What if lotions were able to trick time from the chin down? In Nora Ephron’s famous essay “I Feel Bad About My Neck,” she writes one witty but pointed line—in her knowing humor—about why she’s uncomfortable about this particular body part. “Our faces, our lies, and our necks are the truth,” she muses. In Ephron’s eyes, there’s not much beyond surgery and strategic clothing that can hide this fact.
Enter: a new approach to skincare.
“We often overlook body skin, which is a mistake, especially on the neck, the décolletage, and the backs of the hands,” says Dr. Jennifer Herrmann, a Beverly Hills dermatologist. “Many of my 50- and 60-year-old patients are more bothered by their loose neck skin than by lines and wrinkles on their faces.”
Meet the Expert
Dr. Jennifer Herrmann, MD, FAAD is a board-certified, fellowship-trained dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon as well as a lecturer with more than 20 peer-reviewed studies and book chapters.
While there’s not much to be done about the general aging process, perhaps Herrmann’s tips for smoother skin at any age can push off Ephron’s recommendation (wearing a turtleneck) for now. Preventing sun damage early on is key, so Herrmann says those in their 20s and 30s should start slathering on body creams containing an SPF of at least 30 as soon as possible. Dryness should be the main concern of older women’s skincare routines, especially those in their 50s and 60s, so Jennifer says that products with lactic acid will help remove that flaky layer. Seal in extra moisture with lotion right after a shower, she notes, preferably one that’s lukewarm.
Dr. Herrmann says, "Ideally, body creams should contain SPF when used for areas that are frequently sun-exposed, and depending on how dry the skin is, varying degrees of oil, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, lactic acid, and ceramides help, too.
Herrmann opts for cream-based products over water-based ones. “The body requires heavier cream-based products to really seal in moisture and leave the skin feeling soft and hydrated,” she says. Naturally, we asked for her favorites, and most of them will cost less than a cozy, if not concealing, sweater.
“This glycerin-rich cream is perfect for very dry hands and feet,” she says. “Although very protective, it isn’t greasy, which makes it a practical option on these areas.”
“Oatmeal and glycerin help make this a soothing option for those with dry, itchy skin,” Herrmann notes. “It’s inexpensive, fragrance-free, and works well for daily full-body use.”
“The lactic acid is a gentle exfoliant, which helps peel away dead skin,” she says, especially on the legs. “It’s also fragrance-free and formulated for even the most sensitive, rosacea-prone skin.”
“A little goes a long way,” she recommends. “This balm has a combination of shea, cocoa, and mango butter as well as argan oil and vitamin E, which all add intense moisture and shine for the driest skin.”
“This is a simple and affordable favorite for dry and sensitive skin,” Jennifer says. “Ceramides help repair the skin barrier, which is important for those with conditions like rosacea and eczema.”
“Hyaluronic acid binds water and gives skin a dewy look,” Jennifer says. “This product is inexpensive and great for continuous layering throughout the day on thinner skin areas like the neck. It’s soothing and can help mitigate the dryness and redness caused by other anti-aging products, like retinoids.”
“The time-released retinol in this product is especially good for sensitive skin, and it’s mixed with hyaluronic acid to deliver it more gently,” she says.
Last but not least comes a brand we all know and love, but in a new form.
“For intensely dry, flaking skin, Aquaphor has recently been formulated into a spray for easier application over larger areas like the back and legs, instantly transforming their smoothness without the sticky, greasy application by hand,” Herrmann notes.
Sun Damage: Protecting Yourself. Cleveland Clinic. October 10, 2019
Tran D, Townley JP, Barnes TM, Greive KA. An Antiaging Skin Care System Containing Alpha Hydroxy Acids and Vitamins Improves the Biomechanical Parameters of Facial Skin. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2015;8:9-17. doi:10.2147/CCID.S75439
Dermatologists' Top Tips for Relieving Dry Skin. American Academy of Dermatology.
Sethi A, Kaur T, Malhotra S, Gambhir M. Moisturizers: The Slippery Road. Indian J Dermatol. 2016;61(3):279. doi:10.4103/0019-5154.182427