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Dermatologists Weigh In on the Best Ways to Smooth Crepey Skin On Face, Neck, Hands + Arms & Legs

Different formulations work for different body parts — here's how to smooth your trouble spot!

Argh! Nothing is worse than getting a quick glance at yourself under some unflattering lighting in a bathroom mirror and suddenly noticing the skin around your eyes, neck, chest, arms and hands has taken on a crepe-paper like appearance. Not unlike fine lines and wrinkles, this newfound texture is a sign that your skin is losing the firmness of its youth. And though it may be named after party staple crepe paper, you’re certainly not celebrating its arrival. Here, dermatologists reveal just what is crepey skin and the numerous ways to minimize its appearance and help rejuvenate the skin for smoother, more youthful results.

What causes crepey skin?

Close-up of mature woman with crepey neck.

“Crepey skin is caused by loss of collagen and elastin, which causes a decrease in skin firmness and elasticity,” explains Dr. Rebecca Marcus, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and founder of MaeiMD. “Collagen naturally decreases with age, and this process can be accelerated by DNA damage caused by exposure to UV radiation and free radicals.”

That’s why wearing sunscreen is the biggest piece of advice you typically hear when it comes to preventing crepey skin texture from forming. It’s also why you’re likely to see it most where the sun hits, such as on your arms, legs, chest and the back of your hands. It also commonly pops up around your eyes where the skin is already thin to begin with. 

There are other contributing factors as well. Dendy Engelman, M.D., board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic, NYC adds: “Being genetically predisposed can also play a role.” She also points to a variety of lifestyle factors, including diet and smoking as causes. Research also suggests poor sleep can contribute to the overall aging of skin.

What are the best remedies for crepey skin?

Minimizing the look of crepey skin is primarily about keeping it moisturized, say dermotologists. Dehydration can contribute to crepey skin in a way that’s “similar to the wrinkling that occurs in fingertips after prolonged submersion in water,” explains Dr. Marcus. That’s why moisturizers with humectants, such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, are a must for anyone looking to minimize the look of crepey skin as, she explains, they “draw water into the skin and can help skin to appear more hydrated and plump. This can help with crepiness as it helps to temporarily fill in very fine lines.”

But beyond that, there are key ingredients that can give your various locations of crepiness an extra boost. Here’s what to try. 

Crepey neck and décolletage? Try peptides 

gray haired woman in a towel showing what is crepey skin on her neck

The secret to tackling crepiness in that area south of your chin is peptides. Why? Dr. Marcus explains that these skin perfectors “help stimulate collagen production and promote firmness in the skin.” Dr. Engelman likes to combine them with extra-hydrating ingredients. Her pick: Elizabeth Arden’s Prevage Anti-Aging Neck and Decollete Firm and Repair Cream (Buy from Macy’s, $122) “because it is a rich cream with powerful peptides, shea and palm butters, and hyaluronic acid, as well as retinyl linoleate, lupin seed extract and lipo amino acid to support collagen production and improve elasticity.”

For a more budget-friendly option, try Olay Regenerist Night Recovery Cream (Buy from Ulta, $36.99), which is packed with a special amino-peptide complex.

Crepey legs and arms? Opt for antioxidants 

Beating crepiness on your body comes down to addressing sun damage and keeping your skin barrier in tact to seal moisture in. That’s why Dr. Engelman suggests looking for lotions with antioxidants and omega fatty acids to give it a boost.

“One affordable option I recommend is Gold Bond Crepe Corrector Lotion (Buy from Amazon, $11.37) because it firms dry, aging skin and is formulated with omega-fatty acid and protective antioxidants. It is hypoallergenic, suitable for sensitive skin and easy to pick up at your local drugstore.” 

Crepey hands? Go for shea and glycerin

Mature woman overlaying crepey hands.

As we approach the “tripledemic” season — which experts expect a spike in COVID-19, RSV and the flu — hand-washing will become top of mind once again. That’s why Dr. Engelman recommends using extra-hydrating and soothing ingredients like shea butter and glycerin to help plump up that thin hand skin and “to avoid dryness, cracked skin and wrinkling.”

