Switch to gentle, moisturizing skin-care products. Once lipid levels in the skin start to decline, water evaporates more readily from the skin, making it more sensitive to harsh detergents -- which is why you should use products with skin-hydrating ingredients like glycerin, vitamin E, aloe, soy and copper. Age-defying picks: Chanel Précision Ultra Correction Nuit with vitamin E ($65; gloss.com), Osmotics Blue Copper 5 ($150; osmotics.com), L'Oréal Plénitude Age Perfect Cream SPF 15 with glycerin and vitamin E ($15; at drugstores) and Lancôme Absolue Absolute Replenishing Cream SPF 15 ($90; lancome.com).
Make peels a regular part of your routine. To help get rid of surface dryness and restore radiance and smoothness to the skin, dermatologists administer peels (typically using glycolic or trichloroacetic acid) and microdermabrasion -- a treatment where microscopic particles of sand or salt are directed at the skin to gently peel away its outer layer. You'll need a series of six treatments over the course of six months (at a cost of about $150 each) to see a dramatic difference.
Talk to your dermatologist about anti-aging treatments. Injections of collagen -- the fibrous protein found in the connective tissues of skin and cartilage -- can plump up smile lines and wrinkles around the lips for about six months, at a cost of about $350 per visit. (Possible side effects range from redness to swelling at the injection site.) Then there's the CoolTouch Laser ($200-$1,000 per five- to 10-minute treatment, depending on the size of the area you want treated). It smooths lines by simultaneously delivering a very high amount of energy (absorbed by the deeper layers of skin) and a cooling spray to prevent damage to the skin's outer layer (why there's virtually no redness or blistering after the procedure). This deeper "wound" seems to stimulate the growth of new collagen.
Tried & Tested: The new copper creams
Copper has garnered a lot of attention recently as the hot new anti-aging ingredient. (It had been used for years to heal the skin of burn victims.) We disguised jars of Neutrogena's copper cream, Visibly Firm Night Cream ($20; at drugstores), and sent them off to 20 women between the ages of 25 and 50 for testing. The most common result reported -- after six weeks of daily use -- was skin that looked smoother and softer. "My skin definitely felt tighter and more supple," one of our 40-year-old testers told us. "My skin seemed much softer after using it," said another. While not formal research, our small test seemed to back up the copper claims we'd been hearing all along: that copper packs a three-in-one punch, helping to plump up, hydrate and firm the skin. -- V.L.