Photo: Fernando Milani
Several years ago I wrote a story called 7 Things Nobody Ever Tells You About Aging. Lots of you commented on it. So the editors at Oprah.com thought it would be a good idea for me to write a kind of addendum to it. Something like "6 More Things Nobody Ever Tells You." "It'll be easy," they told me. "You won't even have to do any research." By which they meant that I could look back into the beauty story archives and pull out those pieces that had to do with specific challenges to your looks as you age. (And by which they didn't mean, as I immediately thought, that all I would have to do is to gaze down at my 60-year-old body to discover "6 More Things Nobody Ever Tells You." They didn't mean that. They swear it.) So here are six more decrepitudinous things you either have to look forward to if you're lucky enough to make it into your fourth, fifth, and sixth decades and beyond, or, well, if, like me, a glance in your mirror tells you unequivocally that things they are a-changing.
1. You may develop "turkey neck"
Why: The skin around the neck is particularly prone to the wear and tear of aging because it's thinner than facial skin and has a different collagen content, says Alan Matarasso, MD, clinical professor of plastic surgery at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. Plus, it's one of the most sun-exposed parts of the body, making it especially vulnerable to UVA/UVB damage.
What to do about it: You can take preventative measures by using the same prescription or prescription-strength products on your neck that you apply on your face, including retinoids (such as Retin-A, Renova, or Tazorac), and, of course, sunscreen every day.
But the problem with turkey neck is that once you have one, you can't get dramatically improved results without taking dramatic action. Think of your neck as a skirt that needs hemming, suggests the metaphorically gifted Matarasso. You can iron the skirt (meaning treat it with various lasers, which can help smooth the skin) and reinforce the fabric of the skirt (meaning apply creams like retinoids that will encourage production of collagen and elastin), but unless you hem the skirt, you won't lose the excess fabric. What does "hemming" entail? An incision behind the earlobes, suctioned fat, lifted and tightened muscles, and a small scar from behind the ears into the hairline. (Not to mention a recovery time of 10 to 14 days, and a cost of about $10,000.)
Bottom line: If your turkey neck is in full swing, neither lasers nor creams will make an appreciable difference. However, before you send your neck to the tailor, think long and hard about what people see when they look at you. Your magnificent eyes and delicious smile may render your neck way less noticeable than you think.
2. Your hair gets frizzier and more brittle
Why: As we age, our scalp can become drier, which can make the hair drier, too; and when hair loses its pigment, turning gray or white, its texture often becomes frizzier, says David H. Kingsley, PhD, a board-certified trichologist.
What to do about it: Your hair needs moisture, and the best way to restore it is with a moisturizing shampoo and conditioning treatments. Use a leave-in conditioner daily and a deep-conditioner or a thick hair mask once a week (Oprah's longtime stylist, Andre Walker, launched a Keratin Mask and Treatment Pak that you can leave on for five minutes in the shower). Make sure you also eat well and regularly; include enough protein in your diet; exercise; drink enough water (so that you're not thirsty); and to hedge your bets, take a multivitamin, says Kingsley.
Bottom line: Maintaining a healthy diet and keeping your hair well moisturized will make it look healthier and shinier no matter what your age.
Related: Got thinning hair? Here's help.
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