No matter how youthful your face looks, if you’ve got a saggy neck, the jig is effectively up. Before you resign yourself to a life of turtlenecks and scarves, however, consider this: With the following dermatologist-backed tips, you’ll have the know-how to prevent future sagging and wrinkles, and undo some damage you may already have.
Pop a collagen supplement.
Sarah Tonks, a UK-based doctor who specializes in anti-aging, recommends taking collagen supplements containing hyaluronic acid, a compound that helps the skin absorb more water and appear plumper in the process. Women who took a 2.5 g collagen supplement once a day for 8 weeks saw a 20% reduction in wrinkle depth around their eyes, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Collagen Research Institute in Kiel, Germany. And it’s likely good news for the skin on your neck (and everywhere else, for that matter) too: After the 8-week trial period, the participants’ levels of procollagen, a precursor to collagen, were elevated by 65%. Translation: the more collagen you have to support your skin cells, the tauter your skin will appear over time—the defining feature of a youthful neck. Try Reserveage Organics Collagen Booster with Hyaluronic Acid & Resveratrol.
Sweat it out.
Exercise can actually help reverse aging, says new research from McMaster University in Canada. Scientists studied samples of skin from formerly sedentary people before and after three months of twice-weekly, moderate-intensity exercise. The new fitness regime knocked years off the subjects’ appearance, with the post-exercise samples showing the dermis—the layer of skin immediately beneath the surface—to be thicker and more elastic, both characteristics of much younger skin samples. And, unlike pricey facial treatments, the rejuvenating effect works to reverse aging on the skin below the chin, too.
Wear your vitamin C.
Don’t just swallow it—slather it on, too. When paired with an SPF moisturizer, studies show the antioxidant vitamin effectively doubles the sunblock’s protective rating (read: less skin-loosening sun damage) and promotes skin cell renewal. Researchers believe this is because vitamin C boosts the body’s natural defense against UVA-induced free radicals. Beatriz Molina, a dermatologist and founder of the Medikas skin clinic in the UK, recommends starting your daily neck regime with a serum containing L-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C that’s easily absorbed by the skin and stimulates collagen production for a firmer, more elastic neck. Try Zenmed L-Ascorbic booster Serum.
Eat omegas at night.
Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids are an essential tool in the body’s natural production of collagen. And the best time to load up on them is in the evening. “While you catch up on sleep, your body is hard at work reconstructing cell membranes so your skin, including the always-exposed skin at your neck, can recover from any chemical or physical damage,” says Molina. “If you eat your omegas after 6 pm, they’re unlikely to be broken down into fuel for other bodily functions by the time you go to bed, so your body can use them to repair your skin.” Try dressing salads or sandwiches in flaxseed oil for a dose of fatty acids, and make omega-3 rich foods like cold-water fish or avocados a daily staple.
Ward off sun damage.
“Your skin is exposed to a variety of environmental attackers on a daily basis, but UVA/UVB radiation from the sun is the biggest contributor to free radical damage,” says Anita Sturnham, founder of the Nuriss clinic in the UK.
“This is irreversible damage that accelerates aging, and it’s particularly prevalent on the neck since it’s almost always exposed to the sun.” Before you head out the door, smooth on a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher that lists zinc and titanium among the ingredients—they physically shield your skin from both UVA and UVB rays, Sturnham explains.
Supercharge your skin while you sleep.
Now that you’ve exfoliated, your skin can easily absorb the ultimate anti-aging neck ingredient: retinol. “It helps unclog pores, boost collagen, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, speed up cell turnover, and reduce uneven pigmentation,” Sturnham says. However, retinol reacts to sunlight and can weaken your defenses against collagen-damaging UVA/UVB rays if worn during the day. Instead, apply a retinol-rich treatment and follow up with a skin-plumping cream on your neck every night before bed.