Long before flashing your midriff (and the rest) was a thing, formal dressing was often about highlighting the décolletage. The original erogenous zone, it has been catapulted back to the top of the style agenda following a series of noteworthy looks – on the red carpet and on screen – that made the décolletage the unmistakable focus. Like on the hit show Bridgerton, where elegant, swan-like necks and pillowy busts take centre stage in Regency-era dresses, but also at the Met Gala and Oscars, where everyone from Kate Moss and Bella Hadid to Adut Akech and Kim Kardashian showed off smooth, gleaming skin on generously exposed décolletages.
“The skin on our face is stronger than the skin on the neck and décolletage, and people tend to forget about these parts of the body,” says facialist to the stars, Joanna Czech. “You can see the ageing process faster on the décolleté, because there are fewer sebaceous glands, and the lipid layer is reduced by 30 to 40 per cent to that of the face.” For smooth, glowing skin in the area, all it takes is a little know-how (and subsequent effort). Below, Vogue speaks to the experts on how to make your chest look its best this summer.
Maximise your skincare
“The face starts with the nipples and ends at the hairline,” proclaims Czech – it’s her cardinal rule of skincare. “Treat the décolleté exactly like you treat your face and how you treat your body – it should get double treatment.” Simply take your facial serums, whether vitamin C, hyaluronic acid or retinol, down to your nipples, and any body creams or moisturisers over the top for deep nourishment and to treat any skin concerns. You don’t technically need to use products which are specifically for the area.
That said, there are some brilliant sheet masks that are cut perfectly to fit the area, and Czech is a big fan. “They offer instant results and can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and plump up the skin,” she says. One of her – and Vogue’s – favourites is 111Skin’s Black Celestial Diamond Lifting and Firming Mask for Neck. Her top tip is to use an ice cube over the mask for added cryo effect.
A bronze glow (done well) can remedy any skin issue going – even if only temporarily. Tanning expert James Read is touting “tantoning” as one of summer’s biggest beauty trends, because it can quickly create a streamlined appearance and add structure and definition. “The trick is to concentrate your self-tan on the areas where the sun hits – this will give the illusion that your tan is real,” he says. “Simply apply the formula all over on day one. Then, on day two, moisturise the areas you want to tone, then apply a layer of instant mist or mousse over the areas you want to contour, leave for two hours, then wash off.”
Play with scent
It has no visual effects, but a spritz of an alluring or uplifting scent can help boost your confidence – which is all important when wearing something revealing. “Wearing scent on the décolletage – it’s such a personal experience, so close, so intimate,” says Francisco Costa, founder of Costa Brazil. “With this act, you’re not just wearing fragrance to please someone else, you’re also wearing it to please yourself.”
Try a tweakment
Describing the ageing process in the area as “complex”, aesthetics doctor and founder of MZ Skin, Dr Maryam Zamani, says it’s key to approach any décolleté skin concerns in a multifactorial way – that’s if you do want to go down the tweakment route. “It is often a neglected area and the skin is particularly thin, meaning that over-exposure to the sun causes fine lines, wrinkles and sagging as well as hyperpigmentation and uneven skin texture,” she says. “For lines and wrinkles, effective treatments can include dermal fillers, skin boosters, microneedling alone or in combination with radiofrequency, and laser – but may involve a combination of all the above treatments.”
She offers a tri-phase treatment called Chest Rehab at her own clinic, which combines BroadBand Light (a non-ablative laser) and HALO fractional laser to improve skin contour, tone and elasticity, as well as injections of diluted Radiesse dermal filler to help redensify the skin. It stimulates collagen and elastin production and you can expect massive improvement in tone, texture and discolouration.
Meanwhile, Profhilo is another great option if you’re troubled by crepey skin and fine lines – it stimulates collagen and elastin production as opposed to filling the area, plus it is excellent for deep skin hydration.
The ultimate finishing touch, add some gloss and shine to collarbones and shoulders for the ultimate lustre. Begin by hydrating, and then buff and blend your formula in. You can get away with a little extra shimmer in this area, and dewy finishes also work well.
This article was originally published on Vogue UK.