You spend a small fortune on fabulous skin care, antiaging makeup, and a youthful new haircut. And one glance in the mirror tells you that 50 really is the new 35, until you look down at your hands.
Like rings in a tree trunk, lines, creases, dark spots, and bulging veins on the back of your hands are the sneaky little tattletales that give away your age!
"The hands are one of the first places where we see the signs of aging, and also the area most people neglect when it comes to skin care," says dermatologist Rhoda Narins, MD, professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine in New York and the president of the American Society of Dermatologic Surgery.
One reason for the telltale signs, says Narins, is that hands are frequently exposed to sunlight and all its photoaging effects.
"While we would never consider exposing our face to sun without a sunblock, we often don't remember to treat our hands to the same protection," Narins tells WebMD.
That little act of forgetfulness, she says, can leave them looking even older, with not only wrinkles, but those birthday give-away "age spots" -- also known as "liver spots" or medically as "letigines."
In fact, experts say because the skin on the back of the hands is so much thinner than on our face or neck, it not only succumbs to the aging impact of the environment, but it also is more susceptible to the aging process in general.
"As we age, our skin gets thinner -- but when you're dealing with the backs of the hands, where skin is already thin, any loss of fat underneath is obvious right away -- with loose, wrinkly skin," says Bruce Katz, MD, a professor of dermatology at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City and director of the Cosmetic and Laser Surgery Clinic at Mt. Sinai Hospital.
Moreover, Katz says that as skin thins, dark spots and pigmentation begin to appear, while veins and tendons become more obvious -- a look that is often associated with a few extra candles on the birthday cake.
Defy, Don't Deny: The Antiaging Revolution
The good news is your hands can hold your birthday secrets and you can look as young as you feel. It all begins, say experts, with dedicated use of a sunblock with SPF15 or higher. Choose a product that is also a good moisturizer and you're even more ahead of the game.
"Then you have to make a commitment to use it every day, every time you go out in the sun, in winter, in summer, all the time, " says Narins. Doing so, she says will help halt at least some of the damage that comes when the ultraviolet rays of the sun gobble up collagen -- the molecules that help give skin a plump, youthful appearance.