Are neck creams necessary? Singaporean dermatologists on the uses, benefits, and differences from other anti-ageing offerings
Neck and neck
Armed with your trusty serum, moisturiser, and SPF, you're probably feeling pretty good about your chances against the onslaught of time. In a world where others are still wading their way to a consistent — and effective — skincare routine, you've done the work and doubled down on an anti-ageing regime. Sagging, fine lines, and wrinkles? You've got that covered. Unless, of course, you've been neglecting a key area in your pursuit of eternal youth: your décolletage.
Don't beat yourself up if it's an area you've been neglecting. Or if you're second-guessing if turkey neck is an actual thing. We, too, have our doubts, even with wise women in the vein of Nora Ephron and Wendy Williams championing neck-specific lotions and emulsions. Hey, we love adding to our anti-ageing stash as much as the next girl, but not if our mighty moisturisers can do the job. To answer our burning questions — and save us from splashing out unnecessary cash — we get Singaporean dermatologists to weigh in on the sitch. Scam or skincare solution? Keep reading to find out.
Are neck creams necessary?
While you don't have to purchase products developed specifically for the neck, the general consensus is that extra care and attention should be given to the area. This is due to the specific cell composition of this niche body part. According to Dr Liew, consultant dermatologist of SOG — HM Liew Skin & Laser Clinic (a clinic by Singapore O&G Ltd.), the skin of the area is actually thinner compared to, let's say, the skin of your elbow. This means it is more prone to wrinkling, and contains lesser collagen to help keep it appearing bouncy and firm.
Dr Teo Wan Lin, dermatologist and founder of TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre, also points out that it's one of the first areas to exhibit signs of ageing. This is because the décolletage contains far fewer oil glands than the face, which is essential to maintaining skin elasticity thanks to its high levels of squalene and vitamin E. Not forgetting that most of us spend extended amounts of time craning our neck (to look at our phone screens, laptops, etc), which, in turn, exerts the sheets of muscles that run from your jawline to clavicle. This stretches out the lines of the neck, hastening symptoms of ageing.
What should neck creams do?
Ideally, they contain key ingredients that hydrate, firm, and repair skin texture. "You need a moisturiser that, first and foremost, repairs the skin barrier. If your skin barrier is defective, it doesn't matter what anti-ageing ingredients you have in there, because your skin is just going to look dry. It's not going to look plump or elastic," Dr Teo explains. "Ceramide is the current state of technology for skin barrier restoration. It can be derived from two sources: phytoceramides from plant seed oils and bovineceramides which are synthetic ceramides. Do keep an eye out for anything with retinol, AHAs and BHAs in it — the neck is a pretty sensitive area, and you could experience skin sensitivity or reactions from these potent ingredients."
Dr Teo then goes on to elaborate, "There are some individuals who have neck eczema and there are also individuals whose neck area might appear to age faster than other parts of the body. This is due to the fact that the neck is what we call a fractural area, so it experiences a lot of skin-to-skin contact." She then adds, "So, people who are obese, for example, are prone to getting neck folds, and can develop fungal infections and eczema along the area."
When should you start using neck cream?
"Most dermatologists and plastic surgeons would agree that the ageing process begins at 25," Dr Teo says. "Our body is empowered with these antioxidant abilities to fight free radicals that contribute to ageing. After the age of 25, however, most research seems indicates that all these abilities begin to decline, and that's why we need to augment the body's response to the ageing process by supplementing it with topical antioxidants."
How do neck creams differ from other anti-ageing products?
While they're not drastically different in function, Dr. Liew finds that specialised neck creams do contain more antioxidant properties as compared to other anti-ageing offerings out there.
Dr Teo, however, disagrees. "You can use the same moisturiser as long as it is formulated correctly for the face and neck area. I would also recommend something that is rather new — a first in the Singapore market so far — which would be a polymer patch. I've been using these polymer patches in my clinic for the last six months. It is known as a Qraser patch, and essentially, it re-creates an optimal environment for your skin where it boosts collagen production from the inside. It basically convinces your skin that it is super healthy by forming a micro-environment on the surface, and that way, it starts to generate more collagen. We have one specially designed for the neck area."