In this report

Forever young?

What works—and what doesn't—in the ongoing quest for youth

Last reviewed: May 2010
Illustration of people in and around a fountain
Illustration by Harry Campbell

Like the Rolling Stones' song says, it's a drag getting old, and marketers know it: Every year, they bombard us with an array of products that claim to turn back the clock on our faces, our bodies, and even our brains. There are lotions and potions to smooth your wrinkles and hair dyes to cover your gray. If you have no hair left to cover, there are purported baldness cures. And those are just the products at the drugstore. Department stores, specialty shops, and doctors' offices offer other, pricier options. Staying young is definitely a big business.

Does any of this stuff actually work? To find out, we examined the anti-aging market on three fronts.

To see which baldness remedies are worth trying, we turned to the opinions of our subscribers.

More than 8,000 readers answered an online survey about hair loss and their experiences with hair-regrowth remedies. They also provided their own strategies for making hair look thicker, including creative hairstyling and bulking up at the gym (hey, whatever works).

In our Yonkers, N.Y., headquarters, we dyed about 500 gray-hair tresses with do-it-yourself hair dyes. Then we put the hair through a month's worth of every-other-day washings to see whether the color held.

And in an outside lab, we tested a batch of over-the-counter anti-wrinkle serums on 79 participants who lent us their faces and let us photograph them close up to see whether the products visibly reduced wrinkles and fine lines. We also surveyed subscribers to learn what really makes people look their age.

Can you find the fountain of youth at the pharmacy? At a microsurgical hair-restoration facility? Read on and find out.