How to Take Care of Your Neck and Dècolletage Over Time
Don't skip skincare on this part of your body, say our experts.
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When it comes to caring for your skin, you might think that your primary area of focus is between your forehead and your chin. While your face is certainly prone to wrinkles and other forms of premature aging, the skin beneath your chin is actually just as susceptible to forming fine lines. That's why it's so important to make sure your skincare routine extends beyond your face. "The majority of people I see in the office take good care of their facial skin by using broad-spectrum sunscreen, antioxidants, and retinoids (among other active ingredients), but forget to apply to their neck and chest," says Dr. Jennifer MacGregor, a board-certified dermatologist at Union Square Dermatology in Manhattan. "Daily UV radiation adds up over time—even five minutes a day over weeks, months, and years can make a difference."
Since sun damage is such a threat to the neck and décolletage (or upper chest), we chatted with a few experts to determine the best ways to take care of the delicate area of skin. With that in mind, ahead you'll find several tips to commit to memory. Implement these steps into your routine, stat.
Always wear a high SPF sunscreen.
First things first: Sunscreen is a must. When picking out the perfect formula for your neck and décolletage, look for a product that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. "Most people forget to wear sunscreen when wearing V-neck shirts, even if they put sunscreen on their face," says cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Michele Green. "Using a good sunscreen will protect the delicate skin of your neck and décolletage against the sun."
Don't forget to exfoliate.
Like your face, your neck and chest can accumulate dead skin cells and, as a result, look rougher (and older) than they actually are. To avoid this, Dr. Green says to use a gentle exfoliator to promote circulation and prepare your skin for moisturizer.
Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
Speaking of moisturizer, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick says hydrating these areas should be a top priority. "Hydrating the skin in this area is key, as the more hydrated the skin is, the more healthy and radiant it will appear," she explains. "Hyaluronic acid-containing products can help to not only draw in moisture, but can visibly plump and hydrate the skin, improving the appearance of fine lines."
Try an at-home peel.
The words seem scary, but Dr. Green assures us that the results are anything but. "At-home peels are fabulous for giving immediate results and a glow to this area," she says. "Combine alpha and beta hydroxy acids and salicylic acid for a gentle at-home chemical peel. By exfoliating and re-texturizing the skin, these treatments target sun damage and brighten your skin."
Use products designed specifically for the neck and décolletage.
While applying your favorite facial moisturizer to your neck and chest is better than doing nothing at all, Dr. Garshick explains that there's something to be said for products specifically formulated for these areas. "While some of the same products you use on your face can also help the chest and neck, it is important to use them with caution," she says. "Remember the skin on the neck and chest is delicate and may be more sensitive to some of the same ingredients used on the face, so while it is still important to apply anti-aging ingredients to the neck, the frequency and amount may be different to minimize irritation." Try Colorescience's "Pep Up" Collagen Renewal Face and Neck Treatment ($159, nordstrom.com).
Apply products with upward strokes.
As is the case with your face, whenever you apply products to your chest and neck, it's best to do so in long, upward motions. This helps promote a lifted appearance and avoids enhancing the effects of gravity, says Dr. Garshick.
Stop looking down at your phone so much.
We all do it—it's undeniable. However, according to Dr. Garshick, it's the very act of looking down at our phones that could be making our neck skin droop—despite the skincare regimen we employ. "To help prevent this, when possible, it is best to avoid looking down at your computer or phone and try to bring the phone up towards your face," she says. "Additionally, more research is needed, but there is a concern that blue light exposure may contribute to free radical damage and lead to hyperpigmentation and dark spots."
Opt for in-office treatments.
At the end of the day, over-the-counter skincare products can only do so much. If your neck and décolletage needs a bit more help, it's time to consult a dermatologist for an in-office treatment. Where neurotoxins and Botox can help soften the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, Vbeam lasers can rid the area of redness and broken blood vessels; Thermage can tighten the area with radiofrequency.
Nail down a routine.
If tips and product recommendations are enough to get your head spinning, keep it simple with a streamlined routine. According to Dr. MacGregor, your best bet is to apply an antioxidant serum with vitamin C to these areas in the morning; we like Glo Skin's Beauty Retinol+ Resurfacing Serum ($68, dermstore.com). If you plan to use retinoids in your morning routine, just remember to apply SPF after, since this active ingredient makes skin more susceptible to UV damage (though, you should be applying SPF here, regardless). Consider peel pads twice a week and go heavy on moisturizer, like Natura Biss' C+C Vitamin Body Life ($107, dermstore.com).
And remember, prevention is key. "Once discoloration and texture changes occur, the area is best treated with combination therapies," Dr. MacGregor reminds us. "Lasers and light treatments can be used to even out the skin tone, but the skin on the neck and chest will require lighter treatments for safety and will take at least twice as long to heal from each treatment as the face. What's more, multiple treatments are often required."