When it comes to protecting and caring for the skin on our faces, diligence is our middle name. The process of slathering on SPF and moisturizer is a deeply ingrained daily process that’s practically second nature. But what about your neck? Unless we’re referencing the decolletage, it definitely doesn’t get the same skincare attention as, say, the skin under your eyes—until now.
It turns out that we shouldn’t neglect our necks, as they show signs of aging even more quickly than our faces do—and between wrinkling, sagging and sun damage (not to mention the ever-present fear of “tech neck“), we’ve been thinking a lot more about how to care for this essential part of the body.
So we went straight to the source and asked a dermatologist how we can best protect our necks
Sunscreen is crucial.
If you only take one thing away from this story, it’s that you MUST put SPF on your neck. Over time, pesky, uncomfortable burns can have some unappealing cosmetic—not to mention dangerous medical—effects. “Many people remember to use sunscreen on their faces but forget their necks,” says Dr. Jennifer Chwalek, dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “Over time, the skin on the neck develops signs of photodamage—brown spots, mottled pigmentation, broken capillaries, lines, and possibly skin cancer—especially if you are wearing v-necks or button down shirts that are exposing the skin to sun.”
While Chwalek notes that procedures like botox and laser resurfacing can help improve the appearance of photodamage, she also says that any difference in skin between your neck and face will be a sure-fire sign of your age. We’ll definitely pass on that.
Be vigilant about dryness.
Did you know that your neck has fewer sebaceous glands than the skin on your face? Because of this, Chwalek says that the neck is more susceptible to things like dryness and irritation, and is more prone to scarring. That’s just yet another reason to apply SPF to protect your neck. She recommends using a daily SPF of 30 or more and using very gentle cleansers. To make it even easier, she says you can use a facial SPF on this area, too.
Choose the right products.
Chwalek says that while there are products out there that are meant to target the appearance of this area, it’s important to remember that there are not “blinded controlled studies” backing the products, but only the brand’s research. That being said, she does have a few favorite products that really do give great results. “Neostrata Triple Firming Neck Cream contains Pro-amino acid, NeoCitriate, NeoGlucosamine, and apple stem cell extract which, according to company data, stimulates collagen,” she says. “Nectifirm by Revision is another cream that contains plant extracts, antioxidants, and peptides that firm the skin. Strivectin also has a neck cream that contains plant extracts, emollients and other ingredients to strengthen the skin matrix and improve the appearance of elasticity.”
Our expert explains that many neck creams contain antioxidants and ingredients to stimulate collagen, and coincidentally, those are things you frequently see in facial products. “For this reason, using your facial serums on your neck may work just as well, but you have to be careful if the products contain retinol or AHAs—these ingredients may cause more dryness and irritation on neck skin,” Chwalek tells us.
Limit your screen time.
After all, that’s the biggest cause of tech neck. “Tech neck refers to skin laxity and lines that occur from looking down at your computer or phone for long periods of time,” says Chwalek. “Any repetitive movement or contraction of underlying muscles has the potential to cause skin lines and wrinkles over time, though some of this is also determined by genetics and age.”
And while watching how much you text or type may help, once again, SPF is your best friend—the premature lines caused by hunching over your Instagram feed are only made worse by sun damage. “Using daily SPF will also help protect the skin from sun damage, which causes collagen breakdown and eventually lines and laxity,” Chwalek tells us. And in this day and age when sunscreen is in practically everything, you really have no excuse. Protect your neck.
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