Do Neck Creams Really Work?

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Are neck creams necessary when you’re already using a body moisturizer? (Photo: John Akehurst/Trunk Archive)

I don’t pretend to be the most consistent person when it comes to my own skincare. Usually there are at least two nights per week when I whittle my pre-bed routine down to nothing but a quick rubdown with a makeup remover wipe. Despite my lazy tendencies, I do appreciate the importance of a good face cream and when I put it on, I do it right. Or so I thought. Over the years, I’ve been told time and time again by skin experts to apply moisturizing treatments onto my neck, too. That’s why I’m a little baffled by the growing number of neck-specific products that have recently hit the market. Why can’t I just use my face cream on my neck too?

However, where there is a market there is a product. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons 2013 Statistics Report, the number of neck lifts increased by 6 percent between 2012 and 2013, highlighting a growing concern about double chins. “Everybody is doing more stuff on the neck, like liposuction and Botox. Products usually follow that,” says Cambridge, Massachusetts dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, M.D. But for those seeking a younger-looking neck without a doctor’s help, is it worth it to spring for a separate product just for the skin below the chin?

Similar to the eye area, the skin on the neck is thinner and more delicate than the face. The way it ages depends on a variety of factors like sun damage, weight fluctuations (constant gaining and losing can cause laxity), genetics and how well you take care of it. “Unfortunately, the neck and décolleté region is most often neglected until visible signs of aging are evident. Since the skin around the neck is influenced largely by the underlying architecture, or lack of, it requires special consideration separate from facial products,” says Smitha Rao, Vice President of Product Development at StriVectin.

Patricia Wexler, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist, likes that neck-centric treatments have a slightly more targeted focus. “The neck creams we use may be [similar to] facial creams, but with a lighter formulation for that delicate area. They are specifically for brightening, tightening and reversing sun damage,” Dr. Wexler says. She suggests looking for products that contain peptides like matrxyl 3000, pentapeptide, tetapeptides and lipopeptides to rev up collagen production.  

“One thing your neck is fighting more than your face is gravity,” says Dr. Hirsch. That along with the gradual breakdown of the skin’s structure, which happens naturally as we age, can lead to sagginess. While a neck cream won’t get rid of jowls, a firming, lifting formula can help make the neck area look more taut.
If you aren’t that concerned about your neck just yet, there’s no harm in sitting this trend out. “Using a neck cream is not a bad idea, but for a lot of people, simply using your face cream is a good option,” says Dr. Hirsch. Either way, consistent application is key. “Nothing has ever made you look younger sitting in the jar,” she adds. Apply your moisturizer to your neck and décolleté with the back of your hand (it’s gentler) in an upward motion. And don’t forget that whole ounce-of-prevention thing. Be sure to protect your neck and chest from sun damage and avoid yo-yo dieting. Skincare trends may come and go, but good habits will always benefit you in the long run.

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