Is your mobile phone ruining your looks? It’s called ‘tech neck’ – sagging jowls caused by staring down at phones
- The rise of smartphones means we spend more time looking down
- It appears this is having a negative effect on the skin of our jawlines
- ‘Tech neck’ is becoming a problem with a generation of younger women
Like many women in their 50s, Noreen Sims feels she has to make that bit more of an effort these days if she’s going to be happy with her reflection.
The 54-year-old teaching assistant from Bristol spends several minutes every day and night massaging her face with moisturiser to plump up her skin.
She regularly gurns and grimaces as she does facial exercises to tone her muscles and keep lines at bay. She even sleeps on one pillow as opposed to two, having read it helps combat gravity’s effect on skin while she’s sleeping.
The amount of time we spend looking down at smart phones and tablets is having a sagging effect on jawlines, say skin experts, who have dubbed the condition ‘tech neck’ (Picture posed by model)
And for the most part, Noreen is perfectly happy with what she sees in the mirror.
But when she looks a few inches down, it’s a different matter.
‘Since turning 50, I’ve become very conscious about my neck and chest area,’ says Noreen, who is married to Mark, 55, and has three grown-up children.
‘It’s the one part of my appearance that worries me the most. At least if you are overweight you can diet, but there’s only so much you can do to banish a saggy jawline or wrinkly neck.’
Until recently, women didn’t seem to worry about a crepey neck or decolletage until they were well into their 60s. But thanks to the rise of the computer and smart phones, which means we spend more time than ever looking downwards as we tap away on our devices, gravity is taking effect on much younger women.
Noreen Sims, 54 (pictured), from Bristol, says she’s become ‘very conscious’ about her neck and chest area, following the rise of saggy jowls and ‘tech neck’ in younger women who spend hours looking at tablet screens
Dermatologists have even given it a name — ‘tech neck’.
‘The problem of wrinkles and sagging jowls and neck used to begin in late middle age but, in the past ten years, because of tech neck it has become a problem for a generation of younger women,’ says Dr Christopher Rowland Payne, consultant dermatologist at The London Clinic on Harley Street.
‘Hours of using screens and tablets every day definitely have an effect.
‘A woman’s neck area is already vulnerable as it’s more exposed to sun because of female fashion. As the sun repeatedly strikes the skin, it gradually melts the top layers of the dermis and becomes thinner.
‘This thinning of the skin leads to a loss of elasticity, so when the skin is creased over and over, due to bending the neck continuously, a wrinkle forms in the crease of the bend.’
Noreen is not alone in feeling self-conscious. Recent figures from whatClinic.com show that inquiries about neck liposuction rose by 280 per cent last year.
And another survey found that nearly half of British women are concerned about the saggy skin around their face and neck.
It’s not surprising. The average smartphone user spends more than two hours a day looking at their phone. It’s estimated we look down to read messages, send texts or emails up to 150 times a day.
Then add in the hours we spend looking at our keyboards at work.
Noreen admits that the technology she uses in her personal life and her worklife may have contributed to her saggy jawline.
‘I’m on my phone a lot messaging, emailing and texting,’ she says. ‘Not only that, but at school I’m often bending over helping pupils with their work, so gravity is bound to take an effect.
‘Yet though I don’t like my neck, I would never have invasive treatments or surgery.
‘I’m keen to try creams or beauty products, but you can’t stop the ageing process altogether.’
Tania Ali, 48 (pictured) , from South London, is also concerned about her ‘looser’ jawline. ‘I’m in no doubt at all that staring at my computer screen all day has contributed to this,’ she says, and also blames her Kindle
Julie Miller-Crook, 45, says she noticed a year ago that her neckline was not as firm as it used to be.
‘I’ve always taken care of my looks and have inherited good skin from my mother,’ she says.
‘I treat myself to a facial once a month, but I realised it wasn’t having the same effect as in the past and I was looking old before my time. My jawline was softening and it’s instantly ageing.’
Julie, who is single and has an 18-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter, runs her own hotel and says this means she is constantly looking at a screen.
‘Some days I spend all day at my computer and lose count of how often I look down at my phone,’ she says. ‘Even when I’m not working, I’ll be checking Facebook or looking at my messages.
‘It wouldn’t surprise me if my constant use of the phone and computer has made my face and neck sag.
‘It was the lady who does my facials who told me about Crystal Clear COMCIT (Cryo-Oxygen Microchannelling Collagen Induction Therapy) facials.’
Tania (pictured) has been using the Y-Shape firming skin range by YSL, which costs £63 a pot. ‘I’ve been using it for about a month every morning and night and I must admit I can already feel a difference,’ she says
This is a minimally invasive treatment, using tiny ‘micro- needles’ on a roller massaged over the face by a qualified therapist.
These needles make hundreds of microscopic holes in the skin causing what’s called controlled trauma, stimulating the skin to create its own collagen and heal those tiny holes. It’s supposed to have a rejuvenating effect and make the skin more firm.
Julie booked an appointment at her local salon eight months ago.
‘The treatment is like a standard facial, but a little bit uncomfortable at times,’ she says.
‘You lie on your back and the therapist massages the roller over your face and neck for an hour.
‘I find it quite relaxing, though it can smart a bit on your forehead where the skin is thinner. I was impressed with the results right after that first treatment.
‘My skin was plumper and more dewy. My daughter couldn’t believe the difference and said I was glowing. I admit my neck and jowls weren’t hugely improved after that first treatment, but after five, they were much tighter.
‘Lots of friends have noticed a difference. I really feel it’s taken ten years off me. I now go once a month, though it’s quite expensive — it’s usually £100 per session but I paid for five and got the sixth free — I feel it’s worth it.’
Tania Ali, 48, who works in HR and recruitment, is testing out a new neck cream.
‘Though I’d say I’ve aged pretty well, in the past year I’ve noticed my jawline was beginning to sag and my jowl area was looser than it used to be,’ says Tania, who lives with her son George, ten, in South London.
‘If I was marking it out of ten, with one being taut and ten being very saggy, I’d say my neckline is around eight.
Although Tania (pictured) claims to notice an improvement in the firmness of the skin around her jawline, she says she won’t rule out surgery or invasive treatments in the future
‘I’m in no doubt at all that staring at my computer screen all day has contributed to this. I must spend at least seven hours looking at a screen each day and that doesn’t include the time I spend reading books on my Kindle or looking at my phone.
‘My job means I have access to all these things. But looking down at them all day is bound to have an effect on my face and neck.’
Tania has in the past spent £50 a month on a variety of cleansers, toners and moisturisers to combat tech neck.
‘I prefer expensive brands because I really do think they make a difference,’ she says. ‘Having said that, my mother, who has lovely skin, always swore by cheaper creams, such as Boots No7.
‘I’ve never used a cream designed for a specific area, but came across one called YSL Y-Shape cream, which cost £63, and thought it was worth a try. I’ve been using it for about a month every morning and night and I must admit I can already feel a difference.
‘My skin feels plumper and my chin line is more defined. I don’t know if that’s simply because I’ve been paying more attention to that area of my face and massaging the cream in more, so it’s boosted the circulation, but I’ll continue to use it and see what happens.
‘I don’t rule out surgery or invasive treatments in the future. Ageing is inevitable and I try to stay active by doing yoga and walking my dog.
‘My son keeps me young, too. But my 50th birthday is approaching in a couple of years. If I feel that surgery would help me in the future, then so be it. I want to look the best I can be.’