Also known as necklace lines, neck lines can be one of the most frustrating, as well as visibly obvious, signs of aging. While you may not be able to completely remove them, there are still several steps that you can take to reduce the visibility and depth of neck lines, while also preventing more from appearing.
What Actually Causes Neck Lines?
Necklace lines are basically wrinkles, and are caused by the same internal and environmental factors that contribute to the other signs of aging on your face.
- Loss of collagen and elastin – the amount of collagen and elastin, which are the structural proteins that give your skin its firmness and tightness, that your body naturally produces declines with age
- Free radicals – caused by everything from sun exposure to pollution to stress. These then break down your existing levels of collagen and elastin, while also causing irreparable DNA damage to your skin cells
- Sun exposure – responsible for up to 80% of the visible signs of aging
- Smoking – depletes the vitamin C in your skin while speeding up the aging process
- Poor diet – causes the body to be lacking in essential nutrients that would otherwise have supported the skin
All of these factors, plus more, are responsible for the necklace lines you see on your neck.
In fact, your neck is actually more susceptible to these factors than the skin on other parts of your body…
Because your neck skin features quite a unique cell combination, with a thinner dermis that is much more susceptible to damage, and therefore more prone to wrinkles. This thinner dermis not only has less collagen than thicker parts of your skin, but also fewer oil glands, meaning an increase in dryness and an exacerbation in wrinkles.
Not only that, but the neck also goes through unique motions. Everything from the way in which you sleep to the way in which you keep your head bent down when looking at your phone can create folds in your neck. While these will bounce back into place in your earlier years, these folds will become more and more permanent as your body ages.
Now that you know what has caused your neck lines, what can you do to minimize their appearance?
Fortunately, quite a few things…
As mentioned above, the sun’s UV rays are responsible for up to 80% of the visible signs of aging, with many experts claiming that this figure is actually closer to 90%.
This means that if you spend your life being vigilant about sun protection, you will notice far fewer lines on your neck, as well as the rest of your face.
While many do wear sunscreen on their faces, the neck is often a neglected part of the body, even though this area receives just as much sun exposure as the rest of the face. Since the skin here is thinner, this means that the sun actually causes more damage to your neck than it does to other parts of your face and body.
When it comes to choosing a sunscreen…
Go for a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, as this will offer you the maximum amount of protection from both UVA and UVB rays.
Don’t forget, your sunscreen needs to be re-applied every couple of hours, and more frequently if you have been sweating or in water.
Cleanse and Exfoliate
You likely already regularly cleanse and exfoliate your face, but this is something that you need to be doing for your neck too.
How does this help with neck lines?
Well, each and every day, everything from dirt and dead skin cells to oil and sweat build up on the surface of your skin. If these are not cleared away, they end up settling into your pores, not only causing blockages and a dull complexion, but also leading to the formation of free radicals, which ends up damaging your skin at a much deeper level.
A cleanser will help to keep the surface of your skin clean and clear, while an exfoliant will delve deeper, not only cleaning out your pores but also boosting your cell turnover rate, which encourages your skin to produce fresh new skin cells faster.
You should aim to be cleansing your neck at the end of each day, and exfoliating it a couple of times a week.
Not sure which exfoliant to go for?
There are two main types; physical and chemical. A physical exfoliant makes use of abrasive particles to slough away dirt and dead skin cells from the surface of the skin, while a chemical exfoliant penetrates a little deeper, and dissolves away the glue-like substance that holds dead skin cells to the surface of the skin.
When it comes to necklace lines…
A chemical exfoliant will likely be more beneficial.
Firstly, physical exfoliants can be quite harsh, and also require a scrubbing motion. Since the skin on your neck is so delicate, these abrasive particles can often result in micro-tears on the skin, while the scrubbing motion will definitely not do any favors for your neck lines.
On the other hand, chemical exfoliants can be applied in such a gentle way, without causing any friction to the skin.
There are two main types of chemical exfoliants – alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids.
While beta hydroxy acids are fantastic for unclogging pores and clearing away excess oil, an alpha hydroxy acid will be more beneficial to your neck, thanks to the way in which they also hydrate the skin and boost collagen production.
Some of the most effective alpha hydroxy acids include:
- Lactic acid – derived from milk
- Glycolic acid – derived from sugar cane
- Citric acid – derived from citrus fruits
- Malic acid – derived from apples and pears
Of course, while these acids originally come from natural sources, keep in mind that the majority you will find in skin care products have been created synthetically, in order to maintain stability and strength.
Make Use of Antioxidants
Antioxidants are key when it comes to aging skin, because they have the ability to neutralize harmful free radicals, preventing them from continuing on with their endless cycle of damage.
