The price of looking youthful

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On the cover of the book she recently co-authored with her son, Gloria Vanderbilt appears poised and confident. The 92-year-old also looks as though she could easily pass for a woman 30 or even 40 years her junior.

Vanderbilt, who told "The Telegraph" in 2004 that she had plastic surgery, is one of countless people taking advantage of cosmetic procedures to hide the signs of aging. From coloring hair to going under the knife, there are plenty of options for every budget.

Here's a look at the most common age-defying procedures and the average price you could pay.

[See: The High Costs of the Retirement Dream.]

Hair. The easiest way to take years off could be to color grey hair. Ricky Pennisi, owner of Atelier Salon and Spa in New Jersey, says there are differing opinions on grey hair, but it does age a person.

Instead of going straight to a permanent hair color, blending in a semi-permanent color or highlights can help mask the appearance of grey. "It'll give the illusion of a different color," Pennisi says. "That usually buys some time."

For those who decide to embrace grey hair, Pennisi says it's wise to avoid wiry, uncontrolled long grey hair. He suggests using a shaped style and perhaps a clear glaze to add shine. "If you're going to go grey, make sure you have an incredible cut to go with it."

  • Coloring: $40-$75 every 5-8 weeks (varies by salon and region)

Skin. Anti-aging creams, lotions and serums promise dramatic results, but some may include ingredients with questionable credentials. However, that doesn't mean all skin products should be dismissed. "Retinol is a very tried and true ingredient," says Samantha Estrella, sales and education director for LifeCell skincare. The ingredient can smooth wrinkles and improve skin texture, but users should be aware it can make skin sensitive to sunlight and may be best used at night.

Vitamins C and E have also been shown to be beneficial in treating damaged skin. Since most skin damage is related to sun exposure, wearing sunblock every day is another key to maintaining a youthful appearance. Some skincare ingredients may cause allergic reactions or aggravate conditions such as rosacea, so it may be best to get the opinion of a dermatologist or allergist to avoid unpleasant side effects.

RELATED: Sephora money-saving hacks

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The price of looking youthful

Sign up to be a Sephora Beauty Insider
Sephora's rewards program is one of the few retail rewards programs that's worth the occasional pesky email.

There are three levels to the program, with benefits ranging from exclusive free make-up classes, free unlimited makeovers, handpicked products and flash 2-day shipping online.

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Each dollar you spend will earn you a point, which you can redeem for sample and full-sized gifts that are valued at different point amounts. 

Check "Beauty Deals" for current promotions
Sephora's Beauty Deals section will give you access to special online codes you can use for discounts.

They'll also list current and upcoming deals and promotions both in-store and online. A must-look at before you shop!

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Remember that products are organized with price in mind
In simplest terms, products on the outside aisles will be cheaper than those further inside the aisles, and products at eye-level will be more expensive (and aesthetically pleasing) than those on lower levels.

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Look to see if items you already bought are now discounted
Sephora will honor a price adjustment if an item you purchased within the last two weeks has been dropped to a discounted price.

Keep your eyes peeled for newly discounted items and always save your receipts. 

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Sign up for a free beauty class
Many people aren't aware that Sephora offers several weekly beauty training classes for free.

From everything to perfecting your brows to nailing a natural look, beauty experts will show you the ropes without even making you buy any of the products you use.

You'll save yourself so much time and frustration (and money!) by not having to test hundreds of different products to find out what works best for you.

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Indulge in a free 15-minute makeover
Much like the free beauty classes, this in-store feature will help you figure out exactly what products you like best.

You'll have a customized one-on-one experience in which you can (quickly, of course) explain what type of product you want and what your budget is so that your beauty expert can help you find what you need.

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Plus, who doesn't want to bat their eyelashes after a free makeover? Treat yourself!

Don't be fooled by sample-size products
Sample-sized products may appear to be more manageable, and because of how small they are, most people assume they're much cheaper.

Though they will be lower in price than larger sizes of the same product, they're nowhere near as cheap as they should be for the amount you're getting.

