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Just like any other type of wrinkle, neck wrinkles and lines are a normal part of aging. Still, many people want to prevent them from showing up for as long as possible. Here are some things to avoid that encourage neck wrinkles––plus 12 tips for preventing them.
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What causes neck wrinkles?
As collagen and elastin in the skin decrease with age, wrinkles form. Neck lines are influenced by many factors including age, genetics, and lifestyle habits.
- Avoiding too much sun exposure
- Quitting or reducing smoking
- Practicing stress management techniques
- Maintaining a nutritious diet
- Avoiding toxins in the environment like air pollution
- Practicing proper posture
When do neck lines start appearing?
Fine lines on the face and neck start appearing in your 20s and 30s. For some people, it may seem like wrinkles appear suddenly. Usually, any form of wrinkle begins as a tiny fine line that goes unnoticed.
Lots of people won’t see more drastic signs of aging until their 40s, 50s, or older. Besides age, when neck lines start appearing depends on many factors including genetics, sun damage, smoking, and posture.
How to prevent neck wrinkles
Here are some tips to reduce the appearance of neck lines and help prevent future ones from forming.
1. Wear sunscreen
The most important step to prevent premature aging and neck wrinkles is wearing sunscreen. Research suggests there is a significant association between unprotected sun exposure and wrinkle development (Wong, 2021).
Be sure to put sunscreen on your face, neck, chest, and any other exposed areas of skin. Aim to use sunscreen with at least SPF 30. You can also wear protective clothing and hats to block sunlight.
Eyebrow wrinkles (glabellar lines): causes, treatment, prevention
2. Avoid or quit smoking
Cigarette smoking has a wide range of negative impacts on health––including how your skin looks. One study looked at the effects of smoking on twins and found the twin who smoked had worse eye bags and jowls (sagging skin below the chin and jawline) (Okada, 2013).
There may also be a dose-dependent relationship between cigarettes and wrinkles, meaning the more cigarettes you smoke throughout your life, the worse wrinkles might appear (Goodman, 2019).
3. Use antioxidant serums
4. Be mindful of posture
If you work at a desk or spend a lot of time looking down, you could be creating a positional fold in your neck. With younger skin, these folds bounce back into place once you straighten your posture.
Over time, these folds can turn into fine lines and eventually deep wrinkles. Practicing proper posture, being mindful of how you hold your phone, and sleeping in proper positions may help prevent neck wrinkles.
5. Retinol creams
If you haven’t heard these buzzwords before, retinoids and retinol are popular skincare ingredients. Retinoids help reduce the appearance of wrinkles by stimulating collagen production, new cell growth, and elastin production (Ganceviciene, 2012).
The strongest retinoid, isotretinoin (brand name Accutane), is only available through a prescription from a dermatologist. Lower-strength retinoids are available over-the-counter.
Retinoids and sunlight: what you need to know
6. Moisturize your skin
While most people remember to moisturize their face, it’s common to forget to smooth those skincare products down the neck and upper chest. Moisturizing can keep water in the skin for longer, maintaining hydration and making skin look plumper. One study found that using anti-wrinkle creams for three months reduced wrinkle depth and improved skin tightness (Poetschke, 2016).
Many people use exfoliating tools (like loofahs) and chemical exfoliants (such as alpha hydroxy and beta hydroxy acids) to help remove dead skin cells.
Research suggests this may reduce signs of sun damage plus improve wrinkles, elasticity, tone, and hydration. Be careful not to over-exfoliate because this can make skin feel more sensitive and lead to redness (Moghimipour, 2012).
8. Eat a healthy diet
Research suggests a diet full of vegetables and fatty acids lowers the risk for wrinkles and improves skin health. Avoid refined or processed foods, which lack nutrients and can have a great deal of added sugars (Wong, 2021).
9. Manage stress
Believe it or not, feeling stressed all the time could impact your skin health. High stress levels increase cortisol (the “stress” hormone) in the body, which can weaken the skin barrier (Chen, 2014).
A weak skin barrier can increase your risk for breakouts, dryness, and neck lines. Try practicing stress management techniques like deep breathing, exercise, meditation, talking with friends, or any hobbies you enjoy.
How to get rid of wrinkles: 12 wrinkle removing options
10. Silicone neck patches
Growing in popularity are silicone adhesive pads, a neck wrinkle treatment designed to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. One study found wearing topical adhesive pads over several hours temporarily lessened the appearance of crow’s feet (Mazzarello, 2018).
They work by preventing skin from folding, and you can wear them while working or sleeping. Researchers are still examining the effectiveness of silicone neck patches, so how well they work long-term isn’t clear yet.
11. Botox and filler
Botox and dermal fillers are an option for preventing and reducing the appearance of neck lines. Fillers are done by injecting gel to fill in the wrinkle and make skin appear more plump.
Botox involves injecting a small amount of the neurotoxin botulinum toxin into the wrinkle. This helps smooth the appearance of lines.
For severe neck wrinkles, some people may choose to have a face lift to address sagging skin. Surgery is often a last resort as it’s the most invasive and expensive option. It also requires more downtime to recover, and it can be difficult to know exactly how the procedure will turn out.
Premature aging: what is it, symptoms, and how to prevent it
If you’re considering a face or neck lift, you’ll have to meet with a cosmetic surgeon to see if you’re a good candidate and if it’s the best option.
Whether you’re hoping to prevent wrinkles before they start or reduce their appearance, there are lots of options to help. You can’t completely stop the aging process to prevent wrinkles, but you may be able to slow it down.
- Chen, Y. & Lyga, J. (2014). Brain-skin connection: stress, inflammation and skin aging. Inflammation & Allergy Drug Targets, 13(3), 177–190. doi:10.2174/1871528113666140522104422. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4082169/
- Ganceviciene, R., Liakou, A. I., Theodoridis, A., et al. (2012). Skin anti-aging strategies. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), 308–319. doi:10.4161/derm.22804. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583892/
- Goodman, G. D., Kaufman, J., Day, D., et al. (2019). Impact of smoking and alcohol use on facial aging in women: results of a large multinational, multiracial, cross-sectional survey. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 12(8), 28–39. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6715121/
- Mazzarello, V., Ferrari, M., Bulla, A., et al. (2018). Antiwrinkle effect of topical adhesive pads on crow’s feet: how long does the effect last for? Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 17(3), 484–490. doi:10.1111/jocd.12395. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28845548/
- Moghimipour, E. (2012). Hydroxy acids, the most widely used anti-aging agents. Jundishapur Journal of Natural Pharmaceutical Products, 7(1), 9–10. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941867/
- Okada, H. C., Alleyne, B., Varghai, K., et al. (2013). Facial changes caused by smoking: a comparison between smoking and nonsmoking identical twins. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, 132(5), 1085–1092. doi: 10.1097/PRS.0b013e3182a4c20a. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23924651/
- Poetschke, J., Schwaiger, H., Steckmeier, S., et al. (2016). Anti-wrinkle creams with hyaluronic acid: how effective are they? MMW Fortschritte der Medizin, 158(4), 1–6. doi:10.1007/s15006-016-8302-1. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27221554/
- Wang, Y. N., Fang, H., & Zhu, W. F. (2009). Survey on skin aging status and related influential factors in southeast china. Journal of Zhejiang University Science B, 10(1), 57–66. doi:10.1631/jzus.B0820071. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2613964/
- Wong, Q. Y. A. & Chew, F. T. (2021). Defining skin aging and its risk factors: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Scientific Reports, 11, 22075. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-01573-z. Retrieved from https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-01573-z