Self-esteem doesn’t sprout from a face-lift, losing 10 pounds or carrying a designer bag with a fancy logo. Surprised? I hope not. But who doesn’t crave a second glance from others and the feeling that we’ve still got it? Sometimes women age 50-plus start to feel invisible and wonder how to get out of what seems like an appearance rut. I’m a beauty and style expert — not a therapist — but I’ve interviewed and photographed thousands of celebrities and women who have shared their best advice with me. Here are 10 tried-and-true ways to reset your attitude, get off the exit ramp and back on the road.
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PHOTO BY: Target (2); Ulta Beauty
1. Make looking good easier
Let’s skip straight to something manageable and doable. No need for a total makeover or pricey treatments. Just updating your beauty skills with one or two problem-solving items can make the difference between feeling blah or beautiful 24/7. Let’s say you haven’t worn makeup in years, your application is a little rusty and your stash of liners and lipsticks are so out of date they could be “vintage.” Toss the lot and head for a simple pre-edited trio like the Clinique High Impact Favorites Cosmetic Set-Ulta Beauty ($23, target.com) to define lips and eyes like a pro in five minutes (and it works for every skin tone). Maybe you stopped styling your hair because a ponytail was easier than a blowout. A heat-styling brush like the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer & Volumizer Plus ($70, ulta.com) combines brush and blower for double-fast volume and polish while empowering good-hair days forever. And if your once-groomed hands are looking more like paws, opt for an instant manicure like the Olive & June Press-On Fake Nails 1 ($11, target.com) for neat, squoval-shaped, rosy-toned nails that look salon-polished. They’ll last a week, so there are no chip worries either. You’re on your way.
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PHOTO BY: Neil Mockford/Ricky Vigil M/GC Images; Steve Granitz/Getty Images; Frazer Harrison/WireImage
2. Change your hair style or color
The same old look may have worked for years, but suddenly it no longer does. You’re tempted to try something new but can’t quite get over the “what-ifs.” Overthinking any kind of beauty change gets in the way of taking action and reaping feel-good rewards. Know that just tweaking your usual hair style with long bangs, highlights or an inch off the bottom can elevate any everyday hairdo. For those ready to take the plunge, get inspired by Carla Bruni’s new bangs, Halle Berry’s recent chop or Molly Ringwald’s fiery (again) red bob. If not now, then when?
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3. Keep wearing denim
Nothing makes us feel more relevant, sexy and sassy at 50 than a pair of good old jeans. Though fashionistas are once more clambering into low-rise versions, stick with updated classics. Opt for a medium- to high-rise waist that tucks in your belly, a sensible ankle length that works with all your shoes, including your favorite flats, and a wash that makes you feel like a rock star. Before you say, “I don’t wear jeans anymore,” consider options like denim and chambray dresses, skirts and jumpsuits. All qualify as perfect fashionable stand-ins.
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4. Make an accessory statement
Be honest. Does slapping on a baseball cap and sneakers make you feel attractive? Being a little bit more of a show-off can be a very good thing when your spirits need pepping up. It’s not the price of what you wear, but how you pull it together or add something special to punctuate an otherwise basic look. Whether you love statement earrings, stacks of bracelets, fun graphic tees or bold sunglasses, I guarantee you won’t go unnoticed. In fact, you’ll smile all day long as heads everywhere pivot from smartphones to you.
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PHOTO BY: Sephora; Ulta Beauty; Target (2)
5. Wear a mood-enhancing fragrance
Fragrance can be a powerful motivator. But when your usual scent doesn’t provide enough of a confidence boost, try a new one that taps into a specific ingredient. Certain notes can ease away tension or anxiety, get you going after a sleepless night or just guarantee a “you smell great” compliment. That’ll lift anyone’s spirits! Vanilla — as in Nest New York Madagascar Vanilla Perfume Oil ($98, sephora.com) — is a positive mood enhancer. Lavender — as in Beloved Lavender and Chamomile Tea Fine Fragrance Body Mist Perfume ($10, target.com) — calms and relaxes. Jasmine — as in Philosophy Amazing Grace Jasmine Eau de Toilette ($54, ulta.com) — lifts the blues. And citrus — as in Tuscan Blood Orange by Pacifica Women’s Spray Perfume ($22, target.com) — revs you up and energizes. Apply your new scent to pulse points and sweaty spots, like the inside of wrists and elbows, neck, cleavage and back of knees. Resist the urge to rub it in. Your own body chemistry will do it all.
