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What's Giving Away Your Age?

Birthdays happen, but looking older is optional. Here's how to take years off-without keeping your hands in your pockets.

By Holly Crawford

WebMD Feature from "Good Housekeeping" Magazine

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Our secret plan for defying Father Time: Think beyond the crow's-feet. "Most women are so conscious of every little wrinkle on their face, they forget about the other body parts that may be showing some wear and tear," says Jeanine B. Downie, M.D., a dermatologist in Montclair, New Jersey.

So by all means, let's deal with those wrinkles-but aging affects everything from the whiteness of your teeth to the thickness of your hair, so it's imperative that you address your problems from head to toe. The key thing to remember: Every sign of aging boils down to changes in texture and color. The rich sheen of your hair begins to fade; skin that was smooth grows rough. Likewise, every remedy involves preventing, reversing, or at least compensating for those changes. So choose your weapons, and let the counterattack begin.

Your Teeth

You don't have to say a word about your age-your pearly (or not-so-pearly) whites will say it for you.

Good Housekeeping Magazine AGE GIVEAWAY Years of eating and drinking can leave your teeth yellow or gray, and if you smoke, forget it. But size and shape also matter. Young-looking teeth are vibrant, with clean, rounded edges, explains Dallas cosmetic dentist Dale Greer, D.D.S. Older ones are the opposite (small, worn, chipped). In addition, your gums may recede over time and leave you looking as if you have gaps between your teeth, he says.

REVERSE THE CLOCK Peroxide-based whiteners deep-clean and brighten. To try: Crest Whitestrips Renewal. (A dentist's treatments will give you striking results in just one day-but at a much higher price.) If teeth are worn, ask your dentist about a bite guard to prevent grinding. To correct tiny or damaged teeth, ask about crowns, veneers, and recontouring. Gum-recession gaps? Consider caps.

Your Neck & Chest

Four words: Look below your chin. Like your face, that area has suffered environmental damage-from the sun, wind, pollution-and it shows.

Good Housekeeping Magazine AGE GIVEAWAY If you care for your face (using moisturizer, wrinkle concealer, etc.), it may look a whole lot better than your neck and chest, which may be leathery, spotted, or deeply wrinkled. That contrast says you're older than your face reveals.

REVERSE THE CLOCK "It sounds simple, but you should treat the skin of your neck and chest just as you would your face," says Dr. Downie. Every day, apply creams with antioxidants like vitamins A and C. Your doctor can use a combination of chemical peels (or microdermabrasion and a laser) to fade age spots and firm up sagging skin. Botox injections in the vocal cord area can improve the look of a turkey neck, says Dr. Downie. To slow further damage, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily.

Your Hair

Here you're contending with not one but three aging factors: time, chemicals (from dyes and highlights), and the environment (yep, it does damage in this area too). "A 25-year-old can have 50-year-old hair-and vice versa, depending on the level of exposure to these elements," explains Atlanta stylist Gary Travis.

Brush Up on Beauty

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