General Question

Kardamom's avatar

How do you determine a woman's age?

Asked by Kardamom (28105points) July 20th, 2014

My neighbor, an 88 year old man, had to go into an assisted living facility two months ago.

To pay for that, his family had to sell his house.

The woman who purchased his house, when I walked next door to introduce myself, looked to me to be about 35 to 40 years old.

The son, of my neighbor, who had to sell the house thought the young woman who bought the house appeared to be middle aged. I am 50, so I figured this woman would be around my same age. When I met her, last week, she appeared to be about 35 to 40 years of age.

My Dad, aged 87, went over to drop off the mail box key today, and reported back to my mother and I that the new homeowner was in her early 20’s.

I’ve met the woman twice, and both times, I would guess that she is in the 35 to 40 category.

My mom has not yet met her, so she has no opinion, other than to be dismayed by the possibility that this woman is either in her 20’s or her 60’s. A huge discrepancy.

I am 50 and have been carded for attempting to purchase decongestant for my allergies, and rum for my Xmas rum cakes, as well as for the occasional lottery ticket. They have a sign at the cash registers (at least they do in CA, that they will ask you for your age if you appear to be under 30). In CA, you have to be 21 to buy alcohol and 18 to buy a lottery ticket or decongestant. I’m 50, but get carded all the time.

Do any of you think that you could not tell the difference between a 20 year old woman and a 50 year old woman, or a 60 year old woman?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

34 Answers

Dan_Lyons's avatar

It really depends on the individual woman.

Women who never use make up do not age nearly as badly as women who do.

And remember Jake LaMotta’s wife? She did a Playboy pictorial in her late 50s and man oh man she did not look anywhere near 50. She looked younger. And her body…!!!!

Lucinda's avatar

It depends on health and genetics, as well as on the context and the observer’s preconceptions.


When I was a senior in college, people were still asking me if I was in high school. A few months later, I went to graduate school. Most people started at 25 or older. People suddenly assumed I was at least 24.

My father was 40 when I was born. I look young for my age and am usually thought to be his granddaughter and, about 30/. If someone knows I am his daughter and knows his age, however, the person may often describe me as “50ish” or “definitely old maid age.” The observer’s expectations can make a 20-year difference.

Demeanor, dress, and mannerisms matter as well. I have a soft voice and am gentle and feminine. I, therefore, tend to be thought younger than I am. More assertive, stern women tend to look older, If I behaved just as I do now but wore clothes stereotypically associated with older ladies (housedresses, polyester pantsuits, shawls) I’d look older. But if an observer grew up in a town where such clothes were worn by women of all ages, the difference in clothing might not affect his/her perception.

I tend to get a feel for both women’s and men’s ages as I get to know them a little. Not only do they act their age, but they give unintended clues to it. They may tell me how old their children are, speak of their high school days differently if they’re 25 from how they would if they were 42, or mention a TV show they loved growing up that was out either before I was born or while I was in high school. I’m not nosy; I pick up on the clues without trying, and often am but a few years off when I find out a person’s real age.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m truly hopeless at judging people’s ages. I would hope I’d be able to gauge whether someone was in their 20s or 50s though! I think the skin on our neck and hands are the most reliable indicators of age.

ragingloli's avatar

You ask her.

anniereborn's avatar

Yes, definitely the hands. I have found this to be true not only on myself but most women. I swear once I turned 40 they looked ten years older over night.

hearkat's avatar

I ask. If I have a sense that they’re uptight about it, I might mention my age or bring up things that give an approximate timeline – like a High School Reunion or something.

If it’s more a matter of curiosity, like someone I’m encountering randomly in public, I look at the hands, the neck, and the fine lines around the eyes and lips. I find that the voice can also tell a lot, too. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule and genetics play a large role, plus they have fillers for the lips and hands, and neck lifts, as well.

FYI – Most states (it may even be a national law) card everyone for the purchase of sudafed, and products containing it. It is not about checking your age, but about tracking the purchases because it is an ingredient that is used to make methamphetamines.

ucme's avatar

Intuition, I have a very good radar for ages.

JLeslie's avatar

By the wrinkles in their face; elasticity and baby fat appearance in their skin, especially on their face; and by their weight. I’ll add sometimes hair quality and style, but that alone without the other things doesn’t mean much, and color of their hair. If a woman has a very young face but at first glance seems old and is very overweight I guess younger than she appears to me. A lot of weight usually ages women under 35, especially if they are in their late teens and 20’s. It can easily age them 10 years. In the opposite direction a woman over 50 looks older usually if she is very skinny.

A friend of ours thought my husband’s sister was 25 when she was 50! He might have been rounding down a few years, but he definitely thought she was very young. She has olive skin, no wrinkles, great body, lots of dark long hair, and dresses young, but not too young for her age, just not dumpy. You aren’t going to catch her in the overweight woman Midwest travel uniform of loose Capri pants, sneakers and socks, and a big t-shirt (I personally have worn this outfit on occasion, but typically I am in sandals). The friend who guessed her age incorrectly isn’t used to seeing darker skin, thin waist, 50 year old women—think Eva Langoria at 50. She always wears clothes that show her figure, but almost never are they revealing or in bad taste.

