10 signs that give away your age

Expert tips on how to fix the head-to-toe signs that telegraph your real age.
Health.com // Health.com

What exactly is it about a woman's body that telegraphs her age, beyond the usual suspects like crow's-feet and laugh lines? Turns out that there are subtle, head-to-toe signs that show whether a woman is 30-something, or more likely closing in on 50.

We gathered simple, do-it-now fixes from top dermatologists, makeup masters, stylists, and fitness experts. With our help, you'll have everyone believing you're 10 years younger in no time.

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Sign #1: Barely-there brows

Where did those luscious lashes and brows go? Chalk it up to the age-related drop in hormones that slows hair growth, and all those years of follicle-destroying tweezing.

What you can do:

Stop pruning now. "Go for a professional brow shaping and learn how to maintain your brows so you don't overtweeze or overwax," says Maria Verel, Diane Sawyer's makeup artist.

Color them in. Use a brow pencil in a shade slightly lighter than your brows. "Rather than draw a continuous line, make gentle feather strokes," Verel says. Then use a spiral brow brush or baby toothbrush to blend.

Get primed. A lash primer conditions and thickens what you've got.

Switch mascaras. Swap your lengthening formula for a thickening product. Apply the first coat by placing the wand at the base of your lashes and swishing from side to side. Let it set for 15 seconds, then sweep on a second coat.

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Sign #2: The incredible shrinking smile

Years of gabbing, eating, grinning—basically living your life—can leave your front teeth shorter, as friction wears them down. Plus, tooth enamel erodes with age, letting the underlying darker dentin show through, making your smile fade.

What you can do:

Cover up. Brighten teeth and add length with veneers, suggests William J. Cohen, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in New York. The thin, custom-made shells cover the front of the tooth and last "indefinitely," he says. But they're pricey, about $775 per tooth. Bonding, where tooth-colored materials are applied to the tooth's surface, is half the price and lasts about four years.

Lighten up. Try a chairside bleaching, offered in most dentists' offices. Or invest in one of the many home whitening systems.

Use makeup. Line the outside of your lips with lip pencil for a fuller-looking mouth. Top with a light-colored lipstick. "Stay away from vampy lipsticks in dark plum, wine, or brown," recommends makeup artist Laura Geller. "Brighter or lighter colors make your smile more youthful."

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Sign #3: Wobbly ear lobes

Those chandelier earrings and over-size hoops haven't done you any favors: Years of wearing heavy earrings can cause earlobes to thin and stretch. Even if you've stuck to studs—or nothing at all—the elastic skin fibers in the earlobes weaken and give in to gravity.

What you can do:

Fill-er up. Some women are opting to get yearly injections of the cosmetic filler, Restylane, to give their lobes fullness and lift, says dermatologist Frederic Brandt, MD. Injections run $700 to $1,000.

Frame your face. Hairstylist Edward Tricomi, co-owner of the Warren Tricomi salons in New York, suggests getting a cut that hits below the ear, such as a longer bob or a style that is pushed toward the face.

Get a 30-second lift. Shore up sagging lobes with Lobe Wonder ($6 for 60 disks; lobewonder.com). Apply these fingernail-size disks of sticky plastic tape behind each lobe and put your posts on as usual.

Go jewelry shopping. Lose those heavy chandeliers from seasons past: Earlobe-friendly drop pendants and dangling small stones are the hot items this summer, says Clinton Kelly, fashion stylist and star of The Learning Channel's (TLC's) What Not To Wear. Or, for added coverage, invest in clip-on earrings made of lighter materials like shells or mother of pearl.

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Sign #4: Paper-thin neck skin

Your smooth, sexy neck develops vertical ridges when muscular bands—the platysma—separate as skin loses elasticity and the fatty tissue that softens the neck diminishes. These bands tend to stand out more when you speak. A face-lift would help tighten the skin in the neck (among other things!). But some docs use Botox to relax the muscles so they're less prominent, Brandt says.

What you can do:

Oil up. "When I'm working with an older actress, I apply a lot of rich moisturizer to plump up skin," says Karen Kawahara, a makeup artist who has worked with Annette Bening and Demi Moore. For super-dry skin, Kawahara recommends applying olive oil to clean skin at night. A rich moisturizer will both hydrate skin and protect it from sun damage.

Create an illusion. Putting on a thin layer of reflective foundation helps light bounce off skin and make it appear less crepe-y, Verel says.

Take the long way. "There's no rule that you have to wear your hair short because you've reached a certain age," Tricomi says. "Go for an oval-shaped cut with soft layers that brush the neck."

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Sign #5: Pregnancy has changed the shape of your belly button

We call it the hoodie. Plastic surgeon Andrew Mark Klapper, MD, of New York calls it the "umbilical wink." Whatever the lingo, a change in belly button shape is most often brought on by pregnancy: As your uterus expands, the umbilical stalk stretches, reconfiguring the navel postdelivery. But thanks to sagging, less-than-taut skin, any woman can end up with a hoodie.

