I think I was 25 when my mother (who has amazing skin) said, “I wish I’d paid more attention to my neck when I was younger. Sunscreen at least.”
Did I listen?
Nope. And now I’m truly understanding what she was trying to tell me.
If you’re like me, you probably pay a lot of attention to your face. Most women do. You wash and moisturize it, apply sunscreen, and at least some of the time, examine it for blemishes, fine lines, or spots.
You probably don’t pay anywhere near as much attention to your neck.
Until…one day you notice your jaw line isn’t as sharp as it used to be. And what’s that loose skin doing on your neck?
Here are the main reasons that your neck really begins to show some age around age 50:
- The skin on your neck and upper chest is constantly exposed to the sun, wind, and other environmental factors that damage it
- Every time you turn your head, the skin on your neck is stretched which, over time, takes a toll.
- The skin on your neck and dec (decollete and upper chest. I’m going to call it your dec) is thinner and has fewer oil glands than the skin on your face so it’s drier and less protected naturally
- As collagen and elastin production slow down with age, gravity shows its effects, especially on your neck. That means looser skin and sagging.
- Like me, you've probably taken pretty good care of your face over the years, but neglected treating your neck and dec as part of your facial skincare
- Unlike your face, the skin on your neck isn’t anchored to bone and muscle so it doesn’t have as much structural support.
- The muscles that underlie your neck, especially the flat, sheet-like platysma muscle thin and sag over time, bringing the skin on your neck with it
- Fat under your skin (subcutaneous fat) also becomes thinner in some areas (which causes sagging) and accumulates in other ones (double chin).
What’s a girl to do?
This is definitely a situation where prevention is your best defense against the unflatteringly named “turkey neck” (and why do we talk about ourselves in such unflattering ways? But I digress-that’s another discussion).
Sunscreen every day no matter what
Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve diligently applied sunscreen to my face and put nothing on my neck. Protecting your face, neck, chest, and hands from the sun is the single biggest thing you can do to maintain youthful healthy skin.
Oh, how I wish I had learned this earlier.
Even if your neck is already sun damaged, being consistent with your sunscreen will prevent even more damage and give your skin a chance to work on healing.
Tech Neck? Argh!
Another preventative measure is to mind your posture. Sitting with your head forward and neck stretched out looking at your phone or computer is not good for you.
Not only does this position lead to back and neck pain because it puts a lot of strain on the back of your neck and shoulders, it doesn’t do your neck and lower face any favors either.
Pay attention to your posture after you’ve been on your computer or device. Are your chin forward with your neck stretched out?
You’re weakening the muscles in the front of your neck and over working the muscles in the back. These muscles weren’t designed to hold your head in this position for long periods of time.
Stop. Pull your shoulders down and back, tuck your chin slightly and straighten your spine and neck. Breathe.
This is the posture you should try to have most of the time. If you’ve been chin forward for a while, retraining your posture is going to take some persistence and work.
It’s worth it to pay attention and work on good posture. Your back and neck will thank you.
If your skin is already pretty loose
If you’re like me, it’s hard to accept that some of the damage is done and without surgery it’s never going to be as tight and smooth as it was when you were twenty.
But, that’s ok. 20 wasn’t all that great, am I right?
MedSpas offer a some minimally invasive treatments that can help tighten loose skin and improve the appearance of loose skin on your neck.
If you have a lot of very loose skin and want it gone, gone, gone, surgery may the option that you’re going to be most pleased with.
If surgery’s not your thing, there’s plenty you can do to make your neck look better
Like all of your muscles, the ones in your neck shrink and get looser with age. These sagging muscles are a big culprit in “turkey neck”.
Unless you exercise them.
The (scientific) jury is out on whether facial and neck exercises make a difference. But there have been several very small studies and at least one larger, well designed study done on middle aged women that have showed positive results.
I’ve been experimenting with exercises for my lower face and neck and definitely see improvement.
The keys to success are:
- Remembering to do the exercises several times a day, every day.
- Making sure that you’re isolating the proper muscles
- not making expressions like frowning that work against you
In my next blog, I’ll show you some neck exercises that may help tighten up the muscles in the front of your neck.
Products can really help the look and feel of your neck. Your neck has fewer oil glands than the skin on your face so it’s more prone to being dry and sensitive. It’s also more likely to wrinkle.
I know that I’ve been guilty of skimping on products when it comes to my neck. No more.
Your neck will love to be treated with the same products that you use on your face. Think of your neck and dec as an extension of your face and apply the same products at the same time.
Here’s what helps:
Sunscreen, of course.
Antioxidants like Vitamin C serum (DewDrops) to help scavenge the free radicals caused by sun damage.
Peptides to increase the firmness of your skin.
Retinols to encourage collagen and elastin production.
If the skin on your neck is very sensitive, skip the vitamin C and retinol until your skin barrier is in better shape.
Twice a day moisturizer will really help your skin barrier restore itself.
There are products that can help firm the outer layer of skin. Peptides are one of the key ingredients to look for in a firming serum or moisturizer. Other ingredients that are associated with firming are vitamin C, retinol, hyaluronic acid and royal jelly and bee propolis.
Check out SunWindSnow’s best-selling AlpenGlo if you want all of these wonderful ingredients.
This didn’t happen overnight, although it may seem that way
Or at least it did to me. But the truth is that what you’re seeing on your neck now is the result of years of sun and other damage.
The skin on your neck can improve (although I can promise you it will never look like your 20 year old neck again), but it will take time and a consistent routine to get there. And daily sunscreen on your neck,dec, and face- every day, no matter what the weather or if you’re outdoors or in.
Next week I’ll give you a few exercises for your neck to try.