The face, neck and décolleté are exposed to the sun, wind and cold weather, and must be all cared for in the same way as the face during the professional treatment and at home. The delicate neck and décolleté area is often ignored when it comes to application of moisturizers and sunscreen, and is easily susceptible to dehydration and sun damage. The signs of aging in the neck area are a result of our muscles losing elasticity, so along with a proper skincare regime, we have to learn to firm and tone the muscles to hold the skin tightly. As we age, the neck and jowls may start to show horizontal wrinkles and folds and begin to droop because of the daily gravitational pull, and slowing down of collagen production. This, of course causes the face to look much older than it may look otherwise. Also, genetics play a big role in the way our skin looks in that area. While many women take very good care of the skin on their face, the neck and chest often reveal their true age.
Because the skin on the neck and décolleté is thinner and less elastic than skin in other areas, it’s more susceptible to environmental damage, which is compounded by the fact that this area is much more likely to be neglected and unprotected. The most common types of skin problems that are seen on the neck and chest are hyperpigmentation (brown spots), wrinkles, crinkliness, horizontal “necklace lines”, redness, blotchiness, elastosis, and skin tags. More complicated issues such as cutis rhomboidalis nuchae (leathery deep wrinkling on the back of the neck), and poikiloderma of Civatte (usually affects the front and sides of the neck in mostly fair-skinned clients) both result from long-term sun damage, are benign, and require gentle care. The skin on the neck is definitely different than that on the face, and if not well taken care of, will create unattractive disharmony that many women are self-conscious about.
There is a variety of different anti-aging neck and décolleté treatments that can be done in the spa to address these issues above. Most clients will require a series of treatments to see results, so it is advised to suggest a package deal of 3 – 6 treatments. Treatments range from the most basic enzyme exfoliation, to laser rejuvenation, and prices can be set according to your area.
To achieve a lifting effect, estheticians should start the cleansing and exfoliation routine upwards from the décolleté and continue to the face. Enzymes are a wonderful way to safely exfoliate the skin. An enzymatic exfoliation is a good natural way to clean out the pores, get rid of excess oils, slough off the dry and dead skin for a healthy cell turnover. Fruit enzymes, such as Bromelain (from pineapple) and Papain (from papaya) eat away at the oils and dry skin, to expose a refreshed, clear complexion. Enzyme masks are generally more gentle and more safe than acids, and don’t thin the skin like Retin-A. A good natural enzyme mask brightens the skin, activates cellular function, increases circulation, fades discoloration and leaves the skin feeling and looking fresh, smooth and healthy. Dry enzyme masks that are activated moments before application are more potent, and have a longer shelf-life than pre-activated gel-like masks. This type of facial exfoliant usually comes in the form of a mask based on marine clay, bentonite, or oats. Just like a chemical peel, please administer an enzyme peel with caution, making sure your client is a good candidate for the product. Some menopausal clients may experience redness and sensitivity on the décolleté, so it’s better to hold off on the deep exfoliation. The average time needed for enzymes to do their job is 7-10 minutes, and can be added to any basic facial for as little as $20.
Hydrating masks are the perfect anti-aging treatment for the neck and chest. Décolleté products should not be too harsh, since the skin is thin in that area. For the best results, choose masks which are formulated with hyaluronic acid, peptides and collagen boosters. Nourishing masks can be left on the neck, chest and décolleté for 15 minutes during every visit, and should be applied towards the end of the facial treatment, after exfoliation and extractions.
Laser therapy is an option for wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. An IPL laser (Intense pulsed light) usually gives good results for diminishing redness, fresh hyperpigmentation, and stimulating mild collagen growth. A series of 6 is recommended, and the cost is usually around $500 per treatment. Like all laser treatments, it’s best to do this in the winter time, and the client will need maintenance treatments when brown spots reappear, usually once or twice a year.
Fractional lasers are newer and also treat wrinkles and post-acne scars. The non-ablative fractional lasers, like the Fraxel, may cost as much as $5000 for 6 treatments, and have a two day down-time. This laser will take two to six months to give the best results. Ablative fractional lasers, like the Active FX, have a four to eight day down-time day downtime and give a better result for the crinkly areas on the neck. The cost of this procedure is usually $1,000-$2,000 per treatment, and a series of 4 is recommended over a six month time span. I like to stay safe, and don’t work over the thyroid or the breasts with mechanical equipment to avoid stimulation of the lymphatic system.
At home, one should cleanse that whole area with cleanser daily, and exfoliate maximum twice a week. This is the only way to achieve an even transition in color and texture from the bust to the face. Moisturizer, as well as sunscreen should always be applied, to prevent sun damage and wrinkles.