As a 41-year-old mother of two, life is always exhausting. Finding time for yourself is like finding Louboutin shoes on sale - it never happens - but it doesn't mean that you don't try. Blink and your kids grow up. You're another 5 years older and wondering where the time went. You look at yourself in the mirror and - oh. my. god. It's there - the dreaded sign that nearly all middle-aged women experience: wrinkles on your décolletage (neck and chest area). Years of bad skin care (basically, lack of) and hours of sun worshipping don't only show up on your face - the neck and chest are just as susceptible and are the first telltale signs of neglect. Of course genetics play a part, but it will only get you so far since every one of us will age - so the rest is up to you. Here are five - nonsurgical - things you can do to reduce the look of wrinkles - or if you're lucky, delay the process:
This isn't new. Our skin care specialists remind us to exfoliate every day. It's like flossing your teeth. But instead of focusing on our knees, elbows and heels we also need to reveal fresh layers of the skin along the neck and chest at least twice a week to help prep it to absorb moisturizer it so desperately needs. I really like Fresh’s Brown Sugar Body Polish - I generally prefer sugar over salt for it’s antibacterial properties and it’s a bit gentler on the skin. The lemon scent is heavenly and combined with sweet almond, apricot, jojoba and evening primrose oils, the skin will be well prepped without feeling dry after the process.
Fresh’s Brown Sugar Body Polish, $76, available at Sephora.
2. Use a Serum
After you exfoliate, the skin is in a state that will absorb moisture into its deepest layers. This is where you’ll want to start with a serum before you slap on moisturizer. A serum is made of more active ingredients and less fillers (such as mineral oil or petrolatum) and thickening agents (like seed oils). What you’re left with are the pure anti-aging ingredients so you’ll want the body to absorb all that first. There are lots of good serums out there but I really like Rodial’s Cougar Skin Zero Gravity Body Serum (I hate the name but love the product!). It features a time-released retinol formula that helps reverse photo damage - which, for all you bikini lovers (myself included here) is a god send. It’s got wild yam pytosteroids to restore youthfulness - plus, it smells good. Who doesn’t love orange blossom? When you apply, massage the product into the skin in a circular motion to promote circulation.
Rodial’s Cougar Skin Zero Gravity Body Serum, $94, available at dermstore.com
Seal in the serum with your best moisturizer - in this case, splurge on the best body cream you can afford. This will, however, depend on when you shower. If it’s in the morning, I love La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Souffle Body Cream. The texture is like whipped cream but it’s ultra rich and packed with caviar extracts from the sea to help the skin regulate moisture. Willow bark extract acts to gently exfoliate while white algae extracts and caffeine help stimulate circulation. I have a number of La Prairie products but this is by far my favourite.
If you shower at night, like I often do, you’ll want a special moisturizer designed specifically for nighttime use. At night, when the skin is resting, it provides enough time for the cells to focus fully on cleansing out toxins (atmospheric pollution, chemicals, UV radiation). So while you’re sleeping, the cells do their business and by morning, the skin is adequately replenished and regenerated - it’s beauty sleep at its finest! I’m a product junkie, so I’ve tried a number of night creams. I do have a new favourite though - Guerlain’s Orchidee Imperiale collection has been around for a while (since 2006) where its active ingredients come from a blend of 3 orchids (selected out of 30,000 studied - who has that kind of time??). Guerlain has recently added a new one - the Gold Orchid - that contains a special ingredient to regenerate cell life. This new flower along with Purifynol, made from a soy protein extract, is the basis of the Orchidee Imperiale collection’s night time formula.
I took the Orchidee Imperiale Neck and Decollete Cream with me on my recent Kauai trip, used it daily and the results were fantastic, I see less lines and the skin feels firmer. For a 41-year-old mom of two kids, I’d say my décolletage is looking pretty darn good. It’s now permanently part of my regular routine.
This should be a no-brainer. If you're like me, firmly in the middle-aged category, you absolutely need sunscreen on your face and décolletage every day to prevent further sun damage. If you’re in your twenties, this is a preventative step as your skin will thank you in 20 years. Despite using numerous products over the years, I still rely on my tried and true - La Roche Posay Anthelios sunscreen products. I’m super excited about their newest product, the Anthelios Aox Daily Antioxidant Serum with Sunscreen. Its SPF 50 protection along with antioxidants help to decrease the risk of sun damage while also providing much needed active moisturizer ingredients to reduce the appearance of fine lines. The best of both worlds in a bottle!
Anthelios Aox Daily Antioxidant Serum with SPF50, $42.50, available at most drugstores
5. Sleep on Your Back or Use a Chest Pillow
When you sleep on your side, gravity forces the top breast to flop past the body’s midline, creating deep creases as you sleep the hours away. Extensive use of push-up bras can also do the same thing. Plus, after years of sun exposure and the skin’s collagen breaks down, these creases will become deeper and will continue to get worse. And yes, the bigger breasts you have, the larger the creases will be.
To prevent the creases from happening - or from getting worse - sleep on your back so that the breasts can rest and separate naturally from each other. If you’re more of a side sleeper (I start out that way, and then wake up on my back), you might want to invest in a breast or chest pillow. These funny devices are becoming wildly popular as women are becoming more aware of their cleavage wrinkles. They’re small, usually comfortable pillows that lie between the breasts while we sleep. Many of those on the market are fixed between the breasts keeping them separate during the night - preventing any pulling or squishing of the breasts. A quick search on Amazon will bring up a variety of products - make sure you read the reviews thoroughly before deciding to buy one. It may be a novel thing to do, but you’re only going to benefit if you’re really committed to using it every evening for the next decade at least.
I know that I’m not disciplined enough to use one and so I simply wrap my arms around a small pillow while I start off sleeping on my side and when I wake up I’m almost always on my back. If any of you have tried it with some success, provide your comments below - I want to hear about your experiences!