The Best Neck Treatments
Nora Ephron may feel bad about hers, but you don't have to follow her lead, thanks to these easy at-home options that help tighten and tone the neck.
Unlike age spots on hands, sun-induced pigmentation on the neck tends to be more widespread and mottled with red and brown pigment. Opt for lightening agents you can slather over the entire area rather than spot-treating with hydroquinone. A few good choices: Arbutin and kojic acid work similarly to hydroquinone to stop melanin production; soy and niacinamide block the transfer of melanin to skin; and vitamin C fades pigment on the surface. Try: Lumene Premium Beauty Rejuvenating Neck and Décolleté Cream ($27, CVS).
Instead of developing deep wrinkles, necks get loose, crepey skin. As with hands, increasing collagen and improving texture with retinoids will help. However, neck skin is more sensitive than both hands and face, so to avoid red, dry side effects, apply prescription retinoids only once a week for several weeks, suggests Dr. Baumann, and gradually build the frequency until your skin can tolerate them better. With over-the-counter retinol, rub in a pea-size amount every other night before moisturizing. Try Dr. Denese Triple Strength Neck Wrinkle Smoother ($40, qvc.com).
Perhaps the most common neck complaint — and the most difficult to treat without surgery — is sagging. Just like hands, your neck loses fat, causing skin to hang loosely off muscle. No neck-lift-in-a-bottle exists, nor do neck exercises help, but "firming" products may — albeit slightly — boost hydration and give skin a more toned look. Vichy Neovadiol Intensive Densifying Care ($45, drugstores) works to restore skin's lipid support layer, a sponge for water. In a company test, women saw a 26 percent increase in jawline contour and a 17 percent reduction in sagging after three months.
If You Try Only One Thing...Make it sunscreen. You could cover your body in all the wrinkle creams in Sephora, but you'll still develop sunspots, wrinkles, and other age giveaways on your hands and neck without daily sun protection. Slather it on your hands as routinely as on your complexion — and be sure to smooth it on your neck, too. Try Borghese Radiante Brightening Hand Creme SPF 30 ($15, Walgreens) and L'Oréal Collagen Remodeler Contouring Moisturizer for Face and Neck SPF 15 Lotion ($20, drugstores).
What Your Derm Can Do
Doctors' turn-back-the-clock nonsurgical treatments work fast and require little downtime. The catch: They can be pricey.
Best for: resurfacing hand and neck skin, building and tightening collagen
How they work: Lasers like the Fraxel and Nd:YAG direct thousands of tiny bursts of energy that heat the collagen layer, stimulating new growth and improving texture. Skin will be pink for a few days afterward, and perhaps even rough or peeling.
Sessions required/cost: three to six sessions; $1,000-$2,000 each