First things first: Skincare topicals—aka serums, creams, and the like—simply won't be able to deliver the same caliber of results as an in-office treatment when it comes to tightening and firming the neck area. That said, there are (literally) thousands of skincare formulas on the market touting miraculous Benjamin Button–esque perks for our necks, and after questioning a slew of skin specialists about the efficacy of said formulas, I discovered everyone from plastic surgeons and dermatologists to facialists and makeup artists agree these types of products can be an effective way to tone, lift, and tighten (to a certain degree, that is).
As Beverly Hills–based plastic surgeon Anita Patel, MD, FACS, explains to me, the best treatments to rejuvenate the neck in-office are Botox or Dysport injections (which can help prevent or minimize movement that creates wrinkles), filler (which smooths lines), absorbable threads (which stimulate collagen), laser or radiofrequency resurfacing treatments (which help smooth skin texture and erase lines), or radiofrequency treatments performed as a series (which tighten the skin). However, since these types of procedures are expensive, and since going into an office might not be an option right now, neck-firming creams can be a great alternative.
"Neck creams geared towards firming should provide moisturization (via ingredients like peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid), antioxidants to prevent and treat fine lines and discoloration, and collagen-stimulating ingredients to provide lift and volume," Beverly Hills–based plastic surgeon, Millicent Rovelo, MD, tells me. "They should be applied to the neck and décolletage area twice a day. In the morning, I would apply a separate layer of sunscreen on top of the moisturizer for added SPF protection."
It also goes without saying that certain neck-firming creams will be far superior to others in terms of their ingredients and formulations, so I decided to ask an all-star grouping of experts to share the best formulas they actually deem effective and worth the investment. Keep scrolling for all of their picks and an explanation as to why they love and recommend them.
The Plastic Surgeons' Picks
According to Patel, this spot treatment for lines and wrinkles from PCA Skin is a great topical option if you're looking to firm or tighten the neck.
"This serum has a peptide called Argireline that remains active for 12 hours and prevents fine lines and wrinkles from repeated muscle movements," Patel explains. "It also has hydrating and moisturizing ingredients, which together help keep the skin soft and smooth. It can also prolong the effects of Botox or Dysport injections to the wrinkles."
"This neck cream has a patented main ingredient called heparan sulfate analog, which helps provide both deep- and surface-level hydration to the skin," says Patel. "It also revives the skin's natural renewal process and has additional ingredients like sandalwood extract and caffeine. Together, these ingredients provide hydrating, firming, and smoothing effects to the neck."
"This cream uses multiple antioxidants, including red algae, to combat fine lines while also improving the tone and texture of the neck," shares Rovelo. "The peptides in the cream plump, moisturize, and improve crepey skin and fine lines."
"This cream is consistently in the top three of neck creams for many reasons," Rovelo explains. "It is designed to lift, even the skin tone, and improve fine lines and texture. Its proprietary NIA-114 complex strengthens the skin barrier to prevent moisture loss. It hits all of the highlights of neck care."
According to Rovelo, this is another award-winning product. "It contains NeoGlucosamine, which is important in generating skin's natural hyaluronic acid, as well as ingredients designed to improve firmness and a more even skin tone," she shares.
The Dermatologist's Picks
"I personally don't think you necessarily have to buy a cream labeled 'neck cream' to get the best results on the neck," says owner and co-founder of Facile Dermatology + Boutique Nancy Samolitis, MD, FAAD. "I recommend using the same anti-aging ingredients that you normally would use on the face, but in a more cautious manner since the neck skin is delicate and can get irritated easily. I recommend a vitamin C/antioxidant serum like Facile Easy C in the morning followed by sunblock with at least 30 SPF containing zinc oxide.
"At night, instead of putting retinol on your neck first (like we do the face), I recommend a calming moisturizer with a retinol cream layered on top," instructs Samolitis. "My favorite combination to recommend is NIA24 Intensive Recovery Complex followed by Senté Bio Complete Serum."
The Facialist's Picks
"The neck is one of the trickiest areas of the skin that is often neglected," notes celebrity facialist Candace Marino. "I'm an advocate of treating the neck just as you would your face. All of your serums and creams should be used from the breasts to the hairline. That said, there are specific creams I love that treat the specific needs to the neck and décolleté—first and foremost, SPF!
"Sun damage on the neck and chest is one of the most common concerns, so protecting the skin there is going to prevent you from years of trying to reverse the damage. Because the chest and neck are directly hit by the sun, this needs to be a daily practice, every single morning. IS Clinical's Extreme Protect SPF 30 is my all-time favorite."
