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Tech neck may sound like a cute moniker. But, in fact, it's a painful condition that repeatedly means you crane your head down and forward to stare at a screen - whether that's a laptop, smartphone or tablet.
These movements alone are thought to apply up to 50 pounds of extra pressure on bones and muscle only meant to carry the weight of your head (circa 12 pounds).
If that wasn't shocking enough, tech neck can create folds in the skin, making this the number-one area for early ageing.
"The changes to the neck (opens in new tab) and decolletage skin that we see as a result of looking own at a screen for a prolonged period include creases, folds, fine lines and wrinkles caused by laxity of muscular support and the cumulative effects of photodamage and gravity," explains Dr Angelica Kavouni (opens in new tab). "The subsequent sagging affects the ‘heart-shaped’ facial shape that is so widely associated with a youthful appearance."
And guess what? It's thought that not only do a quarter of women suffer from tech neck (opens in new tab), but we're checking our devices a staggering 13 times an hour, making these muscles even more stressed.
Of course, holding your phone up higher so you can see it at eye level is one answer. But extending your skincare routine (opens in new tab)below the chin will make a tangible difference to the texture and depth of these lines, too.
Treat your décolletage as you do your face
Dr Kavouni is a fan of radiofrequency treatments like Thermage FLX, a non-surgical skin-tightening treatment that uses energy waves to heat the deeper layers of skin to stimulate collagen production.
"It aims to tighten the lower face and neck, as well as tone and improve skin elasticity in the long term," she explains.
But the right skincare can make a significant different to the texture of the skin on the neck.
"The neck has fewer sebaceous glands (which secrete oil) and the skin has much less collagen so it's thinner and more fragile," says Cathy Kangas, CEO & Founder of PRAI Beauty (opens in new tab). "Your neck is also highly exposed to the elements such as the sun, so shows the signs of ageing faster than other parts of the body."
It’s good to use hyaluronic acid (opens in new tab) and shea butter, says Kangas. "When I formulated my Ageless Throat & Decolletage Creme (opens in new tab) I also included Sepilft DPHP, a plant-derived active, which helps to support the skin's collagen and elasticity."
How you apply your neck cream also makes a difference. "Always start from the bust up – blend it in upwards motions from the bust to the chin, without tugging the skin," recommends Kangas.
Prai Ageless Throat and Decolletage Cream, £18.74, Lookfantastic (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Prai Ageless Throat and Decolletage Cream, £18.74, Lookfantastic (opens in new tab)
Elemis Pro-Collagen Neck & Decolletage Balm, £53, Lookfantastic (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Elemis Pro-Collagen Neck & Decolletage Balm, £53, Lookfantastic (opens in new tab)
Invest in a red light therapy device at home
Although pricey, red and near-infrared light technology might be something else to consider.
Like a high-tech sheet mask for your neck and décolletage, The Light Salon Boost Advanced LED Light Therapy Decolletage Bib (opens in new tab) uses the lights "to encourage collagen production as well as improve blood flow and tissue oxygenation through a process called photobiomodulation," explains co-founder Laura Ferguson.
"This means your skin will have improved hydration levels and increased firmness. LED also helps to re-charge the ‘energy’ battery in the skin to repair and rejuvenate damaged cells. A cell that has been charged by light is able to perform 150-200% more efficiently."
All of which means more supple, youthful skin and beauty solutions that slip effortlessly into your existing routine.
The Light Salon Boost Advanced LED Light Therapy Decolletage Bib, £445, Net-A-Porter (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Fiona Embleton is a beauty writer who is now Acting Beauty Editor at Stylist. She is obsessed with Isabel Marant and cats.
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