Antioxidants also provide your skin with so many other anti-aging benefits, such as:
- Vitamin C – boosts collagen production, eliminates free radicals, and brightens and tightens the skin
- Vitamin A – the most common derivative is retinol, and this is the only clinically-proven anti-aging ingredient out there that has been shown to have a significant impact on wrinkles
- Vitamin E – boosts collagen production, reducing the appearance of lines and deeper wrinkles
- Green Tea – packed with catechins, which are antioxidants that can heal cell damage, prevent sun damage and neutralize free radicals. While all tea extracts are beneficial, green tea contains more than five times the catechins than black tea
- Grape Seed Extract – has even stronger free radical scavenging properties than vitamins C and E
- Niacinamide – effective at improving skin texture and tone
Wondering how to actually apply these antioxidants to your skin?
Your best bet would be to look for a serum that contains some of the above ingredients.
While serums are incredibly lightweight, and look almost like water, they are actually packed with a high concentration of active ingredients, and their lightweight consistency means that the skin is able to quickly and effectively absorb them.
However, make sure that you only apply a serum to cleansed skin. If your skin has not been cleansed, the surface of your skin will be covered with dead skin cells, dirt and more, all of which will prevent the serum from properly penetrating into your skin’s layers.
Keep It Moisturized
Dry skin tends to be more prone to wrinkling, and since the skin on the neck does not have quite as many oil glands as the skin on other parts of your face and body, this means that the skin here can easily dry out.
The best way to keep your skin hydrated and plumped up is through the use of a moisturizer.
The same moisturizer that you use on your face will work well on your neck, as these are designed to form a protective layer over the surface of the skin, not only protecting it from environmental damage but also preventing moisture from evaporating into the air.
Wondering if you need a special neck cream?
Not necessarily, as just about any moisturizer will work wonders on your neck. However, neck creams do tend to be formulated with specific ingredients that are designed to boost your skin’s collagen and elastin production, meaning that you may notice results faster.
Of course, make sure that you do check the ingredient list of any neck cream you are contemplating purchasing, to ensure that they do contain collagen-boosting ingredients.
Work on Your Posture
Your posture can actually have a huge impact on necklace lines, with a poor posture often leading to more folds and wrinkles in your skin.
Let’s begin with the way in which you sleep…
If you tilt your chin towards your chest while you sleep, this will only end up exacerbating your neck lines.
The optimum sleeping position would be on your back, which will not only minimize wrinkles on your neck, but also on your face.
Can’t get comfortable unless you are on your side?
In that case, it is important that you support your neck, especially between your shoulders and your head. Try taking away a pillow, to reduce the angle between your face and your neck. A silk or satin pillowcase will also help, as this will reduce the amount of friction caused against your skin when your neck rubs against your bedding.
When it comes to your posture during the day…
Spending hours hunched over a desk or a computer, looking downwards, will only add to your necklace lines.
Try to sit up straight, with relaxed shoulders and a straight back, keeping your head held high.
Do A Few Neck Exercises
Keeping the muscles in your neck well-toned will help to reduce the appearance of loose and sagging skin.
Neck exercises are the best way to do this, with many people experiencing results in as little as three weeks.
Want to give this a go?
Here is a simple neck exercise to try, known as The Giraffe:
- Place your fingertips at the top of your neck
- Tilt your head back and lightly stroke your skin in a downwards motion, before bringing your head back down
- Repeat two more times
- Then, jut your lower lip out as far as possible, placing your fingertips on your collarbone
- Point your chin upwards, making sure that the corners of your mouth are pulled down, and hold this position for four deep breaths
For best results, repeat this exercise every day.
Try Light Therapy
Light therapy makes use of different wavelengths, meaning colors, of light to target the deeper layers of your skin, and these are usually the layers that topical products cannot reach. Since these lights are able to work at such a deep level, they can trigger significant changes, and can really have an impact when it comes to neck lines.
Here are just a few of the ways in which light therapy could benefit you:
- Increases Collagen and Fibroblast Production – it does take at least a couple of months, but light therapy can stimulate your skin into producing more collagen and fibroblasts, resulting in a smoother and firmer texture
- Boosts Lymphatic Drainage – this encourages skin detoxification, which reduces swelling and puffiness
- Increases Blood Flow – this enables your skin to better repair itself, giving your complexion a healthy glow
- Provides Energy to Skin Cells – skin cells receive less natural energy as the body ages, meaning that this boost in energy can really improve the way in which they function
Light therapy treatments can either be carried out by a professional, or by yourself with an at-home device, making this an easy and convenient way to target wrinkles, not only on your neck but also the rest of your face.
Neck lines can definitely be frustrating to deal with, and can really make you appear older than you actually are. However, by following each of the steps mentioned above, you will likely notice an improvement in your neck lines in a few months, so long as you are consistent with the care that you provide your skin.