Some sample sizes will only be $5-10 cheaper than a full size of the same product and you're only getting a tiny fraction of the full size. 

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Engage on social media
Sephora will post deals, promotions and free events on its different social media outlets.

By "liking" them on Facebook or following them on Twitter, you can catch wind of a sweet deal that you might have otherwise missed.

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Cash in on Sephora's liberal return policy
One of the best in retail, Sephora's return policy allows for any item to be returned to the store within 60 days of purchase so long as the product is in decent condition.

Don't feel weird about returning that bronzer!

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Take all of the free samples that you can
Customers are entitled to three free samples per department--all you have to do is ask!

Sephora's samples are usually pretty generous, and they're a great way to get product for free as well as test something out before you invest.

That way you really know whether or not a product will react well with your skin or if it's worth the extra few bucks.

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As for when to begin using them, Estella says you're never too young to start. "Everyone – even as young as 20 – should be working to prevent damage in the skin," she says.

  • Anti-aging skin care regimen: $50-$150 a month

[Read: 10 Financial Perks of Growing Older.]

Teeth. As teeth age, they tend to darken, says Bruce Seidner, founder of Seidner Dentistry and Associates in Randolph, New Jersey, and a fellow at the Academy of General Dentistry. Whitening is the cheapest and easiest way to make a smile look younger. However, not everyone can have their teeth successfully whitened. Sometimes a person's enamel or damage to the teeth make it difficult to achieve lasting results. In those cases, a veneer covering the tooth may be a better option.

Veneers are said to have a 10-year lifespan, but Seidner has found they can last much longer. "I had some [patient veneers] I put in 30 years ago, and they are still in," he says.

When damage, and not darkness, is the issue, dentists may be able to add crowns to teeth to improve their look. However, in severe cases, implants may be the only option. For those who want to avoid dentures, dental implants have become a popular choice. While pricey, their price can be half to a quarter of the cost of the implant method used a decade ago. "It's not really a cosmetic procedure, but the cosmetic result is unbelievable," Seidner says.

  • Whitening: $6.50-$100 for over-the-counter products, $500-$600 for in-office whitening, although sale pricing is common
  • Veneers: $1,000-$1,500
  • Dental implants: $25,000-$30,000

Body. Cosmetic surgery and invasive treatments are the most extreme ways to stop the natural aging process. Procedures range from Botox injections to plump lips and fill in saggy skin by the eyes and forehead to major surgeries such as breast augmentation and tummy tucks.

You will likely need to pay for these treatments out of pocket. "Insurance doesn't pay for anything cosmetic," says Daniel Maman, a board-certified plastic surgeon at 740 Park Plastic Surgery in New York city.

Given the serious financial, physical and emotional implications of cosmetic surgery, people should take their time considering why they want the change and which surgeon to use. "Make sure you want the procedure," says Norman Rowe, a board-certified plastic surgeon at New York City-based Rowe Plastic Surgery. "Once you have had the [surgery], it's nearly impossible to reverse."

To find a surgeon, look for someone certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, and beware of other cosmetic surgery associations that are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties. In addition, don't shop by price alone. "When you go to low-end facilities – we call them chop shops – they just want your money," says Maman, who won't operate on smokers or those with unrealistic expectations. More expensive clinics may provide lifetime follow-up services and be more candid about whether you're a good candidate for surgery.

  • Botox: $1,000
  • Eyelid surgery: $6,000-$15,000
  • Face/neck lift: $10,000-$15,000
  • Breast enhancement: $10,000-$20,000
  • Tummy tuck: $10,000-$20,000

[See: 12 Great Things About Retirement.]

Chasing the fountain of youth is not cheap, or even particularly easy. However, there is no denying cosmetic procedures can have a dramatic effect on appearance. Before spending the time and money, it may be best to ask yourself how important is it to look like you're 30 when you're 50, 60, or 90.

Copyright 2016 U.S. News & World Report

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