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If you want to look younger than you are, it helps to consider the total package. Because women who look forever 31 don’t just have great complexions, they also have, "thick hair, smooth hands … even a whiter smile," says New York City dermatologist Marsha Gordon, MD.
So, how do you become one of those lucky types who goes to her class reunion and elicits comments like, "Wow, she hasn’t aged a bit!"? Follow these age-proofing tips that start with your head (well, your hair) and end with your toes (even they can date you, believe it or not).
Give your hair a boost
Hair naturally thins as you get older, so anything you can do to counteract that process will help you stay gorgeous. Volumizing shampoos are great, but the most effective (and quickest) youth boost comes courtesy of a volumizing spray gel. "These sprays are like a collagen injection for your hair," says Jet Rhys, owner of Jet Rhys Salon in San Diego. The key, Rhys notes, is not to spray it all over your crown but to get it onto the underside of your hair, near the roots.
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Get younger-acting skin
The old way of thinking about your face was that if you could just get rid of a few wrinkles, you’d take years off your looks. While that may be true, it’s not just wrinkles that make you look older, according to a study in Evolution and Human Behavior; skin tone and luminosity also affect your perceived age. Luckily, the newest anti-aging products have been formulated to take all the signs of aging into account, tricking your skin into acting like it did back in your 20s. With adenosine, a collagen-stimulating molecule found naturally in your skin’s DNA, and biolysat, which stimulates your skin’s own repair process, they're able to not only reduce wrinkles but improve texture, tone, and radiance, as well.
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Use a redness-reducing concealer
"You may not realize it, but redness and visible blood vessels on your cheeks and nose are another sign of sun damage, and they do make you look older," Dr. Gordon says. The best way to get rid of the red is with a laser treatment, which can cost up to $500 or more at the dermatologist’s office. If you’re not ready to spend that kind of cash, a yellow-based concealer, can do wonders. Dot the concealer over any red areas—pay special attention to the notoriously rosy crevices near your nostrils—tap it into skin with your ring finger, then smooth on your favorite tinted moisturizer or a foundation that matches your skin tone.
Brighten your smile
"Stains accumulate on your teeth as you age, so whiter teeth make you look younger," says Lana Rozenberg, DDS, a dentist in New York City. In-office light-activated whitening treatments can take you up to eight shades whiter (at a cost of up to $1,000), but you can now get similar results at home. Some come with a handheld light that activates the included whitening gel; three back-to-back 10-minute sessions with the light will brighten your teeth up to five shades. Caution: Because these new whitening systems are more effective than ever, it’s easy to go overboard—which can look fake. “Just make sure your teeth aren’t whiter than the whites of your eyes,” Dr. Rozenberg says.
Health.com: 20 things that can ruin your smile
Spritz a zesty scent
Weird but true: People may think you look up to five years younger if you’re sporting a grapefruit scent, according to a study at the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Make that little bit of science work in your favor by picking a spray balanced by vetiver and rosemary, so it comes off bright and fresh, not grapefruit-juice acidic.
De-freckle your chest
Tina Fey’s Saturday Night Live skit about a chest-freckle concealer called "Checkles" may have been a joke, but the aging effect of decolletage spots is for real. "The number-one cause is, once again, the sun," Dr. Gordon says. Wear sunscreen to prevent the development of more blemishes, and switch up your regular body lotion for one that includes spot-reducing ingredients.
Baby your hands
Dry skin makes fine lines and ropy-looking veins more visible, so something as simple as applying an antioxidant-rich moisturizer can make hands feel softer and look fresher. "I tell my patients to apply moisturizer and always wear gloves in the winter," Dr. Gordon explains. "It's not just the sun that causes damage—cold winds suck the moisture right out of your hands, which can make them look older, if only temporarily."
Don’t yo-yo diet
You don't necessarily need to drop pounds to shave a few years off your looks. (In fact, a study in the Journal of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery suggests that after age 40, a lower BMI can actually make some women look older.) Rather, it's important to do your best to get to a healthy weight and stick to it through the years. "Rapid weight gain or loss can cause visible changes in the skin, such as stretch marks and laxity," says Jennifer Linder, MD, a dermatologist in Scottsdale, Arizona. Healthy living is nature’s beauty treatment: "If you drink plenty of water and consistently eat a healthy diet, your skin will look better."
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Make over your legs
Varicose and spider veins are an instant ager, and the most effective way to remove them is with sclerotherapy, Dr. Linder says. "The procedure involves injecting a therapeutic solution into the veins, which causes them to collapse," she explains of the in-office treatment, which can cost anywhere from $150 to $1,000, depending on the number, size, and location of the veins. For a quicker fix—which will also hide spots and scars you’ve accumulated over the years—try a leg-perfecting lotion or spray.
Fix up your feet
Age makes you wiser, more confident, more successful—but it doesn’t do much for your feet. "The constant pressure feet endure can lead to dry, callused skin," Dr. Linder explains. Nothing gets soles smoother than a foot file. Use it at the end of your shower, then follow up with a rich cream that contains at least 10 percent lactic acid. (If your rough feet are accompanied by yellowed nails, get those toes to a doctor; you could have a fungal infection.) Final tip: Pick a bright, fun toenail polish like hot pink instead of a staid shade like mauve.
Knowing enough about to make solid, informed choices cuts down on the fear factor. If you apply what you've just learned about , you should have nothing to worry about.