WHAT IS CREPEY SKIN?
Ugly, that’s what it is. Waffled, crepey skin just flat out creeps me out. It’s like a neon sign blinking “this bitch is old, this bitch is old…”
Crepey skin isn’t wrinkles. Wrinkles are lines that are caused from repetitive motions, like smiling or frowning. Wrinkles are earned and respected.
Crepey skin is a whole different thing. It’s defeated skin that’s pissed off you mistreated it your whole life. It waits until you’ve forgotten about it, then outs you in a crowd in all it’s hanging puckered glory as you’re flapping your arms around telling your story.
Okay, a little dramatic I admit. If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you’re a woman over fifty as I am. Do you have any? If you don’t…why? Did I inherit this because I was grossed out by my grandma’s very crepey arms when I was young and silently chastised her smugly convinced hers looked that way because she didn’t get any exercise? I guess Karma’s a bitch, right?
From everything I’ve read, this process begins around the time you approach your 30’s. Your skin begins to lose protein. As the years go on, this causes thinning and sagging of the skin. Peachy.
So let me get this straight. In my 30’s when I was playing volleyball, softball, golfing, off-road single track biking, swimming and as active and fit as I’ve possibly ever been in my life, my skin was nonchalantly prepping itself to throw me this sucker punch in my 50’s? Nice.
Here’s the kicker – I didn’t really notice it happening. I mean, yeah, there were little changes here and there, but nothing major. Then one night I was bent over drying my legs after a relaxing bubble bath. I had gained an extra 20 pounds during the previous months, and I tended to look at my naked self as little as possible.
But that night, all bent over, out of the corner of my eye I noticed something odd. What in the holy HELL? The skin inside my upper arm looked like a half and half mixture of elephant skin and cottage cheese. After a quick body scan, with one eye closed, I also noticed some above my knees, on the top of my lower arms and my neck.
Dear Lord, at some point while I was sleeping I had turned into my Grandma. It hadn’t looked that way yesterday. Did it? OMG did it? I had worn a tank top and shorts and been around people. A lot of them!
I had held my own through most of my fifties with fewer obvious signs of aging than I had expected. That first physical change that your body is aging can be a shock. At least it was for me.
Calling a truce with my crepey skin was one of my first hurdles of learning how to be okay with getting older. Now it seems that each day there’s another little thing here, a little thing there that goes haywire or makes me go “hmmm” to remind me that time is marching on.
Moving on… In case you tuned in late or aren’t clear what we’re referring to, scroll back up to the top of this post and notice those cute little elephants. See their skin? Well, allow me to share another visual…
Okay, so other than the loss of protein in our skin over the years that I mentioned above, what other things might be responsible for this tired, saggy skin?
THINGS THAT MIGHT CONTRIBUTE
- Weight Loss | Weight Gain – As we age, the sudden weight gain and weight loss don’t play well with our skin. When we gain weight, our skin obviously has to stretch to accomodate our expanded girth. When we lose weight (woohoo!) the skin shrinks back. As we age, our skin loses it’s elasticity and doesn’t snap back and stay there as well as it used to. Think of the size and stretchiness of a rubberband right out of the box. Now look at a rubberband you’ve used multiple times. Not as tight and doesn’t stretch back as quickly, right?
- Sun Exposure – Years and years of sun exposure (UV light) can screw with the collagen in your skin causing them to become stiff and inflexible.
- Smoking – We all know that smoking causes premature aging. A lot of smokers or previous smokers have fine lines and puckered skin around the lips and mouth.
- Side and Stomach Sleeping – Either of these positions will cause your face to be smashed against your pillow causing the skin to be pushed into this position for 6-8 hours. Side sleepers – have you looked in the mirror first thing when you wake up? Notice the wrinkles from your bedding in your cheeks?
- Gravity – If something is up, it eventually will come down. Law of gravity. We don’t have a lot of control in this area.
- Age -Our skin isn’t as able to retain it’s moisture as well as it did when we were younger. Dehydrated skin becomes dry skin, and dry skin becomes crepey, wrinkly skin. Bleh.
HOW DO WE FIX IT?
Time travel? Shoulda, coulda, woulda? If our sixteen year-old selves could have had a glimpse at our present selves, would we have done things differently? Been more careful? Speaking for myself probably not. I loved my younger life just as I love my present life. Hey, we age. It’s inevitable. Some of the changes it brings aren’t pleasant, but damn there are some great rewards aren’t there?
I think it’s human nature to want to look the best we can. So what, aside from surgical procedures, can we do ourselves to help reduce the crepey look of our skin? I’ve checked around and found a ton of suggestions. I’ve weeded out the crazy stuff, didn’t even attempt to keep track of the bazillion preferred skin creams, and eliminated the very expensive, and arrived at a partial list to start us off below.
THINGS TO TRY AT HOME
- Massage. If your problem area is neck and face, do self massage on those areas. You may also do self massage on other problem areas such as arms, legs and chest.
- Exercise. For neck and face, do exercises specific to those areas. For arms and legs, resistance training is particularly helpful.
- Hydrate Using Homemade Moisturizers.
- Olive & Honey: Mix olive oil and honey to a consistency that is somewhere between thick and runny. Massage lightly into skin. Leave it as long as possible. Wash off with warm water or shower. Avoid using soap. This mixture surprisingly won’t leave your skin sticky, it will just feel soft from the oil.
- Exfoliate. This helps stimulate collagen production. Use the homemade mixture below.
- Sugar Scrub: Mix equal parts olive oil and sugar until it’s a consistency that doesn’t drip and is easy to spread (play around with this – you’ll get a feel for it and will find the consistency you prefer). Massage into skin for a few minutes, then rinse well with warm water. The sugar lifts dead skin while the oil helps hydrate your skin.
- Drink Lots of Water. Water helps rid the body and skin of toxins. I notice the more water I drink, the more even-toned my skin looks. I can’t find it’s been proven to help crepey skin, but it certainly won’t hurt, right?
- Get Enough Sleep. Lack of sleep ages your skin causing fine lines. Chronic sleep-loss makes your body release more cortisol (stress hormones). Irritable anyone? Get your rest!
If you have crepey skin and it bothers you, give some of the above suggestions a try and please comment below with the results you had. If you have your own method of treatment, feel absolutely free to share below!
I’ll be writing more about most of these treatments in upcoming articles about skincare where I’ll go into each of them in more depth.