Dare to Bare
Tailor-made for your décolletage, the latest formulas and treatments will protect your precious assets
by Alison Garwood-Jones
Chests get a lot of action in Hollywood. On-set, they can be bound, pushed up, prodded, inflated, highlighted, contoured and finally, set free. “There’s a whole lot of stretching pulling and tugging in this area,” says Dr. Lisa Kellett, a Toronto-based dermatologist, “far more so than the face.”
Despite all this movement and exposure, the skin here gets surprisingly little TLC – and that applies to all of us, not just the stars. But Dr. Kellett says our chests should get more pampering, “because the décolleté skin is thinner, more susceptible to sun damage and slower to heal from injury or age-related changes.”
It’s not too late: you can protect and preserve your delicate chest area with a range of new potions and, if cost is no issue, professional treatments.
Skin is skin, so don’t stop your beauty regimen at your jaw line. Otherwise, you’ll fall prey to what New York City-based celebrity makeup artist BJ Gillian describes as “That tell-tale contrast between a face that has been immaculately cared for and a chest that’s been neglected and look 4,000 years old.”
Age spots are often the first culprits to creep up on the décolletage. But by using products containing naturally derived substances that penetrate deeply and are said to stop the triggering of melanin (brown pigment) before it forms, you can bare you assets with confidence. Look for cream, lotion and serums containing glucosamine (a sugar), niacinamide (a vitamin B derivative) or that longtime favourite, vitamin C – all of which offer unparalleled skin brightening.
Lines and crepiness are the next biggest offenders. With the decrease in humidity during winter, skin loses water and can take on the appearance of cracked porcelain. “Regular moisturizing means you won’t have to resort to prescription creams for common winter conditions like eczema,” says Dr. Kellett. For an intense boost of hydration, look for products containing omega fatty acids as well as creams or gels with caffeine, co-enzyme Q10 and retinol (a vitamin A derivative) – all of which temporarily dilate epidermal cells for smoother, younger-looking skin. Apply morning and night, but as for following the instruction on the package and applying in “an upward circular motion,” Dr. Kellett just laughs.
“Don’t bother. Years of sun does way more damage than you could do in 15 seconds of pulling the skin around your breasts in a downward, non-circular motion.”
And remember, every now and again nothing beats a light application of good old-fashioned Vaseline before bed. “Stars have been doing it for years,” notes BJ.
A Little Extra Help
Good skin care starts with wearing lots of sunscreen as a child. If your mom forgot to protect your chest and neck, or if you once fried yourself on a tropical vacation, your décolletage may have turned into a road map that no over-the-counter product can improve. That’s when it’s time to consult a dermatologist.
He or she can offer prescription vitamin C creams (about $200 per bottle) with a 35 per cent concentration that rapidly fades brown spots. Intense pulsed light treatments fade more stubborn red and brown spots from sun damage in six sessions (which can cost up to $2,500).
But for the darkest age spots, Dr. Kellett recommends one session with a Q-switched ruby laser (starts at $350). This gizmo shoots short pulses of intense red light that absorb excess melanin in skin.
To smooth out a wrinkly chest, she recommends prescription retinol and vitamin A creams. Applied topically, they trigger collagen regeneration, creating noticeably firmer skin. Another option: ProFractional resurfacing, which uses laser to burn off tissue and remodel collagen. And for those pesky skin tags on the chest and neck, Dr. Kellett uses electrodessication – an electric needle that zaps them off ($30).