Are You Committing This Important Beauty Blunder?

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We stare at our faces every day, whether it be in a mirror or in our selfies, so we tend to be hyperaware of the status of our facial skin and how successful our skincare regimens are in protecting and preserving it. The area we think about much less frequently, but which can show damage and betray age long before our faces do, is the part of the body starting at the neck and ending at the, um, nipples. It’s incredibly important to start caring for this area as early as possible, so we’ve put together a comprehensive guide for doing so. As with all skincare, your pigment and skin type will react to different products in different ways, so consider this list to be a starting point in terms of improving your regimen for preserving for your neck, décolletage and, you know, the girls.

This article was originally published in April 2016.

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Breasts

Breast tissue has been found to age 2-3 years faster than the rest of your body. Here are a few ways to counteract that harsh reality.

Support: Some studies have shown that wearing bras—if you're under a certain age—actually causes your boobs to sag because they prevent the development of supportive tissue. Other experts claim there is value in the support you get from a bra, especially if you have larger breasts. Since the jury's still out on this one, we suggest you go with whatever makes you most comfortable, potentially splitting your time between the two options when possible. If you're going to wear a bra, it's crucial that the bra fits properly, especially around the band, as that's where 90% of the support comes from. Here's our guide to finding a bra that fits.

Sunscreen: We bet you've never applied sunscreen to your breasts. We know we haven't. However, sunscreen will help not only prevent skin cancer, but also the breakdown of collagen and elastin that contributes to sag. So lather up before you leave the house, particularly if you're going to be in a bathing suit or in the sun for any sizable portion of the day!

Fitness: Chanting "we must, we must, we must increase our bust" while working out isn't going to miraculously give you Emily Ratajkowki's endowments; no amount of exercise is going to increase the size of your chest, unfortunately. (This can only be done by gaining weight or going under the knife.) You can, however, improve the appearance of your breasts by strengthening the muscles beneath them. Push-ups and chest flys (using weights 5 lbs. or under), are a great way of accomplishing this goal. Here are more exercises you can do to strengthen these muscles as well.

Avoid Yo-Yo Dieting: Weight gain and loss (over 30 lbs.) can cause your boobs to become more slack.

Moisturize: We like coconut oil for this sensitive and vital area, mostly because it's all-natural.

Pay Attention to Your Posture: We hunch over our computers all day long, which isn't doing our breasts any favors. If you struggle in this department, consider investing in an uber-fashionable Posturific Brace for daily wear at your desk.

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Neck & Décolleté

You should have an AM/PM routine for your neck and décolleté, just as you do for your face. Here are the steps you should absolutely not be skipping, though please note that if an investment in additional products isn't possible, you can always extend your facial care regimen to these other, critical areas.

Cleanse and Exfoliate: Regular exfoliation will rejuvenate your cells and remove dead skin, which will help in product absorption; however, it's important not to be too rough on this area as the skin tends to be considerably more delicate than the skin on the rest of your body. We recommend a gentle exfoliator like the Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish. You can also easily DIY a sugar scrub at home.

Apply a Serum: This should be done at morning and at night. Use of the right serums can acutely deliver Vitamin C and antioxidants to the skin that needs it most. We like the Cellex-C Advanced C Serum or the Burt's Bees Radiance Serum with Royal Jelly . We also like the SkinCeuticals Neck, Chest, and Hand Repair to reverse sun spots and other signs of aging.

Spread Your Retinoids South: If you use a retinoid product on your face, prescription or otherwise, you should include your neck and chest when applying it. We love Shani Darden's Retinol Reform for a gentle option (she's Jessica Alba's dermatologist!).

Moisturize: This should also be done both day and night. Ideally, the moisturizer you use on your neck and chest will have a thicker consistency to that which you use on your face, or be more similar to a night creme than it is to a day. We like the STriVectin-TL Tightening Life Advanced Neck Cream, the La Prairie Cellular Swiss Ice Crystal Creme, and the RoC Multi Correxion 5 in 1 Chest, Neck, and Face Cream.

Apply Sunscreen: It is absolutely critical that you apply sunscreen to this area every single day of your life. Here is a list our favorites, or you can invest in one specifically made for your chest and neck, like the Safe Harbor Natural Suncare Face & Neck Creme, SPF 40. If your moisturizer includes an SPF, you can skip this step unless you're going to be out in the sun for extended periods of time, in which case you'll want to double-up.

Exercise: Studies have shown that moderate exercise can knock years off the appearance of your skin, so get moving ASAP.

Fillers, Lasers, and More: If you're looking for a more aggressive approach to caring for this area, this writer did a greatly detailed investigation into the options.