I feel bad about my ageing neck.
Nora Ephron, famous for her writing and film direction, brought us films such as When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and the classic 90s hit movie, You’ve Got Mail with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan once more.
When Nora wasn’t writing and directing, she penned short stories, many of which are in her book, the New York Times bestseller, I Feel Bad About My Neck.
In the first chapter; I feel bad about my neck, Nora describes perfectly the feelings evoked as we watch helplessly as our necks begin to age. Nora is candid, with a wry wit, as she laments how she feels about her neck.
It got me thinking about the skin condition of my neck, breasts and décolletage. And how I felt and what I could do to slow down the ageing process.
The neck, décolletage and breasts all represent you and your unique lovleiness. Your sexuality, sensual femininity, maternal comfort, self esteem and confidence are all intertwined with these parts of the body.
Keeping abreast of things. Time for a bit of reflection and soul-searching.
To be truthful, I ignore the skin of my boobs; having never seen the light of day nor the rigours of pregnancy and breastfeeding, the skin in this area is, well, in pretty good condition, although with the onset of menopause, I wish they were smaller, and gravity wasn’t interfering quite so much.
Onwards to my décolletage (the neckline or chest area). I ponder that even with my evangelical love affair with sunscreen since my twenties, growing up in Australia has taken its toll; sun damage from my childhood and teen years decided to make itself known in my forties and fifties. Vertical creases have shown up and, as any big-breasted beauty who sleeps on her side will know, are almost impossible to avoid.
A struggle for self-acceptance and the inevitable march of time dance around in my thoughts, but I shall continue.
Finally, to my neck, like Nora, I’m not too fond of the way my neck looks as I age, and I’d rather have the swan-like youthfulness of my twenties and thirties. But again, sun exposure, time and gravity have all appeared.
So, with all this pondering, this is what I know to be true.
Caring for the skin of my neck, décolletage, and breasts is a worthwhile endeavour, even if the slide into ageing is inevitable.
Exposure to the sun can make the skin of the neck dry, crepey, red and blotchy. The already translucent and delicate neck skin with very little supportive connective tissue to hold back gravity loses its elasticity and begins to sag.
So too, your décolletage, often forgotten and yet regularly exposed to ultraviolet light, can suffer the same fate, with uneven pigmentation, redness, blotchiness and dryness being the legacy of too much sun as well.
Your breasts are protected most of the time from the environment but still need extra help; pregnancy, breastfeeding, weight loss, and weight gain all stress the skin of your breasts and the ligaments that support them, leaving your skin with a loss of elasticity. Your breasts begin to lose their firm tone and, well, their perkiness.
It all sounds a bit depressing, and skincare alone will not solve any of these problems. But, even so, a well-considered skincare routine is the first place to start in preventing and improving your skin’s tone and texture.
It’s time to stop ignoring our greatest assets.
The neck, décoletage and breasts all represent you and your unique loveliness. Your sexuality, sensual femininity, maternal comfort, self-esteem and confidence are all intertwined with these parts of your body.
Caring for the skin of your face, neck, boobs, hands, and feet… all matter; it all contributes to our conscious attitude to caring about ourselves as unique individuals and, well, loving ourselves.
12 Ideas to stop feeling bad about your neck and slow down the signs of ageing skin.
1. Protect your skin from UV Light. Wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day of the year. Ultraviolet A (UVA) radiates everyday rain, hail or shine and penetrates the dermal layer of your skin (the living layer where collagen and elastin grow). You can’t feel UVA light, it will not burn your skin, but it will cause long-lasting damage at a cellular level.
Find a good quality, broad-spectrum 30 plus sunscreen. Wear it daily, and take the time to include your neck and décolletage in your daily application. It’s worth noting: It takes only 5 minutes of ultraviolet A exposure to cause damage and accumulate in your skin, eventually revealing signs of photo-ageing and putting you at greater risk of skin cancer.
2. LED Light Therapy will activate cellular functions and improve the overall texture and tone of the skin on the neck and décolletage. A combination of clinical LED Light Therapy in a salon or clinic followed up with a home LED Light Mask is a great way to keep the skin in these areas in better health and condition. LED Light Therapy can be used with other age-defying devices for excellent results.
3. When showering, choose cream and milk cleansers. Protect the skin while you shower with low foaming cleansers that carry emollient ingredients to cleanse your skin while leaving behind a light moisturising barrier.
4. Choose moisturisers with glycerin and essential fatty acids. A well-formulated moisturiser will mimic your skin’s natural lipid barrier and is an excellent option for protection against daily moisture loss.
5. Seek out good-quality serums and skin creams that contain potent antioxidants. Fight free radical activity with topically applied Retinol (Vitamin A), Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and apply liberally to the neck and chest.
6. Avoid harsh scrubs. Gentle exfoliating serums or lotions containing alpha hydroxy acids to stimulate cellular turnover and renewal are the best options for delicate skin areas such as the neck and dècollétage.
7. Make sure you are getting plenty of Essential Fatty Acids. Increase your daily consumption of Omega 3 oils, found naturally in foods such as oily fish, flax seeds, walnuts and eggs.
8. Get your daily dose of vitamin C. As well as being an essential nutrient for
producing much-needed collagen for firmer skin, vitamin C is an important antioxidant to fight free radical damage. Choose to eat fruits like blueberries, raspberries, kiwi fruit, pears and oranges.
9. Vigorous exercise puts a strain on the skin of your breasts. Ligaments connect your chest wall to your pectoral muscles behind your breasts. These ligaments can wear out like a rubber band, so wearing a comfortable, supportive bra that fits you well helps support the skin. Occasionally and when the need arises, get yourself fitted out by an expert. You’ll be surprised at the results.
10. The highs and lows of weight gain and crash dieting. Putting additional stretch on the skin of the breasts potentially leaves you with stretch marks and sagging. Try to keep your weight at a healthy range, one that feels right for you.
11. Never spray fragrance on your neck or décolletage. Your perfume will react with sunshine and leave you with uneven skin texture and hyperpigmentation that is very difficult to eliminate.
12. Try to change how you lie in bed by sleeping on your back. I know. Difficult. But, this one habit will help minimise those annoying vertical lines that etch themselves into the skin of our dècollétage.
You may be many moons away from worrying about the signs of ageing skin I have talked about today, which, to be honest, is all the more reason to take action now.
It’s not just about proper skincare; it’s about prevention and a global approach to your beauty, including skin treatments to improve the health of your skin in these areas and, of course, your inner wellness.
A final thought, let’s consider the alternative.
Nora Ephron* had a wry wit and made light of her ageing, even though the truth is, she felt uncomfortable with it. But mostly, it’s a book about being a woman of a certain age and her thoughts on it.
In the book’s final chapter, she rebukes her own fear of ageing and reflects on “considering the alternative”. Her answer? Live and love as best you can. In-this-moment. Whatever shape that takes for you. After all, it’s the only one you’ve truly got.
The funny thing is, despite considering the alternative, as Nora puts it, I still worry about the skin of my neck, so I guess I’ll keep doing all the things to preserve my skin, but with a little more humour, self-love and acceptance.
See you next time,
*Nora Ephron sadly died in 2012, six years after her book was published.