Crepey Skin: The Causes & Prevention Tips To Know

Even if you don't have it yet, you've seen it on others: crepey skin. This particular texture is the result of skin that has lost its elasticity, so the fine lines and wrinkles have set up camp, creating the appearance of crepe paper — just like the kind you'd buy at a party store if you needed streamers for a celebration. But in this case, not many like to celebrate.


Although many factors cause crepey skin, like smoking, aging (which means slowed collagen production), or weight loss, the real culprit is the sun. "We often think of sun damage as just causing the effects we see right away — sunburns and suntans, but the long-term and cumulative impact of sun exposure can be much more serious," dermatologist Dr. Young McMahan told U.S. Dermatology Partners. "From increased risk for accelerated aging like fine lines, wrinkles, and crepey skin to more serious concerns like skin cancer, sun damage has potential for serious short and long-term skin health risks."

While there are treatments to help minimize skin crepiness, your best bet is to try to avoid it in the first place. Because crepey skin can show up as early as your 20s if you're big into tanning beds, you want to start taking preventative measures now. 


Wear sunblock

Although crepey skin can creep up onto any part of the body, it's most likely to be on skin that gets a lot of exposure to the elements: hands, arms, neck, chest, and face. That's why it's essential to always wear sunblock when you're outside. "Over time, aggressive or excessive exposure to the sun breaks down elastin in your skin," board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Divya Shokeen, M.D., FAAD told MindBodyGreen. "Elastin usually has the ability to stretch and recoil, but with repeated sun damage it loses the ability to heal properly and so remains stretched. This laxity leads to the appearance of lax or crepey skin."


While you may not be able to stop the aging process completely, by adding SPF to your beauty routine you can at least slow things down a bit. Sunblock should be such a major component in your life, that you never go outside without your hands covered in sunblock, too.

Make healthy choices

According to a 2020 study published in Nutrients, what we eat plays a huge role in our skin health. People who have diets that are rich in whole foods are going to have healthier, younger-looking skin — meaning less crepiness — far longer than those who are a bit more laissez-faire about their nutrition. So make sure your meals consist of foods that are chockfull of vitamins, antioxidants, and protein. In other words, put the kibosh on processed foods.  


Another healthy choice if you want to prevent crepey skin is ditching cigarettes. "Smoking causes constriction of blood flow to your skin, depriving your skin of the necessary oxygen and nutrients, and also leads to harmful free radicals and pollutants that cause further damage to your skin," dermatologist Dr. Michael Kassardjian told Business Insider. Tobacco also kicks the enzyme metalloproteinase (MMP-1) into high gear, which is something you want to avoid because it significantly slows collagen production. If a fear of lung cancer isn't enough for you to quit smoking, maybe a fear of prematurely-aged skin will do it.

Stay hydrated and moisturized

Your body, both inside and out, needs to be hydrated to be healthy and retain its youthful glow. That means making sure you're drinking at last eight glasses of water a day and moisturizing your skin every day. "An intact skin barrier not only protects your body by preventing outside agents (i.e., bacteria) from getting in but also by preventing water from getting out, maintaining hydration and locking in moisture," board-certified dermatologist Jeremy Brauer, M.D. told MindBodyGreen. "When your skin barrier is compromised, there is a greater loss of water, resulting in decreased skin turgor, which ultimately leads to crepey skin."


When investing in moisturizers, you want to look for ones that contain alpha or beta hydroxy acids. As dermatologist Amy Kassouf, MD told Cleveland Clinic that hyaluronic acid is particularly ideal for keeping the crepiness away and even plumping up what crepey skin you might already have.

If you live long enough, you're probably going to end up with crepey skin eventually. But since you do have options to push that confrontation off until the future, you might as well. Of course, crepey skin is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of, but if you'd prefer to avoid it, there are ways to do that.