A few weeks ago, I published Part 1 of a 2-part series on the most common reasons women look older than they actually are. Despite what most people believe, Baby Boomer women don’t always want to look younger, but they sure as hell don’t want to look older. Nobody’s that good a sport.
Boomer women aren’t trying to look like their daughters. We realize that it can’t be done. We’ve all seen the unfortunate results of weird or multiple surgeries in the expensive, but ultimately futile, efforts to look 40 when we’re 55. We’ve discovered that looking like a fabulous 60-year-old is better than a ending up like a 40-year-old Frankenwoman. But whether or not we choose to go the cosmetic intervention route, either through surgery or injectables, or simply bi-monthly facials at the local day spa, there are certain habits that can make you look like you didn’t put enough candles on your birthday cake.
Part 1 covered:
- Using the same skincare products you’ve used for years
- Not exfoliating your skin regularly
- Using sunscreen only in the summer
- Avoid hair color products
- Wearing the same makeup you’ve always worn
Now, in Part 2, we’ll offer the other half of the list of Habits to Consider Dumping Because They Make You Look Older:
Going truly au natural on grooming. This is most often seen on nature babies, who say things like “I don’t believe in interfering with Mother Nature. Lines, wrinkles, and traveling facial hair are all natural. So be it. I don’t want to appear vain or shallow, or like I’m obsessed with my appearance.” Well, with your eyebrows working their way towards each other to create the midlife unibrow, the unplucked granny hairs on your chin, and the peach fuzz that has sprouted over your upper lip, your first impression is less likely to be vain or shallow and more likely ex-hippie from Woodstock. Which is absolutely fine, as long as that’s what you want. Otherwise, a good pair of tweezers will be your new best friend. I carry a pair in my handbag. Yes, I’m vain and shallow.
Bargain hunting for a hair stylist. Haircuts really are a case of “You get what you pay for.” While I’m not a proponent of pricey, monthly haircuts (I’ve cut and colored my own hair for 20 years), this is not a time to go to the local hairdressers academy and let the students practice on you for cheap. Five-buck chuck should be reserved for cheap wine or the $5 menu at Dairy Queen. And be careful with the mall salons that hire young, inexperienced hairdressers, especially in rural America. They all lean towards those unfortunate hair styles that are parted down the middle and sport cauliflower floret shaped bangs in the center of your forehead, that appear to have sprouted independently of the rest of your hair. Your hair says too much about you to make price the first consideration. You’re better off to get it cut and/or colored less often, from an experienced hairstylist. Glorious, gorgeous, shiny hair, in a great cut, can take years off your face, and make you feel more vibrant and more confident. You’re worth it.
Avoiding bra fittings because you’ve been wearing the same size for years. Retail experts tell us that up to 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra. Eighty percent. Ill-fitting bras can give you back fat and the dreaded “quatre boobs,” with your breasts bulging out over the top of your cups, appearing like you have four breasts instead of two underneath your t-shirt. Especially if you’ve gone through menopause, during which our bodies shift and morph in ways we don’t even know. It might be the band. It might be the cups. In some cases, it’s both. A well-fitting bra makes you look better proportioned and more elongated by picking up the girls and getting them to sit higher. It also eliminates back fat. You don’t have back fat. Your bra has back fat. If you haven’t done it yet, find a professional salesperson wherever quality bras are sold, and have her measure you. It’s quick. It’s painless. And it might surprise you.
Wearing muted colors around your face. Muted colors in the clothes that are close to your face work like all-nude makeup palettes. They can wash you out and make you look tired (read: older). Color around the face gives it life. Gives it vibrance. Khaki, beige, dusty rose, dusty blue, gray, taupe, anything “heathered.” Colors like these are difficult to wear, and are unflattering on many women. If you like these colors, wear them away from your face. Wear them in your jeans or skirts. Throw on a colored scarf, or add a little bit brighter makeup. Something, anything, that brings a little color closer to your skin. If people ask you if you’re feeling okay (and you are), or if you’re tired (and you’re not), it might very well be the colors you’re wearing next to your face.
Applying makeup to conceal, rather than to highlight. I see this one a lot. As we reach a certain age, our skin is not quite as firm or as even-toned as it used to be. We may have sunspots on our face. Post-menopausal women often report adult-onset acne, many battling it for the first time in their lives. We get dark circles or puffiness under our eyes that we’ve never seen before. And then there are the lines. They show up around our eyes. We see them when we do a “duck face.” They run down our cheeks like topographical maps of the California fault line. So makeup becomes a way to cover all that up. We get heavier foundation. We pack concealer under our eyes and over our blemishes. We put brown contour powder under our necks and cheekbones to replace lost definition. The problem here is that every one of these choices makes you look older. It hides nothing.
When I work with women in their 50s, 60s, and beyond, the first rule is to take what you’re used to wearing and cut it down by half. And before you apply anything, pick the one feature you want to highlight, or draw attention to. It’s usually eyes or mouth, but I’ve seen women with cheekbones like a supermodel, so we picked those. Learn how to play that feature up. Go to Ulta, Nordstrom, Sehpora, or your favorite department store, and have a pro show you how. That’s what they’re there for, and most of them are very good at what they do. No matter which feature you select, everything should be with a light hand. Your face will look fresher, cleaner, less tired, less “done.” You will shine through. And isn’t that what beauty is all about?