"This is a heavy hitter for neck concerns," says Marino. "Its peptide-based formula’s delivery system is rapidly absorbed into the skin to help stimulate collagen and instantly improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles. The ingredients target all five types of collagen to encourage skin density as we age. It's both a face and neck cream, making it a wonderful choice for someone who is a minimalist and doesn’t want too many separate products."
According to Marino, this neck-firming cream from IS Clinical is packed with antioxidants to protect the skin and repair environmental damage. "AHAs gently exfoliate by encouraging cell turnover, which helps lighten pigment and dark spots in addition to lessening textural concerns. Additionally, hyaluronic acid moisturizes the skin," she says.
"This neck-firming treatment is a great choice for anyone with sensitive skin," says Marino. "It is formulated with Restorsea’s proprietary enzymatic complex, which digests dead skin cells in order to reveal a more even and unified skin construction. Studies show their ingredient is a super alternative to glycolic acid and retinol, making it appropriate for anyone who has ultra-sensitive skin or conditions like eczema and psoriasis."
Technically, this recommendation from Marino isn't a cream, but as far as it's neck-firming perks go, it's one of her favorite recommendations and includes a skin-rejuvenating mask for both the chest and neck. "These are areas that have thinner skin but are also constantly exposed to the elements," she notes. "These masks are made of medical-grade silicone that press into the skin to help release the constant creasing that may occur during sleep."
The Celebrity Makeup Artists' Picks
"I love this lightweight serum because it firms and tightens the skin on the face and around the jaw and neck area," says makeup artist Mai Quynh. "It also helps lighten discoloration on the chest and décolletage area."
Quynh is also a fan of this neck-firming formula from Clarins. "This hydrating cream really works wonders. It will minimize neck wrinkles as well as tighten, tone, and sculpt. Also, it evens out any age spots, leaving the skin smooth and supple," she says.
"Neck creams are only as effective as their ingredients," notes makeup artist Tasha Reiko Brown. "Retinol is a powerful wrinkle fighter, and peptides boost collagen. These are always my top two ingredients I look for in neck creams. Elizabeth Arden extended its popular staple Prevage facial product line and added this coveted neck cream to the product line. It features a powerful antioxidant blend that provides quick results—smoothing and softening the skin while boosting its natural collagen with amino acids."
"Fresh is always my go-to for providing results with natural plant-derived blends," Reiko Brown shares. "This firming face-and-neck cream uses goji fruit extract to tighten thin neck skin. It’s super concentrated, so while it comes with a higher-end price tag, a little goes a long way and it really lasts. Plus, like all Fresh products, it has an amazing light, clean scent."
"Dreamy texture!" exclaims Reiko Brown of Farmacy's clean favorite. "This balm melts down into a light gel that sinks into skin overnight. I always apply this with an upward motions on the neck—the oil-gel texture really encourages a thorough massage that’s both soothing and stress -strong retinol, and it also contains vitamin C to brighten; I recommend smoothing it down onto your décolleté to brighten any sun damage or age spots."
Although it's labeled as a night cream, Reiko Brown says the glowing gleam that results is so good that she uses it to prep her celebrity clients' skin before red carpets.
"This neck cream from Epicuren WORKS," divulges makeup artist Lisa Aharon. "It tightens while providing hydration—the neck never gets enough! It has a gorgeous texture upon application and is a perfect option if you're searching for a fragrance-free formula."
"If you love the smell of roses and want daily SPF built into your neck cream, this is a beautiful option," suggests Aharon. "It has the bonus of skin-renewing ingredients, so it leaves you with a smoother appearance."
"This neck-and-décolletage serum is very spendy, but it's also extremely lightweight and effective," notes makeup artist Autumn Moultrie. She adds that the effects are maximized even further when paired with the 111Skin's cult-loved Y Lift Neck and Décolletage Treatment Mask.
"It's not a cream, per se, but this oil is highly moisturizing and calming," adds Moultrie. "Plus, it works well with all of the above-mentioned products and smells divine."
"This is a great formula with oat seed extract that can immediately make the skin on your neck look softer," says Paris-based makeup artist Andreea Ali. "It has a nourishing and hydrating formula which really allows you to massage the neck longer if desired."
"This firming neck cream feels expensive on the skin, and you will see huge results if you use it regularly!" Ali tells me. "If you apply it on both your décolleté and neck, you'll notice that your skin will feel softer and look healthier."
Even though Augustinus Bader's iconic cream is *technically* a face cream, it can also do wonders on the delicate neck area. As Ali explains, it's incredibly nourishing and rejuvenating. Plus, it will leave your chest with a beautiful, healthy glow. "I always get compliments when I wear this on my neck and décolleté," she says. At night, I love to apply it all over face and neck and then use my jade roller to massage it even deeper into the skin."
This article was originally published on whowhatwear.com.