You know what I’m talking about, right? That loose, thin, or fragile skin that you find on your arms, thighs, neck, or face. Crepey skin isn’t necessarily age related.
The main cause is the breakdown of elastin fibers in your skin from UV exposure (sun). Smoking is another major cause of crepey skin.
Taking the prescription drug prednisone over a period of time can too. (Of course, don’t stop or reduce any drug without doctor’s supervision, there’s a good reason that you’re taking it).
Here are some other culprits:
Lack of moisture
Most of us don’t think much about crepiness or prevention until it happens. Once you notice a little crepiness or sagging, I’m guessing you want to try to make it better (and improve your skin health) or prevent it from getting worse.
The old saying that beauty comes from within really does apply to your skin. You can improve your skin and your overall health by making a few changes in your eating habits.
Healthy, beautiful skin comes from the inside out and the outside in
Because healthy, glowing skin comes from the inside out as well as the outside in, let’s talk about some foods and supplements that can help with crepey or saggy skin. And some to avoid.
The avoid list
You’ve probably been told about this before, but let’s review:
Processed foods- the problem is that processed foods aren’t necessarily nutritious or even recognized as food by your body. This can cause allergic reactions and inflammation.
Omega 6 oils- these are the highly processed oils (vegetable, soy, canola, etc.) that also cause inflammation in your body
Sugar (the worst)- sugar also causes inflammation. Sugar can also accelerate skin damage. It can damage your skin through a process called advanced glycation where sugar encourages cross linking of the proteins in your skin. Advanced glycation end products (AGE) bind to your collagen and make it brittle. AGE’s contribute to skin stiffening, loss of elasticity, and increased pigmentation.1
Something to be aware of: The real source of excess sugar isn't food you make at home. It's the sneaky sugar that comes in soft drinks and processed foods.
As far as your skin is concerned, the problem with inflammation is that it speeds up the breakdown of collagen and elastin. It’s also the culprit behind rosacea, acne, rashes and other skin diseases.
What to eat instead-
Healthy fats- fats containing higher amounts of omega 3’s like wild caught fish, avocados, nuts, olive oil (not cooked), coconut oil. Healthy fats don’t directly deal with crepey or sagging skin, but they support the process by reducing inflammation and hydrating your skin from within.
Fruits and vegetables-I know you always hear this and it’s true. Fruits and veggies are full of antioxidants and phytonutrients that are critical to your skin (and whole body’s health). They’re essential to provide some of the building blocks for collagen and elastin production.
Probiotics-Probiotics promote a healthy gut microbiome. A healthy gut =healthy skin.
Bone Broth-real bone broth (the kind you get from simmering bones, herbs, and water for a long time, not the chicken or beef stock that you buy at the store) is full of collagen and gelatin as well as amino acids. It’s soothing to your gut and provides nutrients that your skin uses as building blocks for collagen, elastin, and cell production. There are several good brands of bone broth on the market. Be sure to look for bone broth, not stock if you don’t have time or inclination to make your own.
I’m a believer in supplements. Especially if I can take one that checks multiple boxes in the health department. Here are some suggestions that can help you with crepey or sagging skin as well as improving your overall health.
Supplemental collagen-Supplemental collagen doesn’t go directly to your skin. It’s a protein that’s broken down into amino acids in your stomach, then absorbed and reassembled further along in the digestive process. However, there have been several studies that show noticeable improvement in texture, firmness, and elasticity when the participants took a daily collagen supplement (versus a control group that did not). I’ve included links to the studies below, if you’re interested.
Collagen supporting multivitamin containing Vitamin A, C, D, folate, zinc- these nutrients are important for skin and general health. They supply the nutrients needed for production of collagen, elastin and other skin proteins.
Vitamin C- I’m separating this vitamin out because of its importance in collagen production
Green tea – green tea is loaded with antioxidants and is anti inflammatory. It has vitamins B2 and E. Both important for skin health. Follow the link for a lot more on the benefits of green tea.
It sounds like a long list, but you can start by trying out a supplement or two, giving it a good trial and seeing of it works for you. If you combine that strategy with some upgrades to your diet and eliminating the things on the “avoid list” as much as possible, you’ll be healthier and feel better too.
From the outside in
The number one thing you can do for crepey or saggy skin is to prevent it.
That means sunscreen every day and an effective, regular skincare routine.
If those days have passed you by and you have crepey spots or sagging, don’t be discouraged. You still need to wear sunscreen and a regular skincare routine.
And…there are products that can help
Retinol is my number one choice to repair crepey skin. And I actually recommend retinol over the prescription retinoid products (tretinoin, retin-A). The prescription products can be too strong for delicate areas like your neck. It takes a while (think months to a year), but using retinol every day can make noticeable improvements.
Keeping your skin healthy, firm and radiant really is a two pronged approach (inside out and outside in). In a nutshell (sorry, couldn’t resist), eating a healthy diet, avoiding sugar and processed foods, and possibly supplementing with collagen and vitamins will help your skin and your whole self be healthier.
- Lyman, Monty. The Remarkable Life of Skin. 2018.