The neck never lies

The neck never lies: There are all sorts of age-defying tricks we can use to make ourselves look younger, but one thing always gives the game away, says Karen Krizanovich (age 53)

  • Karen Krizanovich, 53, shares her hacks on how to treat an ageing neck
  • READ MORE: An anti-ageing revolution: What does it take to launch the next generation of skincare?

When I was in my early 40s, my 93-year-old aunt told me, ‘Wear necklaces now before you no longer can.’

For a moment I thought she meant I was to be guillotined. But as I gazed at her neck, I saw what she meant.

Not that it had a wattle or was gleefully swinging as she spoke, but it could not be mistaken for that of a teenage ballerina.

It was the neck of a beautiful nonagenarian who, in her youth, looked exactly like Katharine Hepburn. So she had a head start in the beauty stakes.

Most of us have glanced in a mirror or phone camera and had that moment of realisation:

‘It’s finally happened – I have turkey neck!’ People as beautiful as Isabella Rossellini are also noticing this phenomenon. In an interview last month with the New York Post’s Page Six, the 70-year-old actress admitted, ‘The neck is always a bit upsetting, but I prefer a little scarf to an operation!’

Karen Krizanovich, 53, shares her hacks on how to treat an ageing neck – from scarves to treatments. Stock image used

The neck is the body bit that seems to bother everyone over a certain age. It’s a truth-teller not only of how well we’ve lived but also how well we’ve chosen our parents.

So, compared to Rossellini, daughter of famed beauty Ingrid Bergman, what chance does the ordinary person have, neck-wise?

The late Nora Ephron’s famous essay I Feel Bad About My Neck dived deep into the subject.

‘Our faces are lies and our necks are the truth. You have to cut open a redwood tree to see how old it is, but you wouldn’t if it had a neck,’ she wrote.

And yet no amount of fiction can obscure the visual truth that comes at us in the mirror every single darned day, like the bow of a ship. It’s there at breakfast, glaring at us.

At least in the evening, downlighters throw shade at our vulnerable throats. Unless you’re a neck model, you’ll have thoughts about why this particular area is so difficult.

Some may slather their necks with miracle creams, do silly-looking firming exercises (chin out, chin in, look up to the ceiling) or even have surgery (there are plenty of procedures to choose from). Some are wizards with scarves (oui, I’m looking at you, Parisiennes).

If you don’t want to spend your life trussed up in a poloneck (or, as Ephron described her own friends: start dressing like ‘a white ladies’ version of the Joy Luck Club’ in mandarin collars) there’s not a lot you can do as a disguise. Anna Wintour – she of the bob and sunglasses – wears a three-string necklace. Hey Anna, what’cha hiding? 

As Elizabeth Taylor aged, the promo photography for her scent collections featured her chin-deep in swimming pools – hair, make-up and jewels in perfect situ. That is a sign to us all that even the greatest beauties will ultimately sport the necks of disappointment.

‘Disappointment?’ I hear you cry. ‘My life does not revolve around the shape, contour and appearance of my neck! How vain!’

Of course, we should love our necks no matter what condition they are in, and not care if they say, ‘Hey, this one’s older than she looks from a distance.’

Do we care that we look older? Yes, we do, because there is still value in beauty, that eternal quality from which no one can escape.

Helen of Troy didn’t launch a thousand ships because she was nice. We want to look good – but mainly look good to ourselves.

To this end, you could go full Hollywood and have a lift or tuck. Or European and wear scarves. Or Scandinavian with a drawer full of neck-hiding knitwear. Or you can be British, wear great jewellery and feel bad about your neck but then remember that you have more important things to be despondent about.

Personally, I strive to keep the lies I tell myself to a bare-necked minimum. So, despite having a head as round as a bowling ball, I wear concealing turtlenecks, even if they make me look like an idiotic dandelion.

Also, I’ve gone the route suggested by my dermatologist Dr Nick Lowe: deft Botox injections into the neck cords. Not only does this give my neck a breather by releasing the tension in the cords themselves – stopping that reedy appearance – it also prevents my neck muscles from yanking down my face into a sneer of despond.

Additionally, I use sunscreen from hairline down to décolletage, including the whole neckline to chest area. You don’t need a special cream to stop between-the-bosom creases if you regularly apply sunscreen down that far – trust me. Think of putting sunscreen on everything, everywhere, All at once and you’ll be doing it right.

Apart from surgery, cover-ups or choosing your DNA more wisely, there isn’t much you can do about your neck except love it regardless – along with the rest of you.

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