Photo: Quentin Keller
November 11, 2017 â€” 10:40 AM
If the eyes are windows to the soul, the neck is the superhighway to the face. Seriously. It’s home to lymph nodes and major veins and arteries, which carry blood and lymph to and from the head. Close to the neck are our thyroid and thymus glands, both of which moderate hormones.
Tech neck or text neck is a relatively new phenomenon that nods to our digital addictionsâ€”always looking down at our devices, the neck is in a protracted position now more than ever. “Our posture is getting shittier,” said Britta Plug, aesthetician and holistic health coach, who has seen tech neck affect her New York City client base.
“As soon as the neck is routinely pulled out of alignment, the muscles start to take new shape. The skin will behave differently as a result of the underlying tension, and bunching will affect the flow of lymph and blood to the face.” In other words, yes, your Instagram habit is quite literally robbing your skin of radiance.
“The massage teachers I studied withâ€”in both Eastern and Western philosophiesâ€”say that you have to work the neck first in facial massage. We almost might as well not work the face if we’re forgoing the neck,” said Plug.
“I think all neck products are mostly marketing,” said Cybele Fishman, M.D. “Any good anti-aging product for the face will benefit the neck taking into account caveats about irritation.” So it’s safe to use face products on your neck, but Dr. Fishman recommends choosing products that are more gentle. When it comes to using a retinoid, “you need to decrease the strength of the retinoid,” she said. So if you use a 0.05 percent formula on your face, use a 0.025 percent on your neck, or decrease the frequency, for example.
Here are Dr. Fishman and Plug’s tips for a better neck:
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One super simple way to avoid tech neck is to become more aware of your habits. How often are you looking down with your chin tucked into your chest? You might try scrolling through Instagram with your phone out in front of your face instead of in your hands.
This doesnâ€™t need to take more than five minutes. Plug recommends stretching out the front of your neckâ€”the part that’s compressed thanks to tech neckâ€”to release the muscles there and allow for better blood and lymph flow, which will ultimately improve your skin. Look up to the ceiling slowly and move your jaw around. Then, after you’ve been in that position for a moment, pucker your lips. This movement draws the fascia and tissue upward, providing a huge release.
We’ve gotten so good about putting sunscreen on our faces, but don’t forget your neck. Especially if you drive most days, and donâ€™t forget the sides of the neck, Dr. Fishman warned. She also said age spots on the neck are more difficult to correct with lasers and other medical treatments, so prevention is critical.
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As mentioned above, Dr. Fishman said you can use facial products on your neck but decrease the frequency or intensity. The neck skin, like the skin around the eyes, is thinner and more sensitive. It might be a good idea to skip drying clay-based masks and acid-based products, she said. Plug recommends hydrating products as well, such as Manuka honey. If you’re experiencing acne on your neck Laurel Organics’ blemish serum and Odacite’s pimple serum are nondrying options.
“From what I’ve seen, any adult acne especially along the jawline is associated with stress,” Plug said, citing adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalance. If you notice that you’re breaking out on your neck, it might be a sign that your body is unbalanced and is worth talking to your doctor about.
Lindsay is the senior wellness and beauty editor at mindbodygreen. She’s a yoga teacher, podcast host, and enjoys almond milk lattes, breaking a sweat, abstract art, and writing about…