Your daily skin care regimen and holy grail products may have shaved five years off your appearance, but if you haven’t been as meticulous in looking after your neck, there’s a good chance it’s been displaying everything your face has been trying to hide all along. Think wrinkles, fine lines and sagging, crepey skin.
How Aging Changes Skin
In your 20s or 30s, keeping wrinkles and fine lines at bay isn’t usually high up on your list of priorities. After all, a dot of eye cream here and a dab of serum there are all it normally takes for your skin to bounce back after a night out. However, the normal aging process affects your skin in a variety of ways and its effects begin to develop even before your midlife crisis rears its head.
“As part of the natural aging process, our body produces less and less of the key elements that keep us looking younger. Collagen protein provides firmness and support. Yet, by the time a woman reaches menopause, she has about 45 percent less collagen,” explains beauty chemist and skin care expert David Pollock. “Hyaluronic acid binds 1000 times its weight in moisture, hydrating the skin. However, by the time we are 50, we have about half the amount of hyaluronic acid we had when we were younger.”
What Causes Neck Wrinkles
Some of you may have started your skin care routines in your teens, but you might be guilty of overlooking your neck and chest. Turns out, there’s a reason we often hear that a woman’s age is seen in her neck. According to board-certified dermatologist Rhonda Klein, MD, MPH, FAAD, the neck should be treated the same way you take care of your face as it often shows age even before you sprout your first crow’s feet or laugh line.
“The skin on our neck is actually thinner, making the loss of collagen and elastin more noticeable and quicker. Gravity is also against us with our neck, often creating ‘turkey neck’ if we’re not careful. With fewer oil glands, the neck is also less plump and hydrated than our face,” explains Dr. Klein.
Aside from the natural aging process, some skin care experts are also pointing to another possible reason for those neck lines. With all that time spent glued to our smartphones, laptops and tablets, this poses a problem not only to our overall health but also our skin. What has come to be known as “tech neck” is not only associated with neck and shoulder pain, it can also be the reason behind those neck lines and wrinkles. As it turns out, repeatedly hunching down (as you scroll through your timelines or reply to work emails) can alter skin quality and cause horizontal neck lines to deepen and become more noticeable.
Moreover, genetics and other external stressors also contribute to sagging skin and necklines. Sun exposure and smoking, for example, can cause wrinkles and pigmentation. Other factors include:
- Lack of nutrients and hydration
- Lack of exercise and weight fluctuations
- Side sleeping/pressure from cotton pillows
How to Choose the Right Products
While it’s easy to assume that the same products you use on your face will also work for your décolletage, achieving a younger-looking neck often requires a more targeted approach. “The most important daily protection for the neck is sunscreen—SPF 30+, ideally. After this, using hydrating and tightening products can be beneficial to prevent signs of aging,” adds Dr. Klein.
Reach for specially formulated neck-firming products that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and hyaluronic acid to exfoliate and hydrate skin as well as antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E. Pollock also recommends peptides to “promote the synthesis of collagen and help firm up the skin” and retinol to “lessen fine lines and deep wrinkles.”
Your neck doesn’t have to betray your age! Check out our best neck treatments for wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin, below.