Everyone's skin is unique—and as a result, everyone's skin ages differently. For some, skin aging appears in the form of dry fine lines and deep, prominent creases. For others, the most obvious signs of aging are dullness and dryness. Still, others experience a loss of elasticity, resulting in what is commonly referred to as "crepey skin."
If you're familiar with what crepey skin is, you're ahead of the curve. If not, don't worry—we'll explain it all ahead. You'll also discover a simple seven-step routine you can follow to help improve the appearance of dry, wrinkled skin, plus a few can't-miss anti-aging tips to help keep your skin looking firm and youthful. Keep reading for your all-in-one Kiehl's guide to managing crepey skin.
What Is Crepey Skin?
First things first: There's no universal definition for what constitutes crepey skin (in contrast to, say, acne, which does have an official definition). That said, crepey skin is usually described as skin that appears dry and finely wrinkled, like crumpled-up tissue paper. It also tends to be extremely thin. Crepey skin is common amongst older people, who tend to have looser, more fragile skin.
What Causes Crepey Skin On The Face and Neck?
Two main factors contribute to the development of crepey skin: natural aging and sun exposure. The former, which is often referred to as "intrinsic aging," refers to the biological changes that occur as a result of age, regardless of your habits or lifestyle (such as a decrease in skin's elasticity and hydration). These changes aren't just responsible for crepey skin but also other signs of aging, like wrinkles, sagging, and dryness.
With that said, the latter—sun exposure—is the primary cause of crepey skin. Ultraviolet radiation (in the form of UVA and UVB rays) is responsible for up to 80% of premature facial skin aging. Chronic sun exposure affects your skin's ability to produce adequate amounts of collagen, a structural protein closely involved with maintaining skin's natural elasticity. Without sufficient collagen, your skin can become loose, stretched out, and saggy—in other words, crepey. Though this may also occur naturally as you age, unprotected sun exposure can speed up the process, leading to visible signs of premature aging.
What We Recommend To Manage Crepey Skin: 7 Steps
While you're likely here to learn how to get rid of crepey skin, it's not quite that simple. You can't reverse aging. We can, however, teach you how to care for this concern. Keep reading for our simple, six-step routine to help you manage and improve the appearance of dry, crepey-looking skin.
Cleanse and Tone Your Face
As with any routine, you'll want to start by removing dirt and excess oil with a mild cleanser. For crepey skin, we recommend opting for a face wash that won't strip your skin's natural moisture barrier, like our cult-classic Ultra Facial Cleanser. This creamy formula with olive-derived squalane, glycerin, and avocado oil gently cleanses the skin without ridding it of its natural oils. It's pH-balanced to help maintain the skin's natural moisture and is suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and extra-dry skin.
After washing your face and rinsing with lukewarm (not hot) water, pat your skin dry. Then, soak a clean cotton round in a gentle face toner, such as Ultra Facial Toner, and sweep it over your face. The emollient-packed formula helps remove surface debris (like residue left behind after cleansing) while hydrating and comforting the skin. It also helps prepare your skin for the rest of your skincare routine.
Reach For a Lightweight Face Serum
Once you've applied your toner, wait a couple of minutes to allow your skin to soak up the liquid. Then, reach for a lightweight facial serum suited to your skin type and specific concerns.
Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum
For dry and sagging crepey skin, try Hydro-Plumping Hydrating Serum. This newly-revamped formula for dehydrated skin helps encourage your skin's natural production of hyaluronic acid. The skin-plumping formula may help to improve skin's elasticity and the appearance of dullness to give it a smoother, more even appearance with continued use.
If dullness is your main concern (other than crepiness), try Vital Skin-Strengthening Hyaluronic Acid Super Serum. This powerful facial serum for all skin types is clinically-demonstrated to double skin's strength and improve skin texture by 41%.* It also helps protect the skin from damaging (and aging) environmental stressors, like ultraviolet radiation and air pollution, to help keep your skin resilient and youthful-looking. The effective yet gentle formula absorbs quickly and is suitable for daily use by all skin types.
