Hollywood stars seem to have found the fountain of youth.
Not only do celebs like Holly Hunter (search), Patricia Heaton, Kim Basinger, Lori Loughlin and Sheryl Crow appear not to be aging, some say they actually look younger than they did years ago.
How is this possible?
Experts say it's a combination of factors, including the usual suspect — plastic surgery — and the aid of personal trainers. But they also say good looks could simply be the result of good grooming, a healthy lifestyle and flattering photos.
"In Hollywood, we’ll assume they had work done, but that's not always the case," said celeb and beauty expert Elycia Rubin (search), author of the upcoming book "Frumpy to Foxy in 15 Minutes Flat." "I think it can be a combination of things — anything from haircut and color to makeup to fine tuning."
In large part, Rubin said, when a star suddenly appears younger than ever, it often comes down to expert styling.
“They say that lighter hair, especially on screen, gives you an overall lift. Brow-shaping — it’s like a mini-facelift almost. Makeup should get lighter as you get older."
In Holly Hunter's case, it seems the trick was going with longer, lighter hair. Hunter, who can now be seen co-starring with Brittany Murphy in the chick flick "Little Black Book," has even been commended in some of the film's reviews for her youthful appearance and long, lightened locks. And "Full House" star Lori Loughlin (search), nowhere to be seen for a decade, has impressed viewers of her new show "Summerland" with her golden brown hair and tanned, toned bod.
"Some women just get more beautiful as they age — even if they haven’t had anything done," she said. "And people get more beautiful as they get more famous."
Dr. Leroy Young, chairman of the emerging trends committee at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (search), agreed that many celebrities who retain their youthful beauty probably just have healthy habits, as well as the resources to find people who help them do the right things.
"If you avoid excess sun and don't smoke, skin stays healthy a lot longer. There's an explosion of medi-spas – they really do work."
Still, Young surmises that the vast majority of people we see in movies have indeed had something done.
"Among the males, a lot have had rhinoplasty. Among the actresses, many have had their breasts done and liposuction. Botox (search) is almost like taking vitamins now."
Patricia Heaton (search) is a proud member of the plastic surgery club. Years ago, viewers of "Everyone Loves Raymond" reportedly wrote in requesting that the star, originally cast as the ordinary wife-next-door, make more of her looks — and were pleased when she did. Heaton later wrote a controversial book, "Motherhood and Hollywood: How to Get a Job Like Mine," in which she candidly discussed her decision to have a tummy tuck and breast reduction.
Of course, in today's celebrity-obsessed culture, some say seemingly ageless stars set unreachable standards of beauty.
"In magazines you see unreasonably fit and thin people," said Young. "They probably work out four hours a day and eat nothing but tofu. All that places pressure on people to try to conform to those standards through diet, exercise and plastic surgery."
But Redbook magazine beauty director Cheryl Kramer said real women know how much effort the stars put into their looks, and their success in fighting Father Time can be inspiring.
"Yes, of course they have trainers, plastic surgery consultants, hair and makeup, people at their beck and call," she said. "I don’t think real women are looking at them and saying, 'My chin is sagging, why isn’t hers?' They say, 'She looks great, what can I do?'"
Celebrity makeup artist Craig Jessup said many women, just like the stars, are finding that simply using the right skin care products can make a huge difference.
"Technology-wise, a lot of age-defying cosmetics are out on the market — topical 'Botox,' silicone. There are probably no more spas anywhere in the country than in Los Angeles. [The stars] really go in for treatments every week."
That said, Jessup says don't believe every picture you see in a magazine.
"If it looks too good to be true, it probably is," he said.