6 Tips To Care For Your Chest & Décolletage — Because Skin Care Doesn't Stop At Your Chin
As far as wrinkles go, the chest area is oft-overlooked, until those fine lines are glaring at you in the mirror. See, your chest and décolletage are some of the first areas to reveal signs of aging—often, even earlier than your face—and they tend to appear all at once with no warning at all, save for the occasional sunspot. And yet! Many stop their skin care routines at the jawline, only pausing for a groan once they notice some fine lines radiating from the chest's center.
We're here to tell you that your chest deserves a skin care moment, too, well before the first fold settles in. Below, derms explain what causes chest wrinkles and how to rid those fine lines.
What causes chest wrinkles?
Contrary to what you might think, the skin on your chest is quite thin (not as thin as, say, your under-eye area, but it's a close contender). And "more often than not, it is an area that is overlooked when it comes to skin care and sun protection," explains board-certified dermatologist Shereene Idriss, M.D. In other words, many people forget to extend their skin care down to their chest, which makes UV damage, dry weather, and other environmental aggressors leave their mark much faster. The result? Fine lines, folds, and crepey, fragile skin.
Additionally, sleep wrinkles tend to crop up in this area. If you're a side or stomach sleeper, chances are your skin is smashed and folded for eight or some hours each night—over time, those grooves may not bounce back as quickly. "Chest skin [is] dragged along with breast tissue, much like a garment that is placed for long periods in a badly folded configuration," board-certified dermatologist Loretta Ciraldo, M.D., FAAD, tells mbg.
How to prevent and get rid of chest wrinkles.
Ahead, six tips to keep a cracked, wrinkled chest at bay:
Give your chest a skin care routine.
If you're only going to make one change, let this be it: Extend your skin care routine past your jawline. "You need to take special care of this exposed skin," says Ciraldo. That doesn't mean you need to massage in a cleanser the same way you would on your face (a hydrating, gentle lather will do in the shower), but she does suggest extending your serums and moisturizers down onto the exposed chest skin.
Let's say you pat on a hyaluronic acid or vitamin C serum during your routine—after tapping it onto your face, press it into your décolletage as well. It's a simple, no-fuss addition to your skin care routine, and it helps reduce any aging disparities between the face and chest.
On a similar beat, don't forget to protect the chest area with SPF! Especially if your skin is exposed, but even if you're bundled up in a sweater during the cooler months—it's just a great habit to get into regardless.
Stimulate collagen production.
At the internal level, wrinkles pop up when your skin's structural components start to break down—namely, collagen. That said, you'll want to support your body's natural production of collagen, and one notable way to do so is through hydrolyzed collagen supplements.*
In fact, hydrolyzed collagen peptides have been shown to help promote your body's natural production of collagen1 and other molecules that make up the skin, like elastin and fibrillin.* "It can manage skin wrinkling, providing the skin one of its basic ingredients to stay firm and taut," says Taz Bhatia, M.D., an integrative medicine physician and mbg Collective member.*
Collagen supplements can even help support your skin's hydration levels (as you may know, dry, dehydrated skin tends to wrinkle faster): One double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial found that participants' moisture levels in the skin were seven times higher2 than those who did not take the supplements.*
Sleep on your back (if you can).
"If you are one of those rare specimens who can control your sleep position while sleeping, then more power to you!" says Idriss. "Sleeping on your back will definitely slow the rate of progression of lines on your chest." It's certainly not the be-all and end-all (stomach sleepers, you're not doomed to a life of premature chest folds), but it does help delay the onset a bit. You can always try in a weighted blanket to keep from curling up in bed (it works for some!), or sleep in a silk nightshirt—the fabric prevents friction and provides some slip for delicate skin.
Use gentle exfoliants.
Now on to the treatment bit. If you notice some fine lines etched onto your décolletage, exfoliating the skin and promoting cell turnover can help replenish a smoother skin texture. Idriss is a fan of using gentle chemical exfoliants (like glycolic and lactic acid), be it in a treatment serum or mask (yes, you can slather on a mask on the chest area—just make sure it's a gentle enough formula).
Although, Idriss recommends patch-testing first before smearing an AHA across your chest ("The skin on the chest is slightly more sensitive to chemical exfoliants, so approach with caution," she says), and perhaps stick to a twice-a-week regimen at most. If you're super, super-sensitive on the chest area, she recommends trying PHAs—these have a larger molecular structure, so they don't penetrate the skin as much, which can make them more tolerable.
On a similar note, you can also try your hand at retinoids. "Applying retinoids to the chest consistently can help build a stronger foundation and fortify your skin over time, thereby minimizing any signs of wrinkles or crepeyness," Idriss says.
Again, just make sure to proceed with caution here. Both Idriss and Ciraldo suggest using a retinoid more sparingly than you would on your face. "A good rule of thumb is to use the product with half the frequency on the chest as is recommended for the face," Ciraldo adds. And if you typically dilute the retinoid with moisturizer before smearing on your face? You might want to follow the same ritual for your chest—we repeat, the skin is quite thin.
Anything you shouldn't do?
Idriss recommends treading lightly with in-office treatments: While chemical peels and skin-resurfacing procedures (like professional microneedling) can be helpful, make sure they're not overly aggressive, "as they can potentially lead to scarring in this area."
As for Ciraldo's verdict, she suggests avoiding drying alcohols (which can exacerbate the appearance of wrinkles), as well as products that increase photosensitivity. Again, AHAs are lovely, but if you don't adhere to tip No. 2 and apply sunscreen, all that exfoliation can backfire—acids can increase the risk of burns and UV damage, which exaggerate wrinkles down the line.
We know the chest area deserves a skin care routine, but it's often neglected until the first fine line makes its appearance. Don't sleep on body care! While wrinkles are ultimately inevitable (and natural, may we add), you can delay their onset and prevent premature folds from cropping up. Essentially: Treat the area the same as the skin on your face, and you should be set.
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.