What are those annoying rings around my neck and how do I get rid of them?

Anyone else starting to notice those annoying lines/rings around their neck? Yeah? Cool. So, what's going on with that? When the heck did this happen?

You may have heard the buzz around 'tech neck' and the theory that these lines are the result of us looking down at our phones for 567 hours a day - but is this actually true? Or are there some other important factors at play? 

Watch: Here are seven easy ways to improve your skin while sleeping. Post continues below. 

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To get the lowdown on why we're getting these neck lines and what we can do about it, we spoke to a dermatologist and asked for her advice.

What's causing those lines around my neck?

"The main causes of horizontal neck wrinkles are loss of our skin’s important dermal plumping fibres such as collagen, elastin, and glycosaminoglycans," said dermatologist Dr Katherine Armour from Bespoke Skin Technology.

Damn. What's causing us to lose our beloved plumping fibres, then? Just ageing in general?

"This is caused by both intrinsic ageing, in which we gradually lose these plumping fibres over time, and extrinsic ageing where collagen is damaged by exposure to environmental stressors such as UV light and pollution. Ultraviolet light is the main culprit," said Dr Armour.

So, how much of it can we actually blame on our phones?

We thought it was all to do with us always being on our phones and stuff? What about the whole 'tech neck' thingo?

"In recent years, the term 'tech neck' has been bandied around. This refers to horizontal neck lines forming on the neck from having our heads tilted for long periods whilst using devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets," said Dr Armour.

So, is it a legit thing we should be worried about?

"This has been an age-old problem but has most likely worsened in recent years due to increased screen-time both within and outside workhours," said Dr Cara McDonald from Complete Skin Specialists. "More likely though, people are just noticing them more now, because we are doing more video-conferencing and also spend too long looking at ourselves!"

*Laughs nervously*

"There aren’t any studies quantifying this. But, I think our technology habits would have a relatively minor contribution," adds Dr Armour.


Oh! Okay. Well, what *should* be our main concern?

"Sun exposure in Australia is likely to play a much larger role in the development of horizontal neck lines. We often forget to apply sunscreen to our neck and decolletage, even if we are religious about sun protection on our faces," said Dr Armour. 

Ahh. Of course. That old chestnut.

"So, the neck area often takes a beating from the sun, which is often evident in the patients dermatologists see," she adds.

What skincare products will help?

The solution? According to both experts, the number one thing you can do to prevent and minimise the appearance of neck lines is to... you guessed it... up your sunscreen application. 

We all know we need to slather that stuff on our faces every day, but are you remembering your poor ol' neck? Didn't think so.

Turns out the old "your face stops at your boobs" is in fact very true.

According to both Dr Armour and Dr McDonald, we should be applying a broad-spectrum UVA and UVB blocking sunscreen daily, and reapplying it every two hours (whenever possible) on our face and ALL THE WAY down our neck and chest. 

Every single day? We hear you ask. Well, there's one day we'll allow you to skip it... Listen to Mamamia's podcast for your face, You Beauty, where we talk about why your wedding day is the one day you shouldn't wear sunscreen. Post continues below.

Other than this, Dr McDonald said applying cosmeceutical skincare ingredients will help to stimulate new collagen production. 

"All anti-ageing skincare which aims to prevent collagen breakdown or repair pre-existing damage will help improve skin integrity and reduce wrinkling to some degree."

We're talking ingredients like retinol, niacinamide, vitamin C and alpha and polyhydroxy acids - yep, they're all beneficial.

As always though, be mindful before going to town on your skin with ALL the acids. They're powerful ingredients and can be really shitty if you use them wrong (read: redness, irritation and friends). 

"Remember that the skin on our neck is often more delicate than that on our face, so care is needed when introducing ingredients which can potentially be irritating," said Dr Armour. 

Reaching for something with niacinamide is a good place to start. "Niacinamide is a very soothing ingredient and is well-tolerated. If you have sensitive skin, I’d suggest niacinamide and gluconalactone (a polyhydroxy acid), which is better tolerated than AHAs," said Dr Armour.

She also suggested only adding one ingredient at a time and avoiding using retinoids and AHAs together on the same day. Once your skin tolerates all these other ingredients, only then should you introduce vitamin C into the game.


Another big tip that might confuse you/hurt your soul, is to avoid spraying fragrance on your neck - because it can really amp up those lines. 


"Fragrance plus sun exposure can lead to skin changes on the neck called Poikiloderma of Civatte," said Dr Armour. 

Erm... sounds like something we don't want, yes? Apparently this skin condition is a whole separate thing to wrinkles and causes redness, hyperpigmentation, and thinning of the skin. Eek! And here we were just wanting to smell nice :(

To avoid these changes, Dr Armour said "Spray your favourite fragrance on a body site where it will be covered by your clothing."

Alright, alright. No more spraying perfume on our neck.

What else can we do?

You know that massive OTT summer hat you bought and never really use? You should totally use it. 

"Broad-brimmed hats and scarves offer great sun protection for the neck, whilst caps leave the sides of the cheeks and our necks exposed," said Dr Armour.

Aside from upping your sun protection, try directing your gaze upward every once in a while (clouds! Trees! People!) and giving the ol' crane neck a rest for a bit.

"It makes sense to position your device so that your neck can remain in a neutral position. This will alleviate any strain on our neck muscles, but also stop us flexing our neck to prevent any possible contribution from 'tech neck' in causing horizontal neck lines," said Dr Armour.

And 'tech neck isn't the only thing you should be worried about if you're constantly looking down at your phone. Dr McDonald suggested, "Focus on extension exercises for the neck to avoid tech neck as well as musculoskeletal neck problems down the track!"

I'm *really* sick of these lines and just want them gone. What are my options?

If you're looking for something with more immediate effects to deal with deep lines on your neck, there are some non-surgical procedures that might work for you.

Injectables (like hyaluronic acid fillers) will provide instant results and can usually last up to a year. "The most effective ones would be muscle-relaxant injections which weaken the muscle and stop the lines folding as deeply. Dermal fillers can be used to re-fill the lines and add support the skin structure," said Dr McDonald. 

If injectables aren't for you, don't worry - there are a heap of other options. "Energy based devices can deliver micro-zones or thermal injury which stimulates new collagen production during the repair phase. These include fractional and non-ablative lasers, high intensity focused ultrasound (HIFU) and radiofrequency, just to name a few," said Dr McDonald.

Want more info on cosmetic procedures and neck wrinkles? Head into a reputable clinic and discuss your options with an expert.

Feature image: Getty

Do you have lines around your neck? What are some of your go-to products to help get rid of them? Share your suggestions with us in the comment section below. 

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