Nora Ephron said it best in her book “I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman” (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2006): “Our faces are lies, and our necks are the truth.” Women can often appear younger because of makeup and rigorous skincare practices, but signs of aging on the neck, shoulders, and chest—also known as the décolleté or décolletage—are harder to hide, as people tend to ignore that area until it is too late. The skin on the décolleté is thinner and less elastic, which makes it highly susceptible to ultraviolet (UV) damage and more likely to show signs of aging, such as sagging, fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and uneven pigmentation (including redness, brown spots, and a leathery appearance), and texture changes. “Decades of exposure to sun and pollutants can make this fragile skin on the neck and décolleté appear aged and withered with lined skin and dark spots,” says Angela Eriksen-Stanley, director of education at Phytomer Group. “If not cared for properly, this key focal point of the body can be deceiving, looking prematurely aged.”
Movements such as looking down at the phone and side sleeping are both common causes of wear and tear on the décolleté, which appear as wrinkles similar to expression lines seen around the face. Also, people sometimes forget to protect and treat the décolleté. Beth Bialko, global curriculum developer at Dermalogica and The International Dermal Institute, says that people often treat the face with meticulous care but fail to bring their skincare products, including sunscreen, down to the neck and chest areas. This causes a lack of “harmony,” according to Luigi L. Polla, M.D., dermatologist and founder of Alchimie Forever, who believes that beauty means harmony. “As we have gotten in the habit of taking care of our faces with antioxidant skincare products, sunscreen, Botox, and other rejuvenating treatments, the difference in terms of the ‘age’ of our faces versus that of our necks and décolletés tends to increase, leading to a lack of harmony,” he says.
The best way to ensure a healthy and young-looking décolleté is prevention, but the influx of décolleté-specific products that have been introduced to the market over the past few years, as well as spa services that target the delicate area, is good news for spa-goers both young and old. Women of all ages should treat and care for the skin on the face, neck, and chest with proper cleansers, serums, masks, moisturizers, and a daily sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30. Bialko suggests that clients use products with the same age-fighting ingredients on the décolleté that are used for the face. “Look for ingredients like peptides and retinol to stimulate collagen synthesis and improve skin texture and skintone with brightening exfoliating agents like lactic acid,” she says. “Restore and repair damaged skin with age-management products that are packed with antioxidants such as vitamins C, E, and F, and panthenol. An SPF of 30 is a must, even on cloudy days.” Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Clinical Enterprises, also recommends corrective ingredients like lactic, malic, and tartaric acids, as well as epidermal growth factors, omega fatty acids, and peptides. “It’s important to remember the body ages just as our faces do, and by treating the body with the same ingredients we use for facial rejuvenation, we can help clients achieve healthy, youthful skin all over,” she says.
Spa treatments intended to nourish, hydrate, and protect the décolleté are most effective, according to Bialko, but treatments that deep cleanse, firm, reduce brown spots, and stimulate collagen are also beneficial. However, Jennifer Linder, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and chief scientific officer at PCA Skin, recommends that spas take a progressive—not aggressive—approach to treatment. “All the challenges we are trying to treat in this area will typically be worsened by over-treatment,” she says. “Unless treating teens, this area is typically not oily. Treatments should focus on hydrating, strengthening, and reducing pigment and redness.”
Whether the treatment is an add-on service done during the mask phase of a facial or as a stand-alone service that helps treat a prematurely aging, sensitive, or sunburned neck and chest, spa treatments can help treat the décolleté and help prevent further damage. At Aji Spa at Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa (Chandler, AZ), spa-goers can indulge in the Ultimate Infusion (starting at $230, 80 minutes), which incorporates oxygen under pressure to deliver a special serum of low molecular weight antioxidants, botanicals, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and essential vitamins to help lighten, brighten, and hydrate the areas of the neck and décolleté and leave it looking younger and firmer. “A gentle exfoliation is used to brighten and exfoliate before the oxygen delivers hydration to help minimize fine lines and wrinkles,” says spa director Sara Howard. “This treatment assists in lifting and giving the skin a healthy, dewy appearance, reducing fine lines and improving elasticity.”
While some décolleté-targeted services utilize products and massage to treat the area, others feature more advanced techniques like electrical modalities, firming serums, and water-soluble masks with galvanic iontophoresis, microcurrent, or ultrasound that can penetrate more deeply into the skin, says Bialko. The Youthful Radiance Facial ($190, 80 minutes) at The Spa at Suncadia at Suncadia Resort (Cle Elum, WA), for example, is an organic brightening facial that features a vitamin C exfoliating treatment, a mineral-rich purifying white clay mask, and microcurrent and LED light therapy to brighten the face, neck, and décolleté.
Peels are also beneficial in treating damage on the décolleté. The Décolleté and Shoulder Peel ($10) at Evensong Spa at Heidel House Resort & Spa (Green Lake, WI), for example, is a facial add-on service that includes a peel to help retexture, clarify, and brighten the shoulders and décolleté. The peel is tailored to each guest based on his or her concern. According to spa director Druellen Kosti, for pigmentation concerns, the esthetician uses a multi-acid peel containing glycolic, lactic, and salicylic acids to help exfoliate, followed by an antioxidant mask that contains natural skin-brightening ingredients like bearberry and licorice. For acne, which she says is a concern of many guests who have problems on their chest and back areas, a salicylic acid peel is used followed by a Moor mud mask to assist with decongestion and healing the erupted skin and then a moisturizer to protect and rehydrate. “We find that these add-on options are very popular with brides-to-be, as many dresses are lower cut in the front and back, and they are concerned with these areas looking as beautiful as the rest of their skin,” she says.
