Of all the physical attributes that start to suffer as we age, the neck and décolletage are among the very first to go. The decline in skin elasticity results in a wrinkled, sagging effect colloquially referred to as a “turkey neck,” which is insulting to both women and turkeys. A new low—usually it’s one or the other. Hell, even Nora Ephron took major umbrage with her wattle, and I’ve personally been terrified of my nana’s since a very young age.
What else is there to say except that protecting your neck from sun damage and collagen loss is the only way to slow its roll? “The neck and chest area is a dead giveaway for a woman’s age,” says dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, codirector of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington, DC. The very delicate skin there sustains about as much hardship as your face, but while we’re slathering ourselves in antiaging moisturizers and night creams, the area right below it gets neglected. The SPF 50 you’re reapplying every four hours? Don’t forget to slap it on your neck. That antioxidant-rich antiaging cream you’re massaging into the fine lines on your forehead with great care? Put it on your décolletage, too, while wondering if there is another, less overwrought word for décolletage.
The prevention process begins with sunscreen, as all antiaging regimens do. No need for a specialized sunscreen for the area, which is a good thing because as far as I know that doesn’t exist; just use a little more of your face SPF of choice. Other products of great importance, according to Dr. Tanzi: a serum or moisturizer with peptides, such as the lightweight Dr. Dennis Gross Firming Peptide Milk ($65), which she says “gently stimulates collagen,” and something with glycolic acid, such as the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($90), “to help exfoliate dull skin on the chest.”
If you’re really serious about it (or frightened by the possibilities of your future appearance, whichever comes first), you can also wear tops with higher necklines for no-fail protection when you’re doing sun-drenched activities, such as walking, hiking, or any of those other things you do outside. What, you don’t feel like wearing a turtleneck to the beach?