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Today I thought I’d share with you an embarrassing moment in my life. It was actually a turning point which made me rethink everything I believed about skincare until that moment and take action for the years to come.
About this time of year, two years ago, I was with my two best friends at our favorite restaurant, enjoying a glass of wine and numbering all the reasons why life is so much better than it had been in our 20s. We lifted our glasses to say a huge ‘cheers’ to our new midlife maturity and confidence and decided to take a selfie of ourselves, wine glass in hand and a cheeky grin on our faces. And then we all lent in over my friend’s phone to see how the photo turned out.
And there it was. Staring at me. I couldn’t help notice it.
Where my tight, youthful jawline used to be, now all I could see was a slab of double chin and saggy, loose neck skin.
I looked like a turkey! 🦃 😱
I pulled my eyes away from the phone and glanced down at my chest. And the picture was even more distressing. When had all those vertical lines appeared? I couldn’t remember because I never used to really look at my neck and chest up close in the mirror.
And what about all those fine lines and wrinkles in the most sacred of all skin temples? My cleavage?
I berated myself for leaving the house with a low cut blouse on, wondering where I had packed away all my turtle neck sweaters from winter. Or can you wear scarves in summer?
While I was stressing over how to disguise a turkey neck, my friends were staring at me, fanning the restaurant menu in my face to stop me from fainting. Surely they had the same problem? I couldn’t be the one who looked the oldest out of all of my friends.
I took a big sip of my wine. How had this happened? Why did my neck have so many wrinkles?😫 😫 What even causes a saggy neck?
Just like the example above, many women in their 40s, 50s and 60s will at some moment suddenly realize that the skin on their neck and chest is aging faster than the skin on their face. In the quest to find the quickest and best solution, they may try a number of creams, devices, or expensive treatments with less than stellar results. But to define what’s the best treatment for you, you must first understand what causes neck wrinkles and a saggy neck.
The neck and chest area are not only affected by general skin aging, but also caused by factors specific to this much neglected part of the body. To understand why your neck is aging so fast, we must first understand what causes general skin aging.
Aging: As we age, our skin’s ability to regenerate and repair itself slows down significantly, leading to the loss of smoothness and elasticity. There are two important proteins that contribute to the appearance of our skin: collagen and elastin. Collagen contributes to the appearance of smoothness in our skin, while elastin contributes to our skin’s ability to “bounce back” after being stretched or pinched. Collagen and elastin break down as our skin ages, leading to inelasticity, sagging, and a bumpy, crepey texture. The process usually starts in our 40s, though some women see signs of crepey skin as late as their 50s or 60s.
Lack of moisture: Our skin naturally produces oils, which help lock in moisture and keep our skin looking smooth and supple. While the amount of oil our skin produces differs from person to person, as we age, our skin tends to produce less oil. The less oil we produce, the less capable our skin is of retaining moisture. This can lead to dry skin, wrinkles, and crepiness.
Genetics: You can’t talk about any beauty-related topic without touching on genetics. Our genetics hardwire us from birth, making us more susceptible to certain issues and ailments. And better suited to fight against others. Genetics affect our skin in several ways. First, women with more melanin in their skin (the pigment which gives skin its color) are less likely to develop crepey skin because the melanin acts as a protectant. Fair skinned women are therefore more likely to struggle with a crepey appearance on their necks, chests, arms, stomachs, hands, and legs. Our genetics also affect how quickly our skin can repair itself. Great skin genetics can give you more years or decades with smooth, firm skin before your collagen and elastin begin to break down.
Sun Exposure: Ah, the sun. So easy to love, yet so universally damaging to our skin. It makes sense that sun exposure is a leading cause of aging skin. After all, the neck and decolletage - are exposed while sunbathing. Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from spending time outdoors (or from the use of tanning beds) damages the support structures of the skin, including collagen and elastic fibers. Collagen can repair itself somewhat over time, but elastin (the elastic fibers that allow your skin to stretch and “bounce back”) cannot.
Environmental and Lifestyle Causes: Environmental factors, like pollution and the presence of free radicals in the air, can speed up the effects of aging on the skin. Lifestyle factors like smoking and excessive drinking can also have a negative effect on the skin and increase the prevalence of crepey, saggy skin, as well as dry skin, wrinkles, discoloration, and dark spots. Another less frequent cause of saggy neck skin is rapid weight loss. This usually happens because the skin can’t “bounce back” as quickly as the weight loss is happening.
