What is the Decolette?

Everyone wants youthful skin, and many pay a fortune to get it. All those facial masks, creams, and serums can help, but there’s no substitute for the consistency of a tailored daily skincare routine. Whether that daily regimen consists simply of cleansing and moisturizing or it’s a little bit more extensive, there’s one secret you should share with your clients: it’s all about the décolleté.

When you think of flawless, glowing skin you probably imagine defined cheekbones, firm contours, and an uncreased forehead. As young as your face may look, however, the skin on your neck and chest can give away your age and it changes more quickly than you may realize.

Though they may have heard the word “décolleté” or “decolletage” thrown around, your clients may not truly understand what they mean. The word simply refers to the skin on the neck, chest, and shoulders. Here’s some important information to share with your clients about their décolleté area and how to care for it properly.

Understanding the Décolleté

The word décolleté is a French word describing the low neckline of a woman’s dress. In the world of beauty and skincare, however, it typically refers to the same area of skin that would be showing in a low-cut top: the chest, neck, shoulders, and upper back. Though the skin on the face understandably receives plenty of attention, the delicate skin of the décolleté deserves just as much care.

The skin on the neck and chest is thinner and has fewer oil glands than the skin on the face and other parts of the body. Because it has less natural hydration to rely on, the décolleté may be more prone to dryness and may even form wrinkles more easily. The décolleté is just as prone to sun damage as the rest of your skin, but this area is often overlooked when it comes to daily SPF application.

Here are some of the factors that can cause damage to décolleté skin:

  • Aging – Collagen and elastin production slows down as you get older, causing your skin to sag inward which results in small creases that can deepen into wrinkles.
  • Sun Damage – Exposure to UV rays speeds up the aging process, causing collagen and elastin to break down more quickly and making your skin look older than it is.
  • Diet – A diet full of processed food without the proper nutrients is a recipe for dry, damaged-looking skin and your décolleté is not immune.
  • Dehydration – Staying hydrated is important for skin health, and not just the skin on your face. Your décolleté is especially prone to dryness.
  • Gravity – Gravity literally pulls your skin downward which can increase the appearance of creases and wrinkles, especially if you sleep on your side.
  • Lack of Exercise – Regular exercise is important for healthy skin – it boosts blood flow and delivers essential nutrients to the skin.
  • Sleep Deprivation – When you feel tired, you look tired and lack of sleep can affect your skin. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body doesn’t have time to rid itself of the stress hormone cortisol and that can lead to inflammation and collagen breakdown.

It’s just as important to treat the décolleté with care as it is for the delicate skin around the eyes. The décolleté is prone to sunspots, hyperpigmentation, dryness, sunspots, and more. Your clients may not need an entirely new skincare routine designed around the décolleté area but remind them not to stop at the chin when cleansing and applying skincare products.

How the Décolleté Changes with Age

Aging is a fact of life – there is no escaping it. If your clients are smart, they’ll take your skincare advice sooner rather than later. When it comes to healthy skin, it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference: daily cleansing, moisturizing, and sun protection. This applies as much to the décolleté area as the skin on the face, though the skin in these two areas may age differently.

Even if your client knows their skin type (oily, dry, normal, or combination), they may not realize that it applies to their entire body. Genetics play a major role in determining skin type, so the same issues that affect the facial skin may occur elsewhere on the body. In fact, your clients may notice them more starkly in the skin on the chest and neck area because this skin is thinner and has fewer sebaceous glands. The skin on the neck is very similar to the skin on the eyelids, so be sure to instruct your clients to treat it with the same degree of care.

Not only is the décolleté more prone to dryness than other areas of skin, but it tends to lose elasticity more quickly as you age. If you sleep on your side, you may wake up with “pillow lines” that go away within 10 to 15 minutes of getting up. As you get older, however, collagen and elastin production declines and the skin may not “spring back” as quickly.

Tips for Décolleté Care

A simple skincare routine is all any client really needs to care for the décolleté area. In most cases, the same products they use on the face can be applied to the neck and chest. When using new products, however, you should recommend clients test a small amount on the face separately from the neck in case the skin in these areas reacts differently. Always introduce new products slowly to avoid a reaction.

Here are the steps to recommend in an effective skincare routine for the décolleté:

  1. Cleansing – Include the décolleté area in your daily cleansing routine to remove dirt, makeup and impurities from the surface of the skin. Use a gentle facial cleanser or body wash (if cleansing in the shower) and pat the skin dry with a clean towel.
  2. Exfoliating – Use a gentler exfoliant than you might on your face and start with once or twice weekly exfoliation until you see how the skin handles it. Choose a gentle facial scrub and apply in circular motions before rinsing the skin clean.
  3. Moisturizing – The décolleté area is particularly prone to moisture loss, so hydration is key. You may want to recommend a moisturizer designed for mature skin and suggest twice daily application, both morning and evening.
  4. Sun Protection – Wearing broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 or higher should be part of your client’s daily routine. Recommend sunscreen or a daily moisturizer with SPF.
  5. Nutrition – In the same way you recommend a nourishing facial mask from time to time, you may want to suggest a neck and décolleté mask in your client’s weekly routine. Look for masks that boost hydration and support collagen production to help keep the skin firm and youthful.

The unfortunate truth is once you develop wrinkles and sun damage on the décolleté area, you may not be able to repair it completely. A little protection and prevention go a long way when it comes to your skin, especially the delicate skin on your neck and chest. Educate your clients about the importance of  caring for the skin in the décolleté area and recommend appropriate products that may help.

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