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Younger Adults More Critical of People in Their 40s' Attempts to Hide Their Age

By Cari Nierenberg

Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

WebMD Health News

Anti-Aging Products Not Fully Accepted

Aug. 26, 2011 -- Hiding your age may cost you. And not just in dollars. It's about the respect of people too young to know what you're going through -- yet.

As America ages, many people are hunting for ways to look as young as they feel. But a new study shows that they may pay a price for a more youthful appearance.

Compared to older adults, younger people take a harsher view of people who want to turn back the hands of time, the researchers report.

And the harder people try to stay young, the harsher they were judged. Younger adults thought less of people who use more extreme approaches than those who try milder methods, the study shows.

Men and women in their 40s who try to cover up their age may be at a disadvantage in the minds of others because it's less expected of them, the researchers say.

The study appears online in The Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences.

A Tale of 2 Women

The study probed how younger and older adults view people who use anti-aging products.

In one experiment, scientists tracked 122 young women with an average age of 19 and 123 older women, who were around age 70.

The women read two stories. In each story, a middle-aged woman or a woman in her 60s used an anti-aging product. Those products were mild (a face cream) or major (Botox).

The readers rated the fictional women's vanity and whether they were typical for their age.

Older women were more positive about characters who used either type of anti-aging technique. Readers of all ages viewed the milder anti-aging tactics more favorably.

In a second test, 51 young women and 49 older women read about stories of women aged 40 to 70. The fictional women used anti-aging products deemed natural (avoiding sun), mild (face creams), major (Botox), or extreme (brow lift).

The results were similar to the first study. But this time, younger women rated people who used even natural and mild approaches more vain than older women did.

Older women also felt that 60- and 70-somethings were more likely to turn to anti-aging methods than 40- and 50-somethings. Younger women thought both middle-aged and older people typically used these methods.

"These results suggest that despite the rapid growth of the anti-aging industry, age concealment has not yet become universally accepted," researcher Alison Chasteen, PhD, says in a news release. She's an associate professor of psychology at the University of Toronto.

Brush Up on Beauty

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