If you’re like us, your anti-aging skin care routine is focused on your face. From smoothing crow’s feet and de-puffing under eye bags to erasing age spots and filling in furrows. Who even has time to think about any other body parts?! But one often overlooked area that gets the short end of the stick: our necks.
The truth is: Wrinkly skin on our necks can be one of the biggest giveaways of our age, as the late Nora Ephron so candidly opined in one of her most famous essays, “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” which she later expanded into a book (that’s very much worth reading!).
The skin on the neck is thinner and more delicate than on the rest of the body which makes the area particularly prone to many of the same aging issues as our face, including a wrinkly, crepey texture. And, as such, it tends to be one of the first spots to show signs of aging, explains Marisa Garshick, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in New York and New Jersey and an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell — New York Presbyterian Medical Center.
Ready to take care and repair this beauty blind spot? Read on for the best ways to both prevent and treat it with ease.
What causes a crepey neck?
A crepey neck, similar in texture to finely wrinkled tissue paper, is caused by a loss of both collagen and elastin, proteins that help maintain skin’s elasticity and suppleness, explains Teresa Song, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Marmur Medical in New York City.
Collagen and elastin breakdown happens everywhere on the body, but is more noticeable in areas where the skin is thinner and has less structural support, she adds. And, you guessed it, the neck is one of those areas. “Skin on the neck is thinner as is the underlying fat and tissue,” explains Dr. Song.
And while collagen and elastin naturally decrease as we get older, things like exposure to the sun’s UV rays speed up that breakdown. So, when you consider the fact that our neck is almost constantly exposed to the sun and that we aren’t always protecting it with sunscreen, it makes sense that a crepey neck is a common concern for women over 50.
How to prevent a crepey neck
Here’s the good news: “Although aging is inevitable, crepey neck skin is not,” says Serena Mraz, MD, a board-certified dermatologist of Solano Dermatology and Associates in Vallejo, California. Even better? There are two simple steps that take mere seconds to do, that can keep the neck from becoming crepey in the first place.
1. Ward off damage with daily SPF application
Step one is to apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 all over your neck daily. You’re probably already applying this to protect your face: All you need to do is extend it down. All of the dermatologists we polled underscore that this is one of the most important and effective things you can do.
One dermatologist-loved sunscreen: Neutrogena Mineral Ultrasheer Dry Touch SPF 30 Lotion (Buy from Walgreens, $15).
And for situations when you know you’re going to be in direct sunlight for an extended period of time — think hiking, gardening or on a boat — Dr. Mraz says upping the ante by wearing a protective neck gaiter (like masks for your neck) is a good idea, too.
One to try: Coolibar UPF 50+ La Plata UV Neck Gaiter (Buy on Amazon, $10).
2. Hydrate the area by slathering on neck cream
Using a neck cream regularly is also helpful. Dr. Song notes that, while they can be used as a treatment for crepey neck skin, they’re best used preventatively before the issue arises.
Dr. Song suggests looking for a cream that contains hydrating ingredients and antioxidants to combat skin-damaging free radicals. Her pick: No7 Restore & Renew Face & Neck Multi Action Day Cream SPF 30 (Buy from Target, $25), which contains hydrating hyaluronic acid, antioxidant-rich vitamin C and SPF to keep the neck looking smooth and youthful.
The best at-home treatments to smooth a crepey neck
Most skin experts sing the praises of in-office treatments (more on this below) when it comes to reversing crepey neck skin, but “with consistency and time, these at-home choices can be a helpful addition to your skincare routine,” says Dr. Garshick. Keep scrolling for the doctor-approved tips that will help treat crepey neck skin based on the degree of its crepiness.
For barely-there neck creases: a hyaluronic acid moisturizer
The skin on the neck has fewer oil glands than elsewhere on the body, making the area more prone to dryness, says Dr. Song, which just exacerbates the creased-like texture. The easiest way to combat this issue is to slather on moisturizer regularly. More specifically, Dr. Garshick advises looking for one that contains hyaluronic acid. The acid attracts moisture to skin, combatting dryness and plumping skin on the neck to make fine lines and crepey-ness less apparent. Find it in: L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Hyaluronic Acid Plumping Cream (Buy from Target, $27).
