Do you look younger than your age?
We all want to. That’s what natural skin care is all about, right? (In addition to keeping skin healthy, of course.)
Even if you’re doing a good job on your face, though, there may be a place that you’re neglecting that can quickly betray your age.
What is it?
Your neck and chest area, or “décolletage,” as it’s often called.
A 2013 survey revealed that many women are just as concerned about the crepey skin on their neck and chest as they are with the lines on their faces.
Indeed, most of us neglect the neck and chest until we start to notice these issues. Of course, crepey skin can show up on our faces, too, so this post is all about how you can smooth it away, no matter where it shows up!
What is Crepey Skin?
Crepey skin is that loose, thinning skin that begins to appear as we age. It gets its name from “crepe paper,” which is also loose and thin and flaccid, and drapes wherever we hang it.
Crepey skin seems to do the same-it gradually loses it shape and falls, creating fine lines, wrinkles, and a general “pulled out of shape” appearance.
Most crepey skin is caused by sun damage. Over the years, UV rays injure and stretch the elastin and collagen fibers in the skin, wearing away at the netting-like structure that keeps skin strong and fortified.
We also tend to produce less new collagen and elastin as we get older, so we don’t have the supply needed to make the necessary repairs.
Imagine the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin as rubber bands. Over the years, they stretch and contract and stretch again-the fibers becoming damaged by UV rays, pollution, poor diet, stress, and other factors-and the skin gradually loses the battle against these elements. Whereas when we’re young the skin can repair the damage and shore up the fibers again, when we get older, it’s not as easy, and the skin starts to sag and droop.
How Does Crepey Skin Differ from Wrinkles?
Though both wrinkles and crepey skin have similar causes, and may appear together on the skin, there is a slight difference between the two.
Whereas wrinkles are typically creases or crevices in the skin created in areas where the skin typically moves (your “expression lines”), crepey skin is characterized mostly by its “thinness,” and tends to create shallower lines that “ripple” together. Whereas wrinkles fold in, creating an indentation, crepey skin folds out, creating waves.
Crepey skin is also greatly affected by gravity. Most people first notice crepey skin around their eyes, but other areas that are prone to being pulled down as we age are also susceptible. That’s why we notice crepey skin on our necks, and why women get it on their chests, particularly in the cleavage area. The breasts pull down at the skin, which increases the risks of that crepey appearance.
Other areas that may be affected include under the chin, under the arms, and on the elbows, knees, and hands.
7 Ways to Prevent and Treat Crepey Skin
Whether you’re already noticing crepey skin or you want to prevent it, the following 7 steps will help.
1. Protect your skin from the sun.
The sun is enemy number-one when it comes to the skin. It accelerates the formation of wrinkles, and it does the same with crepey skin. That means that one of the best things you can do is to protect your skin from UV rays.
Remember-it’s not only sunscreen that’s needed, here. Clothing is one of the best defenses against UV damage, as is shade. Stay out of the sun during the most intense hours between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m., and when you are out in the sun, make sure to use a physical sunblock like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
2. Moisturize regularly.
Hydrated skin not only helps prevent that crepey appearance, but it can also help camouflage any crepiness that you may already have. Choose moisturizers that sink deep into the skin, like shea butter, natural oils, and antioxidants. Don’t forget to apply to your neck and chest as well as your face.
3. Use an anti-aging serum.
Most of us have gotten used to using an anti-aging serum on our faces, but we forget to do the same on the neck and chest. You can change that now. Before applying your moisturizer, apply an anti-aging solution to these areas.
Look for ingredients like vitamin C, which protects against sun damage, and beta hydroxy acids like lactic acid and glycolic acid to help slough off dead skin cells and reveal more youthful skin. You may also want to consider retinol, which helps to restore elasticity and thicken collagen. Just make sure that you keep skin moisturized at the same time-retinol can be drying in some cases.
4. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ, and it needs nutrients just like your heart and lungs to perform optimally. Diets that are high in antioxidants-which are present in all fruits and vegetables-are most helpful when it comes to supporting skin repair. Eat more berries, leafy greens, pecans, and kidney beans.
5. Cut back on sugar.
Excess sugar in the body can contribute to collagen and elastin breakdown. That sugar stimulates a process called “glycation,” in which sugar molecules bond to protein or fat molecules and create “advanced glycation end products (AGEs).” These damage protein fibers in the skin, making them stiff and inflexible.
Glycation is especially harmful to collagen and elastin, so if you’re eating a lot of sugary foods every day-or even simple carbohydrates like white bread and white sugar that can quickly break down into sugar in the bloodstream-you may be harming the structure of your skin from the inside.
Choose natural fruits for your desserts, as they contain fiber that helps delay sugar spikes in the bloodstream. Then try to cut back on sugar in your diet as a whole. Remember that sugar can hide in your breads, yogurts, soups, condiments, and juices.
6. Drink more water.
Skin also needs hydration from the inside-out. If you’re not getting enough water every day, your skin is going to show that lack of hydration in is appearance. Even slight dehydration can make crepey skin look even worse, so be sure you’re taking a water bottle with you and sipping throughout the day.
7. Exfoliate every week.
When you exfoliate your skin, you slough off dead skin cells and allow newer, younger skin cells to rise to the surface. You also stimulate circulation, and encourage the skin to start repairing itself.
Because crepey skin is a surface issue, exfoliation can help a lot, as you are removing that surface layer of skin. If you’re noticing crepiness, try stepping up your exfoliation to see if that helps. You can use gentle sugar-based scrubs, or fruit-acid based exfoliating products, or both in an alternating routine.
Watch your skin for signs of stress. If you notice increased breakouts or inflammation, you’re doing too much and you need to back off some. But gentle exfoliation 2-4 times a week may be just what you need to fade crepey areas.
How do you deal with crepey skin?