The Neck and Décolleté: How to Treat the Skin in This Oft-Ignored Area

As little as ten years ago, the neck and décolleté was an area of skin care that was often overlooked, especially since the focus and concerns of many individuals have always been on firming, lifting and brightening the face. However, more consumers, both women and men, have been paying extra attention to this secondary area since it’s an extension of the face. Treating the neck and décolleté is a concern is not just for mature clients but for younger clients who want to preserve and slow down the aging process.

The neck and décolleté is sometimes referred to as the “French face” since, in Europe, spas offer specialized skincare treatments and regimens just for this area. More and more, spas in the U.S. are also offering professional services to lift and smooth out this area, recognizing that it is also a focal point.

So which products are ideal for this area, and can you use your regular facial moisturizer instead of a cream specifically for this area? Also, what should you look for when selecting a treatment?

Why focus on the neck and décolleté? What makes this area different from the skin on the face?

Just like the skin on the face, the skin on the neck and décolleté is a vulnerable region that shows the usual signs of aging: fine or deep-set lines, loss of elasticity, dryness and discoloration from sun damage.

The skin and muscles in the neck are thicker and stronger since they support the jawline and head. However, the major neck muscle is not connected to the bone structure; therefore, it is more prone to loss of elasticity.

The female bust is formed and composed of different types of tissues: glandular, fat and connective tissue. The breast has no muscles, bands or sinews for support, except for the large breast muscle.

In both the neck and décolleté, there is very little fatty tissue and fewer oil glands, therefore making this area more prone to wrinkling and dryness. Also, people who experience hormonal aging may also notice a difference in the texture and tone of skin.

Can you use facial moisturizers and SPF formulas on the neck and décolleté?

If you’re younger and are looking for a preventative – rather than a reparative – solution, starting with your regular moisturizer is a great place to start. However, if your skin is more mature and shows more need for repair, lifting, tightening and rejuvenation, you should use a cream specifically designed to work with the unique characteristics of the neck and décolleté.

If you want to invest in a neck and décolleté treatment, what should you look for in a product?

Look for key ingredients, starting with peptides, which help to replenish lost collagen and promote cell turnover for smoother, firmer skin. Other recommended key ingredients include:

  • Glycolic acid – to exfoliate and promote smoother skin, leading to a more even skin tone
  • Niacinamide – a B3 vitamin that helps strengthen the skin barrier and minimize past sun damage.
  • Retinols, retinoids or retin A– to speed up cell turnover and promote collagen build-up
  • Vitamin E – for antioxidant repair
  • Shea butter – intense hydration with a lightweight texture since it’s compatible with the skin.

Look for formulas that feel lightweight and absorb quickly since a common complaint about neck and décolleté treatments is the thick texture that sits on the surface. Consider a gel formula since gels instantly firm and tighten. Always use an SPF year round -- a facial or body sunscreen is sufficient, especially since most neck and décolleté treatments do not include SPF. When possible, avoid harsh, alkaline-based cleansers which strip the pH and promote dryness.

Exfoliate weekly to promote skin cell turnover so the products absorb better. Use massage motions toward the heart to promote lymphatic drainage and promote circulation.

Besides using topical treatments, how else can you strengthen this area?

Consider targeted exercises for the neck.

One to try: Lay flat on a soft blanket, legs flat in front and head propped onto a soft, thin pillow. Slowly lift your head using the neck muscles but not the abdominal muscles, approximately four inches off the floor, hold and then release back onto the pillow. Repeat ten times. Try the same lifting motions with the head facing left and right. When finished, sit up on the blanket and tilt the neck towards the ceiling.