Your neck does a lot for you: It holds your head upright. It houses the nerves that connect your brain to your body. It drains the lymphatic fluid from your face, so you’re not perpetually puffy. And how do you repay it? By skimping on skincare, skipping the SPF, and straining it to stare at your iPhone all day. Needless to say, your neck deserves better. It deserves its very own neck skincare routine.
OK, yes, that sounds a little extra; and if you’re pressed for time or prefer a minimalist regimen, it’s totally fine to extend your facial care just a touch further to your neck and décolletage and call it a day. But the skin on your neck is actually pretty different from that on your face, and could benefit from a customized approach.
“Neck skin is thinner than facial skin — it’s about two-thirds the thickness — and while it is highly elastic, that means it’s easily stretched,” Jason Leong, the National Training Executive for Clé de Peau Beauté (which just released its Synactif Neck + Décolleté Cream), tells The Zoe Report. “Our necks are also exposed to constant movement and UV rays, making it susceptible to wrinkles.” Due to these factors, Dr. Lily Talakoub, M.D., F.A.A.D., a board-certified dermatologist, says neck skin is more prone to sun damage — and is slower to repair itself, too. “Even one sunburn can damage collagen and elastin in the skin of the neck for a lifetime,” she tells TZR. “Also, once UV damage on the neck has happened, it’s much, much harder to treat than that of the face.” (Basically, add SPF to your neck care lineup, STAT.)
On top of that, “your neck doesn’t produce oil like your face does,” Suzanne LeRoux, the founder of One Love Organics, tells The Zoe Report — which explains why you (thankfully) don’t have to deal with neck breakouts. On the flip side, you do need to treat the area with products that have “more humectants and are a little bit more moisturizing,” she says, in order to lock in hydration and keep things looking youthful and plump. Think: Hyaluronic acid, hydrating creams, and thick butters.
Then, of course, there’s the most millennial neck issue of all time: “tech neck, from looking down at electronics,” as Dr. Talakoub puts it. Besides the strain and pain of constant staring and scrolling, tech neck is often associated with wrinkling and sagging of the skin. Oh, and blue light damage — because your phone is almost guaranteed to be pointed straight at your neck at any given moment. “This is what we’ve been working on,” LeRoux says of a yet-to-launch One Love Organics product, formulated for the neck and décolletage. “It has blue light actives, hyaluronic acid, and plant stem cells.”
Finally, let’s not forget about the most important function of the neck: lymphatic drainage. “The neck's highly concentrated lymphatic vessels and capillaries help detox, purify, and take away excess fluids (AKA, puffiness)," Leong says. “People often experience many of the same concerns on the neck as they do on the face, yet things like sagging and loss of firmness, puffy skin, and rough texture can appear more severe on the neck because of damaged lymphatic channels that are highly concentrated in the neck and décolleté area." Clé de Peau Beauté’s latest product features white nettle flower and cinnamon cassia bark extracts, along with pine tree extract, for this exact reason. All three are known to “enhance the optimal function of lymphatic vessels.”
It also comes with what’s essentially a reshaped gua sha tool: The Essential Flow Massager. “It looks like a big gold rose petal and is shaped and weighted perfectly for lymphatic massage,” Leong explains. But really, any gua sha crystal will work to keep your neck in tip-top shape. “A lighter pressure with a downward stroke on the sides of the neck stimulates lymph drainage,” Britta Plug, aesthetician and co-founder of Wildling, tells TZR. “If we want to focus on neck lifting, we perform upward sweeping strokes all around the neck.” You can even use a gua sha to alleviate tension in neck muscles by applying firmer pressure at the back and nape of the neck. “A precise application of the ‘friction technique’ will address individual lines and wrinkles,” Plug adds. (She shares video tutorials of all of these techniques on her Instagram, along with seriously compelling before-and-after photos.) “I recommend dedicating 10 to 15 minutes at least three times per week to see results,” the aesthetician says.
Convinced you need your very own neck care routine? Ahead, shop eight essentials experts recommend.