In fact, researchers at the University Hospitals in Cleveland and Case Western Reserve University studied 186 pairs of identical twins and found that everyday factors such as sun exposure and smoking significantly accelerated the aging process. By the age of 40, getting more than 30 hours a week of sun exposure added the equivalent of two years to the face, and every 10 years of smoking tacked on another 2.5 years.
It's true that, alas, there's no fountain of youth (if there were, you can be sure the Real Housewives would be filling their infinity pools with its waters). But with some healthy-living tweaks, plus helpful products and treatments, you can slow down the clock and keep your skin looking better than you ever imagined.
Your age-proofing arsenal
Moisturizers! Creams! Cleansers! Serums! All of these products have a place in your routine, but here are a few of the most essential:
Cleanser. A small-grain exfoliating cleanser like Simple Smoothing Facial Scrub ($7; mass retailers) will work for most skin types. "It cleans your skin and exfoliates at the same time," Dr. Fusco says, which zaps dullness that occurs as cell turnover slows down.
Anti-aging serum. Serums contain higher concentrations of therapeutic ingredients than creamsthat means faster results. Look for retinol (a vitamin A derivative), vitamin C, or vitamin Ethese vitamins stimulate collagen production, strengthening skin. BareMinerals Active Cell Renewal Night Serum is gentle enough even for sensitive types.
Eye cream. "Choose an eye cream that contains retinol (to stimulate collagen production) or caffeine (it constricts blood vessels to reduce puffiness and dark circles)," advises Fredric Brandt, MD, a dermatologist in New York City and Coral Gables, Florida. Try Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Moisturizing Eye Cream, which has a low dose of retinol (formulated to avoid irritating this tender skin).
Moisturizer. The key ingredients to look for are glycerin or hyaluronic acid, according to Dr. Brandt, because they help your skin hang on to moisture. Try Physicians Formula Hydrating and Balancing Moisturizer SPF 15. It's oil-free, lightweight, and contains glycerin.
Sunscreen. If you're outside a lot during the day, you need a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 in addition to your moisturizer. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Moisturizer SPF 30 ($14; mass retailers) contains a cocktail of free-radical-fighting antioxidants, and is light and sheer and won't feel tacky under your makeup.