All right, I admit it. When I’m not pulling my jowls up in the mirror (just to see), I’m checking out clinics online. For a woman who’s a Botox-free zone, surgery would be going to the dark side. But lately, I’m neck-obsessed. Wattles? Tick. Lines and crinkles? Double tick. Now it’s time to swap polos for boat necks, there’s no hiding it – the neck goes first!
Should I blame ‘tech neck’ – the early creasing syndrome caused by chinning down on my laptop – currently debated by dermatologists? True, constant mobility puts a strain on the neck’s thin skin. But a deficit of plumpness post-menopause, illness or, sadly, weight loss, shows up signs of ageing more. Aided by sagging skin, the platysmal bands (those vertical, rope-like muscles) protrude in a turkey-like fashion and that stubborn little fat pad under the jaw begins to look like a second chin.
I’ll have to wait a few more years to see if the ‘fat jab’ – which has just ended trials in the US – gets a UK licence. Meanwhile, what to do with all these crinkles? Ladling on the cream won’t always help, warns Dr Gregory Bays Brown, US plastic surgeon and founder of RéVive skincare. ‘Neck skin is thin, has fewer sebaceous and sweat glands, and can be sensitive,’ he tells me. ‘If a cream is too rich, in time irritation shows up as redness in the crease lines.’ Lighter, quickly absorbed creams or serums are best for comfort, he advises.
Speaking of redness, ‘Necks flush easily because the thin skin shows up any increase in blood flow,’ Sally Penford, education manager at the International Dermal Institute and Dermalogica reminds me. She recommends keeping cooling Dermalogica UltraCalming Mist (1) £28.60 (dermalogica.co.uk, 01372 363600) in my bag to quell prickly, hot-under-the-collar episodes. And wearing a broad spectrum (UVA/B) sunscreen helps protect against redness and rough skin.
I love creams and potions – they make me feel better. But I know they can’t ultimately defy gravity. So I’m intrigued by soluble thread lifts, the latest superficial procedures that subtly lift both neck and face, with minimal ‘ouch’ and bruising. Ultra-fine bands of polydioxanone (the stuff surgical stitches are made from) are threaded just under the skin’s surface for an instant lift. As the skin absorbs them over four to six months, they stimulate collagen production for a plumping, jaw-defining effect that can last around 18 months. Best of all, results are natural, as soap actress Gillian Taylforth, the 59-year-old ‘face’ of Silhouette Soft (020 7467 6920) can testify. Check her ‘before and afters’ at silhouette-soft.com. Am I tempted? Hmm. At an average £1,500 per treatment, right now a Saga cruise would give more of a lift. Meanwhile, chin up and pass the jars…
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Best skincare creams for the neck
Olay Regenerist 3 Point Super Firming Serum, approx £30 (Boots). Peptides and Lys’lastine V (dill seed extract) ease lines and boost elasticity. A smoothing, firming friend.
Indeed Laboratories hydraluron moisture jelly, approx £25 (Boots). Hyaluronic acid soothes, plumps and hydrates. Necks simply look less scrawny.
Dermalogica Redness Relief Primer, SPF20, approx £40 (fragrancedirect). Sheer, green-tinted cream with a calming plant complex neutralises redness and balances skin tone. UV filter helps prevent sun reactions. A great all-round flush buster.
RéVive Fermitif Neck Renewal Cream, SPF15 approx £105 (Space NK). Smart proteins boost cell renewal, improving texture, while wheat protein and barley extracts firm skin. Light-textured and hard-working.