Can Retinol Creams Be Put on the Neck?

Over-the-counter creams, lotions and serums that contain retinol, a derivative of vitamin A, are popular for treating facial skin conditions such as wrinkles, discoloration and acne. Retinol treatments are scientifically proven to be effective, but you may wonder if it's safe to use them on the neck, and whether there are any benefits in treating the neck with retinol.

Retinol may help firm and tighten skin on the neck. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

About Retinol

Retinol is a type of retinoid, which are antioxidants derived from vitamin A. Retinol is used in over-the counter wrinkle creams and anti-aging products. Scientifically proven to be effective, retinol is milder and less concentrated than the vitamin A derivative tretinoin, a retinoid used in prescription creams. Retinols help improve wrinkles and skin texture, reduce dark spots and promote a more radiant complexion.

How Retinol Works

Regular use of retinols speeds up skin cell turnover that slows down with the natural aging process. They can help acne sufferers by reducing blackheads and helping shrink pores. Retinoids are especially effective in anti-aging products because of their ability to stimulate the production of collagen in the skin as well as helping minimize collagen breakdown from sun exposure by blocking the rise of the enzyme called collagenase.

Using Retinol

Retinol is recommended for almost every skin type but may be irritating at first until the skin builds a tolerance. Some products have time-released delivery or special ingredients to reduce irritation. If your skin is irritated from using retinol nightly, switch to every other night until your skin adjusts. Use retinol at night, as sunlight can break down this active ingredient and make it less effective. Retinol products that will be the most effective will contain between .5 and 1 percent retinol. If you experience dry skin when using retinol, apply a moisturizer afterward. Always use sunblock during the day when using products with retinol, as they may make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

Treating the Neck

You should care for your neck the same way you care for your face, including treatment with retinol products. Because the skin on the neck is thinner and may be more sensitive, apply a small amount of retinol cream on your neck and build up slowly until you are using the same amount as you use on your face. Thin skin on the neck can benefit from the collagen-building aspects of retinol, which may have a tightening effect on lax skin in this area. Don't skip the sunscreen: thin neck skin is more susceptible to sun damage, which can cause wrinkles and sagging.

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