Your neck is the first place aging shows up, but panic not: We've got simple solutions and the best firming creams to take the years off, fast. By Kayleigh Donahue, REDBOOK.
You may be diligent about taking care of your face, but it's time to focus your attention a little further south. Experts say your neck and décolletage are like the early-warning system of aging. "The skin there is much thinner, which means it's probably the first place you'll notice things like sunspots and crepiness," says Ava Shamban, M.D., an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at UCLA and the author of Heal Your Skin. To get this part of your body back to celebrating the same birthday (real or fudged) as your face, try these three steps.
Lotion, lotion, lotion
"If you only do one thing, make sure you moisturize your neck and chest every morning and night," Shamban says. "And treat these areas to the same anti-aging ingredients that are in your face moisturizer, like peptides to boost collagen and stop sagging and vitamin C to brighten and diminish spots." If you use a retinoid product on your face, you can apply it below the jawline too--but tread lightly, says Doris Day, M.D., a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center: "The skin on your neck and chest is less tolerant of very potent ingredients." She recommends testing the product on a small patch of your neck for a few days; if there's no irritation, start applying it once a week and slowly build up to more days. But if your skin there is too sensitive--or you're worried about burning through your pricey face stuff--experts are big advocates of neck-specific creams. "They're formulated to deliver anti-aging ingredients without irritating the fragile skin," says Day. Three we love: L'Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Golden Balm Face Neck & Chest ($19.99), Revision Skincare Nectifirm ($65), and Bliss Thinny Thin Chin Neck Firming Cream ($48).
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"Encouraging cell turnover can help get rid of sunspots and any crepey texture," says Day. This means using a facial scrub on your neck and chest once a week, or doing a treatment with a chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid. Try Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Elixir ($24). Plus, Shamban says, incorporating exfoliation into your routine will help the anti-aging ingredients in your cream penetrate better and work faster.
Keep it covered
You knew this was coming, right? The key weapon in any anti-aging fight is sunscreen, so slather it on your neck and chest every single morning. Use a formula for the face like Clinique Sun Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Face Cream ($21), because it's gentle and sinks in quickly. And unless you're a fan of turtlenecks, this rule applies even in the dead of winter, when your neck is the perfect target for UV rays bouncing off snow. Or turn protection into a fashion statement, says Shamban: "If you always carry a scarf with you, it's a guarantee that you'll be safe."
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