WIND YOUR NECK IN
Does the skin on your neck really need specific care?
I’m putting my neck on the line in saying this: I rarely think about mine. A no man’s land of flesh between face and fleshier bits, is it really necessary to bother with a skincare routine for your neck, just as you do with your face? A Reuters survey found the average UK woman spends 17 minutes applying skincare products on Monday morning (granted, this falls to four by Friday), so there’s certainly time to give your south-of-chin region a little TLC. And, turns out, 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 (BAAPS) found that demand for neck procedures has risen by 16% 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,’ explains Katie Gray, global head facialist at Emma Hardie (emmahardie.com). ‘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 that consumers in the US seem to be aware of. A recent study by the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery found that, when it comes to ageing, 68% of people
were concerned about lines and wrinkles on the neck and chest area, whereas only 55% cited facial creases. It’s not all about surface – the internal components of your neck need to be considered, too. As you get older, neck muscles become more apparent. ‘They bulge out, drawing the jawline down,’ explains Dr Tracy Mountford, founder of Cosmetic Skin Clinic (cosmeticskinclinic.com). And with no supportive bone structure to keep skin lifted, gravity can run riot. But keeping your head held high helps. 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 (omskincare.co.uk). 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 (drritarakus.co.uk). Her advice? ‘Incorporate neck care into your skin routine and extend your SPF protection down your neck to prevent free-radical 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 Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic (cadoganclinic.com). 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 much 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. ‘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 like 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 which is ‘monotasking’, a term that basically refers to breaking down your beauty regime into targeted zones, with a specific product for each. Case in point: Stellar Décolletage, the first brand to feature products that solely target the décolletage (neck, shoulders and chest). Founder Helen Erichsen explains how the company was born. ‘I’ve always led an outdoors lifestyle and this took a toll on my skin, specifically in the décolletage area,’ she says. ‘I couldn’t find any products that targeted this area, so I started blending a mix of premium skincare products and applying them to my chest and neck. When I saw the amazing results, I started working with a chemist to create products with key ingredients that deal with the unique needs of this area.’ Gray believes monotasking is really about becoming mindful of your skin’s different 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 when you have a bit left on your hands.’ So is it really worth shelling out for a separate neck cream? Clearly, that’s a yes. A targeted product will contain all the ingredients this unique area of the skin requires and, by concentrating on your neck as a zone, you’ll give it the same attention you give your face. Now, that is worth sticking your neck out for.
‘YOUR NECK LOSES ELASTICITY BEFORE OTHER PARTS OF THE BODY’