Not Wearing SPF on Your Neck? You Might Want to Fix That

Experts share their tips for preventing neck lines — and getting rid of them, too.

Neck lines

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When it comes to skincare, taking care of your neck is just as important as your face, and yet, many of us overlook the former. We lather fancy serums, masks, and moisturizers onto our faces only to stop short of our necks. But experts say this is a big mistake. For instance, not wearing SPF on your neck can contribute to neck lines, not to mention, premature signs of aging. And while neck lines are totally normal, certain lifestyle adjustments can help to keep them at bay. We tapped skincare experts to find out more.

From causes to treatment methods to preventative measures, keep reading for our complete guide to understanding neck lines.

What Are Neck Lines?

It turns out neck lines are caused by a combination of natural aging and the daily activities we engage in. "Horizontal lines on your neck are caused by the same factors that cause wrinkles on other areas of your face," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and the director of cosmetic and clinical research of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "Weakening of the skin foundation, along with constriction of muscles under the skin, lead to skin folding and wrinkles that over time will stick around even at rest."

All of the time you spend scrolling through your Instagram feed on your iPhone isn't helping, either. "The more we engage in activities that lead to the folding of the skin, the earlier lines and wrinkles will start to set in," explains Dr. Zeichner. "The increased use of mobile devices has led to a phenomenon known as tech neck. We are bending our heads down and folding the skin on the neck now more than ever. It is likely that this has contributed to the increase in neck wrinkles that we are seeing even in younger patients."

How to Prevent Neck Lines

In addition to elevating your tech devices so you aren't constantly bending your neck, Dr. Zeichner suggests using the appropriate skincare products in your routine that will help prevent them. "Especially creams that have active ingredients like retinols, sunscreens, peptides, growth factors, and your alpha hydroxy acids," says Morgan Rabach, M.D., a board certified dermatologist at LM Medical NYC. "The best trick is to use any creams that you use on your face morning and evening on your neck as well," she adds.

If you have more neck lines than other people, it doesn't necessarily mean that you're spending more time on your phone than they do; other factors influence how your neck ages, such as sun damage, smoking, and skin tone. "If the skin is damaged, then collagen and elastin are not functioning optimally and the skin cannot resist wrinkling or bounce back from folding the way that it should," Dr. Zeichner says. "People with lighter skin tend to be more susceptible to environmental aging and develop wrinkles at an earlier age than those with darker skin types."

Still, to reduce the likelihood of neck lines, you'll want to make healthy lifestyle choices; namely, staying hydrated, getting quality sleep, adopting a healthy diet, and applying sunscreen daily, Dr. Rabach tells us. "These all really affect neck skin quality over time."

How to Get Rid of Neck Lines

If you've already got some horizontal lines on your neck — or you're noticing a few forming — there are steps you can take to minimize their appearance. According to our experts, this can include both at-home treatments and in-office procedures.

Use anti-aging products at home.

The skin on the neck is among the thinnest, making it more susceptible to environmental damage. To treat existing lines at home, Dr. Zeichner says it's important to apply products on your neck in addition to your face.

In the morning, he suggests using products with antioxidant protection, along with sunscreen. Combine two steps in one with EltaMD's UV Daily Tinted Broad-Spectrum SPF 40. The mineral sunscreen includes antioxidant protection, brightening niacinamide, and doesn't leave a white cast.

At night, he recommends a repairing, retinol-based cream formulated for the face, neck, and chest such as RoC's Multi Correction 5-in-1 Anti-Aging Chest, Neck, & Face Cream, which can help stimulate collagen.

VIDEO: When You Apply Sunscreen in Your Skincare Routine Actually Matters A Lot

Consider these in-office treaments.

Laser therapy is one in-office treatment that derms recommend for neck lines. Dr. Rabach is a huge fan of preventative therapy and ablative lasers. In-office, lasers can be used to stimulate collagen and strengthen the skin foundation.

Microneedling is another option. Also known as derma rolling, Dr. Rabach recommends the treatment to combat neck lines. It involves puncturing the skin with tiny needles to promote collagen and elastin production to target everything from fine lines and wrinkles to hair loss.

Dr. Rabach also loves to use Botox in the neck line. The injection can help relax the muscles under the skin to prevent lines from forming. Just keep in mind that it's not a permanent fix. "When the effect of Botox wears off, the neck muscles will start to constrict again and re-fold the skin," explains Dr. Zeichner. "The effect of Botox typically lasts between three and five months."

Lastly, you can consider fillers, but proceed with caution, Dr. Zeichner says. "Fillers can be injected directly into horizontal lines, however, this is a risky procedure," he says. "Since the skin is so thin, and there is so much movement in the neck, it may lead to lumpiness."

When to See a Professional

If you've been giving your neck the recommended TLC during your skincare routine but still aren't satisfied with your results, don't despair. According to Dr. Rabach, when topicals that you can buy aren’t cutting it and you need a prescription strength cream or procedure, your best bet is to see a dermatologist. They will be able to provide an evaluation and determine a solution that's right for you.

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