Aging is weird. It happens in fits and starts. You go along for weeks or months, looking pretty good, feeling kind of fabulous about yourself and - boom- one day you wake up and something has gone terribly awry with your knees. “They don’t even look like actual knees anymore, more like small, overripe cantaloupes” you whine to yourself. Or you catch sight of your arms in a picture from that wedding you went to. You thought you looked so great as you walked out the door, and it turns out you left wearing your grandmother’s upper arms, which, in your youth, you called her Bingo Wings or her Hi Bettys.
Here's the unvarnished truth. We can exercise until we can bench press a Smart Car, we can subsist on kale, carrots, and berries, we can even get an assist from the most gifted plastic surgeon, but nothing can stop the cruel and inexorable march of time and the devastation it leaves in its wake.
What we can do is relax a little and make the best of what we’ve got. Here are my five favorite beauty and fashion finds that make putting myself together less traumatic and a little more confidence building.
- Sunscreen and Retinol - My friend, Dr. Susan Baskin practices aesthetic medicine, and she is a living advertisement for her profession. Every person in her office, including the good doctor, has gorgeous, glowing skin. According to Susan, two of the most important components for maintaining beautiful skin are the consistent use of sunscreen and retinols. (Allure magazine has a good article that talks more in depth about the subject of retinol use.) Since I’ve started keeping my face slathered in sunscreen on even the rainiest days and faithfully applying retinol cream morning and night, my skin has become much smoother, the pores are smaller and the fine lines have virtually disappeared. I still have noticeable laugh lines - OK, crows feet for the haters out there - and my jaw line is starting to go, but overall my skin looks darn good for someone in her golden years.
- Mascara - As a natural, though currently color-assisted, blond with light blue eyes, I look like a lab rat without mascara. When I leave the house without eye makeup, people ask me if I am unwell or in need of a nap. Unfortunately, to this challenging physical combination, I must also cope with deep-set eyes. This, friends, creates an eye-makeup disaster just waiting to happen. Virtually every brand of mascara I’ve tried has ended up in wide rings under my eyes, making me look like a fashion-forward raccoon or a sleep deprived drug addict. Imagine my delight when I discovered Blinc Mascara, sent to me a while ago in my Birchbox sample box. Blinc doesn’t coat your lashes; it puts tiny little tubes of color on each lash. (Don’t ask how; just trust me on this.) It stays put perfectly, with no flaking or peeling, until you gently coax it off with warm water and a washcloth. Blinc mascara is a product heaven-sent for aging contact lens wearers. Like me!
- Scent - For more than 30 years, I’ve worn the same scent, Cabotine, a light, floral that reminds me of spring flowers and sunshine. I don’t feel fully dressed without it. A subtle perfume can be evocative and uplifting or mysterious and beguiling. Whether you’re a scent loyalist like I am or an adventurous spirit who matches her scent to her mood, a light spray of eau de toilette or a dab of perfume at your pulse points, can take your day from OK to oooh la la!
- Olive Oil - Over the years my hair has changed from a cascade of glossy, swinging locks to an unruly mop of dry frizz. Both age and hair coloring are the culprits, robbing me of my youthful crowning glory. On the search for a way to restore some of my hair's original luster and manageability, I stumbled upon (literally - this tip came to me via stumbleupon.com) an almost magical solution. Olive oil! For centuries women have used olive oil to keep their hair shiny and healthy for very little money. It takes a bit of experimentation - the amount of oil and duration of the treatment depends on your hair - but try this if your hair is giving your age away.
- Boots - If you’re anything like me, aging has done a number on your feet. Mine used to be adorable: tiny, plump and, truth be told, kind of perfect. Now they are not only significantly less lovely, my feet hurt. All the damn time. It’s hard to feel pretty when your dogs are barking. Pregnancy and distance running have expanded my tootsies from a delicate size 5 ½ to a battered size 7. The search for beautiful, yet comfortable shoes, for which I have a true addiction, is ongoing and, for the most part, futile. My solution? Boots. I have five pairs of cowboy boots that are extraordinarily comfortable, sassy, and look amazing with jeans and short dresses. For dressier occasions, especially in Maine winters, I have beautiful black suede knee high boots with pointed toes, a graceful heel, and most important, a deeply padded foot bed. They’ll take me through all but the dressiest of occasions.
And finally, as a bonus because I'm generous like that, I'm going to give you - at no extra charge - my very best beauty secret of all. Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than a warm and welcoming smile. A heart that is open to possibility and a spirit that rejoices in love and friendship will show in your eyes and in your smile. Nothing can transform a forgettable face to one that is cherished and remembered faster than a smile that starts at the eyes, moves to the mouth, and reaches out to the world with joy.
These are my best beauty secrets, ones that I’m happy to share. If you want to pass any of yours along, I'll be forever in your debt.