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My Fellow (Stylish) Americans, Beauty Successes After 50 Skip to content

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My Fellow (Stylish) Americans

Our fashion maven delivers her annual 'State of Our Looks' address

Susan Sarandon for L'Oreal

Mark Abrahams for L'Oréal Paris.

No way Susan Sarandon is 60+

In English | In his final State of the Union speech two week's ago, President Barack Obama encouraged us to embrace change and reject fear. I'm no politician, but as a beauty editor, I think that bit of presidential wisdom makes sound advice for any woman who wants to look great after 50.

Like the president, I, too, have an agenda for conquering our foes — in this case, ageism. So as 2016 picks up speed, let's channel our inner commander-in-chief by reviewing last year's successes in the Global War on Ageism and plotting out our campaign strategy for the year ahead.


2015 successes:

  • Last year we really upped our online shopping game, exploring new retail sites, mobile apps and sales alerts. Result? We now refuse to pay full price.
  • To boost the volume of our thinning hair and save it from aggressive daily heat styling, we adopted dry shampoos as part of our routine.
  • We committed — finally! — to a firm policy of SPF 30-plus sunscreen, 365 days a year.
  • We expanded our visual footprint in beauty advertising. In addition to an already impressive lineup of pitchwomen — think Andie MacDowellHelen MirrenDiane Keaton — L'Oréal Paris added Susan Sarandon as the company's brand ambassador for its Age Perfect product line. Score one for us, but we're waiting for more brands to follow suit — and we'll remind them if they don't!

2016 strategy:

  • Make a few trade agreements. It's time to break off relations with the layered look. See if you can't get the same camouflage benefits with a simpler clothing philosophy. Pair a slouchy, oversize top (such as a cowl sweater, a wide-V or boatneck tee, or an airy silk shirt) with cropped pants (slim or culotte width) and some cool shoes: tapered loafers, perhaps, or chunky-heel bootees. The upshot will be a go-anywhere, day-to-evening look.

Dolce Vita Port


Dolce Vita Port

  • Reestablish ties with your body. Let's imagine, for a moment, that you wish to use the elongating trick — that is, showing your neck and ankles — as a way to compensate for the generous cut of boyfriend jeans, culottes, or midi and A-line skirts and dresses. First, choose a neckline that dips below the collarbone; even cowls do this. Second, stick to ankle-length pants and jeans, then roll up the cuffs, if necessary, to show a sliver of skin between pant hem and bootees.

Nude heels of any height are always reliable leg lengtheners, but did you know that beige, tan or even pale-gray peeptoes extend your silhouette in the same flattering way? (Crazy, I know, but it works.)

Almay Smart Shade CC Luminous Primer


Almay Smart Shade CC Luminous Primer

  • Make a peace pact with your face. Yes, there are issues — wrinkles and skimpy brows are the new normal, so acknowledge that, and move on! Then reconcile yourself to the change by adding three non-negotiable weapons to your beauty arsenal:

1. Hi-tech makeup primers in shimmery gels or balms give dry, lined skin a silky, even texture when applied under makeup or on bare skin. They also work as a touch-up over makeup if, say, you want to keep your T-zone oil- and shine-free. And unlike compact powder, makeup primers can fill large pores on the nose with an undetectable finish. Product options to explore include Almay Smart Shade CC Luminous Primer or Revlon PhotoReady Prime + Anti Shine Balm.

Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Synthetic Pointed Foundation Brush - No 121


Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Synthetic Pointed Foundation Brush - No 121

2. Because they enable you to control the degree of coverage, synthetic makeup brushes let you apply wet, creamy face makeups (foundation and concealers, for the most part) evenly and accurately. Two additional advantages: Unlike a brush with natural or fluffy bristles, a synthetic one does not absorb product, so there's no waste; and a synthetic brush produces a streak-free finish. You can experiment with products like Sonia Kashuk Core Tools Synthetic Pointed Foundation Brush — No 121 or Revlon Concealer Brush.

NYX Cosmetics Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade


NYX Cosmetics Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade

3. Combo brow filler/grooming pomades look authentic even on areas where eyebrow hairs are missing. Resistant to both sweat and water, they can correct thin, short-tailed or overplucked brows; they can also "persuade" curly or coarse hairs to stay put. Common examples are Maybelline's Eyestudio Brow Drama Pomade Crayon and NYX Cosmetics' Tame & Frame Tinted Brow Pomade.

Looking for more beauty and style tips? You'll find them in my latest book, The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life and Love After 50, as well as in AARP's new Beauty & Style digital magazine, on your iPad or tablet.

(Video) Sneak Peek of AARP The Magazine’s Special Beauty & Style Issue: In this video, you’ll have a front row seat to learn beauty secrets from Christie Brinkley, Bobbi Brown and more. Watch now!

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