Why your décolletage needs its own set of skin care products
By Team BEAUTYcrew
October 16 2023
This is how to *properly* care for this delicate area
By Team BEAUTYcrew
October 16 2023
The décolletage (AKA the area of skin that runs from your neck over your collarbone and to your chest) is no doubt a unique one – honestly, the only thing tougher than pronouncing it is figuring out whether it fits into your face or your body care routine.
Well, interestingly, the answer is actually none of the above. This whole section of skin care real estate (along with your neck itself) has its own set of skin care rules, and to care for it correctly, you should be using products that are exclusively formulated for its distinctive properties.
But hey, we're well aware it can be confusing. So, here’s everything you need to know about looking after your décolletage, directly from the pros...
How is our décolletage skin different from our face?
We’ve been told that we should be extending our skin care products past our jawline and down our necks, even onto our chest area, but while this is a good habit as a bare minimum, your neck and décolletage actually deserve their own set of products, because the skin here is notably different.
“The skin on the neck and décolletage is more delicate than the skin on most of our face,” says Philippa Curnow, skin care expert and previous National Training Manager for Elizabeth Arden, who notes that the skin on the décolletage area is actually more consistent with the skin around the eyes.
“This décolletage skin is thinner, contains very little oil glands, has fewer hair follicles and is often exposed to (unprotected) UVs and other environmental factors (like pollution) more so than the rest of our body.”
What causes the décolletage to age?
“We wear clothing to cover most areas (unless we are at the beach) and we are usually protecting our face with moisturisers/sunscreens and makeup, but this delicate area often gets forgotten and therefore ages much faster than our face,” says Curnow.
Curnow lists environmental factors such as UVA/UVB damage and pollution; lifestyle factors including medications, diet and stressors; and biological factors like our natural cell degeneration process, as leading causes of skin ageing in the décollete area.
A surprising cause for your cleavage wrinkles could also be the way you sleep. Sleeping on your side specifically could be causing accelerated ageing; not ideal. But blessedly, there are a few strategies you can put into place to combat the effects.
First up? An anti-wrinkle pillow. Yep, they're a thing. In fact, anti-wrinkle pillows like the Juverest Sleep Anti Wrinkle Pillow can help minimise the formation of chest wrinkles by improving your side-sleeping posture so your breasts don’t smush together as much. It’s not foolproof, but it can help reduce the amount of cleavage wrinkles that form per night.
Another product that can help is a silicone chest pad, like Wrinkles Schminkles Chest & Décolletage Smoothing Chest Pad, which keeps the skin taut while you sleep. These also work like a mask to deliver nutrients to the skin overnight. What's not to like?
The best skin care products for your décolletage
So how else can we prevent and reverse the signs of ageing and damage on our décolletage region? We spoke to Dr Howard Murad, dermatologist and founder of beauty brand Murad to find out which skin care formulas we should be applying to keep the area in the best condition possible. These are the products he recommends adding to your repertoire...
#1 / Sunscreen
“SPF is the number one anti-ageing product you can use [in any area],” says Dr Murad. “Most of our skin damage occurs when we are young. Using an SPF from an early age will dramatically reduce the amount of ageing you will see in later life.” That said, it’s never too late to start. Applying sunscreen with a high SPF every single day will go a long way towards keeping this vulnerable area of skin looking youthful.
If you’re looking for a failsafe sunscreen, our Review Crew® recommend La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Cream SPF 50+. They gave it 4.5 stars for its non-greasy and non-irritating formula, and considering its sensitivity-friendly status, you won't need to stress about applying it to delicate areas (like, you guessed it, the precious décolletage.)
#2 / A gentle chemical exfoliant
“Don’t over exfoliate!” warns Dr Murad, confirming that harsh scrubbing may be too much for this delicate area of skin to handle. “[Instead], look for a gentle AHA or enzyme exfoliator to buff away dead skin cells and freshen the appearance the skin [without physically irritating it].”
While peels are plentiful in the skin care space these days, though, some may still be too aggressive for this sensitive area. Our advice? Opt for enzymes over acids. While acids trigger the skin's natural shedding process by causing a reaction beneath the barrier, enzymes take a slightly gentler approach, breaking down the glue that holds the dead skin in place and allowing what's ready to shed to do so, without tampering beneath the surface.
The best bit in our book is that many enzyme exfoliants pull their peeling powers from fruits, so your skin will also smell like pineapple or papaya when you're through. Not a bad bonus. This Grown Alchemist option is our absolute favourite; it's even suitable for use around the eyes (which as you'll remember is what the décolletage is similar to in terms of strength), so it's perfect for smoothing without triggering sensitivity.
#3 / A décolletage-specific treatment
“A body moisturiser won’t cut it when trying to treat and reverse damage on the décollete. Look for a product specifically for this area; it will be designed to repair the décollete with the right balance of active ingredients without over-sensitising your skin,” recommends Dr Murad.
We know it may seem excessive and unnecessary to splash cash on a cream designed for your chest/neck only, but remember, it's important to keep in mind that the skin is thinner, and therefore may be more sensitive to certain ingredients (AKA ones that may just reside in your favourite face cream). “As the skin is thinner and more delicate, this area of our body can respond to active ingredients faster and may tolerate less actives than the ones we apply to our faces,” says Dr Murad.
Most of your trusted hydrating, brightening and plumping go-tos should be safe, though. “Look for a product that’s going to boost skin’s elasticity and firmness, such as [one with] vitamin C, peptides, hyaluronic acid - the décolleté is thinner than the rest of your skin, which makes it prone to moisture loss, so hydration is key!”
His top pick? Murad Rejuvenating Lift For Neck And Décolleté. “In a Murad study, this product increased skin firmness by 42 per cent after just one application,” he shares. That's certainly not a stat to sniff at, now is it?
Other options we rate? This Clarins firming cream (which uses brightening desert date and smoothing shea oil to refine tone and texture) and this silky Sisley formula (a rich yet non-greasy lifting and line-smoothing algae and caffeine blend).