The French term décolletage is often misunderstood as just the area above an imaginary low-cut line of a dress. In reality this delicate feminine body part includes quite a large area from the lower jaw, neck, breasts and cleavage.
Ideally the skin around these areas should be velvet smooth, without a hint of wrinkles and even in tone. Otherwise, many women would shy away from wearing those revealing dresses. The truth is our décolletage is one of the most vulnerable areas and is also one of the most prone to ageing.
Why does the décolleté need special attention?
First and foremost, this is to do with its anatomical peculiarities. The chest has a thin layer of subcutaneous fat, which is why the skin here lacks density. There are few lymphatic and blood vessels, meaning that there is a lack of blood circulation. There are also few sebaceous glands, making it prone to dehydration and collagen deficiency. Finally, the only muscle group this area of the skin can rely on is the neck.
And there is more. Every month this area is influenced by hormonal fluctuations and the changing size of breasts. During pregnancy there is a real leap in growth and the likelihood of developing stretchmarks. After breastfeeding the skin loses elasticity. This is why this delicate area is so in need of special attention.
1/ Use dedicated products
By dedicated products we mean those specifically aimed for your neck and chest area. Many of these creams and serums have a similar ingredients list to antiaging formulas, even if they are not specifically marked as such and their potential buyers are aged 25+.
The reason for this is the peculiar structure of the chest’s skin, which can be supported and regenerated through such ingredients as peptides, hyaluronic acid, retinoids, niacinamide, fatty acids, vitamin C and other antioxidants. Usually, these kinds of ingredients are found in rejuvenating products aimed at stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis. As for the skill of applying creams to this area there are two key techniques:
- Smoothing movements: moving in the upwards direction from the chest to the neck and towards the lower jaw.
- Light pressing movements: downwards motions from the neck to the chest by gently pressing your palms to the skin.
A self-massage using your hands or a massage tool brings extra benefits when you apply a cream.
2/ Prevent acne
Chest acne is usually caused by a hormonal imbalance. If this sounds all too familiar it might be time to swap your dermatologist for an endocrine gynaecologist. To help fight and prevent breakouts try using an acid-based cream and exfoliate regularly 1-2 times a week with an enzyme or acid peel.
3/ Prevent stretchmarks
The best preventative measure against stretchmarks (aka striae) is to apply a rich, nourishing and oil-based cream or balm rich in fatty acids in the morning and evening. This includes such ingredients as shea butter as well as sweet almond, sunflower, coconut, jojoba and macadamia oils. Pay special attention to stretchmarks before the age of 30 as, according to beauticians, this is the most likely age to develop them.
If you happen to already have stretchmarks, there is not much you can do about it without resorting to high-tech beauty treatments. But you can try and minimise their visibility by using products rich in vitamins E, F and Bs and centella asiatica extract.
4/ Catch wrinkles early
To prevent early signs of photoaging (wrinkle lines, pigmentation and dryness) protect your neck and chest area with an SPF product. Another sign of ageing that troubles many women is the vertical wrinkle running from their cleavage.
It might start by only showing up in the morning after bedtime. The main way to prevent it is by not sleeping on your side, particularly if you have large breasts. Learn to sleep on your back, which is also beneficial for the skin on your face to avoid pillow creases. Having said that, there are dedicated pillows that help you sleep on your side without these adverse consequences for your breasts.
5/ Workout for your chest
There are several simple but effective exercises that will help look after your chest and neck. Here are a few of them:
- Wide smile. Seriously. By smiling as wide as possible you help tone the muscles of your neck and strengthen the tissues of the surrounding areas.
- Push-ups from a wall or against the floor leaning on your knees.
- Clapping. Place your hands in front of your chest with your palms parallel to the floor and elbows pointing sideways.
- Improve your posture. Squeeze a book under each armpit and start opening your hands outwards as if reaching out for a hug without dropping them on the floor.
6/ Take contrast showers
Contrast showers are great for the chest and neck area, given their ability to tone and improve blood circulation. Point the shower head straight on this area of your skin and massage it in circular motions. Alternatively, you can try using contrasting compresses with two towels: one dipped in cold but not icy water, the other in warm water. Apply the towels one after the other for 20-30 seconds at a time.
7/ Wear a comfortable bra
In many cases this advice can be interpreted as simply avoiding bras with wires. We mentioned earlier that the chest area has poor blood circulation, meaning that harsh lingerie only makes matters worse. Go for sporty designs with gentle elastics and materials without stitches.
The chest is considered to be a concentration of emotional and spiritual energy, given its proximity to the heart and the heart chakra. Meditation, breathwork and stretches can help unblock suppressed emotions and stress, which can sometimes literally suffocate our chest. The skin will only be able to thank you.
Editors’ picks: the best in chest and neck skincare
Décolletage Treatment Balm
This thick coating balm with shea, cupuacu and murumuru butters and sesame seed oil makes the skin denser and firmer, pre-empting the first signs of ageing and sagging.
Flawlessly Firming Neck, Chest & Décolletage Serum
Like all of this brand’s products, this lightweight serum for the neck, chest and decolletage has aromatherapeutic qualities and is based on the principles of ayurvedic skincare. The ingredients include oils of turmeric, avocado, carrot seeds, pomegranate and rosehip, which reduce the negative impact of stress and aggressive external influences on our skin.
One Love Organics
Botanical E Neck & Décolleté Firming Cream
Antiaging care from the chest up to your chin. The formula contains hyaluronic acid, soy and coconut oils and opuntia extract rich in vitamin E. Moisturises and fortifies the skin, all while evening out its texture.
Regenerating Neck and Decolleté Cream
This cream helps rejuvenate and tone the décolleté area using a great line-up of oils (macadamia, sesame, sweet almond, shea and jojoba), which are rich in fatty acids and provide an antioxidative action.
Firming Neck Cream
This product, based on truffle enzymes and a regenerating acid derived from edelweiss blossoms, counteracts the first signs of ageing in the fine décolleté area such as small wrinkles and pigmentation.
Neck Smoothing Skin Serum
This serum has a pleasant texture leaving no sticky or oily residue. Active components include extracts of aloe, hamamelis and spirulina, which provide high quality hydration and prevent the loss of elasticity.
Neck & Décolletage Wrinkle Refill
An antioxidative formula for mature skin, which helps iron our fine wrinkles, makes the deeper wrinkles less pronounced and reduces pigmentation. The formula uses daisy extract for its skin lightening properties, regenerating oils of linseed and monoi and neroli, verbena and damask rose hydrosols.
Neck & Décolleté Wrap
A thin silicone wrap for refreshing and moisturising the décolleté skin area and preventing the appearance of vertical wrinkles after sleeping on your side. Apply on top of a cream or serum and leave for 20 minutes. This multi-use wrap can be used up to 20 times.
Tension Melting Massager for Face & Neck
This massage roller made of rose quartz melts away tension and swelling, while strengthening and toning the skin. Remember to follow a few simple rules: clean your skin before use, apply an oil or a thick cream or balm. Massage your skin with upwards motions. Breathe deeply.