While we may have spent a bomb and embraced the Gua Sha and Jade rollers as part of our skincare ritual in 2021 and are massaging them rigorously every morning and night for jaw dropping results on the face, make sure you don't leave the neck untouched. Because, the bad news is, if you are not giving your neck the attention it needs, it is going to give away the first signs of aging.
"The neck area is really sensitive and starts to show signs of ageing a lot before the face does. The platysma muscles that are your neck muscles, are particularly prone to sagging, so they are very susceptible to the effects of gravity and the ageing process. The neck and the décolletage (neckline) area are subject to the same environmental exposure and undergo the same biological wear and tear as the facial skin. Exposure to UV radiation, loss of hydration and breakdown of collagen happens to the skin on the neck as much as it happens to facial skin," says Dr Madhulika Mhatre, Consultant Dermatology, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai.
"Neck skin is more extensible, elastic and viscoelastic than the face skin. However, the dermal layer for the neck skin is thinner, more prone to constant sun damage and damage due to constant movement which occur in the neck area," adds Dr Batul Patel, Medical Director and Dermatologist, The Bombay Skin Clinic.
Signs of a problematic neck
- Neck lines
- Vertical bands
- Early horizontal lines
- Early appearance of loose skin below the jawline and chin area.
Neck problems and their solutions
- Neck tanning can be avoided by application of sunscreen right up to the neck and decolletage (neckline) area. Reapplication of sunscreen is a must. Remember to apply gently in upward strokes, every day.
- Avoid spraying perfumes which are photosensitive to the skin as it can increase the chance of skin tanning.
- Skin sagging occurs because of constant movement of the neck and other ageing related changes.
- The skin changes on the neck are more visible earlier because the neck skin is very thin, and has less collagen.
- Taking care of the skin and applying face cream on the neck is a must.
- Wrinkles and lines are unavoidable and do happen with age.
- Ignoring the daily skin care routine for the neck by skipping application of sunscreen can result in fine lines, wrinkles and pigmentation.
- Repetitive motions or improper postures such as looking down at the mobile phone or sitting with a bent neck in front of a computer, and improper sleep posture, can also be the reason behind it.
The WFH curve
- Hold handheld devices at eye, or shoulder-level, rather than down around your waist.
- Raise your computer screen or stack books underneath it so that you can keep your neck and spine in a neutral position when looking at it.
- Sit with your feet flat on the ground with shins perpendicular to the floor, knees bent at a right angle, thighs forming a right angle with your spine, and spine resting on the back of your chair.
- Indulge in exercises and workouts that strengthen these muscles and make good posture come more naturally to you, such as, Pilates or yoga.
Medical treatments – when and what
"If your neck has started to show signs of neglect such as pigmentation, dryness, sagging with neck lines, folds, and vertical bands, it is best to seek medical treatment to prevent it from worsening further," says Dr Mhatre.
Here are some treatments that you can opt for:
- Peels and pigment-reducing lasers for deeper or resistant pigmentation.
- Hyaluronic acid creams and fillers along with neuromodulator injections for neck bands, wrinkles and lines. "Botox helps relax muscle and prevents neck bands. Skin tightening treatments like high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) help tighten the skin," adds Dr Patel.
- Skin-tightening lasers and threads for extreme and pronounced sagging, as it helps stimulate collagen and tightens the skin in the neck area.
Speaking of neck creams, Dr Mhatre further says, "Start off by using a good SPF sunscreen and ceramide-based moisturiser. Your nightly regime could include a retinol and hyaluronic acid-based night cream, applied in upward strokes. Neck massaging can help reduce tension in the neck muscles and improve circulation to the neck skin. It can be a part of your daily moisturiser application."
Adding to this, Dr Patel informs, "Retinol cream for the face should be of a lesser percentage in people who have dry and sensitive skin."
So, if you are also one of those who end up ignoring their neck in their skincare routine, it's high time you start taking it seriously before it's too late.