How To Achieve A More Youthful Décolletage
When you think skincare, chances are, your mind jumps straight to your facial skin. But there’s more to caring for your complexion than what’s above the neck — many of us tend to neglect the all-important décolletage in our daily routines. (Guilty over here.)
If you’re unfamiliar, décolletage (pronounced deck-la-tage) is a French word that refers to the neckline of a woman’s dress. In the beauty world, it refers to the skin that a dress like this would show off, including the neck, chest, and upper breasts, explains Dr. Dale Prokupek, owner of Aesthetic Body Solutions in Beverly Hills. (To think about it another way, the décolletage is usually the chest skin that a bathing suit would show.)
While its delicate, smooth nature is easy to take for granted when you’re young, the truth is that this area is especially prone to early signs of skin aging, such as brown and red splotches, loss of elasticity, and thinning of the skin. In fact, the décolletage often loses its youthfulness even more quickly than facial skin (which, ironically, is where many of us focus our anti-aging efforts).
Here’s what you need to know about why this happens, how to stop it in its tracks, and how to repair an already-damaged décolletage. (The good news? It’s totally possible.)
Causes of Décolletage Skin Aging
There are a few main reasons for why the décolletage tends to age early, explains Dr. Prokupek. And, sorry sun-worshipers, but each of them involves sun damage. The first is that the placement and angle of the décolletage put it in prime position for sun exposure, and the second is that this skin area isn’t as advanced in its natural rejuvenation abilities.
“The face has a lot of repair mechanisms that the body skin does not have,” explains Dr. Prokupek. “For example, there are more sebaceous units and hair follicles, and those are meant to help repair the sun damage. Body skin gets injured quicker and the repair is less efficient, so it tends to age much quicker than the skin on the face.”
On another note, consider the last time you lathered up with sunscreen on your chest (aside from a pool or beach day). There’s your third reason right there: Most people don’t religiously apply sunscreen here like they might on their face on a daily basis, though it’s equally as important.
How to Prevent Décolletage Aging
Catch it early, and there are two major ways to counteract this. Your primary defense should be wearing clothing that covers your chest. “Nuns don’t have problems with their décolletage, you know what I mean?” laughs Dr. Prokupek. “They’re wearing their necklines up to their mid-neck. So anytime you can keep that area from being exposed to sun, that’s your goal.”
That said, that’s not always possible, so your next best defense is — you guessed it — sunscreen. Go for SPF 50, and opt for a product with zinc or titanium oxide in it. (Here are five mineral sunscreens we love.) Zinc oxide and titanium oxide actually block the sun’s rays from striking your skin by acting as a physical barrier, which offers superior protection to chemical-based sunscreens, says Dr. Prokupek.
How to Reverse Décolletage Aging
If the damage is done, it’s not too late. For minimal damage, up your vitamin intake suggests Dr. Prokupek. “The way that the sun damages the skin is it reacts with the cells, which begin to break down, and then we have to rely on our body’s repair mechanism to fix the damage. The body requires vitamins C, D, A, E, and hyaluronic acid to repair that skin,” he says. If you’re in the sun quite a bit, make sure you’re getting plenty of those vitamins through your diet.
- Beautytap’s professional community of Beauty Advisors (aestheticians, facialists, makeup artists, and hairdressers ) recommend this ultra-hydrating hyaluronic acid by Epicuren.
There are also plenty of topical serums and creams containing those vitamins that can be effective, says Dr. Prokupek. In particular, he recommends the brand Skinceuticals (their Vitamin C serum is a fan-favorite) and their new Tripeptide-R Neck Repair has high doses of pure retinol and a powerful tripeptide to firm and smooth both the neck and décolletage, is free of parabens, dyes and fragrance, and backed up by clinical results.
- Beautytap’s professional community of Beauty Experts (aestheticians, facialists, makeup artists, and hairdressers ) recommend this anti-aging Vitamin C Essence.
If your damage is more advanced, consider visiting a cosmetic dermatologist for treatment; there are plenty of minimally invasive, no-downtime options to rejuvenate your décolletage to its youthful glory. (Just note that you have to treat the two main issues — sun spots and loss of elasticity — separately.)
“For the brown age spots and red broken blood vessels, the best way to approach that is with a laser called an IPL,” explains Dr. Prokupek. “It stands for Intense Pulse Light, and the way it works is the wavelength of light targets specifically those colors, and it doesn’t damage the other skin.” This is preferable to CO2 lasers, which break the skin barrier and can lead to complications such as scarring and prolonged healing. It’s also a much better option than chemicals peels since you have to take off quite a few layers of skin to effectively reduce brown spots (also potentially leading to scarring and more downtime, since you’re losing your skin’s protective barrier).
Meanwhile, the skin’s natural loss of elasticity over time (which is accelerated by sun damage) is traditionally treated by an ultra-invasive neck lift, but recent technology has made this process much easier. Dr. Prokupek uses a technique called radiofrequency micro-needling, which spurs the body’s natural repair mechanisms by injecting powerful energy through tiny needles that go 1-3 ml beneath the skin’s surface. (Read: No need to go under the knife). Applying numbing cream in advance makes this treatment quite tolerable.
So, whether you’re trying to turn back time or preserving your décolletage’s youthful allure, consider both modern skincare technology and good old-fashioned sun protection.