Before you know it you’ve spent 20 minutes doing sort of nothing on your phone. Maybe checking emails, reading the news and browsing social media. My phone is usually within arm’s reach, which seems to me fairly typical of everyone, old and young. And according to research people generally spend an average of three hours and 15 minutes on their phones every day, with the top 20% of smartphone users spending upwards of four and a half hours! Amazing we can fit it in to our busy days. Interestingly, the average person owns 3 of these devices but have you considered that your trusty smart phone or tablet could actually be causing premature ageing?
This week I had a visit from my beautiful 40-something cousin and it was during her treatment that really got me thinking about how our phones could be linked to wrinkles.
She is a naturally pretty and glowing girl with not a line on her face (which of course I attribute to my facial work). You know the type of person I mean: great personality, funny and a super mum as well (I’m writing this with slightly gritted teeth). I have to admit I think she’s pretty perfect but I did notice that, as she had her head bent down looking at her phone, some lines that were not consistent with the ageing on her face were forming on her neck. Well, after a little research it turns out that constantly bending your neck to stare down at the screen can indeed cause premature ageing known as ‘tech neck’. This is actually a new ageing term which has even been trademarked by one of the big beauty brands.
So our phones are not only causing eye strain, stress and even addiction but dermatologists are reporting that these devices are ageing us too with the so called tech neck seen in many patients.
The problem of wrinkles and sagging of the jowls and neck used to be a problem for us middle aged ladies but in the last 10 years, because of 'tech neck’, it has become a problem for a generation of younger women. The skin on our neck is particularly delicate and is constantly fighting against gravity as we move our heads around in daily life. The result of this is often the loss of volume in the underlying tissues. Genetics, sun exposure, excessive smoking and drinking, weight fluctuations, and even hormonal changes can all play a role in the change of texture in the delicate neck skin.
But just like repeatedly squinting and frowning can cause lines on your face, the persistent motion of your neck bending downward puts tension on the neck muscle. This, in turn, creates a dynamic wrinkle, a line that appears in response to movement (crow's feet that only crop up when you smile are a classic example). Over time, that dynamic wrinkle can eventually turn into a static wrinkle. That is a wrinkle which is always there.
There are two types of neck wrinkles — horizontal and vertical. Vertical neck creases are usually caused by sleeping in certain positions for a long period of time and are mostly genetic, while horizontal creases usually occur from a myriad of factors including loss of collagen production, sun and environmental damage, and keeping the neck flexed forwards for long periods of time, for example, while looking at your phone furiously scrolling on your favourite App.
So now we know that too much time staring at the screen can lead to some seriously wrinkly skin below the chin, what can we do? Great skincare is something you can do at home including active serums and rich moisturisers whilst salon treatments such as Radio Frequency and Microcurrent facials can strengthen and lift the skin offering a certain level of repair. Above all, try to minimise the amount of time you're looking down at your phone. I’m willing to bet it will help not only your tech neck, but your burned-out tech brain too.