Neck creams are nonsense – but this delicate area does need a bit of love


Powered by article titled “Neck creams are nonsense – but this delicate area does need a bit of love” was written by Sali Hughes, for The Guardian on Saturday 11th December 2021 08.00 UTC

I have determinedly avoided writing about neck creams for many years, but the huge fashion trend for “neck mess” (wearing lots of necklaces all together) has forced me to confront the issue. Neck mess is the new proclivity of social media users – and celebrities such as Michelle Obama and Gwyneth Paltrow – towards wearing multiple necklaces of varied thicknesses and lengths, suspending an eclectic collection of mismatching pendants, lockets and fobs, making the neck the focal point of a look (it’s no coincidence the trend was born at the height of Zoom-meeting dependency).

Writer Nora Ephron’s decision to start hiding her neck with cowl necks and polos at just 43 (“Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth”) seems much less fun, but I know from your emails that there is anxiety around loosening and wrinkling neck skin.

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I have never recommended neck creams here because I think they’re nonsense. They’re expensive and cannot magically hoik up a sagging neck. Nothing but surgery can do that. In principle, the skin on your neck no more needs its own cream than molars need a different toothpaste from incisors. It’s easier to drape on another necklace to either camouflage or adorn.

What works below the jaw is the same as what works above, via your regular facial skincare: antioxidants and sunscreen for protection, hyaluronic acid for hydration, oil for moisture and retinoids to at least partially reverse damage. Where this becomes tricky is that necks are prone to sensitivity, specifically with retinoids like retinol and tretinoin, which can leave them red and sore.

The answer is to buffer the neck from too strong a product, effectively by reversing the application of layers, smoothing first a bland, gentle moisturiser (Avène Hydrance Rich Hydrating cream moisturiser, £15.50, La Roche Posay’s Toleriane Sensitive Fluide Moisturiser, £16.50 or Dr Jart Ceramidin cream, £30, perhaps) all over the neck, before applying retinol on top. Think of the cream as a mattress topper for your neck, to shield what lies beneath while letting enough through to do something.

I do precisely this myself every night, as well as exercising my neck muscles regularly (they get much less of a workout than our expressive faces). By reappropriating the advice given by my midwife about my pelvic floor, I remember to make a point of tensing my neck muscles by flexing my jaw whenever I send a text message. It’s handy advice, if somewhat unbecoming on the bus. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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