You lavish your face with sunscreen, anti-aging creams, and even the occasional peel, but your everywhere-else skin is lucky to see a little lotion. "Unfortunately, sun damage on your face and body begins to show up as wrinkles, brown spots, and dryness as early as your 30s," says David Bank, M.D., director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic & Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, NY. And you're not the only one who's noticing. A recent study of women ages 45 to 65 at the University of Göttingen in Germany concluded that body skin was an important indicator of attractiveness and youth. In fact, the researchers found that a woman's arms and chest are two of the major age-giveaway zones. To take years off your own upper body, read on.
You Want: More Youthful-Looking Hands
For the quickest results, moisturize (moisturizer is one of the five beauty secrets every woman should know - learn the other four). "Over time, hands lose some of their fat cushioning and the skin gets less elastic," says Marsha Gordon, M.D., a consulting dermatologist for St. Ives who practices in New York City. "Applying a lotion or cream will immediately plump up skin." Look for a formula with emollient ingredients, such as shea butter, and humectants like glycerin that help draw moisture to the skin. One that fills the bill: Fruits & Passion Shea Hand Butter ($9, fruits-passion.com).
Slather on a retinoid treatment nightly to help increase plumpness over time. Prescription versions such as Renova and Retin-A (the same formulations you'd use on your face, which cost $100 and up) are the gold standard for building collagen to make skin look firmer, fuller, and smoother. Or see your dermatologist for injections of Radiesse (costs start at around $750 per treatment). "This injectable filler is thick and dense, so it adds volume and hides veins and tendons. Results may last for more than a year," explains Linda K. Franks, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. Radiesse has not been FDA-approved for use on the hands, but according to Dr. Bank, using it for this purpose is legal and well accepted by the medical community. To minimize pain, an anesthetic is often injected along with the filler. Finally, if brown spots are making you wish you could wear gloves this summer, the best treatments are the same as for your chest - creams that help fade the spots, and lasers or IPL to zap hyperpigmentation away.
Hands are sun-exposed nearly every day of the year. "That's why they're such giveaways of age," says Dr. Bank. To prevent more dark spots and roughness, apply a hand lotion with SPF several times daily. Try Boots No7 Protect & Perfect Hand Cream SPF 15 ($14, target.com). Keep tubes where you're likeliest to spot them - in your purse or desk, beside the sink - and, if possible, reapply every time you wash your hands. And don't forget about your nails: youthful hands don't look quite so youthful without strong, healthy nails.
You Want: A Spotless Chest
To cover brown spots, try mineral powder foundation. "It adheres better than liquid, and won't transfer onto clothes as easily," says Denver makeup artist Michael Moore. It's often water-resistant, too, so you won't sweat it off. Still, the best way to avoid staining your clothing is to leave about an inch between the product and the edge of the fabric. Try Physicians Formula Healthy Wear SPF 50 Powder Foundation ($15, drugstores). Just in case, find the solution to makeup and other stains here.
Help fade spots with daily sloughing. Try Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Advanced Anti-Aging Exfoliate & Replenish Body Wash ($6, drugstores) with niacinamide, a vitamin B derivative shown to help prevent dark spots from forming. Overnight, try a tone-improving 1.5 percent retinol serum, such as Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM ($65, sephora.com). In-office, intense pulsed light treatments (IPL) cause spots to darken and peel off within a few weeks. Typically, you'll need at least two sessions, at a starting price of around $350 apiece. "But if the whole chest area has uneven pigmentation and lots of freckling, the newer Fraxel laser - which can cover a wider area - is the best tool," says Dr. Bank. On average you'll need two to three Fraxel treatments, at approximately $1,000 each. Expect skin to have some redness and flaking for about a week after each session. For something cheaper, try these homemade beauty treatments.
Sun protection is the best way to avoid future brown spots. Apply it generously every day that your chest will be exposed.
PLUS: Learn these beauty secrets to look younger.
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