I'm In My 30s & Already Have Fine Lines On My Chest Décolletage — What I'm Doing To Help Reverse The Damage
The 30s are usually when folks start to see the first signs of aging skin. The elements that make up the skin structure (collagen, elastin, lipids, and so forth) start a slow decline around this time of life, and thus you'll start to see the effects. If you've been taking care of your skin and living well, these are typically pretty subtle and easily managed.
As someone who spent their 20s working in beauty media, I've been very diligent about skin care for the past decade. (Truth be told, even before that, I was pretty good with my routine.) So for the most part my complexion is very healthy at 32.
But one area that I'm noticing fine lines is my décolletage. This is due to three things. First, I've admittedly been less diligent with my skin care in the area. I'm also a side and stomach sleeper, which means the skin is folded and compressed throughout the night resulting in sleep wrinkles. Finally, it's the area that has probably accumulated the most sunburns and UV damage over the years. It's no wonder that it's the area where premature aging is showing up!
So, I have a bit of redemption work to do. Here, my game plan.
Use an antioxidant-rich hand cream & reapply throughout the day.
I can understand why folks are hesitant to use their top-shelf face products south of the chin. These topicals are often quite pricey, and you don't want to spare a single drop on areas outside the face. My solution is simple: Find a high-quality hand cream with healthy aging ingredients, and use that as your dedicated décolletage topical.
Hand creams (even the top-notch kind) tend to be a bit more reasonably priced than face serums and creams. So you can feel comfortable using it much more liberally and often. And application is easy: When I use it on my hands, I apply a layer to the area as well. It really doesn't add any extra time to your routine.
My personal go-to is the mindbodygreen postbiotic hand cream. The formula is made with a nutrient-dense blend of organic aloe, shea butter, biotic ingredients (such as pre- and postbiotics), and loads of antioxidants such as botanical oils (moringa and oat oil), coenzyme Q10, and a fruit extract complex. These work together to strengthen the barrier function, support the microbiome, keep skin hydrated, and fight off free radical damage. The result is smooth, supple, and glowing skin.
Gently exfoliate weekly.
The skin on the chest is slightly more sensitive than the rest of the skin on the body. So you shouldn't go overboard with harsh ingredients, such as retinol or exfoliants. However, when these are used responsibly and with moderation, they can be useful tools to help the complexion appear more vibrant.
I have more reactive skin than most folks, so I can only tolerate exfoliation once or twice a week. On one of the nights that I'm exfoliating my face, I also exfoliate my chest. I'm partial to gentle chemical exfoliants, such as lactic acid serums, and will apply a light layer on the area as part of my evening routine. To help buffer any irritation, I will apply a body lotion on top of it.
Be extra diligent with UV protection.
I have certainly learned my lesson about sun protection and wear sunscreen with much more exuberance than I did in my youth. Applying and reapplying sunscreen is the foundation of my sun care routine. I'm also very good about being mindful of how much time I spend in the sun overall, as well as what times of the day. For example, you won't catch me sunbathing in the middle of the afternoon—I'm always tucked away under an umbrella or wearing UPF clothing to protect the skin.
You can also use antioxidants to amp up your sun care routine. While they can't replace actual sunscreen, there are certain antioxidants that have been shown via research to have photoprotective qualities. For example, astaxanthin is able to enhance skin photoprotection from UV rays and promotes a healthy inflammatory response. Studies show astaxanthin delays the impacts of UV exposure1, which means less painful bright red skin now and fewer wrinkles later. Another class of antioxidants to look for is resveratrol, which has been shown to help manage UV-induced skin damage2.
We believe in a topical and internal approach for getting your antioxidant fill. Here are our favorite antioxidant serums and supplements for your shopping pleasure.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.