If you’ve started noticing dry skin on your neck, don’t panic—it's actually very common. For one, the skin on this particular area of the body is much thinner than, say, the skin on our face. “Our neck has a thinner dermis [the layer of tissue below the epidermis], which is made up of collagen," explains board-certified dermatologist Tiffany Libby, MD. For this reason, there is "less collagen and less structural support, making this delicate area more prone to wrinkling." Additionally, she says that "our neck also has fewer sebaceous glands, which secrete oil and natural moisturizers. This makes the area more prone to dryness as well.” And on top of all that, you probably aren't giving the area the TLC it deserves: "It’s common for people to pay less attention to the neck when performing [a skincare routine],” says board-certified dermatologist Rebecca Marcus, MD.
Chances are you've already curated the perfect facial skincare routine—now it’s time to do the same for the area right below. Since our neck skin is so thin, it’s important to recruit some help from creams and serums full of strengthening ingredients. Not sure where to start? Below we asked Libby and Marcus to share their expert-approved tips for reclaiming supple neck skin. Keep reading to learn about which products to avoid, what to invest in, and more.
Meet the Expert
- Tiffany Libby, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and Mohs surgeon.
- Rebecca Marcus, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD.
When it Comes to Creams, the Thicker the Better
Chronic dehydration is a telltale sign that your skin barrier isn’t as strong as it could be. One course of action? Help reinforce it with a thick cream or ointment. This consistency will help seal in moisture and prevent further water loss. Libby suggests applying the product of your choice twice a day, especially in the evening. “Using an ointment immediately after bathing or showering helps minimize dry skin and flare-ups,” she adds.
Seek Out Ceramides and Glycerin
Keep an eye out for skincare ingredients that pack a healing punch. “Moisturizing ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides help strengthen and support the skin’s moisture barrier to combat dry, irritated skin,” says Libby.
Often you will find products with several of these additives on the ingredients list. Marcus recommends the Nakery Beauty Intensive Repair Eczema Relief Soothing Treatment Cream ($39) for this very reason. “This is a great choice for dry skin on the neck as it contains several ingredients [that are] helpful when replacing moisture, including colloidal oatmeal, shea butter, glycerin, squalene, aloe, and several plant-based oils,” she says. Her other favorite picks include the Skinfix Triple Lipid Peptide Cream ($20) and Serum 6 by Maei MD ($140).
Use a Humidifier
Your environment can act as a stressor to your skin. And we’re not just talking about the weather outside—this extends to your apartment, bedroom, and other spaces you spend most of your time in. “During the colder winter months, the dry heat indoors and the low humidity levels in the air cause water content to be stripped from our skin,” says Libby. “Adding moisture back to the air in our homes helps minimize this.” The simple addition of a humidifier can be a total game changer; lucky for us, there are even some that are both effective and aesthetically pleasing, such as the Canopy Humidifier ($125).
Skip the Exfoliants
When you are experiencing any type of skin discomfort, the last thing you want to do is aggravate it further. Although it can be tempting to try and polish away flakey patches, we promise it will only make things worse. Libby says to steer clear of physical scrubs, as this may expedite symptoms of irritation. Opt for gentler body washes that won’t strip your skin.
Be Conservative With Fragrances
Many of us spray perfume once (if not multiple times) a day. However, if you tend to mist or dab scent onto your neck, it could be the source of the problem. Both derms warn that fragrance can be an irritant. “Applying perfume to the neck is a common [cause of] dryness and irritation,” says Marcus. “Perfume often contains alcohol, which is drying, and of course fragrance, which is a common cause of contact dermatitis.” Adopt a different application approach, like spritzing your clothes instead.
Incorporate Anti-Aging Ingredients Into Your Routine
As we mentioned before, the skin on our neck has less collagen than the skin on our face, which is why it is often the first place to show signs of aging. One ingredient that can help? Peptides. “When applied to areas such as the neck, peptides help signal to the skin to produce collagen," Libby explains. "This can help minimize the appearance of fine lines." Some of her go-to products include SkinMedica's Neck Correct Cream ($135) and Reserveage's Firming Neck Cream ($40).
Retinoids are also anti-aging heroes. “These are important to add to your neck skincare routine as they are the mainstay ingredient that helps with collagen production and reduction of fine lines,” says Libby. However, it is important to be very mindful of the intensity level of the formulas you reach for. “Retinoids are not as well tolerated on the neck, so be careful to take it slow until your skin has built up a tolerance,” warns Marcus, who suggests starting with a gentle product.