This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
There's a meme making the rounds on Instagram that perfectly captures the beauty industry's radically different approach to men's and women's personal care: "For men: this can be used as a shampoo, body wash, face wash, lotion, mouthwash, toothpaste, engine degreaser, spackle, or sunscreen. For women: We've specially formulated this moisturizer for your left elbow."
Of all the hyper-specific beauty products (butt masks, foot serums, pubic-hair oil), neck cream can feel the most befuddling. Do we really need a separate cream for the inches-wide space between our faces and the rest of our bodies? And how much attention should we actually be giving that area at all?
We took the question to New York-based dermatologist Hadley King, M.D., who strongly advocates for giving our necks special TLC. "The neck is particularly vulnerable to showing signs of age because neck skin is quite thin and delicate so there isn't as much collagen to support the skin and keep it from wrinkling," she says. Plus, Dr. King adds, fewer sebaceous glands in the area means less oil production, and therefore a higher risk for skin dryness.
The upshot: We may be able to get away with using the same cream on our neck as we do on our face — if our complexions tend to stay bone dry and don't tolerate particularly strong actives, that is. "Because the skin [on the neck] is delicate, you may not be able to tolerate some of the more irritating anti-aging topicals that you can use on your facial skin. For example, you may need to use a milder retinoid on the neck and chest than on your face," Dr. King says.
Whether you just use your face cream a little farther south or choose to invest in a dedicated product for the job, Dr. King says formulas that both moisturize and stimulate the production of collagen and elastin are particularly good choices for the neck. Ahead, 10 options made to fight nature's — and tech neck's — gravitational pull, hydrate like crazy, and protect from UV light.
Macrene Actives High Performance Neck And Décolletage Treatment
Dr. Macrene Alexiades' list of achievements is long: She's a Harvard-educated, double board-certified dermatologist in both the EU and the US, and an artist and sculptor with a PhD in genetics and a Park Avenue private practice. Equally impressive is the fact that she purchased a plot of agricultural land in New York's Hudson Valley with the intention of growing organic crops in a toxin-free wildlife zone for her nature-enriched, science-backed skin-care line. In this lightweight, fragrance-free formula, peptides, potent botanical extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and emollients all work together to firm, brighten, and improve texture. Yes, the sticker shock is real with the luxe lotion packed inside this tall, weighty glass bottle — but so are the results.
Macrene Actives High Performance Neck And Décolletage Treatment, $, available at Bloomingdale's
Emma Hardie Lift & Sculpt Firming Neck Treatment
This neck treatment — created by the facialist to "It" Brits like Lily James and Poppy Delevingne — wields a cool built-in roller that isn't just sanitary (no dipping fingers in jars) but also massages the treatment into your skin. The formula also includes a proprietary complex designed to act as a needle-free filler, which was shown to improve collagen density, wrinkle reduction, firmness, and elasticity in a small study by the ingredient maker.
Emma Hardie Lift & Sculpt Firming Neck Treatment, $, available at Emma Hardie
Zelens Z Firm Lifting Face & Neck Cream
Plastic and reconstructive surgeon Dr. Marko Lens crammed a bunch of active ingredients into this refreshingly light cream to protect your neck: a cluster of triterpenes and a hyaluronic acid-boosting peptide to firm skin; plant molecules to inhibit enzymes that are responsible for collagen loss; and a sesame-derived protein to tighten, among others.
Zelens Z Firm Lifting Face & Neck Cream, $, available at Net-A-Porter
Natura Bisse Tensolift Neck Cream
This pricy concoction contains mushroom-derived polysaccharides — which dermatologist S. Manjula Jegasothy, M.D., says are key for providing a firmer, more elastic texture — along with micropeptides, amino acids, and hyaluronic acid.
Natura Bisse Tensolift Neck Cream, $, available at Space NK
Dr. Brandt Do Not Age with Dr. Brandt Moisturizing Neck Cream
This neck cream has a handful of fancy hydrators and sorghum juice to soften lines brought on by the march of time (and constantly looking down at our phones). But most of all, we love the way it glides on the skin and sinks in without leaving a thick, greasy film.
Dr. Brandt Do Not Age with Dr. Brandt Moisturizing Neck Cream, $, available at Sephora
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Lifting Neck Cream
Some neck creams are so thick, they have to be housed in jars — which may feel luxurious, but isn't the most sterile of options. This version is dispensed from a pump, smells like a fresh-cut lemon, and taps algae, resveratrol, fruit stem cells, and vitamin C — a key ingredient Dr. King recommends in a neck cream — to support skin structure for a firmer look.
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Lifting Neck Cream, $, available at Ulta Beauty
It Cosmetics Confidence in a Neck Cream Moisturizer
This neck cream takes several of the same ingredients used in the brand's famed Confidence in a Cream moisturizer and adds additional hydrators and a proprietary collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid blend to the mix, which makes us think we could use this version to do double duty on the neck and face. We wouldn't mind an excuse to open the jar even more frequently: To our delight, this version smells just like an orange creamsicle.
It Cosmetics Confidence in a Neck Cream Moisturizer, $, available at It Cosmetics
Sisley Paris Neck Cream
This mid-weight cream is peak luxury, and feels like it every step of the way. With major hydrators like shea butter, along with caffeine, red algae extract, and horse chestnut to smooth and tighten, can this formula blur tech neck twice as much as those at half the price? Hard to tell — but for those who want to give themselves a little bit of decadence, then this will take you there.
Sisley Paris Neck Cream, $, available at Nordstrom
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Fortifying Neck Emulsion
Does the idea of wrapping a thick blanket of cream around your neck make you claustrophobic? This ultra-fast-absorbing liquid uses non-irritating retinol and ferulic acid to address lines while silk amino acids help lift and tighten.
Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Ferulic + Retinol Fortifying Neck Emulsion, $, available at Dr. Dennis Gross
Tatcha Ageless Revitalizing Neck Cream
Tatcha Ageless Revitalizing Neck Cream, $, available at Tatcha
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