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10/17/2015 05:06 am ET

4 Steps To A Younger-Looking Neck

Ah, the dreaded turkey neck. It's the bane of many middle-agers' existences -- so much so that it even prompted the title of author Nora Ephron's famous book, "I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts On Being A Woman." Her opening words were, "I feel bad about my neck. Truly, I do. If you saw my neck, you might feel bad about it too." 

And it seems Ephron was in good company. Many of our readers chimed in and named their neck as one of the main body parts that betray their age -- a little too quickly. 

We can't exactly turn back the clock -- but here are some tips to help you improve and at least make peace with your neck. 

1. Watch your posture. 

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 While we're busy worrying about wrinkled, crepey, skin, we tend to forget that poor posture also makes us look older. So whether you're paying for a lifetime of slouching or are hunched over your computer all day, it's important to do stretches and exercises to get your neck back to a straight, healthy position. 

According to the Arthritis Foundation, our poor necks hold the equivalent of an eight-pound bowling ball in weight and, with age, conditions like arthritis can cause neck pain and stiffness. 

They recommend doing a combination of stretching and resistance exercises. You can get more information on exercises here.

2. Don't forget the sunscreen. 

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 According to the Environmental Protection Agency, up to 90 percent of visible changes to your skin are caused by sun damage. That includes things like age spots and wrinkles that give away your age. We tend to neglect our necks when it comes to sun protection, choosing to slather SPF on our faces and wear hats, hoping the shade will protect our necks. Not so. 

Take an extra 10 seconds and make sure you apply a sunscreen to your neck. It can be the same one you use on your face, though our necks tend to be drier, so you can use a richer formulation. The Skin Cancer Foundation says you should be using at least a nickel-sized dollop. 

3. Draw attention away. 

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For some people, an aging neck isn't just about the appearance of your skin. As you get older, you might notice the vertical cords in your neck becoming more pronounced. Or due to a few added pounds you might notice a double-chin. 

There's no quick fix. In which case, the best bet is to alter your wardrobe to draw attention away from your neck and to your assets. 

Now is the time to go ahead and wear that busy-patterned top that's been hanging in your closet. Or that top with the ruffles that draw the eyes down. Or even a long, layered, eye-catching necklace. We'd steer clear or short necklaces and chokers. Work with what you've got. 

4. Feed your skin. 

Boost collagen production from the inside. As we get older, the collagen in our skin breaks down -- that's the protein that gives our skin its elasticity and firmness. While there are dozens of topical creams you can moisturize with, changes to the diet may help with collagen production inside the body. Vitamin C helps fight off oxidative stress and damage to our cells and is vital to collagen production. Colorful foods, like citrus fruits, bright bell peppers, tomatoes and berries, are rich in the vitamin. 

Healthy fats like olive oil, oily fish like salmon and avocados are also good for helping to keep your skin hydrated and also to help reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids help to boost oil production in the skin and have been shown to help fight off collagen damage. 

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