Should You Exfoliate Your Neck? A Dermatologist Says It’s Worth ItSeptember 19, 2022
When applying my serums and moisturizer, I always bring the product down to my neck — because this area deserves some moisture, too! Despite giving my neck hydration, I’ve been experiencing some texture issues lately as well — it’s been feeling rough and slightly bumpy. When the skin on my face gets like that, I know I’m past due for an exfoliation treatment. I figured that it couldn’t hurt to use a product with a chemical exfoliant on my neck in the same way, but to make sure, I consulted with Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a Beverly Hills-based board-certified dermatologist.
What to Know About the Skin on Your Neck
“Neck skin is similar to face skin, in that it has oil glands that produce sebum (making it prone to the occasional pimple), but it is thinner and potentially more sensitive,” says Dr. Shainhouse. “Neck skin can also be more prone to scarring and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, so it needs to be treated a little less aggressively when applying product.”
Should You Exfoliate Your Neck Every Day?
It’s easy to neglect the neck by not performing a skincare routine on it regularly, which is why Dr. Shainhouse says that dead surface skin cells, as well as makeup, sweat, dirt and oil can build up. “Not only is this unhygienic, but it can also lead to the appearance of ‘dark neck’ or dermatitis neglecta,” she says. Exfoliating once every one to two weeks can help, especially with sloughing away this accumulated buildup.
How Do You Exfoliate Your Neck?
STEP 1: Cleanse
To cleanse your neck, “soap it up with a gentle cleanser after you rinse out your shampoo and conditioner in the shower,” says Dr. Shainhouse. “Don’t feel like getting wet? Use a gentle wipe or cotton ball soaked in micellar water to remove any debris from the day.” An easy-to-use option is the Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water with Hyaluronic Acid + Aloe.
STEP 2: Exfoliate
Dr. Shainhouse recommends using a gentle yet effective chemical exfoliant on the neck. “Physical exfoliants (think: nutshell scrubs) can cause micro-tears in the thin, sensitive neck skin, which may result in inflammation, premature skin aging and even scarring,” she says.
Instead, you may want to consider enzyme-based scrubs or a product with a mild alpha-hydroxy acid. “Toners or peels that contain AHAs like lactic, mandelic or glycolic acids, are designed to help dissolve dead skin cells, revealing fresh, bright skin.” The L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Derm Intensives 5% Glycolic Acid Peeling Toner contains 5% pure glycolic and soothing aloe vera to effectively remove surface debris and soothe the skin at the same time.
STEP 3: Apply an Antioxidant Serum
It’s important to protect your neck from UV- and pollution-induced free radical damage, and Dr. Shainhouse says that antioxidant-rich products like vitamin C serums can help. Because vitamin C can be irritating on sensitive skin, she recommends starting with a low concentration of the active ingredient and working your way up when your skin appears to tolerate a higher concentration. The CeraVe Skin Renewing Vitamin C Serum contains 10% vitamin C along with moisturizing and soothing ingredients like ceramides and vitamin B5, making it a great starter choice. Bonus: Vitamin C has skin-brightening properties that can help the appearance of neck skin.
STEP 4: Moisturize
While you can bring the moisturizer you use on your face onto the neck, some products are formulated specifically for the area. One of them is the Kiehl’s Super Multi-Corrective Cream. It contains a supercharged blend of phytomimetic vitamin A, chaga mushroom and hyaluronic acid to target signs of aging on the neck like lines and crepiness.
STEP 5: Don’t Forget Sunscreen
“Your skin needs UV protection every day, especially if it’s freshly exfoliated,” says Dr. Shainhouse. We love the SkinCeuticals Sheer Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 formula because it’s easy to blend in and feels light on the skin.
Photo: Chaunte Vaughn