinol can help skin look younger by increasing cell turnover and activating collagen production.
It's actually become quite the popular ingredient for body formulas, but you can also just apply a facial serum to the area once or twice a week. (Check out our favorite retinol serums here.)
However, retinol does have some drawbacks, so be sure to read up on how to use it here.
Don't stress too much about wrinkly knees—or any body part that might be wrinkly for that matter. Just tend to it with some extra love and care. For more intel on dealing with crepey skin on the legs, read up here.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.