“Horizontal neck lines form like all other wrinkles on the face,” says board-certified dermatologist Ife J. Rodney, M.D., founder of Eternal Dermatology. “Over time, our skin’s elasticity weakens. We lose collagen, elastin, and other hydrating, plumping skin factors. This loss allows the skin to slightly sag and fold over constricted muscles, causing horizontal lines.” It’s a natural process that happens as you age, but factors like sun exposure, smoking, and other environmental aggressors can speed up the process.
However, tech neck wrinkles are also a type of compression wrinkle—or when your skin endures pressure from a certain position. The most common compression wrinkles are sleep lines (also called pillow lines), which happen when you squish your face into your pillow while you sleep.
Tech neck follows a similar fashion, although instead of smashing your face into a pillow, you’re keeping your neck bent to look down at screens. When this happens over several hours a day, those folds can start to stick around, especially when your natural collagen levels begin to decline.
And according to Rodney, tech neck wrinkles can crop up much faster than other types of fine lines. “Neck wrinkles form over several years, but now, people who spend hours with their heads bent on devices will see fine lines in just a few months,” she says. “It’s not uncommon to see 20-year-olds or 30-year-olds with tech neck.”