Our love for our gadgets may not just be affecting our limited attention spans. Constantly looking down at your phone or tablet is storing up problems for one neglected part of our bodies – the neck/decolletage – resulting in 'tech neck'. The neck is an area that's often left out of the daily anti-ageing regimen, resulting in crepey, sagging and dehydrated skin. Because the neck skin is not attached to any bones, it's one of the first areas to display the natural progressive pull of gravity. And the blue light emitted by the screens of our computers or smartphones is also a factor in accelerating ageing around the neck area that has been revealed and strengthened by our highly connected lifestyles.
Tech neck is caused by looking down at a screen all day
"We may have a great facial regime but when it comes to the neck it often gets forgotten," Dr Murad, dermatologist and founder of Murad Skincare tells Cover Media. "As we age these already thin layers become even thinner. They are often areas more frequently exposed to environmental factors than other areas of the body which can affect how quickly they show visible signs of ageing."
Computers, smart phones and fluorescent lights are all 'digital pollutants' which emit high-energy visible (HEV) light and infrared (IR) light. In some studies, HEV and IR light have been shown to penetrate the skin more deeply than the traditionally marketed UVA, UVB and UVC rays.
"Blue light has a wavelength of 380-500 nm; making it one of the shortest, highest-energy wavelengths," explained Dr. Murad. "Visible Light penetrates skin more deeply than UVB and UVA and has been shown to generate more ROS (reactive oxygen species) than UVB and UVA combined."
How to repair the damage
Extend your skincare regime beyond your face to your neck, focusing on an anti-pollution based skincare, packed with pollution fighting ingredients such as Red Tea/Roobois, Ferulic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Retinol and Resveratrol. Exfoliating and cleansing removes dead polluted skin cells. And use an anti-pollution, anti-ageing or brightening serum which can help repair skin as it seals in moisture.
Use sunscreen on neck and chest
"You should always apply sunscreen to the neck area, even if your make-up contains an SPF," advised Dr. Murad. "Think of your make-up with sunscreens as an extra layer of protection, not the full shield. Moisturisers with SPFs are effective but you still have to be cognisant of the neck and decolletage areas."
Murad City Skin Age Defense SPF 50 is an upgraded level of SPF protection, which helps prevent tech neck by shielding the skin from the five main causes of damage that accelerate signs of ageing: Blue light, IR, UVA & UVB Rays and pollution.
Protect your neck
When choosing a neck cream, look for peptides, hydrating lightweight oils, and ingredients that offer brightening and DNA repair. Murad Rejuvenating Lift for Neck and Decollete promises to firm, and rejuvenate fragile skin to reduce signs of ageing. PRAI Beauty's Ageless Throat & Decolletage Creme contains Shea butter, hyaluronic acid, squalene and glycerin and acts like 'liquid lifting tape' to restore elasticity and firmness. Or try Skyn Iceland's Hydro Cool Firming Neck Gels, niacinamide-infused treatment gels that restore suppleness and softness to the neck area.
Practical steps you can take include placing your computer higher up on your desk and holding your phone up when texting or reading. Or maybe just put the phone down a bit more!
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