The décolletage is a unique area of skin. It’s in that grey area of not being part of your facial skin care routine, but it also doesn’t really fit into your body care either. This section of skin care real estate (along with your neck) has its own set of skin care rules, and you should be using products that are exclusively formulated for its distinctive properties. Here’s what you need to know about looking after your décolletage.
The décolletage is the area of skin under your neck and between your breasts. It may also be referred to as the décollete, chest or cleavage area.
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 deserve their own set of products. Because the skin here is different.
“The skin on the neck and décolletage is more delicate than the skin on most of our face,” says Philippa Curnow, National Training Manager for Elizabeth Arden, who notes that it is 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. You know how we recently told you that sleeping on your side is giving you wrinkles and you should invest in an anti-wrinkle pillow? Well, sleeping on your side is also ageing your décollete. An anti-wrinkle pillow like JuveRest can help minimise the formation of chest wrinkles because it helps improve 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 every 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. Push-up bras can also contribute to chest wrinkles if worn continuously over a long period of time.
What are the top skin concerns for the décolletage?
Dr Howard Murad, M.D., F.A.A.D., who is a trained pharmacist, associate clinical professor of medicine at U.C.L.A., and founder of Murad Skincare Inc, notes sun damage, sensitivity and ageing as the top skin concerns for the décolletage area.
#1 / Sun damage
“Premature ageing from sun damage, such as pigmentation, thinning and lined skin, is often due to not regularly applying the all-important SPF to our neck and chests; we live in Australia with constant UVA and UVB exposure that is damaging the collagen and elastin within our skins, as well as increasing hyperpigmentation, and in some cases hypopigmentation (white spots),” sayd Dr Murad.
#2 / Skin sensitivity
“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. He explains that sensitivity (look for signs of redness) may occur from over-use of ingredients such as AHAs/BHAs, retinols and perfumes sprayed directly onto the décolleté. “Often sensitivity or inflammation can occur if products are too stimulating for the décolleté area.”
#3 / Signs of ageing
“As we age and our skin loses its support structure, a loss of collagen leads to sagging, lines around the neck and crepey textured skin. With age, we also lose our ability to retain water within our cells, which means we notice more lines and wrinkles,” explains Dr Murad.
3 products you need in your décolletage skin care routine
So how can we prevent and reverse the signs of ageing and damage on our décolletage region? These are the products you need for a youthful-looking décolletage.
#1 / Sunscreen
“SPF, it’s the number one anti-ageing product you can use,” 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 good 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.
#2 / A décolletage 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. 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.
#3 / A neck cream
Dr Murad explains that neck creams are formulated differently than eye serums or other facial products as the skin in this area is different. “Look for a product that’s going to boost skin’s elasticity and firmness, such as [one with] vitamin C, peptides, vitamin A and hyaluronic acid - the décolleté is thinner than the rest of your skin, which makes it prone to moisture loss, hydration is key!” Try Elizabeth Arden Prevage Anti-Aging Neck and Décolleté Firm and Repair Cream. “This powerful antioxidant blend (Idebenone) protects against free radical damage and with daily use helps to tighten (retinyl linoleate and tightening polymers), tone, and intensely hydrate (hyaluronic acid, sea plant extracts and shea butter) the neck and décolleté,” explains Curnow.
The biggest décolletage skin care mistake you’re making
“Don’t over exfoliate!” warns Dr Murad. “Look for a gentle AHA or enzyme exfoliation to buff away dead skin cells and freshen the appearance the skin.” Try Grown Alchemist Enzyme Exfoliant: Papain & Amino Complex.
The best professional décolletage treatment for reversing skin damage
Décolletage skin care products can protect you from future damage, as well as reduce the appearance of existing signs of ageing, but if your chest wrinkles are particularly deep, you may want to try an in-clinic treatment like laser for the décolletage. Fraxel laser is a popular option. This professional fractionated laser treatment stimulates the skin’s repair and renewal process while also lightening pigmentation and resurfacing the skin. Try it at Clear Complexions clinics.
Stop making these other ageing mistake: here are four things you didn’t know were ageing your skin.
Do you use any décolletage skin care products? Which ones do you recommend?
Main image credit: Getty
Chelsea is BEAUTYcrew’s Contributing Editor. She has a sweet spot for anything that claims to make skin glow and won’t leave the house without a slick of mascara. Chelsea has 10 years of experience as a beauty editor and her words can be found on BEAUTYcrew, Women’s Health, Daily Addict, The Joye and Primped.