• Anastasia Pentias

TBN: Aging Beautifully Edition- How to Affordably Rejuvenate Your Décolletage

The beauty community may present the odd influencer scandal here and there, but it remains a largely positive, judgement-free space. My minor gripe is the ever-changing terminology, but society must progress despite my inconvenience. No, we can't say 'anti-aging' anymore, it's apparently ageist (I suppose it is, actually). Neither should you use the word 'youth' (none of us should aspire to remain forever young, so, sure, let's forget about that one too). But, friends, I'm running out of words to express myself with. For as long as it's acceptable, let me use the term 'aging beautifully' (I could go as far as to say 'maturing beautifully' but it sounds like I'm talking about cheese or wine).

In any case. While we 'age beautifully', we want skincare that fixes our aging, sagging, discoloured skin so it looks fresh and glowy despite what life throws at it. When I was 35, my aesthetician praised me for taking good care of my face but scolded me about the state of my hands, neck and décolletage. 'Why would you not protect those parts as well? That's where your age shows!'

I have never had the intention of hiding my age, so that semi-offended me ('hey, that's ageist!'). But I love looking my absolute best and she was right. My hands and neck were wrinkled from dehydration and my décolletage was dry and full of sun spots. Hm. For the past five years, I have been moisturising those parts and they look much better. But, lately, those sun spots were starting to look VERY odd compared to my face which is- finally- free of melasma thanks to retinol. It looked like it was the face from another body. I decided to take 'anti-aging' action. Sorry, there's no other word for that. I spend enough on my face routine as it is; I can't afford expensive products for a part of my body that is not sensitive like my face. Two months ago, I started applying high-dose retinol to the area about 4 nights a week. The difference has been impressive. No sensitivity like retinol on your face, I didn't notice any adverse effects. Just smooth, glowy, clearer skin. My sun spots are still there but rapidly fading. It made a difference to the extent that my face now actually matches my body. Hurrah. If you have an unlimited budget, go for Neostrata's NAG Complex. That's still the most effective/sophisticated retinol product I've tried. But if you, like me, have to put a limit to the skincare spending madness, here are three high-performing, affordable products to renew your décolletage. I have used and loved all three. Here they are, in order of retinol strength (high to low):

Pierre Fabre Airol 0.05% cream: this is what I've been using. It's a potent tretinoin cream, with no irritation for me at all. It's ridiculously cheap at 3 euros and only available in some European countries, so stock up over the holidays. It's sold over the counter in pharmacies here in Greece. I didn't like this for my face because it gave me persistent acne and irritation. I've been trying it again, however; my skin is now well accustomed to retinol and it's behaving a lot better. I'll update you in due course.

Indeed Labs Retinol Reface: this is the next step down from strong tretinoin. This is still quite potent but gentler, so if you have sensitive skin, or don't have access to Airol in your country, this is a great option. It is available to buy here

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid 5% in Squalane: This is an old favourite. An affordable retinol oil, it's very kind to your skin, yet gives you results. After two months get a new bottle, it loses its potency. It is available to buy here

Just a few last tips: Ι kept forgetting to apply my décolletage retinol until I put it in the bathroom; I now slap it on after showering, problem solved. Just make sure you dry yourself thoroughly first, do NOT apply high-strength retinol on wet skin.

Also, do not confuse the décolletage area with your neck area: the latter is a lot more sensitive than the former. You can try to apply retinol on your neck, of course, but tread very carefully. I have not yet found one that I can tolerate, so I keep my neck retinol-free nowadays.

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photos via chemistdirect.co.uk and cultbeauty.co.uk