Kosti adds that the spa always follows up all of its treatments with tips and proper skincare knowledge so guests may continue to keep these areas looking beautiful. “It is essential to educate clients on extending their skincare products down to the neck and décolleté to protect the skin barrier, just as they would on the face, providing the proper protection and nutrients,” says Brittney Gardner, esthetician and director of sales and education for HydroPeptide. “No matter how diligent people are with anti-aging treatments for their face, the same care must be applied to the neck and décolleté to achieve consistent, youthful results. With everyday sun exposure on the face, neck, and décolleté, every client should walk out the door with at least a daily sunscreen and the understanding that it must also be applied to the neck and chest.”
Dasha Saian, president of Saian Natural Clinical Skincare recommends that clients clean the entire décolleté area daily with a cleanser and exfoliate with a scrub or enzyme mask once every three days. “This is the only way to achieve an even transition in color and texture from the bust to the face,” says Saian. And while there are many spa treatments available and products on the market today that target the décolleté, Linder recommends multifunctional products that are hydrating and contain multiple key ingredients designed to address the common complaints about the area. “Simple is best when you are asking a client to add a step to their regimen,” she says.
It’s important to make clients aware that the spa offers décolleté-targeted services. This can be done when clients book a service, during and after treatments, and as clients browse the products in the retail area post-treatment. “The most convincing advertisement of products or treatments is before-and-after photos,” says Saian. “Usually, a series of six treatments helps to achieve wonderful results, as well as the purchase of a home-use firming product, and a lifting neck bandage.”
Ada Polla, CEO of Alchimie Forever, agrees that images can send a powerful reminder and message. “Using images of models with unharmonious faces and décolletés is always helpful,” she says. “Often, women don’t take care of this area because they are not aware of it and don’t think of it. Discussing rejuvenation of the décolleté is not yet as mainstream as discussing rejuvenation of the face, so it is less top of mind.” She also suggests taking advantage of seasonality to highlight this area of the body. “Most people will think more of the body during the spring, in preparation for bathing suit season,” she says. “However, remember that the décolleté is also prime real estate when wearing a cocktail dress during the year-end holiday season.”
It’s also crucial for spa professionals to ask the right questions during a consultation with a client to look for concerns such as a neck injury or surgery that might be a contraindication for the client to receive a décolleté treatment, according to Bialko. “Menopausal women can be more reactive as well due to heat sensitivity,” she says. “The thinning skin on the décolleté can be easily irritated, so avoiding exfoliation with hydroxy acids or the application of retinoid is advised.”
Estheticians should also use extreme caution with clients who are pregnant, lactating, on certain medications or prescriptions, or who have recently received any sort of resurfacing treatment. But for most clients, a décolleté-specific treatment and products can be highly beneficial and the key to a more youthful appearance. “I like to remind clients that the décolleté is an extension of the face,” says Allison. “If they are on a pro-youth regimen or if achieving youthful skin is a goal for them, treating the décolleté will create a consistent appearance. People often forget about the décolleté, but since this delicate region of the skin tends to reveal the signs of aging, it’s particularly important to treat it.”
Learn more about décolleté-targeted products from these companies.—Jennifer Nied
1. Advanced Rejuvenating Concepts Refirm: This anti-aging neck and décolleté treatment contains a blend of peptides and gluconolactone that helps strengthen the skin. www.arcskincare.com
2. Babor SkinovagePX Intensifier: This cream plumps sagging skin from the inside out by stimulating the regenerative process for a visibly smoother neck. Alpine stem cells offer DNA protection to prevent future damage. www.babor.com
3. CBI Skincare Decollete + Bust Contour Crème: The star of this restorative cream is the flowering kigelia Africana tree fruit, which strengthens and firms skin and enhances elasticity with amino acids and bio-flavonoids. www.cbiskincare.com
4. Cosmedix Cell ID: This serum relies on amino acids, antioxidants, and growth factors to help repair the signs of aging. www.cosmedix.com
5. GM Collin 3D Visible Lifting Cream & Serum: This anti-aging duo produces an instant lifting effect while protecting the face and neck areas from external stressors and hydrating with jojoba oil and vitamin E. www.gmcollin.com
6. HydroPeptide Firming Moisturizer Slimming Body Rejuvenation: Targeting imperfections from the neck down, this cream hydrates with a blend
of antioxidant peptides, caffeine, and ceramides. www.hydropeptide.com
7. Jan Marini Skin Research Marini Juveneck Neck Cream: Created to treat the signs of aging on the neck and décolleté, this formula is clinically proven to reduce lines and creases, refine skin texture, and increase hydration. www.janmarini.com
8. Le Mieux Collagen Peptide Serum: Sagging
skin can get a youthful boost from this concentrated blend of ceramides, hyaluronic acid, four peptides, and marine algae extract with timed-release
9. Meg21 Smooth Radiance Advanced Formula with Supplamine: This gentle treatment diminishes the appearance of wrinkles and crepey skin on the neck, chest, and upper arms. www.meg21promo.com
10. Repêchage Vita Cura Triple Action Nutri Crème: Aloe vera, glycolic acid, natural fruit oils, and seaweed extracts help restore the skin’s moisture barrier function and hydrate dry areas. www.repechage.com
11. Sothys Paris Shaping Neck Care: This sculpting treatment helps redefine the contour of the jaw line, neck, and décolleté with bitter orange, mamaku extract, tri and hexa peptides, and watercress, which work to increase collagen and elastin.
12. Timeless By Pevonia Radiant Skin Mask: This rich, calming treatment firms, brightens, and rejuvenates skin with azulene, carrot oil, green apple, peach, and vitamin B5. www.timelessbypevonia.com