The question is one we've been pondering ever since the neck cream category took off in recent years: should we really be using one, or is it all hype? It depends. If your skin tends to be oily, you spend a lot of time outside, or live in a humid climate, you may not need the product, but those with drier skin who are starting to notice signs of aging may want to invest in one. "The neck is actually one of the thickest layers of skin on the body," says Miami-based dermatologist Dr. S. Manjula Jegasothy. "Studies show that simply hydrating the neck skin will make it appear less rough, scaly, and minimize the appearance of fine lines, all of which make the skin appear more youthful."
Because the skin on your neck is thicker, extending the reach of your everyday body cream may not cut if if there are specific issues you want to address. While starting early as a preventative measure is always a good idea, after your 30's is when you'll really start to see a difference. "As we age into our 40's and beyond, our skin gets drier due to lowered hormone levels," Dr. Jegasothy explains. "That's when hydrating neck creams become more important to maintaining overall skin healthy." Her favorite formulas are the Neostrata Triple Acting Neck Firming Cream ($84; skinstore.com) as well as the Perricone MD Firming Neck Therapy ($98; perriconemd.com), and usually, you won't need more than a quarter-sized amount to keep your bases covered.