As a collective skincare-obsessed group, we’re pretty good about tending to the skin on our face. We cleanse it, nourish it with oils and creams, apply SPF-spiked skincare products, and even indulge in facials and the occasional injection. Unfortunately, those efforts tend to stop right around the jawline, when really our skincare routine should extend anywhere the sun shines. Literally.
If you’ve been wondering why you’re dealing with neck lines, loose skin, and creases – especially if the rest of your skin is in much better shape – it’s because your poor neck has been getting the skincare shaft. (Aging has a lot to do with it, too.)
For expert insight on why we get lines on our neck and how to get rid of said neck lines (should you wish to), we reached out to our friend, Dr. Matthew White, a board-certified plastic surgeon based on NYC’s Upper East Side. He exclusively works with patients to help them reach their face and neck goals, and people come to him specifically for things like treating neck creases and sagging. Basically, doc knows what he’s talking about.
Why Do We Get Lines On Our Neck?
The short answer for why we get neck lines: genetics, lifestyle, lack of regimen, sun damage, and the clock. Really, though, it’s the last two factors that play the biggest role.
“Neck wrinkles are usually a sign of underlying age-related soft tissue changes as we journey through life,” says Dr. White. “The facial ligaments tend to support the soft tissue, and provide a youthful contour to the face, neck and jawline. As we age, these ligaments stretch out, and this gives the appearance of sagging [and wrinkles].”
Dr. White adds that things like a gradual loss in collagen and elastin – another #hardtruthtoswallow about getting older – can also contribute to the development of neck lines. In other words, the clock is a cruel and unforgiving beast who takes mercy on no soul (or neck).
Another way to think of it is to compare your skin to a rubber band. The more often that rubber band is used, and the longer it’s here on earth, it becomes looser, more brittle, and more prone to breaking. Those eventual breaks result in sagging, and saggy neck skin is inherently prone to creasing. Pls don’t kill the messenger.
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So… Any Way to Slow the Roll on Neck Lines?
As mentioned, age isn’t the only factor to consider in regard to developing lines on your neck. Dr. White tells us that the sun is another huge factor, and consistent unprotected exposure can ramp up the aging process.
Think about that rubber band again. If you place it under the sun without any protection, it’s going to become dry and brittle. Contrarily, if you let it chill in the shade and keep it in a humid environment, it’ll maintain its stretch for way longer. In that sense, applying an SPF of 35 or higher every single day to your neck will noticeably slow down the formation of neck lines and general sagging.
Fortunately, the market is abundantly blessed with some awesome sunscreen formulations that sit lightly on your skin. Praise be! For example, Tony Moly My Sunny Watery Sun Essence, $21.50, is a super hydrating moisturizer meets SPF 50 with a thin consistency that melts into skin seconds after application. You’ll completely forget you even applied it by the time you step outside. And Supergoop! makes it easy to apply SPF with their Defense Refresh Setting Mist Broad Spectrum SPF 50, $28. You literally just mist it on your neck and go on your merry way.
Pairing your SPF with a topical antioxidant, such as potent vitamin C, can also help shield your skin from free radical damage, which expedites the aging process. Other factors that can seriously slow down the formation of lines on your neck include eating a nutrient-rich diet, not smoking, and avoiding major weight fluctuations.
“Neck wrinkles begin to form at age 40, but typically the damage was done much earlier,” says Dr. White. Basically: early, aggressive prevention is key.
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How to Get Rid of Neck Lines Once They’ve Made an Unwelcomed Appearance
OK, so you’re reading this as someone who’s already dealing with neck lines. First, get some sunscreen that you’ll enjoy using every day and consider it BAE. Second, know that there are a few corrective procedures out there.
We did ask Dr. White about whether there were any topical treatments for getting rid of neck lines. In true doctor fashion he kept things real and told us that no, there really aren’t any over-the-counter topicals you can buy for a miracle cure. However, he did mention that if you’re dealing with mostly neck creases – instead of drooping and sagging – then a topical retinoid can help. You can find over-the-counter retinols pretty much everywhere skincare products are sold, and your doctor can write you a prescription for a more potent retinoid.
He added that Revision Skincare Nectifirm Advanced, $133; Revitatone Firming Day Cream SPF 15, $50; and StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Face & Neck Cream, $95, are three topical products that you can try, but stressed that they were only somewhat effective at correcting surface changes.
“Unfortunately, as stated before, neck wrinkles are usually a sign of underlying age-related soft tissue changes and are best treated with an [in-office] procedure,” says Dr. White. He recommended two specific treatments: the Golden Angle Lift (specific to his practice) and Ultherapy.
“The Golden Angle Lift is my signature procedure, where a small surgical access is performed to repair the specific facial ligaments that stretch out with age in the face,” he says. “After the procedure, there is a marked improvement in face and neck contour. It is the gold standard for age-related changes in the neck.”
Ultherapy is ideal for those with mild to moderate neck lines and laxity. It’s a quick, one-hour procedure where ultrasound waves are delivered into the deep tissue. In the three to six months that follow the procedure, you’ll notice a gradual tightening and reduction of neck lines.
“It is the best noninvasive treatment for the neck right now,” says Dr. White. “Studies have been performed on the efficacy, and 80% see improved lower face and neck contour after a treatment.”
Both of these treatments are hella splurge-y, with the Golden Angle Lift starting at $20k and Ultherapy costing about $4k to $8k depending on where you go. That may not be the news you were hoping to hear, but at least you know you’ve got options, right?
Neck wrinkles, like any wrinkles, are a fact of life. However, by wearing sunscreen and avoiding extended exposure to the sun, you can prevent excessive wrinkling and sagging and even slow the process down over the long run. Antioxidants and retinol also help. Don’t expect a miracle cure in a topical firming product, but do try them for a slight improvement. Your best bet for a major reversal of neck lines and sagging is an in-office treatment performed by a skilled professional.