Is Blow Drying Your Hair Damaging Your Skin?

Renee's hands on a clients face

A common problem I see for women in their 40’s and 50’s is the appearance of reddish veins mixed with brown pigment on the sides of the neck below the ears; a condition called poikiloderma.

What causes this to appear?

For years, many skin care experts thought this irregular discoloration on the sides of the neck was the direct result of the sun interacting with perfume worn on the sides of the neck. I don’t believe this theory is true.

Here are my thoughts on why women can get this troubling condition: …

Hormones. Women experience a drop in three hormones: progestin, estrogen and a follicle-stimulating hormone during their menopausal years. The loss of estrogen has the most significant effect on the skin and irregular pigmentation will start to appear.

-Sun damage. The neck is an area that gets tremendous sun exposure and people rarely apply sunscreen there. If you look at women in her 50’s and 60’s, you’ll see the skin directly under her chin is usually pale, smooth and without brown spots while the sides of the neck can be severely rough and discolored. This is because the chin provides natural shading for that area whereas the sides of the neck area always exposed—especially while driving and riding in a car.

Blow drying your hair. When you blow dry your hair on the sides, the blow dryer is usually pointing at the neck depending on which side you are working on. For me after blow drying my hair, the sides of my neck are bright red—exactly in the area where this later-in-life pigmentation will occur. So my theory is that years of heat to the skin might increase melanin activity and the heat also damages the blood vessels on the neck and eventually they stay dilated resulting in a reddish tone on the neck.

There is no data confirming my blow dryer theory but it sure seems to make sense to me, so I’m going to stick with it. When blow drying your hair, lift your blow dryer up hair so that it is pointing down and not angling towards the sides of your neck.

What can you do if you have this condition? Many doctors have laser treatments that claim to help, so schedule a consultation with a doctor.

Also, you MUST always wear sunscreen on your neck and the sides of your neck, avoid heat from your blow dryer and use capillary-strengthening, skin lightening Vitamin C on the neck every single day.

Which skin care products are best for you? See our nine skin types or take the Skin Type Quiz and get products recommended.

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Disclaimer: Content found on and, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.

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