What you can do:

Give it a trim. A tummy tuck will reshape your navel. But a less radical option called an umbilicoplasty can also tighten the skin; the procedure runs around $3,000 to $5,000 and typically requires general anesthesia, so it's serious business.

Camouflage it. Skip the low-slung jeans and belly-baring tops, says fashion guru Clinton Kelly. "No matter how great your belly button looks, if you're 40, super-low-rise jeans won't make you look like a teen, only like you're trying to look like one," he says. "But the classic, high-waisted "mommy jean" could age you even more." His advice: Wear jeans with a medium rise about an inch or so beneath your belly button, and pair them with tops that tuck in or are longer than your waist.

Try a tankini. This form-fitting top can show off your hard-earned figure just as well as its skimpier cousin, without exposing your hoodie.

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Sign #6: 'The girls' have lost their perkiness

Hormonal changes and the loss of skin elasticity cause once-perky breasts to become pendulous and slowly drop, so your bustline ends up several inches lower. Breastfeeding, weight loss, and sun damage (which further weakens the skin above the breasts) can make things worse.

What you can do:

Tighten your bra straps. This simple adjustment can make a difference in your look and comfort, says Dana Schiller, spokesperson for Warnaco Intimate Apparel. How tight? In front of a mirror, bend your elbows to 90 degrees. Your breasts should sit halfway between your shoulder and your elbow.

Get fit. "Go for a professional bra fitting at least every five years, or more often if you've gained or lost 10 pounds and seen changes in your chest," Kelly says.

Buy a bra with boost. An underwire bra with stretch foam cups provides natural shaping and support.

Pamper your decollete. Protect delicate chest skin with an SPF 15 sunblock, says dermatologist Diane Madfes, MD, of New York. Plus, slather on an anti-aging cream filled with antioxidants like vitamin C.

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Sign #7: Super-dry elbows

A number of factors conspire to turn your smooth, supple elbows into concentric circle-like wrinkles around a patch of ashy, flaky skin. As its elasticity drops over time, the skin around your elbows bunches up, and the tips of your elbows can become darker as layers of dead, dry skin start to accumulate.

What you can do:

Slough off. Exfoliate with a grainy scrub.

Get growing. Stimulate collagen production to rejuvenate your skin, suggests dermatologist Diane Madfes. Look for lotions containing glycolic acids, Vitamin A, or alpha hydroxy acids.

Embrace the three-quarters sleeve. A flattering look for most figures, three-quarters-sleeve silhouettes will give you great coverage when you don't want to bare all. Look for thin, natural fabrics to keep you cool in the summer heat. Another option perfect for summer are kimono sleeves, Kelly says.

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Sign #8: Saggy knees

The same thing that happens to elbows afflicts the knees: As the laxity of your skin increases, wrinkles and sagging begin to appear around the joint. Plus, you may develop a fold of skin just along the inside of the knee, which some women seek liposuction to remove. But there are faster (and cheaper!) solutions.

What you can do:

Firm up. This isometric leg exercise can help improve the look of your legs, Pfeffer says—and you can do it at your desk! Sitting in a chair, extend your right leg and rest your heel on the floor, foot flexed with toes toward the ceiling. Tighten the muscles in your thigh, and try to move your knee cap upward. Hold for one to two seconds; repeat 15 to 20 times with each leg. Do this exercise once a day.

Reassess your wardrobe. Save the knee-baring shorts and skirts for the gym, tennis court, or supercasual occasions. Skirts and dresses that hit just below the knee are the most flattering length for all body types, stylist Clinton Kelly says. Capri pants are another good option. "Choose a capri that hits just below the widest part of your calf," Kelly says. "And make sure they're straight-leg capris—tapered legs can over-emphasize the hips, and flared legs can make the leg line appear to be shorter."

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Sign #9: The bumps and cracks on your feet

Your feet have done you many favors, and, chances are, you haven't repaid them with kindness—instead forcing them into pointy pumps and pounding the pavement. Add the cushioning fat pads you lose with age, and it's no wonder you have feet that are bony and bumpy, callused, and cracked.

What you can do:

Exfoliate. "It's the key for feet," Madfes says. Scrub softened feet in the shower with a pumice stone daily, and try her superscrub regimen every other week: Mix kosher salt, a drop of olive oil, and water into a rough paste. Massage into feet and rinse. Follow with a moisturizer.

Measure up. Ill-fitting shoes make calluses and bunions worse. And because your feet spread as you age, your shoes may be too small. Get a professional fitting.

Buy shoes strategically. If the strappy-sandal trend is getting you down, take heart: There are great styles that flatter feet without revealing too much. Look for wide straps that cross in front, adding coverage and creating the illusion of a thinner, sleeker foot, suggests Meghan Cleary, shoe expert and author of "The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You." Open-toe wedge espadrilles will give you a summer look with just enough coverage and support.

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