Have you ever heard the saying, you can tell the true age of a woman by looking at her neck? You can test the verity of this statement by just looking in the mirror. Compared to the neck, the face shows only a few signs of aging, mainly lines and wrinkles, perhaps some sagging, and maybe a few sun spots.
However, the neck and décolletage area is susceptible to a much longer list of aging signs, such as turkey neck, crepey neck, (not so) fine lines and wrinkles, horizontal lines, vertical lines, tech neck, sunspots, and double chin.
(link to 6 Signs of an Aging Neck)
So why does the neck show more signs of aging than the face?
The neck and chest are the most neglected parts of the body.
If you’re like most women, you started using anti-aging creams on your face in your 20s or 30s but only started thinking about your neck in your 40s or 50s. This is because, in part, most skincare advertising is made by anti-aging wrinkle creams for the face or even the eyes. The neck and décolletage have been long neglected by the skincare industry.
You probably always apply sun cream on your face but seldom apply it on your neck and chest. Perhaps you use a face moisturizer with SPF, but it’s too precious to slather it on below your chin, leaving the large areas on the neck and chest highly exposed to damaging sun rays.
And maybe you apply your face cream also on your neck. Let’s face it, it’s more convenient to rub your face cream all the way down to your cleavage. Or, even worse, your skincare stops at your chin, leaving your neck and chest skin with no help to protect and repair itself.
Well, you’re not alone. In fact, in a recent study, two-thirds of women surveyed declared they don’t use a neck cream what-so-ever.
There are 5 good reasons why you should take good care of the skin on your neck too. This is because the skin on your neck is not the same as the skin on your face.
And here’s why:
• It’s drier. Your neck has significantly fewer sebaceous (oil) glands and, as you age, your neck starts to receive less natural moisturizing than your face. The less oil the skin produces, the drier it becomes, resulting in the appearance of more wrinkles and more horizontal and vertical lines.
• It’s thinner. Your neck skin contains less cells responsible for producing collagen, making it much harder to keep it from wrinkling. Furthermore, lines, wrinkles and sagging is more visible on thinner skin.
• It’s less supported. Because your neck is muscularly weaker than your face, it gets less support from within, causing it to sag further.
• It’s more neglected. Not in your skincare routine or getting its daily dose of SPF, your neck skin is more prone to environmental effects like sun damage, smoke, and air quality.
• It’s more susceptible to diet and weight loss. Given all of the above, your neck skin is the first to show signs of gravity as face fat tends to fall below the jawline. And, on the contrary, a quick loss of weight will result in saggy, loose neck skin because of the absence of elasticity and the ability to quickly tighten up.
These 5 compelling reasons lead us to the conclusion that the neck and chest skin must be considered in your overall skincare routine and, furthermore, must be treated differently to the skin of your face.
So if your neck and chest skin needs special treatment to reduce the 6 signs of neck aging and help it stay younger-looking, what can you do about it?
The best way to give your neck back its youthful appearance is to use an anti-aging cream that is specifically formulated for the neck.
Yes! If you’re looking to make a visible improvement in the appearance of your neck, adding a Neck Cream to your daily skincare routine will bring you fantastic results. In fact, a 2015 study* showed that using a neck cream twice a day improved the neck’s appearance in 94 percent of the participants. It’s no wonder that there has been a recent boom in the number of new neck creams on the market.
But not all neck firming creams are created equal so make sure you do your research and find one with high-quality, anti-aging ingredients that are proven to tighten up your turkey neck, smooth out crepey neck, and minimize horizontal and vertical lines and wrinkles.
When reviewing product alternatives, remember two things. First, you need a neck care product that intensely hydrates the skin to replace lost oils and, second, also strengthens the skin’s structure by boosting collagen and elastic production.
Watch out for brands that overpromise. A cheap product contains cheap ingredients that will not deliver the results they promised.
Here's my exclusive list of tips on "How to Choose the Best Neck Firming Cream" from when I worked at Olay!
Your neck has been neglected for too long. It’s time to give it the TLC it deserves. It’s time for you to feel good about your selfies. It’s time for you to step into the best version of you so that you can make every day the best day of your life!!! 💪 💪 💪
P.S.- Thanks for reading and feel free to reach out to me on Instagram @exhilarance.skincare!
* Source: Assessment of a Comprehensive Anti-Aging Neck Cream, National Library of Medicine, Pubmed.gov.