Spring is here! You have the right to bare arms!

As warmer weather arrives, most of us will expose more of our skin to the sunlight. But beware: sun damage is the number-one cause of wrinkles, age spots, and crepey skin.

Crepey skin refers to skin that is thin and finely wrinkled like crepe paper. Lacking structural integrity, it may also droop or sag. Crepey skin is most common on the upper inner arms, but it can also appear under the eyes and on the neck and thighs.

As noted, by far the most common cause of crepey skin is sun damage. The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down the collagen and elastin fibers that help the skin stay smooth and tight. Aging itself is also a factor, because our bodies tend to produce less collagen and elastin as we age. We also produce less of the natural oils that act as a protective lipid barrier and lock moisture into the skin. Aging also triggers hormonal changes that lead to less natural oil production and drier skin. And, of course, living longer exposes us to more sun damage, as well as to toxins like pollution, stress, and cigarette smoke.

Crepe is great—in a dress or on a plate—NOT on your skin!

So, crepe happens. What can you do about it?

As with most health conditions, prevention is key!

  1. Avoid the sun as much as possible and always wear (and frequently replenish) sunscreen or protective clothing.
  2. Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Of course, that begins with eating your water, because hydration is internal. This means you need a diet that emphasizes moisture-rich foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and “embryonic foods,” such as eggs, seeds, and nuts. All of these foods are also full of antioxidants, which help your body repair the damage from sunlight and other stressors. I also recommend eating the nutrients your body uses to make collagen: amino acids, vitamin C, zinc, and copper.
  3. Keep that moisture in place with topical moisturizers. Look for products with hyaluronic acid, which attracts and holds moisture so your skin stays hydrated and plump. On top of the hyaluronic acid, add a moisturizing oil like coconut, olive, shea, or cocoa butter. And on top of that add sunscreen. Or, you might try a product that combines sunscreen and skin conditioners, such as Murad’s Correct & Protect Serum Broad Spectrum SPF 45, which combines mineral sunscreen along with antioxidants to prevent and correct hyperpigmentation, plus beet root extract for stimulating vitamin D production!
  4. Build and maintain muscle. There are several reasons for this: one, muscle maintains hydration, being 80% water, while fat is only 22%. Two, muscle burns more calories than fat, even when resting, helping to maintain a healthy weight. (According to the National Council on Strength and Fitness, muscle tissue — at rest — will burn approximately 6 calories daily per pound, while fat burns 2 to 3 calories daily per pound.) Three, better muscle tone helps to fill the loose and sagging structure underlying the skin, for a tighter, firmer appearance. All of this in addition to giving you better endurance, bone strength, and cardiovascular health!

How to treat crepey skin once you have it

Even with the best sun protection, it’s likely that everyone will develop crepey skin eventually. What can you do?

Look for over-the-counter products containing retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, or peptides. These can help remove dead and damaged cells and encourage new cell growth. However, be sure to hydrate the skin afterwards, as exfoliating may aggravate dryness and worsen the appearance of crepey skin.

Other acids, including lactic acid, salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and hyaluronic acid, can also help to moisturize the skin and improve its appearance. For crepey skin on your arms or legs, look for a body moisturizer that contains ammonium lactate a tightening and firming ingredient. Examples include Lac-Hydrin, AmLactin, Ceravé, and Gold Bond.

Your dermatologist or medical spa may also offer more intensive treatments for crepey skin, such as:


These consist of agents that are injected into the skin to stimulate the growth of collagen. Results are seen gradually over several months, as your body produces the collagen. Eventually the fillers degrade and are absorbed by the body, meaning the treatment has to be repeated every 12-24 months. And choosing the right type of dermal filler requires the guidance of an experienced, board-certified dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon with a thorough understanding of facial anatomy, and familiarity with the variety of available fillers and their respective injection techniques.

Fractional laser treatment (Fraxel)

This treatment uses lasers to heat cells under the skin, stimulating the growth of new collagen and smoothing out wrinkles from the inside out. Because the lasers only target a fraction of your skin, the healthy cells that are left behind promote faster healing. Again, this is an in-office treatment that is most effective when delivered by a skilled professional. Results typically last for a year or more.

Ultrasound (Ulthera)

Similar to a fractional laser treatment, Ulthera is the proprietary name for a skin-tightening procedure that uses targeted ultrasound to heat the supporting tissues below the skin, stimulating the growth of collagen. This treatment is typically used on the face and neck, rather than the upper arm and, like fractional laser treatments, the results last for about a year.

All of these treatments—from topical to intensive—at some point may lead you to an attitude of acceptance. Aging, after all, is a fact of life. It’s something to be celebrated: it means you’re a survivor! You’ve enjoyed many years of relationships and experiences. You’ve acquired perspective that enables you to let life’s smaller aggravations go and appreciate its many gifts and blessings. You’ve earned all the laugh lines and wrinkles!

Rather than worry about my appearance, I focus on doing the things that maintain my overall health—the Four Pillars of Modern Wellness: diet, exercise, stress management, and skincare.

After all, “When you’re healthy, you’re beautiful” and “Happiness is the best facelift.”

That’s Modern Wellness!

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider, who should also be consulted with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.


Privacy Preference Center