Grin and Bare It

Lately beauty e-news, fashion magazines, Twitter, Instagram and even the NY Times are all making a big deal out of the new trend of going make up free. In these pieces, always accompanied by photos of young and gorgeous celebs or models who have dared to bare it all, it is a badge of honor to embrace this look. Some of the recent runway shows sent models down the catwalk with freshly washed and dried hair and “raw” un-plucked, unenhanced beauty.

Only the young need apply!

Only the young need apply!

So does my oft repeated maxim of Less is More for the older set include flaunting a naked face? With disclaimers.

The very first is, don’t be so fast to jump on this train! I know women who have adopted this as a lifestyle choice years ago. But was it a show of feminism, a disinterest in makeup or appearance, laziness, depression, or an inability to wield a mascara wand? And does it work in the workplace today? Looks like Sheryl Sandberg is “Leaning In” in full makeup.

To me, makeup has always been fun and magical. I remember years ago when I purchased a book by photographer Francesco Scavullo. In it were women famous and not, photographed before and after expert makeup and lighting. The results were a revelation and had a major impact on my perspective: ANYBODY can be beautiful with the right makeup.

Witness the breathless women lining Rockefeller Center daily, hoping to be picked for a makeover by the experts on Kathie Lee and Hoda. MAKE ME BEAUTIFUL!  It’s a dream come true for those who have no idea how to present their best selves, are too tired to try, or have just gotten in a rut. Time and again, we see the potential is there for everyone. And how confident they feel after being transformed.

Probably every woman would love to roll out of bed in the morning looking like Gisele or Christy Turlington. But unless you do, and you are over 50, the face you present to the world, the same one you see in the mirror, needs at least minor enhancement. Don’t kid yourself, even the “no makeup” looks we see in the magazines are the result of LOTS of makeup, very skillfully applied with every flaw having been photo shopped into oblivion. So let’s start by being real.

The goal should be to take SUCH good care of your skin, that you can wear as little makeup as possible on a normal day. That means using appropriate cleansers and moisturizers for your skin type, antioxidant serum, a retinol,  strong UVA/UVB sunscreen, drinking lots of water, eating a healthy diet rich in whole foods, and getting exercise. Having an occasional peel or facial and exfoliating weekly will keep the face fresh. An excellent resource is Feed Your Face by Dr. Jessica Wu, chock full of advice on eating for the benefit of your skin.

As we age, if you forego all makeup, you will look haggard. And old. The lips get thinner, the eyebrows grow sparse, yadda , yadda. You know the drill. Here is what I propose as a WOAC’s (Woman oa Certain Age) daily minimum to achieve

The Naked Look:

  • Moisturizer (I use Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair SPF 30) and eye cream of your choice – moist skin is youthful looking, dry and crepe-y skin is, well, you know the answer.
  • SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense Sunscreen SPF 50 or La Roche –Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid, SPF 50. Both are incredibly light  and fluid with a barely perceptible tint.
  • A dusting of buff or taupe eye shadow for subtle definition
  • A fine application of eye liner on upper lashes
  • Ditto a swipe of  brown mascara (less harsh than black) on uppers only for lift
  • A dab of concealer where needed
  • A tinted lip balm by Burt’s Bees or Fresh for lip moisture, shine and subtle color

Still too naked?

  • Substitute Kiehl’s BB Cream with SPF 50 for the sheer sunscreen.
  • Brush a little brow gel or filler on your arches.
  • Buff a bit of peachy/pinky Nars Orgasm powder under the cheek bones and toward your temples to lift the face.

And smile! It takes away all those little lip lines! Or better yet, Lol.


Original art by Johanna Bohoy

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