In the neck of time... how to reduce skin damage
Your neck can be a problem area when it comes to ageing. Katie Wright asks skin specialists for their advice
When you look in the mirror, do you notice a difference between the skin on your face and that on your neck? Well, you're not alone.
"My patients are often concerned about the neck and decolletage 'revealing their age' after years of taking care their face, but neglecting the neck," says medical aesthetic specialist Dr Wassim Taktouk.
Even if you are diligent with skincare, there are other factors that affect the skin below our jawlines.
"The skin in this area is thinner than the rest of our body and with less supportive fat tissue," says Susanne Fabre, director at the Oriflame Skin Research Institute. "The neck and decolletage also have high exposure to sun and other external stress factors."
Plus, modern technology doesn't help. "I have seen more and more patients reporting deeper wrinkles which are symptoms of 'tech neck'," says Dr Taktouk. "This is caused by the skin creasing when frequently looking down at mobile phones for a long periods."
Whether you're glued to your phone or not, we can all take steps to prevent and treat the signs of skin damage.
Here are six dos and don'ts from our experts...
1. Do start with daily defence
Basic skincare principles still apply when it comes to the skin below your chin.
"To keep your neck looking youthful, use a daily moisturiser pumped with ingredients that build and restore elasticity, and reduce the appearance of pigment spots," says Fabre.
Dr Taktouk agrees: "The skin on the neck needs as much care as your face and taking small steps every day to look after it will make a big difference to hydration short-term, and to the ageing process long-term."
2. Don't forget SPF
"One of the biggest causes of ageing for skin on the neck is sun damage," Dr Taktouk says. "It can really change how the skin looks and feels as you mature." Actually, the angle of the decolletage makes the exposure to UV even higher than parts of the face," Fabre says. "When out in the sun, don't forget to use extra protection with antioxidants and SPF, for the neck and decolletage."
3. Do apply products properly
"If you're using a lot of active ingredients on your face but neglecting your neck and decolletage, then you can get a bit of disparity between the two - and the neck and decolletage can look older," warns clinical facialist Kate Kerr. "So, definitely pull all of your face products down onto your neck and decolletage."
But you should be careful with some active ingredients that can cause irritation, she says: "With retinol and other stronger products, you would use much less, because you won't tolerate it as easily. Just 'feather' it down much more slowly and, actually, you may need a much lower dose of serum there."
4. Don't skip serum
As for serum, this is a product that can work wonders on your neck, our experts agree.
"You probably already know that hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient to instantly hydrate tired looking skin," Dr Taktouk says. "When the correct products are used for a sustained amount of time, this can also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, which are often a problem on the neck and decolletage. But don't forget SPF on top."
5. Do cocktail your products
Can't find one product that addresses all your skin concerns? That's to be expected, because actives like sunscreen, retinol and antioxidants can't co-exist in the same formula.
"It's unlikely that one product will have all of these ingredients in - that's why I don't believe in neck products as such," says Dr Taktouk.
To reap the benefits of the various actives, you'll need to 'cocktail' - or layer - your products, starting with serum (after cleansing).
"Your serums will do the work, depending on the concerns. Ingredients like vitamin C to help with any pigmentation, will also strengthen the capillaries on the neck," says Kerr. "If it's collagen production you're looking for, then use retinol, but a lower dose than on your face."
6. Do sooth redness
Redness can often be more noticeable on your neck, particularly as most of us don't apply make-up all the way down to our decolletage.
"If you occasionally suffer from flushing and redness, you can complement your routine with products containing soothing and anti-redness formulations," Fabre recommends.