Your ‘décolletage.’ It is one of your greatest assets! It’s something you show to the world—almost as much and as often as your face. ‘My what?’ You pretty much know what it is but may hesitate to say it (because it’s a French word, often used imprecisely).
That’s where we come in. We’re going to tell you not only what your ‘decolletage’ is—but how you can help keep it smooth and in prime condition. Trust us, you will want to.
Decolletage & Decollette
Let’s start with the dictionary. First up, Merriam-Webster:
“décolletage noun dé·col·le·tage \(ˌ)dā-ˌkä-lə-ˈtäzh,
Simple definition of décolletage: the top of a woman’s dress, blouse, etc., that is cut very low so the top of the woman’s breasts can be seen
The origin of décolletage is French, from décolleter, the action of cutting or wearing a low neckline. Its first known use was in 1894.
And now, a similar word, often substituted for décolletage:
“décolleté adjective dé·col·le·té \(ˌ)dā-ˌkäl-ˈtā, –
Definition of décolleté
1: wearing a strapless or low-necked dress
2: having a low-cut neckline C19: from French décolleter to cut out the neck (of a dress), from colletcollar
(Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins) “
OK. See the difference? Decolletage is, first of all, a noun. Decollete is an adjective. The adjective describes the noun. So, to clarify, you would be correct in saying something like: ‘She’s really showing off her decolletage – in that very decollete dress.’
Now that we know how to describe it, and say it, let’s define where it is.
What and Where Is the Decolletage?
The decolletage is normally interpreted to include the area between your breasts, upward to your neck. It actually provides a frame for the face and the bust. It can include part of the shoulders, cleavage, and collarbone regions. That’s a lot of territory. For such a vast landscape, the décolletage is actually one of the most neglected areas of the body. Big mistake.
You’ve learned to protect and pamper your facial (and hopefully neck!) skin. You cleanse, moisturize, add sunscreen, and apply a little carefully-chosen makeup. You even take steps to smooth out unwanted lines and wrinkles. Then, of course, the attention paid to your breasts. Many women invest greatly in their breasts, in terms of size, shape, and keeping the breast skin supple, smooth, and beautiful.
What Is Floating Head Syndrome?
What happens between the face and the breasts? We asked our aesthetician for her opinion. She says it’s what skincare experts often refer to as “floating head syndrome.” Smooth, beautiful face and breasts and then an upper chest with spots of all shapes and sizes, major sun damage, color changes, crinkles, deep wrinkles, and sagging. The goal is to maintain all of the skin.
How Do I Protect and Pamper My Decolletage?
The décolletage is exposed to sun and soap, scratchy fabrics, and a lack of attention.
- Your first line of defense is to remember it’s there. Your beautiful, visible skin doesn’t stop at your neck and the bra line.
- Treat the décolletage as you would treat your face and neck. Cleanse carefully and moisturize regularly.
- Apply sunscreen daily.
- Your ‘special’ face and neck creams work here too. In other words, use products designed to gently exfoliate, and replenish the upper layers of skin. Also, use products that have added effects of reducing hyperpigmentation. They can help lighten or eliminate those spots and splotches.
- You may benefit from a chemical peel. You’ll need to consult with an expert to learn what kind of peel may help, but know that help is available!
And, our in-house expert has some very practical advice:
- Sleep position can add to wrinkling in the décolletage area! Side-sleepers have a little more of a tendency to develop wrinkling in the chest and cleavage.
The skin and tissue in the decolletage area are thinner than in most other areas of the body. That means it’s more likely to show signs of aging more quickly. Thinner skin, loss of elasticity, and sun exposure all speed up the visible aging of our skin. If you can’t avoid sleeping on your side, look around for different types of pillows to help position you better to discourage crinkling.
Are There Surgical Solutions for Decolletage?
The decolletage is not an area that invites a surgical solution. This part of the body is much more prone to the formation of thick scars known as ‘keloids,’ and it just doesn’t lend itself well to incisions for lifting purposes. A face or neck lift, while very effective in their own areas, does not really address the upper chest and cleavage.
For a lasting, beautiful décolletage, your best bets are regular, careful skin maintenance, and, if necessary, a peel or laser resurfacing treatment to restore or improve the upper layers of skin. In other words, your best approach is the prevention of sun damage, and regular, ongoing care of this delicate and highly visible part of your anatomy. Think about it, and for a quick reminder, take a look at your décolletage the next time you choose to wear a scoop neck or open an extra shirt button.
(A board-certified plastic surgeon in San Jose/Silicon Valley, Dr. Vincent Lepore offers a full range of cosmetic surgery and nonsurgical options at Reveal Plastic Surgery.)