8 Anti-Aging Beauty Solutions

Fine lines and gray hair? No biggie. But what about those more embarrassing age-related changes not even your best friend will talk about? Here, solutions for stringy neck muscles, silly putty under-eye skin and more

by Emily Listfield
Photograph: Serge Bloch

I have more cords in my neck than a 12-string guitar. What can be done?

Those cords (aka sinews) connect your neck muscles to your jaw and shoulders. As we age, the muscles in our necks contract, making the sinews pop out more. You can conceal the cords with turtlenecks and scarves, but that’s not your only option. “Botox relaxes neck muscles, making the sinews less obvious,” says Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in New York and Miami. The usual strategy: A single needle is inserted into the platysma muscle—the one under your chin that stands out when you frown—producing a relaxation effect that’s noticeable in three to five days (average cost is $400; results last up to six months). A second option is Ultherapy, an in-office treatment that uses ultrasound technology to stimulate collagen production and tighten and lift the skin ($2,500 to $5,000; results last up to two years). While either procedure will make a difference, Brandt says doing them in combination will give you the most notable result. For less dramatic (and less costly) at-home improvement, he suggests a neck cream that has glycolic acid, peptides and/or retinols to smooth the surface of the skin. They won’t alter the physiol-ogy of your neck, but they can make the skin there look smoother and tauter. Try Dr. Brandt Time Arrest V-Zone Neck Cream ($60; sephora.com) or L’Oréal Paris Age Perfect Hydra-Nutrition Face, Neck & Chest Golden Balm ($20; drugstores).

My hair was really silky—until now. Suddenly it’s a dull, wiry mess! Is the gray taking over? Or is the culprit all the dye I’m using to cover the gray?

The cuticle of gray hair is four times as thick as the cuticle of pigmented hair, and that’s what makes the grays coarse, says Jason Backe, master colorist at the Ted Gibson NYC salon and a celebrity colorist for L’Oréal Professionnel. “Plus, because the surface of gray hair is not as smooth as that of pigmented strands, it doesn’t reflect light, which can make it look dull,” he notes. Factor in harsh chemicals from permanent dye, and your hair could be on the road to destruction. The solution? If just a few of your strands are gray, switch to a demi-permanent color like L’Oréal Professionnel’s Dialight (ask your coloristabout it). For abundant grays, take a different tack by adding a clear gloss treatment to your color routine. You can get one at the salon ($50 and up) or try Rita Hazan Foaming Color Gloss in Ultimate Shine ($26; sephora.com) at home. Backe also suggests complementing the gloss’s strand-smoothing effects with stylers designed for coarse hair. Try Kérastase Paris Sérum Oléo-Relax ($40; kerastase-usa.com).

When I smooth concealer under my eyes, the skin acts like Silly Putty, stretching off to one side or the other. Then it stays there.

Age, genetics and even too much sun can add up to a loss of collagen and elasticity in the delicate under-eye area, says Brandt. Until some genius comes up with Spanx for eye bags, he suggests using an eye cream that has peptides and retinoids to stimulate collagen production in the -under-eye tissue. Try Dr. Brandt Flaws No More R3P Eye ($80; dr​brandt​skin​care.com). He also says you may see positive results from the at-home fractional laser PaloVia ($499; palovia .com), approved last year by the FDA to treat lines around the eyes. “Like lasers used in doctors’ offices, this device uses tiny beams of light to stimulate new collagen production,” Brandt explains. Finally, how you apply concealer can make a difference. “Choose a cover-up the same shade as your foundation,” says Kimara Ahnert, a New York make-up artist. “And to get maximum coverage with minimum tugging, apply the concealer with a brush, then tap it in rather than rub. This will help both the concealer and your skin to stay put.” Good options: Pen concealers with a liquidy texture, like Dior Skinflash Radiance Booster Pen ($37; sephora.com) or Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting Concealer ($8; drugstores).

I’m starting to resemble a Picasso painting: One side of my face sags; the other doesn’t. Am I aging lopsided?

