We’re suspicious of neck creams: surely skin is skin, and these are just a way to get us to buy yet another product for our already overloaded dressers?
Au contraire, says Chloe Smith, national education and scientific communications manager for SkinCeuticals Canada. “Neck skin has a different anatomical structure than facial skin, and these differences need different types of treatments and products to respect the area safely and effectively,” she says. “The neck has greater elasticity and slower cell turnover, which means most of us will notice the neck area aging a little bit faster than the face. The neck also has lower lipids and the skin is thinner, which means it is more prone to dryness and sensitivities.” On top of that, there’s “tech neck”—horizontal lines caused by constantly looking down into our devices.
OK, we’re convinced. So where does the neck begin and end? Where do we stop our regular facial moisturizer, and where do we begin the body lotion? Smith says the neck goes from jawline to collarbone, or you can use neck cream right down to the décolletage if you want. There’s a special application technique, too.
“It involves strengthening the neck muscles to reduce skin sagging, while applying your neck cream at the same time,” says Smith. “This technique is called the Baby Bird, and was developed by movement and posture coach Dr. Liza Egbogah.” First, tilt your head back and look at the ceiling. Press your tongue against the roof of your mouth. Hold for between five and 10 seconds, release, and repeat while applying a neck cream.
Smith says whether you apply your neck cream day and night, or just once a day, depends on the cream itself—Skinceuticals’ new one contains retinol, which should be used only once a day, but others could be used more frequently.
Here, five creams to try now. —Aileen Lalor
Non-greasy yet highly moisturizing and made from mostly organic ingredients, Dr Hauschka Regenerating Neck and Decollete Cream has macadamia nut and argan oils for hydration, and antioxidant marshmallow, birch and red clover extracts.
A beautifully rose-scented cream, Fermetif Neck Renewal Cream has ingredients that are supposed to encourage the natural production of healthy skin cells and thus make the skin firmer and more elastic. There’s also SPF15, so make sure to take the cream down to your décolleté, an oft-neglected spot where sunscreen is concerned.
La Mer Neck and Décolleté Concentrate contains the brand’s famous Miracle Broth, made from kelp hand-harvested off Vancouver Island, plus a marine ferment that’s supposed to strengthen, soften, and reduce discolouration, and an antioxidant lime tea concentrate. To add to the luxury feel, you apply it with a silk brush, sweeping it upward. Massage it in, first with your palms and then in circular motions with your fingertips.
Fight horizontal neck lines, crepiness and sagging with a combination of peptides (often used for anti-aging) and retinol (a gold-standard ingredients for treating lines and wrinkles) in SkinCeuticals Tri-peptide-R Neck Repair. This light cream is even able to reduce signs of a condition called poikiloderma, which can make the sides of the neck look reddish-brown. Because of the retinol, it can be tough on sensitive skin at first, so Smith suggests introducing it to your skin-care regimen gradually, every other night at first, and monitoring your progress.
There are peptides in Valmont’s new V-Neck Cream, plus hydrating ingredients, and actives that are said to boost production of collagen and elastin and make collagen fibres stronger. This supposedly leads to the skin becoming tighter, firmer and less saggy.
VITA editor Noa Nichol’s favourite product (for neck, at minimum) comes from NeoStrata; Triple Firming Neck Cream reduces visible signs of aging on the—you guessed it—neck and décolletage, for skin that appears firmer, lifted and more evenly toned. The scent, too, is up-lifting.