Cleanse, tone, moisturize and apply sunscreen. Check. You’re religious about your skincare regimen on your face, so why stop halfway down your neck? What about the décolleté? “The what?” you may ask. The décolleté (or décolletage), which translates literally from French to “wearing a low-neck dress”, but which nowadays refers to the upper chest area.
We’ve all seen women with faces so youthful we wonder what their secret is, only to catch a glimpse of their sagging, turkey-like neck and desiccated décolleté, immediately giving the game away. The unfortunate truth is, the skin on our neck and décolleté is more fragile than that on our face. “It’s thinner, and is constantly being stretched, pulled and rubbed due to the nature of our anatomy — all of which increases the likelihood of dehydration, wrinkles and even skin tags,” says Dr. Adam Friedman, New York-based dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology for The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences. “In winter, when it’s exposed to the harsh elements including cold and wind, moisture can be zapped from this delicate area.” The result? Dry and lifeless skin with accentuated lines and wrinkles. Conversely, in summer, sun damage is a risk. The good news is: While a neck-friendly skincare system should be consistent, it needn’t be lavish. Here are some helpful tips and tricks.
- Cleanse the region daily using a gentle soap.
- Slather on a rich moisturizer to damp skin twice a day, followed by an SPF of at least 30 during the daytime. Kill two birds with one stone with a product like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer SPF 30.
- Once a week, apply a gentle exfoliant — try an enzyme-based one containing papaya or bromelain (from pineapple). This will help slough off dead skin cells and reveal a fresh layer. Avoid abrasive shell- or seed-based formulas, says Dr. Friedman, as they can be too harsh on the skin.
- Believe it or not, even the way you lay in bed can be detrimental to the skin on your neck and décolleté. Sleep on your back to avoid that nasty “necklace effect” in the morning!
- Even if you slather on that sunscreen, refrain from baking in the sun for long periods — you’re just asking for trouble.
- The question is: do you need to spring for specialist neck and décolleté products? The jury’s still out, not least because many contain the same ingredients employed in facial formulations.
If the Damage Has Already Been Done …
If you do start to notice early signs of damage (hyperpigmentation, spots, etc.), don’t panic: Dark spots can be treated with targeted treatments designed to even out and brighten the skin. Try formulas like Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Solution or Lancôme Dreamtone that contain ingredients aiming to diminish the look of dark spots and uneven skin tone.
And if the damage has really been done, consider visiting a dermatologist or clinic for a cosmetic peel, which can work wonders to even out skin tone. IPL (intense pulsed light) can be effective at repairing the signs of sun damage, too.