If you’re like most of us, you’re spending more and more time each day — about four hours, according to a recent study — hunched over your smartphone, tablet or computer. You may also have the telltale signs of Tech Neck: pain, discomfort and poor posture. (You know the look: rounded back, shoulders caving inward, head pitched forward at an unnatural angle.) But you may not realize that your extensive screen time is also having a seriously aging effect on your neck.
Neck skin is thinner than the skin on your face, with fewer sebaceous glands and less collagen, so it’s naturally more prone to wrinkles and sagging. Though sun exposure is the primary cause of aging neck skin, repeatedly tilting your head down to stare at a screen can speed up the process by exacerbating the development of horizontal lines, says Rodan + Fields product-expert-in-residence Mary Radford, RN.
So what can you do about this extra-unfortunate side effect of tech use? Here are some tips:
Put down your phone
Giving it up completely is unlikely, but try dialing it back a bit. Many devices now track your usage so you can tell exactly how much screen time you’re racking up and can adjust accordingly. Take frequent breaks from your screen(s), and exercise regularly. Gentle stretches for your back, neck and shoulders will help, too.
Pay attention to posture
Instead of gazing down at your phone or tablet, bring it up to your face. Invest in a stand that elevates your computer to a height that keeps your head above your shoulders and your chin parallel to the ground. You can also practice good posture at your desk by placing a tennis ball between your shoulder blades and sitting back into your chair. If the ball rolls down, you’re slumping, which suggests your head is dropping and your neck is wrinkling, too.
Don’t neglect your neck
People tend to pamper their face but stop at the chin. Mary recommends using the Rodan + Fields REDEFINE Regimen to minimize the appearance of fine lines, visible pores and loss of firmness on your neck (as well as your face), and layering in Rodan + Fields ENHANCEMENTS Active Hydration Serum for extra hydration. She’d combine that with the Rodan + Fields AMP MD Derma-Roller; its micro-exfoliating tips help enhance the penetration and effectiveness of your skincare Regimen and will leave the skin on your neck visibly firmer over time. “Start slowly,” she cautions. “One or two rolls, once or twice a week — since the neck area can be extra-sensitive.”
Slather on the SPF
You’ve heard it before: Sunscreen is a critical step in any skincare routine, and that goes for the skin on your neck, too. Mary recommends applying sunscreen every morning before leaving home and re-applying it every two hours if you’re outdoors, swimming or sweating.