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6. Add an empowering jacket
We all have varying degrees of chutzpah. I grew up hearing that word for confidence as a compliment, but having a little backbone and brass is a great thing to nurture now. It’s how actors get film roles, athletes get gold medals and politicians get elected. Everyday courage — even in small beauty and style doses — is a catalyst to tackling bigger life issues. Women who make a habit of high-visibility jackets, from leather moto styles to tailored blazers, are not the walking-on-eggshells type. Take that diva jacket and throw it over anything, from jeans to midi dresses. And remember, in order to be the smartest, most attractive, dynamic and fascinating person around, all you need is to believe you are.
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PHOTO BY: Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Lifetime; Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images; Arturo Holmes/Getty Images; Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images
7. Own your size and shape
Gaining weight and seeing our bodies change with age can be a bummer — if you let it. Stop weighing yourself every morning and let your waistbands, buttons and zippers clue you in to what’s going on. Get rid of that backup rack of “fat” and “skinny” clothes and the imaginary “should be” size in your brain — it sure isn’t doing your psyche any good. Whatever size you are now is the real you. Learn to enjoy it and stop looking over your shoulder for what used to be. Expect your weight to vary. Show your real curves or whatever body parts you love best ... even if it’s just your neck, wrists and ankles.
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PHOTO BY: RCF/MEGA/GC Images; Kevin Winter/Getty Images; David Livingston/Getty Images
8. Let gray hair give you star power
Gray hair makes you feel either dingy or delicious. Instead of complaining about silver strands or rushing to cover them up, give gray a chance to add some daily glow. Skip retouching your base color until you have 2 inches of regrowth. Sure, you may look a little root-y, but adding some volume, tousling your hair, alternating your part, using a wash-out root retouch product or trying some chic hairbands will get you past the worst. See what happens! More celebs are taking the term “silver fox” seriously, with no regrets. You can always have your colorist add some highlights, or a mix of highlights and lowlights, to help things along. Think of it as an inspiring work in progress with you as the artist.
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PHOTO BY: Amanda Edwards/Getty Images; Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic; Tristar Media/WireImage
9. Choose glasses that make you feel cool
Glasses used to be 75 percent functional, 20 percent vanity … if that. Now, all you need to do is pop on a pair to look cooler, hipper, smarter, sexier. Because glasses sit smack in the middle of your face, they become part of it. Simple, strong frames with a “geeky” or bookish look make you appear classy and edgy. Buy them in black or tortoise for the most impact and definition. Angular frames with strong edges and squarish lines reinforce bone structure and counteract everything from a saggy jawline to a double chin. New hybrids with a slight upward tilt (known as a cat-eye) provide an extra lift for eyes, brows and your expression.
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PHOTO BY: Ulta Beauty (2); Target; Walmart; Ulta Beauty
10. Spoil yourself … a little
If you begin to treat yourself like a superstar, it begins to stick inside. Even a small self-indulgence makes you feel invincible. For those into instant gratification, splurge on something irresistible every week — and I don’t mean a big-ticket item like a $200 French candle or new shoes. All you need is a mini treasure for $5 to $10, like a scented hand soap, a tinted lip balm, a fresh nail polish for your next pedicure or a pack of your favorite de-stressing tea.
Lois Joy Johnson is a beauty and style editor who focuses on women 50 and older. She was the beauty and style editor at Ladies’ Home Journal and a founding editor of More magazine. She has written three books: The Makeup Wakeup, The Wardrobe Wakeup and The Woman's Wakeup.
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