A final note, 40’s is middle aged. We only live to about 80 on average in America. I don’t hear people use that term much anymore.

XOIIO's avatar


Dan_Lyons's avatar

Grayness of pubic hair in her delicate regions.

livelaughlove21's avatar

You just count the rings.

elbanditoroso's avatar

The most straightforward way, to me, is to take a look at how wrinkled her neck is. Not her face – that can be lifted or botoxed. But most women don’t screw around with their necks.

If she has a tight neck, then she’s under 40. They begin to sag and droop around 50. and Hitting 60, the neck is wrinkled.

The other way to tell – not 100% sure, but close – is to look at the back of the hand. Tight = young, loose = over 50.

XOIIO's avatar

@livelaughlove21 Oh man, that’s pretty good XD

XOIIO's avatar

@elbanditoroso That last bit could be said about other things too, though there are exceptions to the rule :p

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Over about 40-years-old, it’s very difficult to guess a woman’s age. If a woman’s spent the first decades of her adult life smoking, tanning, eating bad foods, and drinking heavily or using drugs, all that behavior will catch up with her very quickly. If she’s taken good care of her body – exercised, eaten a healthful diet, stayed slim, and avoided self-destructive habits – she’ll likely look terrific. And, of course, DNA certainly plays a role.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Ask her when she was born and subtract it from todays date.

flip86's avatar

Look at their neck. Their neck always has wrinkles, even if their face doesn’t.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I was told it had something to do with the number of visible shoulder straps. The more straps, the younger.

cazzie's avatar

It isn’t make up that ages the face. It is smoking and sun damage. I have been told I look 15 years younger than my actual age. My make up contains spf 30. I have never smoked.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

@cazzie You are just lucky.
Makeup clogs pores and that
kills the skin when it cannot breathe.

GloPro's avatar

Take her to the carnival and have them guess. At least you get a stuffed animal out of it, too.

Kardamom's avatar

I think I’ll have my other neighbor ask her LOL.

LuckyGuy's avatar

You could see what kind of phone she carries and where she puts it.

ragingloli's avatar

Break into her home and rifle through her documents.

cazzie's avatar

@Dan_Lyons Your skin renews itself from the underside. Sun damage and smoking damages the collagen, the under layer of the skin which removes the elasticity and causes wrinkles. Make up doesn’t clog pores, or at least, any decent stuff wouldn’t and if it did clog pores, it would cause more problems than imagining it ‘can’t breathe’. If you are a dermatologist or fellow cosmetics formulator and can offer me studies to read, I’ll be more than happy to.

Young looking skin is 60% genetic and 40% good care (some would argue vice versa). If she looks that much older than she actually is, she is a smoking, sun-loving party-girl with, perhaps, unfortunate genes, or perhaps you are just really bad at guessing people’s ages?

elbanditoroso's avatar

Even taking all of the above into account, if I see a 60 year old woman who has the body shape, skin, and face of of a 28-year old woman, I’m going to immediately thing “something is wrong here”.

And more likely I’m going to think that the problem is in her mind, and not her body.

fightfightfight's avatar

I just guess haha! Or if they have crow’s feet that’s kind of giving maybe. I heard it was rude to ask women’s ages but it’s kind of unfair because if they ask me I’d tell them so they should be prepared to give their own age away

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is a case of perception and age. When I was younger I might have guessed a 30 year old to be 50. Now that I’m older I might guess a 20-something to be in their teens.

jca's avatar

I am pretty good at guessing women’s ages. I usually don’t look at women (or anybody, for that matter) and say “I wonder how old this person is.” It usually doesn’t matter how old the person is, anyway.

When I started at the job I have now, over 15 years ago, I went to the dermatologist for something and while I was there, I asked him how I could reduce or limit the signs of aging. He said the thing that ages you most is the sun. He said look at the underside of your arm, how it’s like soft smooth baby skin. He recommended wearing moisturizer with sunscreen in it. He said he did. I have worn it practically every day since then and I think I look pretty good for my age. I put it on my neck, too.

Many people guess that I am in my mid-30’s. I have a 7 year old, and most people my age don’t have young kids. That and the sunscreen…...

JLeslie's avatar

@Dan_Lyons Women who wore make-up all the time before SPF was in everything typically had younger skin. Their foundation helped to protect their faces from the sun. Make-up can age a woman in the sense that sometimes heavy make-up makes a woman appear to be older.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
SadieMartinPaul's avatar

All bets are off if the lady’s obese. If a woman is overweight throughout her adult life, she’ll look matronly at 25 and then stay in a holding pattern for decades. I’ve known obese women who look much too old in their 20s, but they look about the same in their 60s.

Aster's avatar

Look at her neck . Is it firm and tight or loose and sagging? That’s how I can tell.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

If I don’t know the person and cannot ask (which offends many women anyhow-), I go off wrinkles, sags, age spots, weight. If I know of them but do not know them, then i have to take in consideration if they drink a lot, smoke (—and how much), to street drugs, and which of the aforementioned they do in combination, plus how young they started, if known.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther