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Is Your Phone Giving You Tech Neck?

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At this point, it's common knowledge that constantly being glued to your phone can have some not-so-great effects—eye strain, higher stress levels, not to mention Cell Phone Addiction Is So Real People Are Going to Rehab for It—but did you know that it could be making you look old too?

It turns out that constantly bending your neck to stare down at the screen can lead to "tech neck," a new term recently trademarked by beauty brand StriVectin, referring to the lines and wrinkles this causes. And this is not just some kind of marketing jargon: "It's totally real and something I notice in many of my patients," says Mona Gohara, M.D., associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale. Just like repeatedly squinting and frowning can cause lines on your face, the persistent motion of your neck bending downward puts tension on the muscle. This, in turn, creates a dynamic wrinkle, a line that appears in response to movement, explains Gohara (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—one that's always there, movement or not. (Psst... Science Has Uncovered a New Way to Fight Fine Lines and Wrinkles.)

So what can you do? As with other kinds of skin aging, the best offense is a good defense. "Treat the skin on your neck the same way you would the skin on your face," says Gohara. She advises a power combo of vitamin C (find it in a serum and use in the morning), coupled with a retinol-based treatment product at night; the ingredients work well together and stimulate collagen production, she explains. And don't forget sunscreen (a broad-spectrum formula with at least an SPF 30); a spotty, discolored neck is just as aging as one that's wrinkled.

While this regimen is a good preventative option, if you're already noticing significant lines and wrinkles in your neck, Gohara says it may be worth using a dedicated neck cream. Two to try: RoC Multi Correxion 5-in-1 Chest, Neck, & Face Cream ($27.99; drugstore.com) or StriVectin TL Advanced Tightening Neck Cream ($95; strivectincom). (Though if you don't want to add another product to your routine, she adds that anti-aging face creams will also do the trick.) Either way, look for a hydrating formula with wrinkle-smoothing ingredients such as peptides, growth factors, retinol, and Vitamin C.

Still unhappy with the skin below your chin? Botox is another option; by paralyzing the muscle, it can't contract and create those permanent lines. (And more young women are getting Botox in their twenties than ever before.) But, above all, try to minimize the amount of time you're looking down at your phone. We're willing to bet it will help not only your tech neck, but your burned-out tech brain too.

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