Although many of us like to think age is just a number, signs of a life well lived eventually start to show on our faces. Even with the most strident prevention efforts, fine lines, discoloration and sagging skin settle in sooner or later, due to slowing cell regeneration and a decrease in the moisturizing oils our skin naturally produces. “Many people associate age with wrinkles, but a lack of collagen and elasticity that causes a droopy jaw line or folds around the mouth can make you look older even without any wrinkles,” says Boldijarre Koronczay, master aesthetician and founder of Éminence Organic Skin Care in Vancouver, British Columbia. Like the springs in a mattress, healthy collagen—the protein that forms the connective tissue under our skin— bounces back when pushed or pulled, Koronczay says. Older skin becomes more like dough: It doesn’t bounce back into place as readily, and gravity takes its toll, causing drooping jowls, saggy cheeks and a hollow look under the eyes. But don’t fear that surgery is your only option. The number of face-lifts performed in the United States has actually declined over the past decade, while anti-aging product sales increased 27 percent between 2007 and 2009, according to Mintel’s Global New Product Database—a shift that could reflect the increasing effectiveness of beauty products that minimize the effects of aging. (Plus, these natural antidotes are much safer and cheaper than surgery!) So before you start thinking scalpel, explore these short- and long-term solutions.
Whip Brows into Shape
Like eyelashes, eyebrows tend to thin as we age, so well-defined ones can make a face look instantly younger. use a brow powder with an angled brush or brow pen to fill in sparser areas, starting where you need the most definition (usually the arch), and using small strokes in the direction of the hair growth.
We like: tarte emphasEYES Amazonian Clay Waterproof Brow Pencil (a) ($20; sephora.com).
Leverage your Lashes
Curling lashes and/or using a luxe mascara open up the eyes for a more youthful appearance. replace eyelash curler sponges every six months, so you don’t damage or pull out existing lashes, says Janine Gelsinger, professional makeup artist and educator in Denver.
We like: Clinique High Impact Curling Mascara (b) ($15; sephora .com), which comes with a curved brush.
Get the Hang of Highlighting
Makeup artists often use highlighting and contouring to bring out a client’s best features and hide flaws, including signs of aging. “You can apply a highlighting cream one or two shades lighter than your skin tone to elevated, bony spots like your cheeks, brow bones and nose bridge to draw attention there,” says Gelsinger.
We like: Fresh Satin Luster Face Palette (c) ($45; fresh.com).
Be Ready for Prime Time
Cosmetic primer helps minimize pores, which get larger with age, and keeps foundation in place. Look for a hydrating one that prevents makeup from drying out and settling in fine lines. An eyelid primer stops shadow from gathering in creases, too.
We like: Sue Devitt Microquatic Blue AntiAging SPF 30 Primer (d) ($48; suedevittbeauty .com), with blue algae extracts to fight redness.