Lately, I’ve noticed when I look in the mirror that it’s not the skin on my face that seems to be aging faster than I’d like — it's the skin on my chest, or décolletage, as it’s often called in beauty land. And, it’s driving me nuts since I’m pretty sure it’s my fault for neglecting this area over the years.
“Now that women are transforming their faces and necks,” says Dr. Francesca Fusco, a Manhattan-based dermatologist, “they are keenly aware of a disconnect when they wear a low-cut top, which reveals a contrast.” This difference is made apparent by brown spots, mottled discoloration, red splotches, and vertical fine lines on the chest — all signs of aging.
Dr. Fusco says the skin on the décolletage is thin and subject to photo damage, and it should be treated differently than that of your face. More importantly, though, we need to stop ignoring it completely (oops...). While more women are applying some UV protection to their face daily in the form of sunscreen, moisturizer with SPF, or foundation/BB cream with broad spectrum, they are not as vigilant about their chests. “In many cases, it is because they feel a covered chest is sufficient. However, a T-shirt alone does not provide enough UV protection and is at best an SPF 6 to 8, so broad-spectrum coverage is just as important on the chest.” Duly noted.
So, what should we be doing? First and foremost, guard your chest from the sun. As for treating the damage that may have already been done, Dr. Fusco says retinol remains a gold standard in anti-aging programs, and that applies to this area of the body as well. “I recommend starting with an OTC retinol every night. The morning routine should include a brightener, followed by a broad-spectrum sunscreen or moisturizer with a sunblock," she advises.
All that said, you may also find this summer that perspiration and those layers of sunscreens produce tiny acne spots or heat rash called "miliaria." Dr. Fusca recommends trying a nightly mask once or twice a week like the First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Overnight Mask, which will help hydrate skin. I also love Wei East’s Natural Firming Throat and Décolletage Pads.
Follow that up in the morning with a gentle exfoliating pad like First Aid Beauty’s Facial Radiance Pads. After exfoliating, you can apply a multipurpose topical like Hydroxatone Declatone Neck and Décolleté Complex. These layered together will help prevent (and fight) those crinkles, spots, and lines.
So, if you've ever watched a Real Housewives episode and been transfixed by the fact that their necks look 10 years older than their faces, you get why expanding your beauty routine below your chin is important. Just say no to Mismatched Face and Chest Syndrome, ladies.
First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Overnight Mask, $38, available at Sephora; Wei East Natural Firming Throat and Décolletage Pads, $15.99, available at Wei East; First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads, $30, available at Sephora; Hydroxatone Declatone Neck and Décolleté Complex, $59, available at Ulta.
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