Two of the sexiest parts of a woman’s body, the neck and collet, are also vulnerable assets. Both areas are thin-skinned and often exposed to year-round sun and wind and thus more prone to sun damage and visible signs of aging.
While the Earth’s ozone layer filters out most of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays, Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays still zap us. (Warning: this is true even on cloudy days, which only block about twenty percent of UV rays.) Skin starts tanning when the body feels threatened by UVB radiation; it responds by making UVB-absorbing melanin, a skin-darkening pigment. As you may already know, repeated tanning and burning damages skin cells and weakens the skin’s immune and repair systems. As UVB rays prevent skin from repairing itself, damaged cells and tissues can cause health and beauty chaos by creating sunspots, wrinkles, moles, and rashes, or in the worse case scenario, malignant melanoma (skin cancer).
UVA rays penetrate deep inside the skin and trigger a breakdown of collagen, the skin’s supportive and binding tissue that helps prevent wrinkles. “Along with promoting premature aging, overexposure to UVA rays can cause cancer and other long-term damage” says Wendy Roberts, M.D., a dermatologist and dermatopathologist at California’s Rancho Mirage. Roberts notes that sand, snow, and water reflect sunlight and increase the amount of UV radiation you receive. If you live in the south, southwest or west, or spend a lot of time outdoors, “Your skin may be sustaining more sun damage than you realize” she says.
Roberts recommends using SPF sunscreen on the neck and collet every day because medical studies indicate that a broad spectrum of rays can penetrate car, home, or office windows and cause sun damage, including sunburn. “UV radiation can also pass through about three feet of water, so you need to protect yourself when swimming” she adds.
According to Ronda Hawara, owner of Blue Medical Beauty Spa in Sherman Oaks, California, “Women typically ignore neck, shoulder, and collet areas until they start noticing the sunspots and wrinkling associated with aging. In the[ir]30s and 40s, many women have faces that appear well cared for while their neck and below looks dry, thin, and stressed.”
The time to start protecting and treating this area is in your teens and early 20s when most sun damage occurs, Hawara says. While it makes good beauty sense to apply SPF 30 or higher to your face, neck, and other exposed areas each morning, doing so is also known to help minimize the risk of skin cancer in some people. “The hole in the ozone layer over Antarctica is now larger than the entire span of North America, including the U.S., Canada, and Mexico” says Roberts. “Researchers warn that the thinning of the ozone layer may be linked to the rise in skin cancer rates” she continues.
The good news, however, is that, “You can take simple steps every day to protect skin and help prevent further sun damage” says Roberts. “All you have to do is find some good products and use them every day, with extra applications of sunblock when you are outside” According to Denise Rai, owner of Sangoma Living Arts Studio, a day spa in East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, “Organic essential oils are effective and economical for daily and after-sun regimens. Try organic ones from the health food store” she suggests. “These condition skin with a healthy glow while scenting the body with mood-elevating botanical fragrances.”
Skin Care Protection Plan
While there are dozens of neck and collet products on the market, how do you know which ones to use, and when? Spas, makeup artists, and naturopaths can offer advice on products that protect and nourish these tender areas.
“Apply sunscreens or sunblocks every morning for protective and anti-aging benefits” says Serena Vit, general manager of Aris Institute, a Westlake Village, California, day spa that specializes in holistic beauty care. High performance sunscreens include: Aubrey Organics Titania Full Spectrum Sunblock SPF 25 (www.aubrey-organics.com); Aveda Daily Light Guard, SPF 15 (www.aveda.com); UV Natural Adult SPF 30+ Sunscreen (www.uvnaturalusa.com); Epicuren Discovery Sport Treat SPF 30 (www.rsfacebody.com) or Life Resonance Sun Care Natural (805/449-1799), a botanically derived sun block lotion available at Aris Institute.
“Use an exfoliator at least once a week” says hair and makeup stylist Renata Elden of Bo Kaos, an Aveda concept salon in Pasadena, California.‚ “Look for one that exfoliates the top, dead layer of skin” Elden suggests Aveda Botanical Kinetics Exfoliant (www.aveda.com), a non-abrasive liquid that wipes away spent surface cells and primes pores for maximum moisturizing. (It also contains several organic ingredients.) Several spas recommend Evolu Renewing Facial Exfoliator (www.evolu.com), a gentle but effective scrub that contains New Zealand spring water and manuka, papaya, and geranium essential oil.
“Moisturize daily with enriching products” says aesthetician Olga Lorencin-Northrup of Kinara Skin Care Clinic, Spa and Cafƒ© in Los Angeles, California. For morning and night use, Olay Total Effects Night Firming Cream for Face & Neck (www.drugstore.com) is a good choice. Kinara Nighttime Skin Quencher (www.kinaraspa.com) contains antioxidants as well as hydrating shea butter, soy protein, and chamomile that help soften deep wrinkles and revitalize tissue.‚ Anakiri Transformation Eye and Neck Serum (www.anakiri.com) is a synergistic combo of alpha lipoic acid, MSM (bio-available sulfur), and aerobic oxygen that restores lost elasticity, nourishes depleted tissue, and tightens skin.
“Use anti-wrinkle products targeted for delicate neck and collet areas” says Nancy Lin of Intagree Skin Care Clinic in Irvine, California. Advanced Skin Care Spa Intense Skin Healing Cream (www.advancedspa.com) treats sun-damaged, thin skin. Intƒgree Selfamin Toning-Up Anti-Wrinkle Cream (949/428-8596) contains walnut concentrate, alpha hydroxy acids, hibiscus extract, and other botanical ingredients designed to help nourish the neck and chest area.
“Save your skin and fake a tan with mineral-derived bronzing powders” says naturopath Theresa Dale, Ph.D., founder of the California College of Natural Medicine in Santa Cruz, California. Dale recommends mineral-based, hypoallergenic, preservative-free bronzers by Jane Iredale Mineral Cosmetics (www.janeiredale.com).
By Kyle Roderick