You’ve heard the warning before: Don’t forget your neck! And yet, we do. We slather on our expensive serums, our overnight masks, our hydrating oils, but leave our neck as an afterthought, only treating it to whatever is left over from our precious visage. But lately, there’s been a shift in the skincare world, with a whole new crop of products targeted specifically to tighten and tone your neck area. Are they worth the extra splurge? What ingredients should we look for? Is it all just clever marketing? We asked two dermatologists and a plastic surgeon—Dr. Rebecca Baxt, Dr. Joshua Zeichner, and Dr. John Diaz—for the unfiltered truth. Keep scrolling to find out what they said!
First up, we had to ask: Why are so many brands releasing neck creams now? “Where there is a need, there will always be products to try to fill that need,” Baxt says. “Some women will take good care of their face, but will look 20 years older from the neck down.”
Zeichner notes that separate creams may also be necessary because the skin on the neck is thin, sensitive, and frequently shows signs of sagging, redness, and pigmentation. Diaz agrees, saying that products specifically formulated for the neck and chest tend to be gentler than their face counterparts. “This is because the skin on the neck is slightly thinner than on the face and has less naturally occurring oils,” says Diaz. “This makes it more prone to redness and irritation.”
When it comes to effective neck creams, you should look for ones with ingredients that stimulate collage production, while protecting skin. Diaz recommends retinol (available over the counter) and tretinoin (found in Rx products like Renova), both vitamin A derivatives that help stimulate collagen. “They can even reverse some of the fine lines and wrinkles on your neck,” he says. To protect the delicate skin on your neck from free radicals and damage, look for brightening ingredients like vitamins C and E.
As for hydration, hyaluronic acid will help your skin retain moisture, which should diminish you neck’s crepe-y appearance. Diaz also recommends looking for various peptides in the ingredients list: “They’re proteins that are essential to your skin’s growth and repair,” he says. “Using them provides your skin with the building blocks it needs to restore its youthful appearance.”
Sure, these ingredients may tighten and tone temporarily, but will consistent use of a neck cream have any long-term benefits? The verdict is mixed. “Long-lasting results can be achieved only with consistent daily use and care,” Diaz says. “This is because your skin cells have a cycle of growth and renewal which takes a minimum of four weeks. Several cycles of renewal must be completed for a total transformation.”
Zeichner agrees that diligence is key, and that there’s no “instant fix.” Of course, even daily, long-term use probably won’t deliver the same results as a more intense in-office procedure.
If your goal is to really lift or firm loose skin on the neck, then a laser, ultrasound procedure, or plastic surgery is usually required, says Baxt. However, she adds that creams with retinoids or glycolic acids will reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and hydrating ingredients can smooth the surface so lines appear less noticeable.
Keep scrolling to shop seven neck-firming creams!