The signs of aging start with the skin, particularly of the face and neck area, though it's the neck that can truly indicate a person's age. While there are plenty of anti-aging skin care products for the face, few people remember to care for the skin of the neck with those same products. The skin weakens with age, and the skin of the neck thins, becomes visibly loose, and accumulates wrinkles. Aside from the natural aging process and hereditary factors, there are other factors that intensify the appearance of wrinkles in the neck.
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As we age, the skin's loses its thickness, firmness and elasticity. Collagen and elastin are two proteins that are essential to the skin's architecture and appearance. The production of these proteins decreases, and sustainability of these proteins weakens with age. This causes the skin to thin and become more sensitive to damaging environmental influences. Not only does skin discoloration become more visible (usually caused by sun damage), but at places where the once-plump skin is accustomed to moving and folding, wrinkles develop. The wrinkles deepen with age as the skin weakens further. The thinner skin becomes looser around the muscle tissue, which makes it sag.
Neck Skin vs. Facial Skin
Many people wonder why the neck seems to suffer more in the skin's aging process than the skin of the face. The neck contains thinner skin, which is therefore more sensitive to sun damage and other environmental factors that negatively impact the skin. This is especially true in cases where the products and treatments used to care for the facial skin are not used on the neck as well, leaving it a "forgotten" zone neglected by a lack of proper skin care. Lines and wrinkles can form more easily on the thin skin of the neck. The muscles and skin tissue supporting the neck area are also weaker than that of the face. This weakness makes the neck skin more vulnerable to gravity with age.
Excessive sun exposure doesn't just cause sun and age spots, but it causes textural and internal damage to the skin as well. The neck is an easy spot to miss when it comes to sunscreen application. "Photoaging" is how dermatologists describe harmful sun effects on the skin. UV rays are able to penetrate deeply, especially without proper protection, and cause a lot of harm that in some cases does not materialize for years. UV exposure expedites the natural aging process by dehydrating the skin and causing it to thin and lose its elasticity. The more quickly this occurs, the more quickly wrinkles develop. Blotchiness and leather-like skin are also results of sun exposure.
Smoking and Drinking
Smoking accelerates the aging process of the skin. It causes premature aging, which brings on wrinkle formation earlier than the natural aging process and deepens existing wrinkles. Smoking adds to this bad effect with its other effect on skin hydration. It dehydrates the skin as well, which slows down normal cell processes that keep the skin healthy. Like smoking, alcohol also starves the skin of the nutrients and oxygen supply that it requires, since alcohol narrows the blood vessels. Both smoking and alcohol inhibit the supply of vitamin A to the skin, which thereby prevents the skin from shedding old skin cells and generating new ones. Both habits dramatically damage the skin's elasticity and collagen production, which yields thin, wrinkled skin, especially in the neck area.
Gravity pulls on our bodies more and more as we age, and as it pulls down the skin, it affects the skin's elasticity. This is especially true after the age of 50. Gravity has a huge impact on the aging neck, where the skin seems to become looser and sag faster than any other place on the body. This loose, saggy skin has no support or elasticity, and therefore exhibits wrinkles more easily than on the face.
Treatment for Neck Wrinkles
There are plenty of cosmetic products and procedures that can treat neck wrinkles. Anti-aging creams with alpha-hydroxy acids can help rejuvenate the appearance of skin on the neck and supply antioxidants to protect the skin. Laser therapy can be used to treat neck wrinkles, as can some dermal fillers, such as Restylane or Juvederm, which are injected into the skin to yield a "plumping" effect that smooths out folds and creases. Face-lifts are also an option, though these surgical procedures can be traumatic and risky. Face-lifts are ideal for elderly people with loose and excessive neck skin.
Remember to pay just as much attention to your neck in your skin care regimen as you do your face. This includes cleansing, moisturizing and exfoliating. Apply an anti-aging night cream to the neck at night. Avoid excessive sun exposure and apply sunscreen to the neck area. Be very careful about using indoor tanning services, which are not recommended if the goal is to combat the signs of aging. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep the skin hydrated, and incorporate plenty of healthy vitamins into your diet, as vitamins play a key role in keeping the skin looking its best.