I’ve heard you can tell a person’s age by looking at the neck. The face—diligently cleansed, toned, serum’d, oiled, essenced and moisturized—can give the illusion of youth. But the neck, the neck! Often abandoned, it shows what the face might not. This—besides being an annoying idea—is not always the case. There are also those of us who are not necessarily afflicted (yet) with an early onset of the signs of aging. What does it mean when we sport deep-set, horizontal creases and know, deep in our hearts, that they have almost nothing to do with age?
I wasn’t even 20 when I started to notice mine. 20! Me! Diligent about moisturizing! At the start of my search for a solution, the lack of internet-available information on the topic should have been an indicator of what I was up against. But when I reached out to Joanna Czech (facialist to Anna Wintour) and Dr. Robert Anolik (whom you may recognize from the Instagram Stories of Emily Weiss), I thought I was asking a simple question: How do you make necklines just...go away?
“You've picked a very tough topic,” Dr. Anolik told me. “Horizontal necklines occur on everybody, like lines on a palm that a palm reader looks at, but at different levels of severity. We don't know why some people have worse lines than others when all other [factors] are equal, but they can be worsened by excessive motion of the neck,” he explained. According to Dr. Anolik reasons for these lines likely include “constantly looking down at Instagram,” or “tech neck.” (Coincidence that mine appeared around the same time I got an Instagram?) The causes aren’t limited to “tech neck,” though. Things like “extensive sun exposure” Dr. Anolik says can worsen them (oh u mean ppl should b wearing sunscreen?). Other culprits might include, in a similar vein, the way you sleep—I, for example, sleep like a turtle—the way your head sits on your shoulders, how long your neck is and therefore how much you bend it, the types of workouts you do, and a genetic propensity of your skin to crease.
So what can actually be done about them? According to Joanna, “Just moisturizing will not do much,” but the earlier you start, the more treatments can help. This Dr. Perricone Firming Neck Therapy is great—I found using it both morning and night made a visible difference on my neck. While Dr. Anolik does say that simple “good hydration of the skin...can plump the surface skin to mask texture irregularities as much as possible,” in addition to hydrating, the Dr. Perricone cream actually firms up the skin around the neck, making it difficult for lines to stay. Joanna also recommends Vitamin A product treatments to promote skin cell regeneration. This Mario Badescu A-D-E Neck Cream uses both that and hyaluronic acid to target wrinkles and sagging, and happens to be just $20. Adding a daily self-massage to your routine might help too, she says, because the stimulation of blood flow and collagen help the skin efficiently recover from deeper lines. A good Neck Rule of Thumb, per Joanna: “Treat your body from jawline to toes and your face from nipples to forehead, and your neck will get double the treatments.”
If you’re willing invest a bit, there are a a few things you can add to the docket; although, none of it is totally permanent. Joanna suggests professional microneedling, LED, or potential laser treatments “if your skin is the right candidate.” And Dr. Anolik notes that “microdroplets of Botox—roughly 15 to 20 units...minimize their appearance. This is repeated roughly every three to four months.” Turns out the road to a smooth neck, like George R.R. Martin’s writing speed, is long, arduous, and may never come to a satisfying resolution. Still, it's not not worth trying for. In my case, I think I'd need to sleep in a neck brace to get the lines to go away completely (an investment I'm not going to make). But lines or no lines, it's good idea to remember your neck now and then.
Still feel bad about your neck? Don't. Read this instead.