The neck’s best thing
Neck-specific beauty products: waste of money or miracle-worker? Read on!
Does the neck deserve its own beauty routine? Welcome to ‘monotasking’
I’m putting my neck on the line in saying this: I rarely think about mine. It’s a no-man’s-land of flesh between face and fleshier bits, so is it really necessary to bother with a skincare routine for your neck, just as you do with your face? One UK survey found the average woman spends 11 minutes applying product in the morning (granted, this seems to fall to four minutes by Friday), so there’s time to give your south-of-chin region a little TLC. And with good reason.
Your neck is one of the first parts of your body to show visible signs of ageing. Fact. A 2016 report by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons found that demand for neck procedures had risen by 16 per cent since 2014. However, prevention is better than cure, and skin experts are now suggesting you should start paying your neck the attention it deserves. You know, before it’s too late. But you can’t just treat it like your face.
“Neck skin is thinner and has fewer oil glands than the skin on your face,” says Katie Gray, global head facialist at Emma Hardie. “As a result, the neck loses elasticity before other parts of your body.”
But while the needs of the skin on your face change seasonally and hormonally, those of your neck don’t vary. So, your focus can remain on keeping the skin looking as taut and free of sun damage as possible – a fact consumers seem to be aware of. An American Society for Dermatologic Surgery survey found, when it comes to ageing, 68 per cent were concerned about lines and wrinkles on the neck and chest area, and only 55 per cent cited the creases between their brows.
But it’s not all about surface – the internal components of your neck need to be considered, too. As you age, neck muscles become more apparent. “They bulge out, drawing the jawline down,” explains Dr Tracy Mountford, founder of The Cosmetic Skin Clinic in London. And with no supportive bone structure to keep skin lifted, gravity can run riot. But holding your head high is important – literally. “In the age of smartphone addiction, constantly looking down at a device is a hindrance when it comes to protecting your neck,” says skin specialist Dr Om Prawarisa at OM Skincare. Exposure to the elements doesn’t help, either – it’s key to protect your neck just as you do your face. “You can have flawless skin and a youthful complexion, but a crepey neck is a total giveaway of maturity,” says cosmetic specialist Dr Rita Rakus. Her advice? “Incorporate neck care into your skin routine and extend your SPF protection down your neck to prevent damage from UV.”
Have short hair, or love a pony?
It’s easy to forget the back of your neck. “It’s essential to apply SPF30 down the neck and around the back, too,” says consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto. Studies show UV damage causes
sagging skin, and guess what?
When the back of the neck sags, it’ll take the front with it.
That’s weather beaten. On to a more formidable foe – natural ageing. “Oestrogen boosts collagen production in the skin, which is what maintains that youthful plumpness,” explains Dr Mike Bell, skincare scientific adviser for Boots in the UK. “As oestrogen levels fall with age, the corresponding decline in collagen exacerbates the loss of firmness in the skin on the face and neck.” Collagen acts as scaffolding for your skin, keeping it taut and strong. The amount of collagen you’ll retain is down to genetics, but there are a few stem-cell-based ingredients, such as epidermal growth factor and glycolic acid, that can encourage your skin to create new collagen. Then there are antioxidants such as vitamins E and C and niacinamide, which protect your skin cells so they can go about their business creating collagen without being disrupted by attacks from aggressors such as UV rays.
Feeling lost? Don’t panic. You know something is worth looking into when the beauty industry invents a whole new word for it.
The latest of these is ‘monotasking’, a term that refers to breaking down your beauty regimen into targeted zones, with a specific product for each. Gray believes monotasking is about becoming mindful of your skin’s various areas and how you should care for them individually. “By investing in a separate neck cream, subconsciously you’ll spend more time focusing on it,” she says. “You’re isolating an area and treating it properly – and regularly. This is better than thinking about it every now and then and quickly applying a small amount of face serum as an afterthought.”
So is it really worth shelling out for a separate neck cream?
The experts say yes. A targeted product will contain all the ingredients this unique section of skin requires and, by focusing on your neck as a zone, you’ll give it the same attention you would give your face. Now, that’s worth sticking your neck out for.