If you’re like most women, you spend a fair amount of time taking care of the skin on your face while pretty much ignoring your neck and chest. But these regions are especially quick to show age, for different physical and environmental reasons. Fortunately “it’s never too late to fight the effects of aging,” says Mary Lupo, a dermatologist in New Orleans. Just follow this regimen, then put those turtlenecks back in the drawer.
Why Do Your Neck and Chest Look So Old, So Fast?
“The lack of oil glands on your neck can cause dryness, which may accelerate the aging process and make your neck appear more weathered,” says Fredric Brandt, a dermatologist with practices in New York and Florida. Neck skin also has a tendency toward laxity. Couple that with all the twisting and turning that you do daily and you have a recipe for “crepey texture”—the lovely phrase used to describe skin that is both finely lined and saggy. Plus, contraction of the platysma muscle (which runs roughly from underneath the chin to the sternum) can cause the vertical cords of the neck to look more prominent, says New York City plastic surgeon Adam R. Kolker. The chest, or décolletage, is typically hardier, but it may take more of a beating from the sun, since your neck is often shaded by your chin, your hair, or a hat.
The most important product to apply to your neck and chest is good old sunscreen—better yet, a broad-spectrum moisturizer with an SPF of 30 or higher. This will help combat dryness and sun damage. If you already have some discoloration due to sun damage or sagginess on your neck and chest, Jeanine Downie, a dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey, recommends extending any facial anti-agers you use to these spots (a good one to try is Prevage Anti-Aging + Intensive Repair Daily Serum, $225; elizabetharden.com). “Most people take the words ‘face cream’ too literally,” she says. “Anything for the face is generally fine for the rest of the body.” Look for creams with retinol or plant extracts, to help firm, and lightening agents, such as kojic acid, to even out skin color. The exception to the rule: people with sensitive neck skin that blotches easily (if you fall into this category, you probably know it by now). This group may consider a neck-specific product (such as Clarins Extra-Firming Advanced Neck Cream, $82; clarins.com). “Neck creams tend to have gentler active ingredients and be slightly richer than face creams,” says Brandt. (Two more neck creams to try are Dr. Brandt Time Arrest V-Zone Neck Cream, $60, drbrandtskincare.com; and La Prairie Anti-Aging Neck Cream, $225, laprairie.com.)