Save Your Neck

By Lindsey Galloway

“You can put makeup on your face and concealer under your eyes and dye on your hair,” writes Nora Ephron in I Feel Bad About My Neck (Knopf, 2006). “But short of surgery, there’s not a damn thing you can do about a neck.”

We beg to differ. Even if you loathe your neck, it’s never too late to perk it up. Here’s how:

Screen for damage
The neck tends to show age faster than the face thanks to a lifetime of sun exposure and not enough protection. The result? Hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, and fine lines. Preventative measures like sunscreen, hats, and scarves may be a no-brainer, but if the damage is already done, try serums containing at least 5 percent vitamin C to rebuild collagen and reduce discoloration.

Keep your chin up
Necks have the important job of holding up a 10-pound head, yet most of us let our shoulders or even our hands do the work. The result? Atrophied muscle. To get your neck muscles working, lift up your chin, keeping your tongue pressed to the roof of your mouth, and stretch your neck several times a day.

End the neglect
The skin around your neck is not dramatically different than what’s on your face, so why do so many of us forget about it during our morning and evening face-washing routines? Your neck should get cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and other treatments so the skin has a chance to soak up the same nutrients your face enjoys.

Rub away dullness
Use your fingertips rather than flat palms when applying cleanser and moisturizer, suggests Nicole Maust, aesthetician and founder of Talulah Skincare. Circular motions with gentle, consistent pressure in the direction of the lymph pathways—downward, toward the heart—increase the flow of lymph back into the circulatory system, where it gets purified by the liver and other organs.

Practice self-acceptance
A turtleneck is never your only option, says Maust. “We have to be practical about getting older. The neck is going to have some aging skin, but it can continue to be beautiful in a different way,” she says. “There’s something truly lovely about an older woman who looks like herself.” And that’s something no one should feel bad about.