Not only is your neck going through the same wear and tear, but it's also typically the first area of the body to show signs of ageing.
The main reason, besides neglect, is gravity. "Unfortunately, from the moment we're born, our neck and all of its structures are subject to descent from the force of gravity," says plastic surgeon Dr Ryan Neinstein. "The second reason is sun exposure, as we all frequently tend to under-treat our neck area when applying sunscreen."
Genetics and hormonal fluctuations can also influence collagen and elastin production all over our bodies, including the neck. Together, these factors can cause the neck's texture to alter—a line here, a droop there, and eventually (sigh), the crepe effect.
But don't shop for turtlenecks and scarves just yet. There are plenty of ways to reverse the signs of ageing. Here are some of the best solutions:
If you have fine lines and brown spots...
You may be diligent about applying sunscreen to your face—or at least choosing a moisturiser or foundation that contains SPF—but most women forget to protect their necks. Meanwhile, UV rays damage structural collagen, causing wrinkles, thinning skin and pigment changes, like brown spots, says dermatologist Dr Tsippora Shainhouse.
The fix: To slow the progression, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 (or higher) to your neck every day, and reapply if you'll be spending time in the sun. "Don't forget the sides of your neck, which are exposed to the sun when you drive," Shainhouse says.
You may also want to consider upping your intake of omegas: "Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are an essential tool in the body's natural production of collagen," says anaesthetist Dr Alex Roher. If you consume them in the evening (say, after 6 PM), they're less likely to be broken down into fuel for other bodily functions by the time you go to bed, so your body can use them to repair your skin. Reap the benefits by making omega-3 rich foods like cold-water fish and avocados daily staples, suggests Roher.
An IPL photofacial is also worth considering, says Shainhouse. The light-based therapy helps fade spots by targeting and destroying brown skin pigment. You may need two sessions for optimal results, she says.
If you have poikiloderma...
If you have crepey skin, sun spots, and redness from broken capillaries, you may have poikiloderma, a condition that develops as result of chronic sun exposure, says Dr Joshua Zeichner. While there isn't a specific treatment available for the condition, there are various remedies that may help.
The fix: It's super-important to treat the neck as you would your face, says Zeichner. In the morning, prevent future damage by layering an antioxidant underneath your sunscreen.
As for in-office procedures, Fraxel skin laser treatments can be an effective option. "The laser fractionates its energy into tiny beams, creating microchannels of damage deep in the skin," says Shainhouse. "The body then rushes to repair these traumatised zones, filling them in with new, fresh collagen." The result? Improved texture and reduced discolouration. You'll need two or three treatments for optimal results, says Shainhouse.
If you have folds and wrinkles...
Many people have natural fold lines on the neck—however, with ageing, new wrinkles appear as a result of lost collagen and connective tissue that holds the area tight, says dermatologist Dr Tanya Kormeili. (And, let's be real, perpetually looking down at our mobile devices isn't doing us any favors in the neck wrinkles department.)
The fix: To keep future damage at bay, slather on sunscreen, maintain good posture, keep your smartphone at eye level, and use an anti-wrinkle treatment that contains palmitoyl oligopeptide, a blend of fatty acids that encourage collagen production.
Hyaluronic injectable fillers are another option, says Shainhouse. These can be injected directly into the horizontal neck lines to help them fill out. Bonus: "The fillers can last up to six months," she says. "They also encourage the body to make its own collagen so that the effects can last even longer."
If you have prominent vertical bands...
"As our neck muscles weaken they tend to bow out, creating up and down lines in our neck," says Neinstein.
The fix: Unfortunately, prominent vertical bands, or platysmal bands, are often genetic and can't be completely eliminated without a surgical neck lift, says Zuckerman. However, small amounts of Botox can be injected into the bands of the muscle to relax it. This softens their appearance and creates a better contour, Kormeili explains.
If you have loose skin…
Sagging skin along the jaw, neck, and décolletage occur over time as collagen and elastin start to break down. And as it ages, the skin doesn't have the ability to bounce back like it used to, says dermatologist Dr Purvisha Patel.
The fix: After applying sunscreen, the neck should be moisturised to maximize collagen within the skin, says Neinstein. No matter the moisturiser you're using, apply it to the base of the neck up to the jawline, says Patel, which helps stimulate upward direction and prevents more pulling down.
There's also Ultherapy, a focused ultrasound treatment that stimulates the growth of new collagen deep within the skin, essentially acting as a non-surgical facelift. "It's the only non-surgical procedure that's gained approval to lift the skin on the neck, chin and brow," says Patel. "Just one treatment is required in most cases, and the skin gradually tightens."