Spoiler alert: It’s your neck you’re neglecting. “We tend to focus on our face throughout our lives—until we notice that our neck has begun to sag,” says Jeannette Graf, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center. Just as the face ages, so does the neck—and it can even fare worse, as the skin on our neck is actually thinner, making the loss of collagen and elasticity that happens naturally with age even more noticeable.
Years of gravity pulling on fat can also cause that telltale drooping—aka “turkey neck.”
“The skin of the neck is quite different than that of the face,” Dr. Graf says. “Besides being thinner and more delicate, it doesn’t have the same emollient-producing oil glands that would keep it plump and hydrated.” Even if you’ve ignored your neck your whole life, certain products and procedures can help restore a youthful look and prevent your neck from revealing your age.
Newer products are showing great promise as a way to firm and tighten the appearance of neck skin. Leading the pack is NeoCutis MicroFirm Neck & Décolleté, with a blend of peptides to stimulate collagen and elastin, and glycolic acid to minimize the appearance of age spots, and Strivectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream, currently the best-selling neck-tightening cream on the market. (Stay tuned for the release in January of the targeted therapy iS Clinical NeckPerfect Complex, an anti-aging formula with powerful ingredients like hyaluronic acid to provide intensive hydration plus hydrolyzed rice protein and calcium pantothenate (vitamin B5) to help stimulate collagen.) A budget-friendly pick for lifting a droopy jaw line is L’Oreal Paris RevitaLift Anti-Wrinkle & Firming Face & Neck Moisturizer, with a blend of blend of pro-retinol A and marine extract to tighten skin and minimize wrinkles.
For a nighttime treatment, Dr. Graf recommends Avène Physiolift Night Smoothing Regenerating Night Balm. “It has a retinol retinaldehyde, which is a form of vitamin A that is well tolerated by sensitive skin, to stimulate cell renewal,” she says. Dr. Graf also recommends two effective treatments you can find at your local drugstore and should never go without. “The use of sunscreen daily and retinol nightly are essential,” she says.
If you are looking for a radical improvement, there are in-office treatments that can turn back time on the neck area. Dr. Graf’s new gold standard procedure is ThermiTight, in which a form of radiofrequency (sound waves) is delivered under the skin via a tiny probe to gently heat tissue in a way that causes it to tighten. Two non-invasive radiofrequency treatments are ThermiSmooth and BTL Exilis, both FDA-approved for skin tightening (check the before and after pictures on realself.com). Another heavy hitter is ultherapy, which uses ultrasound waves to cause tiny injuries deep in the dermis that stimulate collagen over time. According to NYC-based board certified dermatologist Julie Russak, MD, ultherapy—or a lighter version she offers, called a sonic facial—will show visible tightening beginning three months after a single treatment.
Although there’s no immediate gratification with these treatments, they’re often combined with other procedures that offer same-day results. “With today’s more gentle lasers and newer treatments such as peels, like the Glytone Age-Defying Professional Peel System for the neck, as well as advanced microneedling techniques, the quality of the skin can improve, particularly when combined with at-home skin care treatments.” Dr. Graf says. Neck lifts are still a thing, but if you take these more moderate steps in the meantime, you shouldn’t need one.