Considering sun damage is the cause of 80% of skin aging, most committed skincare fans are evangelical about the daily application of sufficient sun protection. While your face may be protected, what about the décolletage area? This French word refers to the area between your chin and your breasts, and it’s often forgotten about when it comes to both suncare and skincare products. Forget at your peril though, this area is very prone to sun damage and subsequently early aging. Don’t worry though, we spoke to two skin experts about the best ways to protect this area, and how to reverse the damage you may have done in the past.
Why is the décolletage area so prone to sun damage?
Much like the skin on your face, the skin in the décolletage area is particularly delicate and sensitive. “The skin in this area is fragile and produces less oil than the skin on your face,” cosmetic surgeon and skin expert Dr. Paul Banwell points out. Subsequently, this makes it susceptible to dryness and loss of elasticity. Much like the face, it is often on display. Especially in warmer climates or summer months when you wear open shirts or lower cut tops. “It’s exposed to the sun’s harmful rays a lot, as well as blue light from computer screens, televisions and mobile phones,” Dr. Banwell highlights. Considering most people don’t take their suncare all the way from the chin to the chest, you have the makings of increased sun damage. “The décolletage area is more prone to premature aging and is a common area for skin cancers to develop,” Dr. Banwell notes.
How can you protect the décolletage area from the sun?
Of course, prevention is much more effective than treatment. So, if you don’t look after this area already, today is the time to start. “The best way to protect the area from sun damage is to cover up when out in the sun or stay out of the sun completely,” Dr. Banwell advises. When this isn’t possible, ensure to use high factor broad-spectrum SPF daily. You can use the same product you apply to your face. Just remember to use more product — squeeze the suncream tube along the length of two fingers for a good estimation of the amount you need for the face and full décolletage area. If you’re going to be outside lots, swimming or sweating, reapply every few hours.
It’s also important to consider what other products you use in the décolletage area. As a general rule, use all your products right down to your chest. This area can really benefit from active ingredients like Vitamin C or Retinol. However, as this area is delicate, proceed with caution. For example, start by using new active ingredients on alternate days and build up to daily if your skin suits it. Furthermore, Dr. Banwell suggests staying clear of scrubbing or using harsh brushes or mitts in this area.
Identifying sun damage on your décolletage
First up it’s important to identify what sun damage looks like in this area. It can appear in a number of different ways. “These include redness and pain, blistering, wrinkles and sagging, crepey skin as a result of premature aging caused by sun damage. Dry and peeling skin can also be caused by sun damage, as can sun spots and pigmentation,” Dr. Banwell clarified.
You can treat sun damage on your décolletage at home by amping up your skincare routine or including rituals like masks. Cosmetic doctor Dr. John Quinn recommends Vitamin C for pigmentation: “This decreases the activity of melanosomes helping to make pigment look more even.” Hyaluronic acid is also a hero here. “Sun-damaged skin is usually dry and has lost collagen and elastin, so using products with hyaluronic acid can help. Hyaluronic acid holds a thousand times its weight in water so it helps to rehydrate skin leaving it looking plumper and less wrinkled,” Dr. Quinn said.
“It’s worth seeing a professional if the at-home treatments you’re doing don’t seem to be making any difference to the skin in the décolletage area,” Dr. Quinn recommended. Luckily, you can expect pretty impressive results. “In-clinic treatments involve revolutionary technology such as lasers which can reverse some of the appearances of sun damage such as sunspots, pigmentation, wrinkles and saggy skin and help to rejuvenate skin and help it to look plumper and healthier,” Dr. Quinn clarified.
Here, Dr. Quinn shares his top three non-invasive treatment options for the décolletage area. These are the treatments he recommends most suitable for this area in particular. However, sun damage on the décolletage area shows up in different ways and it is therefore always best to seek professional advice about your specific concerns and what might work best.
- Ultherapy: “Ultherapy® is a non-invasive, non-surgical cosmetic procedure that uses micro-focussed ultrasound waves to stimulate the body’s natural healing and cell repair processes. The focussed ultrasound waves can target the structural layers of the skin to boost the production of collagen within the skin, resulting in toning, tightening, and lifting effects. Benefits continue to develop in the two to three months after treatment, with further improvements up to six months later.”
Price: Starts at $500
Frequency: You can have treatments annually.
Potential side effects: There is a chance of swelling, redness, numbness or tingling in the immediate aftermath.
- IPL: “IPL stands for intense pulsed light. IPL is a method of skin treatment and rejuvenation that uses light-based energy to improve the appearance of the skin, including in the decolletage area. It selectively heats and damages specific targets in the skin without disrupting the surface.”
Price: Starts at $700
Frequency: You can have the treatment as often as every month.
Potential side effects: There can be a small amount of pain during the treatment and a little soreness after.
- Profhilo: “Profhilo is an advanced injectable treatment that is sometimes known as the ‘injectable moisturizer’. The procedure consists of two sessions of many small injections of hyper-pure synthetic hyaluronic acid, a substance produced naturally by the body. The microinjections create a hydrated and plumped look rather than restructuring shape. Profhilo can help to give dry sun-damaged skin back the glow and hydration it’s lost, as well as creating plumper, smoother texture.”
Price: Starts at $1000
Frequency: Normally you have 1 or 2 treatments 4 weeks apart and then a break of 6 months or more.
Potential side effects: You may experience mild bruising or swelling.
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