Beauty Doesn’t Stop at the Neck
How many times a day do you look at your own face? Some studies suggest that we check out our own reflections about ten times a day, where others, which are probably more honest, say that the daily mirror-check count is well over twenty. Why the fascination with our own reflections? It really isn’t that we are all enamored with ourselves, but rather that we care about the face we are putting forth for the world to see. You take extra special care of your face because it is typically the first thing that people notice about you, and how you look influences how you feel. Your face tells the story of your life, and you want that story to be a beautiful one. The face is also the main feature used when attempting to estimate someone’s age, mostly because of all the subtle changes that happen as a natural result of time. However, we often forget that there are other areas of our bodies that tend to show the effects of aging just as much, if not more than, the face. Your hands, neck and chest are three areas that often go unnoticed and undervalued, offering an unflattering contradiction to all the care you put into keeping your face looking healthy and youthful.
Take a moment to really look at your hands. Examine them closely and run your fingertips over them. Now, grab a mirror and do the same for the skin of your neck and chest. What do you notice? Is the skin there soft and plump? Or does it feel a little more thin and fragile than the skin on the rest of your body? The skin covering these areas is generally a little thinner, contains fewer oil glands and is more fragile than even your facial skin, plus it is especially vulnerable to the effects of lost collagen and elasticity. Add to it that we are generally more neglectful of these areas and it becomes clear why the skin on your hands or neck can add years to your appearance despite your best efforts elsewhere. The good news is that even if dryness, discoloration and the dreaded crepe-y effect have already started to settle in, you still can turn it around and repair the skin of these delicate areas.
Raise Your Hands
We love the look of freshly manicured fingertips, but the hands are a part of the body that we often neglect and take for granted. I can’t be the only one who has been guilty of only thinking about them when I am deciding on a new polish color or half-mindedly slathering on hand cream at the end of the day. I am also guilty of looking down at my own hands and not recognizing them. Surely, these hands that look like they belong to someone a decade older than myself cannot be mine. Times like these make you suddenly realize that fine lines and crow’s feet aren’t the only tells of age. Taking care of your hands is an important part of a healthy skin care routine.
Your hands are especially vulnerable to redness and itching, which when left untreated can cause dry, cracked skin that look anything but healthy and youthful. The main culprit is the fact that we are constantly washing our hands. The message here isn’t that you should be washing your hands less, or using harsh, alcohol based sanitizers more. Rather, the remedy lies in how you treat your hands after each washing. Water and cleansers strip away moisture and oils from the skin, which are two resources that are already scarce for the delicate skin on your hands. Each time your hands are in water, regardless if you have just washed your hands, washed the dishes or rinsed off the fresh produce you just scored from the farmer’s market, you need to moisturize immediately after. Skip the light lotions and apply an emollient, rich cream that has been boosted with antioxidants. Make sure to rub the cream into trouble spots such as your cuticles and the little pockets between your fingers. If necessary, gently blot your hands with a soft towel to remove excess cream and residue. For an extra special treatment, choose an extra rich cream, that contains vitamin C, slather it on thick before bedtime and wear a pair of clean cotton gloves while you sleep. When you wake up and peel off the gloves and you will be rewarded with hands that instantly look younger and refreshed.
The hands are usually the first part of the body that begin to look splotched with discolorations. This is because your hands are exposed to the sun just as much as any other part of the body, yet we seldom remember to cover them with a good layer of sunscreen. Each time you sit on the porch reading, work near an open window or even get in your car and drive, your hands are absorbing skin-damaging ultraviolet rays. It is no secret that sunlight, wonderful as it is, is one of the leading causes of premature aging. The damage from UV light damages the skin by breaking down the collagen that supports it. The results are unsightly discolorations and a dry crepe-y appearance. This is easy enough to remedy; simply commit to using a sunscreen on your hands every day. Just remember that sunscreen typically needs to be reapplied every two hours, even more often if you have to wash your hands frequently. So, keep little bottles and tubes of SPF 30 or higher sunscreen near your sinks, and in your desk drawer, glove box and purse.
Finally, treat your hands with the same luxury that you treat your face. Each time that you pamper your skin with a silky retinol serum, such as OZNaturals Pro-Retaxinol Serum, spread some over your hands and fingers as well. Treat them to a gentle exfoliant weekly, or try dry-brushing them with a soft, natural bristle brush once or twice a week. Glycolic peels, when used every two to three weeks, can reduce the appearance to lines, redness and discolorations with the same effectiveness of expensive dermatological treatments. Our 30% Glycolic Acid Peel is ideal for this purpose. The key to youthful looking hands is to just care for them with a little luxury and the pampering they deserve.
