Looking good is not a matter of being beautiful, it is about being alive. Beauty is not something you can really contrive or control.
Hair and skin and body fats are all mutable entities. Some days it all hangs together and other days you're a Cubist painting without a frame, all weird angles and frayed edges. All you can do in the name of beauty is animate it with your spirit, the spirit that never changes and never ages.
Expect to look beautiful at some of the least-dignified moments of your life: sweating, birthing, battling the odds. Inner spark is the ultimate beautifier.
Still, having said that ‚Äď if somewhere along the way you find some goo that stops your hair from frizzing, a lipstick that doubles the size of your mouth, or a blusher that makes you look apr√®s yoga, use that too!
THE FOUR AGES OF A WOMAN
From 10 to 90, a woman needs her sunscreen, fresh food, water, tender love, and pride of carriage. Beauty can be awkward at times of transition. The day you get your first period is as hard as the day you find your first gray hair or look in a shop window and suddenly see angular cheekbones and other adult face architecture creeping into a once-nubile visage.
The best makeup for women of all ages is fresh makeup: anything that looks like a complement rather than a sculptural imposition. A lot of women get through their 20's with a stump of black eyeliner and a red lipstick only to find 10 years later that these tools serve to make them look mean rather than pretty. I think makeup works like a bell curve, with very little to start, very little to finish, and bit of a glamour blast in between at the age where you don't look like Lolita or mutton dressed as Drew Barrymore.
Hitting 50 should shouldn't mean buying a coral lipstick and a sensible cardigan and throwing in the towel as a beauty queen, Mais non! Just look at Catherine Deneuve, still working the pout and the smoky eyes quite late in the day. Instead, it is about refinement and technique. A 21-old girl wearing too much eye shadow looks like a messy little orchid; 20 years later she looks just messy. Makeup should change with your skin, getting moister as you get drier and getting sleeker as your style evolves.
Young dewy skin can get away with glitter, iridescent eye shadow, superbright lipstick, henna body tattoos, too much eyeliner, or the no-eye-makeup look. Pale pastel and tropical colors also look amazing on baby cheeks and lids.
Despite the fact that you don't want to look like a little girl anymore, the less makeup you wear now, the better. Youth is for the young and the naturally rosy.
If you have breakouts, don't plaster foundation and powder over the top of them. Keep the skin clean and the let it breathes. Don't be tempted to fry your face in the sun to clear it up, either. Whatever you do, don't squeeze.
Everyone says, "You're young, you're beautiful, don't worry." They're right.
This is the age of trying to be taken seriously. Job hunt, love hunt, identity hunt. Don't hide your light under a bushel with drab colors and sensible chignons. There's time for sober looks later.
Enjoy the red lipstick. Later, fine leather lines will father around the mouth, and lips will tend to shrink with age. Go the air kiss!
Liquid eyeliner and other dramatic eye makeup styles look great on eyes with no crow's feet. Protect your face from the sun and keep the puffy look down with cool tea bags.
Party on but be frugal with cigarettes, caffeine, junk food, alcohol, and drugs. You feel as if you have limitless energy now, but later the body pays. Shine on, don't burn out.
on't go into neutral at the first sight of a line or a creepy eyelid! Colors can lighten up and lipsticks can soften up but not too radically.
Look at your lipstick. What is it doing for your mouth? Rosy reds, fleshy pinks, and stains and sheers work better when lips start to get leaner. Use a lip pencil as a sealant to disguise fraying edges and avoid matte, powdery lipsticks.
Try using eye shadow instead of hard, blunt eyeliner to accent the upper and lower lids. The smudge factor requires skill, so apply delicately.
Do not scrimp on health care, skin care, or rest. Try to protect the delicate skin around your eyes.
The thirties are hard on hair. Your mane may start to get thinner, grayer or generally less lustrous. Stock up on essential fatty acids in linseed and fish oil and foods rich in vitamin E and B.
If motherhood taxes your hair, skin, and body, look into your diet. Do you need a supplement? Is sleep deprivation killing your looks? Perk up with a sensual bath scented with geranium, orange, or rose oil. Ask your partner to ease expectations in times of stress. Don't expect to look like a babe when you're in the thick of the most responsible time of your life.
Get frisky with a subtle brush of blusher. Better still, get your circulation going with a few headstands. Yoga is a great beautifier.
FORTIES AND BEYOND
Hair matters more at forty than before. For decades you may have gotten away with a scrunchie and some old hair clips, but now is the time to frame your face and define your style.
Look at the colors you're wearing, the shape of your eyebrows, your brand of foundation, and the needs of your lifestyle. Old habits die hard, but that chocolate lip liner looked better in 1983 than it does now.
Enhance everything you love about your face. If you have gray hair, make it dramatic with beautifully shaped brows and a black velvet ribbon. If you have deep cheekbones, highlight them. If you still love red lipstick, then just wear it.
We spend 25 years or so hanging on to girlhood, so now is probably the best time to let go of "cute" affectations. Enjoy womanly perfumes, powerful clothes, and dramatic style, or even complete "in the raw" naturalness. If you're not you now, when will you be?*