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Why Do I Have Wrinkles on My Neck and Chest?

Jun 4 2021
3 min read
A woman in a robe and her hair in a towel looking at her neck in a handheld mirror.

Q: I’ve been noticing more wrinkles and sagginess on my neck and chest. Aside from aging, are there other causes for these changes in my skin?

A: Just as with the wrinkles around your eyes and mouth and across your forehead, aging is the primary reason for the appearance of fine lines and looser skin on your neck, chest and décolletage (the upper part of your torso). With every birthday, your skin’s collagen, which provides structure, breaks down a little more. The result: Skin becomes thinner, less elastic and drier—a combination that makes it appear less firm, saggy and wrinkled. There are some other culprits, though, which could be the reason you’re noticing these changes sooner than you might expect:

Sun Damage: Exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun (think of how shirts, dresses and swimsuits leave exactly these areas exposed) speeds the natural aging process, breaking down your skin’s collagen and elastin, the connective tissue that keeps it looking young and plump, and causing skin to lose its strength and flexibility. When this happens, skin starts to sag and wrinkle.

Years of Neglect: When you wash and moisturize your face in the morning and before bed each night, you may not always include your neck, chest and décolletage in the process. By neglecting to cleanse, hydrate and nourish those areas just as you do your cheeks, forehead, chin, nose and so on, negative effects build up over time.

Being a Side-Sleeper: You may have heard that snoozing on your side, which presses your face and neck against the pillow, can contribute to facial wrinkles. True enough, but it can also promote fine lines elsewhere too: Sleeping on your side or curled up in the fetal position encourages the skin on your chest to compress, which can cause wrinkles between and just above your breasts.

Constrictive Clothing: Sports bras, some push-up bras, swimsuits and fitted tank tops and shirts can push your breasts together, which squeezes the surrounding skin. While you may feel supported during a workout or on the beach, be mindful that when worn for hours too-tight clothing can contribute to wrinkles.

Smoking: Just as lighting up will cause fine lines and wrinkles on your face, the same happens on your neck and chest. That’s because nicotine causes the blood vessels in the outermost layers of your skin to constrict, impairing blood flow and depriving the skin of oxygen and important nutrients.

Whether the changes in your skin are normal signs of aging or due to one of the other reasons mentioned above, you can take action to improve the appearance of your neck, chest and décolletage.