As the years go by, I've begun to notice subtle changes to my face and body as a result of my age. And that's completely normal. But especially as someone who spends so much time researching innovations in the beauty space, it leaves me searching for answers nonetheless. I've dabbled in Botox, "needle-free" facials, and body-exfoliating treatments, all with really positive results. So when I noticed a few chest wrinkles cropping up, I wanted to figure out a way to best take action.
As with most of my beauty concerns, I went straight to the source and emailed a few of my favorite dermatologists. I asked them why this was happening, how to prevent it from getting worse, and various treatments and techniques to reverse some of the damage. Below, find their advice (and a few recommended products).
"Volume loss and repeated folding of the skin are the two biggest causes," Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group says of developing chest wrinkling. "Sun damage is huge," adds Audrey Kunin, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of DermaDoctor. "Over time," Nazarian continues, "collagen is degraded by sunlight and free radical damage which causes this already thin-skinned area of the body to become even more so. Additionally, as we move, skin folds upon itself creating creases—even sleeping on our chest or side repeatedly can cause the skin to fold on itself (especially if you have larger breasts). Those creases will grow deeper with time, much like facial expression lines on your face. And the thinner the skin is, the deeper the lines can form."
The best prevention techniques:
"Protect your chest and décolletage in the same way you would your face: sunscreen, avoidance of skin-damaging habits like smoking or tanning, and remembering to include this area in your anti-aging regimen—apply topical free radical–neutralizing serums, antioxidants, and retinols," says Nazarian. "Sunscreen, sunscreen, and sunscreen," adds Kunin. "Preventing sunburns in this area earlier in life will go a very long way to prevention. The use of topical vitamin C and retinol and/or tretinoin can also be beneficial. Once the deep lines form, more aggressive treatment may be necessary."
"Ideally, you would not allow yourself to repeatedly physically crease the skin with movements such as sleeping position or arm positioning," says Nazarian, but I find these behavioral habits much more difficult to adhere to. "Many companies have started to create topical patches and products that can be used to maintain smooth skin while you sleep and resist creasing of the décolletage area."
Ingredients to look for (and avoid):
"Ultimately it's no different than the skin of the face, neck, and body and will respond to similar ingredients that improve those classic areas, but it is very sensitive," says Nazarian. "I recommend looking for retinol (a vitamin A derivative to induce collagen production), peptides and antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, and ingredients that encourage better hydration and moisturization of your skin, such as hyaluronic acid and heparin sulfate."
Nazarian adds, "Avoid stronger irritants in this area that may inflame this delicate skin, such as high-concentration glycolic acid (lower levels are fine), and avoid using strong cleansers here in the shower, as harsh foaming soaps can strip natural oils and hydrators from the skin and irritate the tissue, leading to dry skin which only enhances the appearance of wrinkles."
Behaviors to be wary of (and treatments that can help):
"There are behaviors you can avoid, but it's hard," warns Nazarian. "Avoid anything that pushes the skin centrally—crossing your arm tightly, or sleeping positions such as sleeping on your stomach or side, and even tight push-up bras."
"But," she says, "there's so much that can help. I love procedures that trigger the production of collagen and elastin while minimizing surface sun damage—like micro-needling and Fraxel laser. Hyaluronic acid fillers like Juvéderm and Restylane can be conservatively injected to fill in deep lines and soften the appearance of wrinkles. "Micro-injections of Botox can be very helpful with chest wrinkles," adds Kunin.
"The use of the adhesive chest sheets regularly can smooth out lines that are caused by creasing while you sleep, especially if you're a dedicated stomach-sleeper," notes Nazarian. "Plus," adds Kunin, "wearing a lightweight bra that keeps breasts from being pushed together if you are a side sleeper may be helpful as well."