There is a cream for everything these days. From your under eyes to your feet—no area of the body has been neglected by beauty brands looking to sell you a new way to look your best. But do all these areas actually need their own skin-care regimen? We wanted to know, especially when it comes to the neck—a lesser-known area of the body that can really tattle tale our true age.
Anti-aging creams and serums designed specifically for the neck are popping up everywhere, and it's true that this area and the décolletage are commonly neglected areas of the body when it comes to maintenance and care. "One of the largest mistakes I see women make in their skin-care regimens is neglect of the neck and upper chest," says Austin, TX, dermatologist Julie Fridlington. And it turns out, the neck is just as susceptible to damage and aging as the face. "Over the course of a lifetime, necks and chests are exposed to as much UV light as faces, but don't get the same good consistent skin care routine that most women establish for their faces," she says.
Over time, neglect of the neck leads to mottled red and brown pigmentation with sagging and wrinkling of the skin. But that doesn't mean you have to run out and purchase a cream designed specifically for the skin of the neck if you already have one for your face.
"In general women do not need specific different products for their necks/upper chests, but it is important to remember that this can often be more sensitive skin (thinner with fewer oil glands) that can become irritated more easily by aggressive topical products," says Dr. Fridlington.
That means that the best rule of thumb for neck care is to give it the same treatment you give your face. When exfoliating or applying moisturizer, don’t stop at your jawline. Antioxidant protection and sunscreen are of utmost importance as well. "I encourage my patients to think of their neck as an extension of their face to ensure it gets the benefit of daily sunscreen and other skin maintenance products," she says.
And if you have neglected your neck over the years, it's not too late to reverse the sagging and wrinkling. When treated early, neck wrinkles can be softened with neurotoxin injections to help release constricting muscles. Slack skin on the neck can also be treated with Titan, the energy-based treatment that stimulates collagen production deep in the dermis and has a firming effect on the skin.
If the wrinkling and sagging is really bothering you, Pepper Pike, OH, plastic surgeon Lu-Jean Feng, MD, says you "can tighten the skin through a surgical necklift or through nonsurgical treatments such as Fraxel or Thermage."