Don’t feel bad about your neck, says Penny McCormick, who suggests ways to enhance, camouflage and divert attention away …
“One should be a piece of art, or wear a piece of art,” quipped Oscar Wilde. The fashion set know the value of an impressive piece of wearable art, in the form of interesting jewellery. Anna Wintour layers antique collet necklaces (from British jewellers SJ Phillips), Iris Apfel loves dramatic resin pieces by Alexis Bittar, and Joan Collins’ jewellery box is filled with costume pieces from Butler & Wilson and Vicki Sarge. Lauren Rubinski’s distinctive chunky gold chain necklaces are seen on the most stylish, as are Jade Trau’s industrial-chic links studded with diamonds. Wearing dramatic jewels can be a diversionary tactic, leading the focus away from one particular area of the body to another.
Jewellery is just one weapon in the arsenal against wrinkled necks and crepey chests exposed this season, thanks (or no thanks!) to the trend for risqué necklines, tiny white vests worn with everything and oversized jackets with little or nothing underneath.
Necks (like hands) can give away your age faster than a glance at your passport. But, any neck – even “turkey” neck – can be improved, with targeted and diligent TLC. Nuala Woulfe, of Nu Aesthetics, Glasthule says: “Protection is key. Use an SPF daily, even in winter. Drink plenty of water, eat a healthy diet with plenty of antioxidants and vitamins.” Taking a collagen supplement also goes a long way to strengthening the skin all over the body, including the delicate neck area. GLOSS staffers use Revive Active’s Beauty Complex which includes marine collagen and hyaluronic acid, €59.95 for 30 sachets.
In France, the neck and décolletage is an erogenous zone. French women stay swan-like for longer, due in no small measure to double cleansing, protecting and moisturising the area down to the bra line. Beauty editor Sarah Halliwell recommends Boots Face & Neck Multi-Action Serum (€37.95), or Clarins Super Restorative Day Cream SPF20 (€91), both firming and protecting.
Don’t forget to exfoliate, says facialist Agnes Gajewska. Consider peel pads twice a week (I like Neostrata PHA Renewal Pads, €45, at pharmacies). Gajewska recommends a high quality vitamin C serum or retinol (best used at night) to unclog pores, boost collagen, reduce fine lines and also pigmentation. Beware, the latter can often be caused by certain perfumes. Citrussy scents contain psoralens, which can cause permanent staining of the skin. The solution? Spritz perfume on clothes (that won’t stain) or wear a ribbon around the wrist or neck, drenched in scent, à la Marie Antoinette.
Jewellery is just one weapon in the arsenal against wrinkled necks and crepey chests exposed this season …
Exercise can help too. One of the reasons women develop double chins and those giveaway necklace rings is because underlying muscles are weak. Yoga devotees have sharp jawlines because they regularly stretch the neckline. Raising the height of computer screens, keeping bedtime reading material at eye level, and incorporating some facial massage (from Face Yoga by Agnes) also helps. Alternatively, tap into your inner rabbit, says holistic London facialist Bharti Vyas. She suggests eating a raw carrot after every meal – it’s good for skin and gives facial muscles a workout, keeping saggy jowls at bay.
For those who prefer a clinical approach, there are several non-invasive mesotherapy treatments available. These deliver hyaluronic acid to the skin to increase hydration, stimulate elasticity and improve skin quality. Elaine Butler-Doolin recommends her Meso Vytal Cell Boost Treatment, €95, at Bespoke Beauty, Dublin 4, which she describes as a workout for the skin. This is carried out between facials and uses vegan-friendly Simone Mahler products. “It’s good for removing age spots, pigmentation and evening out colour tone,” says Butler-Doolin. I tried the Bio Nutri Neck Treatment at Áine Lavery’s Skin Future Clinic, Co Down, £150. This begins with a peel before Lavery pricks the skin (along existing neck lines) using tiny (1.6mm), precise needles to deliver a cocktail of skin-revitalising ingredients. I was surprised by the lack of discomfort or bruising. My neck was lighter and brighter post-treatment.
Radio frequency can help with muscle laxity as will micro-needling and ultherapy. Cleverly, this trio is combined in an ULTRAcel treatment at The Fitzgerald Private Clinic, Dublin 2, €600. “While there is an immediate effect, the tightening process continues for about six months, so I tell anyone choosing this treatment that the results are gradual and subtle,” explains Dr Deirdre Fitzgerald, facial plastic surgeon, ENT consultant and director of the clinic.
An at-home treatment which delivers long-term results – should you need to justify the cost – is the Advanced LED Light Therapy Décolletage Bib, €395, at Brown Thomas. It promises to hydrate, smooth, tighten and brighten the neck and chest area when used ten minutes a day. It’s on my ultimate Christmas wish list. In the meantime, I’ve been incorporating Espa’s fragrant Lift and Firm Neck and Décolletage balm, €52, into my routine and embracing polo-neck sweaters à la Nora Ephron (who famously felt bad about her neck). Not everyone suits a polo neck; if you look better with a V or a scoop neckline, create a flattering optical illusion that draws attention downwards by wearing a necklace or rope of pearls over the top of the poloneck sweater. Wearing earrings directs attention from your neck. I also rely on some wearable Irish art in the form of Debbie Millington’s silk scarves for extra confidence. And remember, reassuringly, nobody looks as unforgivingly on your neck as you do yourself.
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