One to try: La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Hand Cream (Buy from Walgreens, $11). 

Crepey facial complexion? Slather on retinols and alpha hydroxy acids

An anti-aging go-to, derivatives of vitamin A called retinols, “increase cell turnover in targeted areas by stimulating the skin’s collagen production, which helps firm the skin and reduce wrinkling and sagging,” explains Dr. Engelman. Her caveat: Pay attention to the concentration to ensure you have the right strength to be effective on the skin while also being gentle enough, especially as a first-time user. She insists, “It is important to start slowly to get the skin adjusted to a higher concentration. To begin with, I recommend working your way up from a 0.25% to 0.5% concentration.” Try: SkinMedica Retinol Complex 0.25 (Buy from DermStore, $64).

Another, less expensive way to go: AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid, which “help to gently exfoliate skin and improve cell turnover,” explains Dr. Marcus. So they not only can help improve crepiness, “they help to make the skin look brighter and more radiant,” she says.

One to try: The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution (Buy from Ulta, $13).

Crepey eyes? Choose silicone patches

close up of woman's younger-looking eyes, what is crepey skin

While AHAs and retinols are great for most areas of the face, they can sting and irritate sensitive eye skin. Dr. Engelman suggests using reusable patches made from medical-grade silicone, “which occludes the eye area to seal in moisture and help plump up the appearance of wrinkles”— without any additional skin care ingredients at all! You just pop them on a few minutes a day to overnight and let them work their smoothing magic!

On to try: Dr. Dennis Gross DermInfusions™ Lift + Repair Eye Mask (Buy from Sephora, $9).

What are the best in-office treatments for crepey skin

When at-home options don’t do the trick, and you want to up your skin-smoothing game, you can head to your dermatologist for more ways to combat crepiness. Here, 4 treatments you may want to try:

1. Dermal fillers

Mature woman receiving fillers in face for crepey skin.

While pricey (a syringe can run $500 to $1,000+), “dermal fillers are an option for targeting specific areas of the face or neck to address wrinkles, loss of volume and crepiness,” says Dr. Engelman. She specifically recommends Hyperdilute Radiesse because it plumps “by gradually tightening targeted areas to create smoother, firmer and more youthful looking skin.” 

2. Ultherapy

Most effective for targeted face and neck areas, ultherapy “uses high-intensity ultrasound technology to target the deep layers of the skin and stimulate collagen production,” explains Dr. Engelman. “Gradually, over the course of a few weeks, it tightens and firms the skin.” Each session takes about 45 minutes to one hour, and while there can be some discomfort, there’s no downtime. What you can expect to pay: $1200 to $5000. 

3. Laser resurfacing

“Laser resurfacing uses energy to cause micro-injury to the skin, and the skin’s natural healing response produces collagen and helps to tighten and smooth the surface of the skin,” says Dr. Marcus. It is the most effective for moderate to severe cases. The downtime can vary from a few hours to two weeks or more, and it’s a higher-end option, which can cost hundreds of dollars to $1000+ per session. 


mature woman getting microneedling on her face for crepey skin

Simply put, this option works by triggering the skin’s healing process by pricking it with needles. Dr. Engelman says it “increases collagen and elastin production and improves the skin’s texture and firmness, while reducing fine lines and wrinkles.” Taking it a step further is Profound RF (radiofrequency), which, she explains, “combines microneedling with RF energy to target the deeper layers of skin by way of thermal energy.” estimates the average cost of Profound RF at $4,270, while mirconeedling weighs in at $650. (Click through to learn about a microneedling technique called Morpheus8 and how it helped one woman eliminate her “turkey neck.”)

Click through these stories for more tips on smoothing crepey skin:

Dermatologists Weigh In On the #1 Beauty Blindspot for Women Over 50: A Crepey Neck

What Is Skin Cycling? TikTok’s Easy Skincare Trend Reduces Fine Lines and Wrinkles

You’re Ready for This Jelly — Meet the Latest Beauty-licious Skincare Trend for Women Over 5

5 Ways to Use Essential Oils for Crepey Skin, Age Spots, and More

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