“No one’s face is symmetrical, but the differences go undetected when we’re younger and more satisfied with our appearance,” says Brandt. “As we age, these asymmetries become more pronounced.” Even sleeping on the same side of your face for years can have a deleterious effect. If the sagging really bothers you, Brandt says you can have an upper-eyelid lift to remove excess skin on the saggier side. “For those not surgically inclined, you can restore volume and reduce laxity in the eyelid with a filler such as Restylane, followed by Botox,” he says. Of course, you don’t have to submit to a knife or needle; you can opt for a makeup brush instead. “Stick to matte eyeshadows,” Ahnert suggests. “Anything with frost will exacerbate the crepey effect.” She recommends applying a neutral bisque or shell pink all over the main lid, then using a medium-toned shadow (warm brown, taupey plum) in the crease, with this tweak: On the eye that sags more, apply the darker color higher on the fold to give the appearance of less skin.

My nails are less shiny and more ridged than they used to be. I’m fairly healthy. What’s the deal?

“Ridges in the nail are the equivalent of wrinkles in your skin,” explains Richard Scher, MD, a dermatologist. (Seriously, is nothing exempt?) “When there’s aging in the nail matrix—the part that supports growth—it becomes wavy. Light buffing will remove some of the bumpiness, but don’t overdo it. Buffing can thin the nail plate and leave it prone to breaking,” says Scher. Natasha Boyer, a nail technician at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City, recommends using a ridge-filling base coat post-buff. “And avoid a sheer or shimmery polish. Those just draw attention to the ridges,” she says. Try Sally Hansen Miracle Nail Thickener ($8; drugstores).

Ugh. I am constantly getting food stuck between my teeth. This never used to happen. What’s up?

Look on the bright side: Fear of public humiliation could be a very effective dieting tool. No? You actually like eating? Stash a handy flossing pick in your bag, then call your dentist. “As we age, the gum between our teeth thins and eventually recedes, leaving the ‘black triangle’ where food can catch,” says Michael Apa, DDS, who specializes in aesthetic dentistry in New York. There are two ways to combat this: orthodontia (Invisalign braces are clear and therefore a good choice for adults) and veneers. “Both methods change how the teeth meet the gum, closing off that gap and creating seemingly full, healthy gums,” Apa explains. You would have to wear the braces for several months to a year (with permanent results), while veneers take just two office visits (then last 15 to 20 years). Invisalign braces cost about $5,000 for the whole mouth, whereas veneers will run you $1,200 to $3,000 per tooth. To fix small gaps, some dentists use bonding, which costs about $1,000 per area. Oh, and one more thing: Friends do tell friends when they have spinach stuck in their teeth.

I’m seeing white spots all over my arms and legs. Are they dangerous?

Assuming the spots aren’t scaly or itchy, which could be a sign of eczema, chances are you’re experiencing a form of hypopigmentation known as idiopathic guttate hypomelano-sis, or IGH. Worry not: It’s actually extremely common, especially on the shins and arms. While the exact cause isn’t known, most dermatologists believe that sun damage is a contributing factor. First step: Slather on sunscreen and avoid prolonged sun exposure to prevent further damage, says Robert Anolik, MD, a Manhattan-based cosmetic dermatologist. (Besides, the white spots won’t tan, so if the rest of your skin gets darker, you risk exaggerating their appearance. Self-tanner won’t help either; it doesn’t adhere to the white spots.) There’s no sure-fire cure for IGH, but lasers may help. “The excimer laser, which is used for vitiligo, can stimulate the cells that make pigment,” Anolik says. “Another option is the Fraxel Dual, which helps normalize pigment.” Both lasers may involve numerous treatments and can cost several thousand dollars when all is said and done. And you should plan on one to two weeks of flaking after each session.

I was worried that the raised spot on my face was skin cancer. Good news: It’s not. Bad news: It’s a skin tag. What do I do now?

Skin tags, which are small pieces of extra flesh, are benign lesions that are typically a by-product of age, pregnancy or changes in hormone levels. They are most common in areas that chafe (e.g., folds in saggy skin). There’s really nothing you can do to prevent tags, and some people seem to be genetically predisposed to them. But relax: They’re harmless, though you should always check with a doctor about any new ones. On the brighter side, because skin tags don’t have nerves, the dermatologist should be able to easily freeze them and snip them off. 


Next: Look Better with Age: 20 Real Women's Secrets

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First Published Fri, 2012-09-28 10:11

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