There are tons of skincare solutions for wrinkles just about everywhere on the body—eyes, face, lips, neck, hands—but even the most diligent appliers among us can skip one of the biggest areas ripe for wrinkles: the chest. The décolletage sneakily develops signs of aging; everything seems fine and dandy until you're standing in front of the mirror, realizing that those "sleep creases" just aren't going away no matter how vigorously you rub. Or maybe that's just me.
And, of course, wrinkles aren't a bad thing, or an ugly thing—they're just a product of having skin and being alive. But I'd like to keep my chest smooth for as long as I can. And that's fine too. So, I did some research on behalf of preventing new chest wrinkles and smoothing any I may already have.
I asked dermatologists Marisa K. Garshick, MD, and Rachel Nazarian, MD, to enlighten me in regards to getting rid of chest wrinkles (and preventing them in the first place). "Volume loss and repeated folding of the skin are the two biggest causes," says Nazarian. "Over time, 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. 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."
What is there to be done? Read on to see the best methods and products to take those lines off of your list of skin concerns.
Meet the Expert
- Marisa K. Garshick, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at MDCS Dermatology in New York; she is also an assistant professor of dermatology at Cornell—New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
- Rachel Nazarian, MD, FAAD is a board-certified dermatologist practicing at Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York; she is also a faculty member at Mount Sinai Medical Center's Department of Dermatology.
Wear (and Reapply) Sunscreen Religiously
It really shouldn't be surprising that this is one of the best preventative tools when it comes to chest protection. "Sunscreen on the chest is a must for everyone, not only to prevent wrinkles but also to prevent brown spots and, most importantly, skin cancer," says Garshick. "The chest area sees a lot of sun exposure over the years and is often forgotten about when it comes to sunscreen, resulting in crepey skin with discoloration and fine lines and wrinkles." Slather up whenever you're going outside, and remember to re-apply every two hours.
Get Some Support for Side Sleeping
"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." Anyone who has tried switching to back-sleeping will tell you it's easier said than done. If you can't give up side-snoozes, there are products out there to create separation between your breasts and fight the deep creasing process our chests can go through at night, like Sio's Anti-Wrinkle Chest Pad.
Add Some Vitamin C
All of the glorious benefits of topical Vitamin C—free radical protector, fine line smoother, complexion brightener—will help your neck and chest, not just your face. "It can be helpful for those who are specifically looking to brighten the skin, and it can also help to even out the skin tone, improving the appearance of dark spots," says Garshick. "Because it helps to fight free radical damage, it can also help to prevent fine lines and wrinkles." Smooth that serum all the way down.
Try Chemical or Physical Exfoliation
That "new woman" feeling you get just after using an excellent scrub or peel on your face? Treat your chest to a little of that magic, too. Eliminating dead skin cells on the regular will improve tone and texture and encourage the production of new, plump, baby skin cells that will smooth out fine line and wrinkles. Products like Dove's Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash ($6) are gentle enough for everyday use if you like a good physical scrub. If you do better with chemical formulas, GloSkin Beauty's GlyPro AHA Resurfacing Peel ($85) can do your face and neck in one fell swoop, which we love.
The skin on our neck and décolletage is actually thinner than it is on the face. "For some ingredients, because the skin on the chest and neck can be more delicate or sensitive, it is important to remember a little goes a long way and it may be necessary to reduce the frequency," advises Garshick.
Head to a Dermatologist for Treatment
If you have deeper-set lines, you can visit a dermatologist you trust who offers deeper, more powerful treatments than over-the-counter options. "I love procedures that trigger the production of collagen and elastin while minimizing surface sun damage—like micro-needling and a Fraxel laser," says Nazarian.
Use Targeted Skincare
As a general rule, what's good for your face is also good for your neck. Ingredients like hyaluronic acid, peptides, antioxidants, and collagen can help improve the appearance of wrinkles over time. "I recommend looking for… 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," says Nazarian. Some creams are targeted specifically for neck and chest applications, but most products will pull double-duty, even if they don't advertise it.
Get Into Retinol
Retinoids (stronger, prescription meds such as tretinoin) and retinol (over-the-counter formulations) are derived from vitamin A and have been the gold standard in turning back the skin clock for a long time. "Retinoids are a key part of an anti-aging regimen for the face, neck, and chest as it helps to regulate skin cell turnover and promote collagen production, improving the texture of the skin and reducing fine lines and wrinkles," says Garshick. But don't go slather-happy the first five nights in a row, she warns. "That said, it is important to remember to apply only a small amount and apply just a few times per week, based on tolerability, to avoid drying the skin out or causing irritation."
Hyaluronic-acid-based fillers, like Juvederm and Restylane, can have a profound effect on the appearance of lines and wrinkles in the chest, as can other fillers like Sculptra or Poly-L-Lactic acid. Beware the all-too-tempting-trap of 'just a little more right there,' however. "In general, it is always best to avoid overcorrection to maintain a natural appearance. This [treatment] is generally best for those who are noticing deeper creases and lines developing," says Garshick. And our old faithful friend Botox? While using it for this purpose would be off-label, it can be an option, she notes.
Moisturize, A Lot
Moisturizing covers a multitude of skin sins. "The more hydrated the skin is, the healthier it is and the better the skin will appear," says Garshick. A smooth and supple appearance goes a long way towards convincing the eye to ignore any little lines that might be there. Bonus points if you invest in one that also contains SPF to protect the rest of your body, too.
If you're a real sun bunny or spend a lot of time in the water, it might be worth it for you to invest in some UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) clothing to provide additional coverage, so you'll still be protected even if you frolic in the waves past time for SPF reapplication.
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