“Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth,” said Nora Ephron. “You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck.” A keen observation, for sure, but it omits the neck’s constant and equally damning companion: the chest. Even more so than the neck, the crepe-y and cross-hatched patina of a long-abused décolleté betrays the years – and often adds extra – of a women whose has otherwise artfully lasered into oblivion the wrinkles and age spots by which she’s judged from the jawline up.
I once watched a supermodel in the proto-reality-TV era, whose beauty advice has stuck with me for years. Gesturing with her hand as she was filmed in the bathroom of her Soho loft, she said, “Your face starts here," gesturing to the bottom of her boobs. Too bad I didn’t take her advice to heart, as I’ve apparently been taking care of the equivalent of just my forehead for 20 years.
As soon as I entered the next age bracket in the drop-down menu of life, I began to notice a red crease (cleavage wrinkle, or “clinkle”) etched itself from my collar bone to solar plexus. It was tiny, it was OCD, but it was there. From clavicle up, I was a well-rested thirtysomething with a pretty decent skin-care budget. But from the neck down, my complexion was broadcasting that I would soon be eligible for social-security payments. At first my “clinkle” would disappear by midday, but it remained until I settled back into bed for another night of side-sleeping. So, I did what any sane women would do before slipping any further down the (leathery) slope to a chest like Magda’s in There's Something About Mary, and consulted my most knowledgeable confidant: I googled it.
Type “chest wrinkles” into Google and you’ll get 1,230,000 results to the cankle’s 339,000 and bingo wings’ 965,000. Among organic search results for chest wrinkles sits the link to SilcSkin Decollette Pads. I didn’t click through the first time, ignoring what my bullshit-o-meter registered as the ultimate gimmick and some amazing SEO. A pad? Really? How could a sticky, plastic-y pad get rid of wrinkles I’d spent a lifetime cultivating? I was already familiar with the family of stick-on beauty products, like Frownies, and they never impressed me. I searched on. There was laser (too expensive), fillers (ditto), skincare and retinols, advice to drink more water ot try an I-shaped pillow or a rolled-up sock in your sports bra, and a puzzling device that resembled a 1960s monokini.
Further research revealed a Reddit thread on chest wrinkles, where some women claimed to have simply trained themselves to sleep on their backs. These must be the same women who don’t think a pint of ice cream is a single-serving container. I am not one of those women. Before I (no doubt fruitlessly) attempted to sleep like a geisha, I ended up trying the silicone pad, bolstered by its many ardent supporters … and my visible lack of willpower.
Being a profligate beauty spender, I only balked briefly at the price. Its purported cost per use is around a dollar. It would certainly be cheaper than the yearly top-ups needed with injectables or peels and laser, and it was far from the most ridiculous – or expensive – impulse purchase I’d ever made online (stupid neoprene bikini). Still, visions of me with my chest pad like Tina Fey and her sex-extinguishing mouth guard in Date Night danced through my head.
Initially, I didn’t tell anyone I’d bought a sticky pad to wear on my chest at night. My new beauty device could be an embarrassing little secret between me, Amazon, and my husband. (And it wasn’t as weird as some of the other devices I’d contemplated buying, like this Japanese rubber face slimmer with its uncanny resemblance to the mouth on a sex doll.)
Makeup artist Camille Calvet created the SilcSkin Decollette Pads in 2004 because she “found that Silicone gel sheeting was being used to heal Keloid scarring,” and wondered if she “could use silicone to treat wrinkles as effectively.” Scars and wrinkles are structurally different beasts (though both are related to collagen), but two nights after my pad arrived, I went to bed with a clinkle and woke up with a smooth chest.
According to Dr. Jessica Weiser of the New York Dermatology Group, the medical-grade silicone pad (the same stuff in your menstrual cups and sex toys) seems to keep your chest skin from creating new creases by sticking to it and smoothing it. It "occludes and draws moisture to the surface of the skin to improve hydration, which can soften the appearance of finer lines. There is incidental reporting that silicone topically can improve irregular collagen fibers and increase blood flow to expedite healing and cell turnover.”
Whatever the mechanism within the sticky pad, it really does seem to have an instant impact. It won’t, however, do the trick if you have deep rivets crisscrossing your chest. Dr. Weiser says, “I typically recommend them for scars more so than lines and wrinkles but they certainly can serve a purpose particularly in younger patients or in those at early onset of chest lines.” This sort of pad is just the weird quick fix for a dedicated side sleeper leading up to an event where the décolleté will be on display.
I can almost feel you through the screen thinking, Well, if it’s so amazing, why isn’t everybody wearing one to bed? Why aren’t we frantically stockpiling, like Elaine Benes and her case of Today sponges? Why are beauty bloggers not raving about them in their latest haul videos? Why no SilcSkinnies on Instagram? To that, I say it’s probably because the silicone chest pad isn’t sexy, like at all. It doesn’t look good on your bathroom shelf the way so many beauty products do, and it feels a little like a baby alien belly. Or maybe we’re all secretly using them. This feels like the not-such-a-shock revelation earlier this year that women shave their faces … and have done so for ages.
Using the silicone pad is almost medical, like dressing a blister or flossing your teeth. Plus, the brand I tried isn’t celebrity endorsed, other than by a woman named Bridget Marquardt whose preferred attire seems to be gold lamé bikinis. There’s no little thrill when you click “add to cart” for one of the pads the way there is when the cashier at Sephora hands you that glossy little black bag. It feels more like buying Band-Aids at CVS – no rush after the beauty hit. And some people might have a hard time coming to terms with a $30 monthly spend on a chunk of rubbery material. To that I say fair enough, but I’ll probably still create a mini Elaine-style stockpile for now as a hedge against further clinkle creation.