*Based on a four-week clinical study of 58 panelists tested in urban and polluted environments. Skin strength index = composite average score of clinically-graded parameters after using the product for four weeks vs. one week of use.
Kiehl's Tip: If you can't decide between the two serums, you can layer them. When layering products, we recommend applying the thinner formula first to allow for optimal absorption.
Address Eye-Area Concerns
Crow's feet and under-eye wrinkles are common skin concerns for those with mature skin, due in large part to how thin the skin around your eyes is. Crepey skin under the eyes is also influenced by the fact that your face sees more sun exposure than most, if not all, other parts of your body. As this area is super vulnerable to environmental stressors, it's important to care for it properly with eye-specific treatments, like eye creams and serums.
Super Multi-Corrective Eye-Opening Serum
Address, sagging skin around your eyes with Super Multi-Corrective Eye-Opening Serum. This lightweight cream corrects visible signs of aging around the brow bone, eyelid, crow's feet and under-eye. It can be easily applied under makeup and absorbs quickly into the skin for refreshed, younger-looking eyes.
Smooth On a Nourishing Face Oil
As we mentioned earlier, one of the hallmarks of crepey skin is that it's dry—often, significantly so. Adding a non-comedogenic face oil to your regular routine can help keep your skin moisturized and fend off the symptoms of dryness that contribute to the appearance of crepey skin.
We recommend applying a few drops of Midnight Recovery Concentrate to your skin after smoothing on your eye cream to help add nourishing hydration. This Kiehl's favorite, formulated with olive-derived squalane and evening primrose oil, boosts essential moisture to help your skin replenish itself while you sleep. In just one night, it helps visibly reduce fine lines and boosts radiance, while continued use helps promote smoother, firmer-looking skin.
Use your clean palms to pat a few drops of the luxurious lavender-scented formula onto your face and neck, or use a skincare tool (like a jade roller) to distribute the oil over your face. If desired, you can also take this time to give yourself a quick five-minute facial massage to enhance your nighttime skincare routine.
Hydrate Your Skin Well
A face oil alone isn't enough to keep your skin sufficiently hydrated: For lasting moisture, a face cream is vital. Try Super Multi-Corrective Anti-Aging Face and Neck Cream, which contains phytomimetic vitamin A (a retinol alternative) and hyaluronic acid. The powerfully effective formula absorbs quickly to target several signs of aging on the face and neck. It's clinically-demonstrated to help reduce wrinkles and smooth skin's texture within four weeks, while continued use helps to lift and firm crepey skin to reveal a more youthful, radiant appearance over time.*
*Results based on a 12-week clinical study of 53 panelists in the United States.
Don't Skimp On Sunscreen
While not a crepey skin treatment, per se, a broad-spectrum sunscreen is essential for maintaining your skin's youthful elasticity. In the mornings, after applying your moisturizer as outlined above, reach for a broad-spectrum sunscreen suitable for facial skin. We recommend Super Fluid Daily UV Defense 50+, which defends skin against UVA and UVB rays while also protecting it from air pollution and extreme weather. The non-comedogenic formula absorbs quickly and is suitable for all skin types.
Kiehl's Tip: Check out our article Should You Use Chemical Sunscreen Or Mineral Sunscreen? to learn more about the differences between these two sunny-day staples.
Add In a Twice-Weekly Mask
Last but not least is one of our favorite steps: masking. Though this isn't a step you'll need to take every day, an overnight mask can be a useful addition to your anti-aging skincare routine. To help improve the appearance of crepey skin, try Ginger Leaf & Hibiscus Overnight Firming Mask. This velvety sleep mask with sustainably-sourced ginger leaf and hibiscus seed extract helps firm skin while you snooze to reveal smoother-looking skin come morning. When used consistently, the powerful anti-aging formula helps visibly reduce the appearance of fine lines on the face.
To use it, massage a thick, even layer over your skin (after moisturizer) and go to sleep. In the morning, wash your face to remove the creamy mask and follow your morning skincare routine as usual.