Sticking Your Neck Out
If you pay attention to the trendiest ads for anti-aging products, you might think that aging only happens from the chin up. Yes, most every lotion, cream and serum comes with instructions to apply to the face and neck, but many of us don’t always read or follow those instructions. The skin on your neck is thin and fragile and is one of the first areas to show its age. It really doesn’t matter how much time, money and pampering you put into your face, if you are not giving your neck equal attention your efforts will be nullified by the sagging, crepe-y skin that looks more like it belongs on an amphibian than attached to such a beautiful face.
Just like your hands, this area of your body is an easy victim of sun exposure. The skin is thin and easily damaged by UV rays, causing a quick breakdown in collagen. The good news is that repairing and protecting this area is as simple as adding about five extra minutes to your daily skin care routine. To begin with, it is essential to cleanse this area properly. You can use your daily facial cleanser on your neck, or you can choose one that is formulated for extra dry skin or with extra antioxidants, collagen and vitamin C. What you shouldn’t do is wait until you get into the shower and cleanse this area with your regular body wash. Body washes and soaps are formulated to remove dirt and cleanse thoroughly. This is a great thing for your feet, but not so much for the delicate, sensitive skin in your neck and chest area. As a rule, if you wouldn’t use it on your face, don’t use it on your neck.
Secondly, moisturizing is a must. Choose a cream that contains antioxidants or retinol to help repair and prevent further damage. Apply the moisturizer day and night and use gentle upward, circular motions. This will protect your skin while improving circulation and encouraging cell renewal.
Although the value of sunscreen has already been mention, using it is so important for skin health that it deserves to be repeated. If you use a moisturizer or cosmetics that contain sunscreen, make sure to use them on your neck also. If the skin on your neck is incompatible with those products, consider purchasing a gentle, natural sunscreen of at least 30 SPF and apply it liberally from your chest on up towards your chin. Remember to reapply every two hours during the day, or every time you venture outdoors, even to run the shortest of errands.
And finally, get plenty of good, quality sleep, but adjust your sleeping position so that you are not sleeping on your side, or with a pillow and blankets bunched up near your face and chest area. It might not seem like that big of a deal, but an eight hour stretch where this fragile skin is rubbed against and stretched can take its toll. If possible sleep on your back with a pillow supporting the back of your neck.
Get It Off Your Chest
With the proper care, you can put away all the turtlenecks and scarves that you have been using to cover up a less than youthful looking décolletage and bring back out those adorable sweetheart necklines. The skin on your chest is very thin and more susceptible to sun damage and early aging. Taking care of this area requires the use of products that are specifically formulated to fight more advanced signs of aging. With that in mind, it is important to remember that because the skin is delicate, that you must also care for it with products that are gentle and as natural as possible. Look for products that contain retinol, peptides, vitamin B and vitamin C as your first line of defense against aging for this area.
The same cleanser that you use on your neck area should be appropriate to use on your chest area as well, however the most important thing to keep in mind is the temperature of the water while you are showering. Most shower streams are set at a height and angle where the force of the water is generally aimed right at the chest area. If the water is too hot, your fragile chest skin will immediately be striped of vital moisture. Turn the water down to a temperature that is comfortably warm and if possible, redirect the spray so that it doesn’t hit the chest area directly.
If you are less than confident of the way your chest area compliments your appearance, you might be choosing to wear clothes that cover up the area. The problem with this is that many synthetic fabrics can be irritating to the tender skin underneath, especially if the garment is tighter fitting and rubs against the skin all day. Don’t wear anything that feels scratchy or uncomfortable in any way. Also, use all natural detergents and avoid harsh dry cleaning chemicals whenever possible. Choose loose, comfortable clothing that does not rub up against and damage your skin. Or, better yet, layer on a moisturizing sunscreen and bare the area. The moisturizing effect of the cream will instantly smooth out the appearance of the area and wearing a neckline that exposes a little bit of well cared for skin will add a youthful flare to your appearance.
To sum it up in a nutshell, taking care of the skin on the rest of your body requires the same consistency and commitment as caring for your face. Cleanse, moisturize and protect. Three simple steps that will help to repair and reverse any early signs of aging on any part of your body. You don’t have to hide under high necks and long sleeves. A good, consistent routine will leave every inch of you soft, refreshed and more beautiful than ever.
-- Angela Irish, Certified Aesthetician & Co-Founder OZNaturals