I recently overheard a conversation between two women on the subway, during which they talked animatedly about poultry. They weren't referring to a new recipe or restaurant; they were discussing clothing options that would hide their sagging "chicken necks."
This got me thinking not only about buying a new turtleneck, but about how much we all neglect this delicate area of our bodies. I can't even remember the last time I slathered my favourite face cream onto my neck or gave my décolletage any special attention, yet the neck and chest are prime sites for the telltale signs of aging in women.
"It's an area of the body that suffers tremendously from sun exposure," says Fred Weksberg, a cosmetic dermatologist in Toronto. "Red and brown spots appear, you lose elasticity, the skin starts to sag and hang. That's where the chicken neck comes in."
It's not all gloom and gizzards, though. You can make a major difference in the texture and appearance of your skin at the doctor's office. Weksberg recommends the use of a Fraxel laser, which resurfaces the skin, stimulates collagen growth, lightens brown spots and smooths wrinkles. But here's the catch: You'll need about five or six treatments one month apart to achieve optimal results, and it's not cheap — fees start at about $500 (neck) and $800 (chest) per treatment.
There are also things you can do at home to make improvements. Start by taking your skincare regimen down a notch — that is, below your chin — by cleansing and moisturizing your neck and chest as often as your face.
Weksberg recommends regular use of antioxidant creams to improve the health and appearance of the skin, as well as a prescription vitamin A acid product to boost collagen, and stresses the importance of wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen at all times.
Here are some products to try:
Mama Mio Skincare for Supermamas Boob Tube ($42) is a leave-on moisturizing mask that uses antioxidants CoQ10 and vitamin E to help skin replenish itself.
Tone and nourish the fragile skin of the décolleté area with Clarins Bust Beauty Firming Lotion ($60), which contains an exclusive Amazonian bocoa extract and pomegranate formula.
The vitamin C in Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Serum for Neck and Décolletage ($75) helps to lighten dark spots and target skin dullness.
Decléor Paris Perfect Sculpt Bust Beautifying Toning Gel ($62) uses a cocktail of eight essential oils to promote firm, healthy skin.
Lancôme Rénergie Microlift Neck R.A.R.E. ($95) promises to help increase skin firmness with a lifting complex of soya and silica proteins.
Apply Garnier Ultra-Lift Pro Deep Wrinkle Roller ($23) with an upward motion to best deliver skin-boosting omega-3 and -6 and beech tree extracts.
Lightweight Mèreadesso Woman Face Neck Cleanser ($45) acts as a multi-tasking makeup remover, mask, scrub and toner.