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Must We Say 'No' to Look Good?

Leave the self-denial to others — it's chocolate chip cookies for me

Say 'yes' to colorful fruits and veggies


Say "yes" to colorful fruits and veggies.

Denial — as in "No, thanks," not as in being in denial — is a hot trend.

I can't turn around without hearing a friend or colleague identify a foodstuff they claim not to have eaten in the last 12 months, from bread and dairy to sugar and carbs. Then they rave about the results: better skin; thicker, shinier hair; renewed energy; and, of course, pounds pared.

Other denialists exult about no longer washing their face or their hair quite so often, while a third group has sworn off coloring their hair or using products that contain chemicals. Reality check? These are the same 50-plus women who just last year were broadcasting their cravings — for cupcakes, smoothies, ombré highlights and the newest wrinkle cream.

Could it be that boasting about what we (allegedly) no longer want or need has become the new "power brag"? Seems like it! Just don't expect such faux humility from me: Instead, sign me up for extra blonde highlights — and enough makeup for the cast of Cats.

Here's what's truly going on when you hear someone say:

"I haven't eaten pizza since Christmas." Ri-i-ght. Everyone cheats sometimes. And we all stash an emergency Snickers in the freezer.

And yet … there's something to this one. Please stop eating so much sugar and processed carbs (which often assume stealth forms in so-called veggie chips, health bars and prepackaged smoothies). They break down collagen and elastin, causing our faces to sag and wrinkle rather than stay springy and firm.

Besides, who needs the extra calories? Intensely colored fruits and vegetables can give you a sugar/carb fix, with a bonus of skin- and hair-boosting antioxidants and vitamins.

"Nothing but organics for me." With younger celebs promoting indie brands and drugstores offering natural alternatives cheek by jowl with their regular products, the green beauty category is taking off. Yet just because a product is labeled organic — or vegan, or chemical free, or nontoxic or natural — does not make it better, safer or healthier.

Those with sensitive skin, for example, or those susceptible to adult acne or allergies may find they react more strongly to natural products than to those conjured in a lab. We know that sulfates, silicones and synthetic fragrances are questionable and newsy, but what do you think we've been avidly smearing and spritzing on ourselves for decades, often with gorgeous results? As I see things, lab-engineered products that blend synthetic ingredients with plant extracts and other natural elements — so long as they are manufactured by major brands with a track record for safety and research — are the way to go.

"I wash my face only at night, and my hair once a week." The technical term here is "Yuck!"

I don't know about you, but bedtime is night-treatment time — sometimes a retinol, sometimes layers of hydrating serum and cream. Doesn't my skin (and yours) deserve a fresh morning start with a gentle cleanser before the indignities of the day begin?

Let's likewise keep in mind that mature hair is some combo of thin/wimpy/dry/fragile/coarse, making water shampoos crucial for stimulating circulation at the roots and promoting healthy growth. To keep your scalp fresh and your locks looking good, try alternating a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner with a strengthening serum, oil treatment or mask.

And while you're at it, eat some dark chocolate.

For more beauty and fashion tips, check out The Woman's Wakeup: How to Shake Up Your Looks, Life, and Love After 50 (full disclosure: I wrote it!) as well as AARP's new Beauty & Style digital magazine (available on iPad).

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