If your serums, moisturizers, and creams stop at your jaw, you might want to reexamine your skin care routine. Just below the jaw, the thin skin on your neck and décolleté is significantly exposed to pollution, ultraviolet rays, and is one of the first places on the body to develop signs of aging. And because the skin is so thin, it’s more prone to discoloration, dryness, crepiness, wrinkles, and fine lines. “The skin on the neck has less sebaceous glands than the face,” says Dr. Hadley King, board-certified dermatologist. “These sebaceous glands are what delivers moisture to the skin’s surface." There’s also a significant drop in collagen levels (which gives your skin that bouncy, youthful appearance) as you get older. Along with a decrease of moisture and exposure to sun, it’s a perfect storm for developing neck lines and wrinkles.
Tech neck is also a 21st century phenomenon that’s becoming much more common. Constantly looking down at phones and hovering over computer screens has produced fine, horizontal lines and creasing on the neck for people of all genders. And the more you look down, the more the skin stretches, causing additional lines and wrinkles.
Fortunately, to combat neck lines, dryness, and other issues that arise as you age, there are topical creams to incorporate into your skin care routine and in-office procedures to explore for a little professional assistance. Ahead, TZR spoke to three board-certified dermatologists to get the full scoop on why aging happens on the neck, what products to add into the beauty arsenal, and what in-office treatments work best for minimizing the appearance of signs of premature aging. With a few products and expert information, you'll soon be kissing your neck lines goodbye.
What Topical Products Help Neck Lines?
If in-office treatments feel too invasive or you are starting to work on early prevention methods, there are a slew of over-the-counter options that will work to replenish skin hydration and decrease the appearance of neck lines.
Consistent application of sunscreen will forever be the most effective “anti-aging” ingredient in your skin care routine. After all, sun exposure is one of the biggest factors in the development of fine lines and wrinkles. “The neck is an area that gets a lot of sun exposure because it often is not covered, and we do not always protect it as well as we protect the face,” says Dr. King. As a result, the UV rays break down collagen faster and skin will lose its elasticity. The expert shares that protective clothing, sun smart behavior, and frequently reapplying your favorite sunscreen throughout the day are all a part of proper sun protection in order to prevent new neck lines from forming (as well as elsewhere on your face).
The hero antioxidant, vitamin C, will help neutralize the damaging effects of free radical damage (which can result from UV exposure and pollution, among other things) and help to brighten the appearance of the neck skin. If you’ve found that dark spots are forming or your neck lines are becoming more pronounced, incorporating a daily vitamin C serum is a great defense.
When shopping for “anti-aging” skin care products, look for peptides in a product’s ingredient list. “Peptides signal to the skin to produce collagen, which can plump the skin and fill in smaller wrinkles,” says Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama. Peptides will help fill in fine lines and wrinkles, while simultaneously supporting collagen production. That equates to smoother, bouncier skin over time.
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What In-Office Treatments Help Neck Lines?
Neck creams and serums can certainly help to prevent and minimize neck lines but they can only go so far. To treat mature sagging and deep wrinkles, in-office treatments like injectables and non-invasive tightening methods can be utilized and often product more noticeable results faster.
An injectable option, Sculptura is a poly-L-lactic acid (PLLA) that boosts firmness of the skin as cells in the dermis produce more collagen fibers. Similar to hyaluronic acid fillers, Sculptura absorbs into the body within weeks of treatment as it restores the body’s own collagen production. The results are not as instantaneous as an HA filler and will be seen a few months after the injections are administered.
“Baby Botox”, a smaller dose of traditional Botox — a neuromodulator that temporarily paralyzes your muscles — can be injected to the platysma band (muscles on side of neck) to help with tech neck posture and prevent lines. “The platysma muscle, which helps maintain the tightness of the jawline and upper neck, becomes strained over time,” Karan Lal DO MS FAAD, board-certified dermatologist tells TZR. Essentially, getting Botox injections in your neck will help prevent some of the repeated muscle movement that causes fine lines and wrinkles to form in the first place.
Ultherapy, or high-intensity focused ultrasound, is a non-invasive, FDA-approved ultrasound procedure that stimulates your body’s production of collagen and elastin and helps resurface the skin. Ultrasound energy is used to reach deeper layers of skin tissue to produce results that are seen over three to six months. Remember — more collagen and elastin means your skin will be plumper, firmer, and smoother. Some patients do say that this treatment can be uncomfortable, so it’s wise to chat with your provider about numbing options.
A great option for all skin tones, Dr. King recommends microneedling in combination with radiofrequency to help tighten the skin and increase collagen production deep down in the dermis. The RF treatment heats the skin to produce natural wound healing, which in turn tightens and smooths the skin. You usually need 3-5 sessions to see maximum results, but the effects are compounding — a yearly series is usually enough to keep neck lines at bay. This is another treatment that might require some numbing since the depth of the needles can range from .5mm to 3mm, and while the deeper you go the better results you can achieve, it can feel a bit spicy on the skin.
With Fraxel, a non-ablative laser treatment, doctors are able to improve the appearance of the delicate neck skin and pesky fine lines. Dr. Hartman recommends Fraxel for sun damage especially, which are common in this area. “It uses two wavelengths of light to treat pigmentation issues like hyperpigmentation, brown spots, and sun spots,” the pro tells TZR. You will be numbed during the procedure, and the healing time is usually a few days to a week after treatment, but keep in mind — this option might not be suitable for someone with a darker skin tone.