I'm 28, But My Neck Looks Way Older: I Asked 2 Derms What to Do About It

I'm 28 years old and about to turn 29. I've always been well aware that time brings some less-than-ideal skin changes along with it (it's the price we pay for the privilege of aging!), but I was still somehow surprised when I spotted signs of aging on my own skin. One day, I looked in the mirror and noticed an accumulation of sun damage, as well as lines and wrinkles forming. I was struck by the realization that maybe my skin wasn't "bouncing back" like it used to.

That was especially true for the skin on my neck. While I had never given my neck a second thought when I was younger, I was suddenly focusing on it all the time because of the newly entrenched horizontal lines that appeared somewhere around my 25th birthday. This so-called "tech neck" results from a forward, tilted head position that's usually brought about by constantly looking down at phone and computer screens. For me, this checks out. I have a job that requires a lot of screen time, and I'm not immune to the temptation of TikTok doom-scrolling. Pair that with sun damage, and my neck looks way older than it should.

Listen, I'm not claiming I'm old; I'm still in my twenties for Pete's sake. But that doesn't mean I can't do something about the state of my skin, and hopefully, reverse the clock a bit. That's why I decided to reach out to two dermatologists to ask for the ultimate anti-aging neck skincare routine. I needed to know what at-home products to use, which professional treatments could help, and so on.

neck skincare

(Image credit: @kaitlyn_mclintock)

Here's a makeup-free and filter-free photo to show what I'm working with. My main concern is the deep line that spans my neck from jawbone to jawbone.

beauty editor's neck lines

(Image credit: @kaitlyn_mclintock)

Here's a front-facing view. I have three different neck lines, which is not ideal.

Step 1: Use an SPF Moisturizer Every. Single. Morning

This one didn't surprise me, because I know moisture and sunscreen are both critical for soft, plump, and youthful-looking skin. Still, it's a good reminder that it's necessary every single day, rain or shine, even when I'm feeling lazy and spending all day watching Netflix on my couch. Take it from Brendan Camp, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology. "As we age, our bodies make less collagen and elastin, which are structural proteins in the dermis that provide structure and rigidity. The sun contributes to the aging process by accelerating the degradation of these proteins."

The sun—more specifically, the UV rays that come from it—contribute to all signs of aging, including the ones Camp sees more often in his dermatological practice. The first is that aforementioned tech neck. "'Tech neck' refers to horizontal lines that are accentuated when we tilt our heads down while looking at our phones," he says. The second is skin laxity, also known as sagging. This is "a result of aging and sun damage and is a concern for some patients." And yes, a simple SPF moisturizer can treat and prevent both.

Step 2: Apply a Retinol Serum a Few Nights Per Week

Retinol can turn back time on your neck just like it can on your face. "Retinol serums or moisturizers, when used regularly over time, are known to improve collagen production," Camp says. "Remember to gradually ease into the use of retinol because it can cause side effects like redness, dryness, and itching, especially on the delicate skin of the neck."

According to board-certified dermatologist at Westlake Dermatology, Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD, the skin on the neck is different than the skin on other areas of the body. "The skin on the neck is more delicate than the skin on the face and should be treated more gently. It is more prone to irritation and takes longer to heal after injury due to a lower number of follicles and stem cell reserves."

Camp agrees, saying, "Neck skin is often not as tolerant of facial skin to topical treatments, like retinol. Part of the reason is because there is a lower density of sebaceous glands on the neck."

Step 3: Use a Targeted Neck Serum With Peptides on the Other Nights

While retinol is great for so many things, including minimizing the appearance of lines and wrinkles, peptides play the long game to firm skin over time. Translation? They help prevent sagging or lax skin, which is a huge component of neck aging. "Peptides are skincare ingredients that act as building blocks of proteins, improving levels of collagen and elastin," Camp says.

Step 4: Try Professional Treatments

If topical skincare isn't enough, the good news is that there are a multitude of in-office treatments I can turn to to reverse-age my neck. Camp recommends microneedling and Botox and/or filler. "Microneedling is an in-office treatment that creates small superficial injuries in the skin, which in turn stimulates collagen production," he explains. "This stimulates the production of new collagen to tighten and firm neck skin."

As for Botox and filler, they work in different ways to encourage a more youthful-looking appearance. Hyaluronic acid filler can be injected into the area to soften the appearance of lines specifically. Neurotoxin injections, like Botox "can minimize the appearance of platysmal bands, which often become more pronounced with age," Camp says. "The platysma is a thin, sheet-like muscle on the anterior neck. By limiting the ability of the platysma to contract, the bands become less pronounced."

As for Geddes-Bruce, she recommends a multitude of professional treatments depending on specific cases and goals. "There are so many different in-office treatments to address these concerns. My favorites are Ultherapy, Genius Radiofrequency Microneedling, and Fraxel non-ablative resurfacing, sometimes augmented with biostimulatory fillers like Sculptra or hyperdilute Radiesse."

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Kaitlyn McLintock
Associate Beauty Editor

Kaitlyn McLintock is an Associate Beauty Editor at Who What Wear. Although she covers a wide range of topics across a variety of categories, she specializes in celebrity interviews and skincare and wellness content. Having lived in Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, she recently relocated back to her home state of Michigan where she works remotely. Prior to Who What Wear, she freelanced for a variety of industry-leading digital publications, including InStyle, The Zoe Report, Bustle, Hello Giggles, and Coveteur. Before that, she held a long-term internship and subsequent contributor position at Byrdie. When she's not writing, researching, or testing the latest and greatest beauty products, she's working her way through an ever-growing book collection, swimming in the Great Lakes, or spending time with family.