Click through for more products that help smooth crepey skin.
For moderately creased, crepey neck skin: a silicone patch
“Wearing a medical-grade silicone patch overnight helps lock in hydration and smooth the skin, helping to noticeably reduce the appearance of creppiness,” says Dr. Mraz. One that she suggests: Wrinkles Schminkles Neck Wrinkle Patch (Buy from Wrinkles Schminkles, $30).
To learn more about the benefits of silicone patches and how to use them, check out the below video from YouTuber and esthetician Penn Smith.
For deep-set wrinkles and crepey neck skin: a retinol cream
Retinol is one the best anti-aging ingredients to use for your face and the same goes for your neck. The vitamin A-derivative boosts collagen production to help both prevent and treat fine lines and creepiness, Dr. Garshick notes. It also speeds up cell turnover, meaning it evens out overall tone and texture, too. Dr. Song agrees, and recommends RoC Derm Correxion Neck Cream (Buy on Amazon, $18) that’s packed with retinol.
Tip: Retinol is notorious for having some irritation side effects like redness and peeling. To minimize the likelihood of irritation, particularly on the thin skin of your neck, start by using a retinol cream just once or twice weekly. Then, gradually increase the frequency of use as your skin gets used to the ingredient.
For saggy, crepey neck skin: a red light + microcurrent tool
“Red LED light works to boost collagen production and can improve the look of crepey skin,” says Dr. Garshick. And microcurrent, which is essentially a small electrical current, can also help neck skin look smoother.
Get the benefits with SolaWave 4-in-1 Radiant Renewal Skincare Wand (Buy from Ulta, $169), which features both red LED light and microcurrent along with massage and therapeutic warmth to tighten and lift the skin. Dr. Garshick is a fan of this wand as she says it’s very easy to maneuver around the contours of the neck.
To *instantly* smooth a crepey neck: grab a jade roller
Although the results will be temporary, gently massaging your neck with a jade roller, like the EcoTools Jade Face Roller (Buy from Walgreens, $8), can help give the neck a tighter, more lifted appearance, says Dr. Garshick. Tip: Be gentle and avoid applying too much pressure so as to not damage the delicate neck skin.
For an easy to follow facial roller tutorial, watch the below video from the Lémore Beauty YouTube channel.
The best in-office treatments to smooth a crepey neck
While at-home remedies can help correct crepey neck skin, in-office treatments are going to be significantly more effective, says Dr. Song. Read on for the top options that are widely available at most dermatologist offices.
Tighten crepey neck skin with radiofrequency microneedling
Microneedling is a treatment during which tiny needles create microscopic holes in the skin, triggering a wound-healing response that boosts the production of collagen and elastin, in turn leaving your skin looking smoother and more youthful. That’s great in and of itself, but in the case of radiofrequency microneedling, the needles also deliver radiofrequency energy that helps tighten the skin, further addressing crepieness, notes Dr. Mraz. Three to six monthly sessions are typically needed, according to Dr. Song, and each session can cost anywhere from $800 to $1500. For this treatment, the downtime is minor — just expect a few days of mild redness. (Click through for more on microneedling on neck skin, including at-home options: “I Tightened My Turkey Neck Without Surgery — Now I Feel More Confident Than Ever!”)
Smooth out crepey neck skin with resurfacing laser treatments
Laser treatments also stimulate collagen production, but with the added benefit of also improving overall skin tone and texture, points out Dr. Garshick. This makes lasers a great option for addressing crepey, wrinkly skin, as well as other signs of aging such as dark spots. “You may see improvement after one treatment, but two to three are often recommended for the best results,” she says, adding that they can cost anywhere from $1000 to $2500 per session. And depending on the exact laser that is used (and how aggressive it is), you’ll want to plan for anywhere from a few days to up to a week of redness and swelling.
Plump crepey neck skin with Radiesse injections
This is an injectable filler that stimulates collagen and elastin production, says Dr. Song. The boost in collagen and elastin levels in skin equals less creepiness, and the filler plumps skin so it appears smooth and supple. It’s typically done in a series of three to six treatments, performed every one to two months. And the cost varies based on how much filler is used but can run around $1,500 to $3,000 per treatment. Some slight swelling and bruising is possible post-injection, but they usually dissipate quickly.
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