Angelina Jolie

The neck of time ... Angelina Jolie's long neck is a sign of youth.

The cold weather's arrived and women of a certain age are cheering. Turtlenecks, according to Harper's Bazaar Australia (surely we call them polonecks?), are ''in'' this season and, as for every winter, they are a godsend because they cover up the turtle necks of 40-plus ladies. The tedious truth is that the necks and decolletage (surely we call them chests?) become pretty rough. For years they've been sun-exposed and overlooked and then one day we wake up and they've aged before our faces have. Before our very eyes. Young women take heed and read on. The neck becomes a giveaway that neither Botox nor surgery can remedy.
 
''Women are mostly concerned with the face so their skin care regime stops there,'' says Sue Dann of Omniderm skincare distributor. ''Neck, decolletage and the hands often betray a person's true age.'' But is covering them up the answer? Edith Head, the legendary costumier of the golden era of Hollywood, mused that necks seem to shorten with age as the chin line becomes heavier. A woman basically loses her long and, if so blessed, swanlike neck, becoming a squat head on shoulders, like a child's drawing. Polonecks and high oriental collars can make it seem as if there's no neck at all. The most flattering necklines to women no longer in the blush of youth are those that stay away from the neck. What the neck needs is some proper attention and skincare.

''Prevention is better than cure, so it is wise to start at the same time as the general skincare regime,'' says Dann. ''Once the signs of premature ageing of the neck and decolletage have set in, they are extremely hard to treat.'' Signs of premature ageing on the neck are loose skin (turkey neck), lines and sagging skin. Unless the decolletage is protected it will show the common signs of sun damage - the V-shape of skin discolouration, redness and freckles.
 
Refreshingly Dann - who distributes Alex Cosmetics and Herbal Aktiv Peel among other brands - says that the same cream that is used on the face can be used to protect the fine skin of the neck. ''Most formulators produce a special cream for the breast and décolletage area; it is generally richer than a face cream. The ingredient Kigelia Africana has been found to be particularly suitable for firming the skin in this area.''

Every beauty company has a dedicated neck cream. These tend to be pricier than their skin creams. I've tried a few but find I get through the jar so quickly they can be unsustainable. The chest area is larger than the face! The ones I like include Burt's Bees Naturally Ageless Intensive Repairing Serum ($44.95) - and yes it is a serum not just for necks; Dr Spiller Neck and Decollete Cream ($114) - super rich; Clarins Super Restorative Decollete and Neck Concentrate ($120) - gel-like to take down to the shoulders; and Skeyndor Natural Defence Throat Firming Cream ($88) - replenishing.

How do you care for your neck? Have you even noticed your neck? Do you use neck creams or do you prefer to cover up when you can and save the love for your face? Do you agree that the neck is an age giveaway?