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Beauty: Chelsea Lowe: Are You Trying Too Hard or Not Hard Enough?

“You can easily look ten years younger. Twenty-five? Less realistic. I believe we should take a lesson from the French and try to look as good as we can—not as young as we can.”


Author Chelsea Lowe takes steps to show that beauty begins within.

This is the second part of our series with beauty expert Chelsea Lowe. She’s got a new beauty-related app coming soon for iPhones and iPads; we’ll let you know when that’s available.

1. We pay much more attention to our skin in our 40s. Why is it so different than what we had?
After about age 30, women’s facial skin begins to lose elasticity, radiance and moisture. At about 40, we start seeing those dreaded fine lines: crow’s feet, nasolabials (nose-to-mouth indentations) and so on. Women have more delicate facial skin than men, which is why we notice aging about a decade earlier.

Facial skin becomes less forgiving. Chances are that, in your thirties, you could eat whatever you wanted, get by on too little rest, and still look good. If you can do this after 40, you’re a lucky gal!

2. Let’s talk about trying too hard when it comes to beauty.

Well, some women go a bit far: multiple “procedures,” or clothes, makeup, hairstyles or colors that are too young, or just no longer working. Unnaturally white teeth … Or do you mean holding ourselves to unrealistic standards? Every woman I know has been guilty, at some point, of coveting. We know this. Both kinds of “trying too hard” come from not being happy with ourselves. It’s well established that, almost from infancy, girls are given impossible models to look up to. I won’t even go into the heartbreaking ethnic implications for generations of women.

So, whether by nature (remember that evolution designed us to care about desirability) or culture, the result is that few women are happy as they are: the flat-chested gal wants to be Barbie; those with curly hair want straight. Few are content with their weight.

The best thing to do is to embrace what you can’t change, live with what you’re willing to live with–then disguise the rest!

Trying too hard can also mean not accepting things like gravity. I’m very into not going gently—but you also want to feel good about yourself even if you’re a few pounds over your ideal, or developing a little flab. You can still look and feel beautiful!

You can easily look ten years younger. Twenty-five? Less realistic. I believe we should take a lesson from the French and try to look as good as we can—not as young as we can.

Believe it or not, what I see more of is women who don’t try hard enough! So many of us are so busy—especially at this time of life. Many are parents or grandparents or caregivers, in peak productivity years. For a lot of women, this means skipping makeup, exercise, proper nutrition and rest. And, of course, good-quality sleep can prove elusive as we get into our forties and beyond, as insomnia can be a byproduct of menopause. Family tension is not conducive to restful sleep, either. Plus, you have all these TV experts berating women, when they should be encouraging any effort. I think that intimidates some gals out of trying.

A tip: Do at least one thing to care for yourself as soon as you get up for the day: exercise, food prep, makeup. I’ll have to get back to you about how to get a good night’s sleep!

3. If you had to pack only three beauty items for an extended trip, what would they be and why?
May I count my makeup kit as one item?

I’m more about practice than product, but:

  • My number-one would be Vaseline. It’s cheap and makes the skin soft, supple and moist. Great for eyelids, too (but use sparingly, if at all, under makeup). I’m also hearing encouraging things about shea butter and other vegetable-based oils.
  • After that, if it were a long trip, I’d want Renova (a Retin-A derivative). 
  • And good-quality tweezers, but maybe that’s just me. 
  • Sunscreen would be a good idea.

For a shorter trip, I’d skip the Renova and take along a makeup item, probably lip gloss. (Makeup lady tip: after 40 or so, taper off of reds and look toward pink and nude shades. Plum, for some complexions. Oh, and if you color your hair, think about returning to your original shade.)

4. Please discuss the mind-body connection. More or less important in one’s 40s, or the same?
Oh, yeah. Big connection. Beauty is about attitude. If you feel unattractive—and what woman doesn’t at some point?—Just Say No! Say to yourself out loud, “I am beautiful!” or something similar. (OK, maybe not out loud. But, when you pass a mirror, make a point of noticing your best features. It’s just as easy as focusing on those you like less.) Notice when your efforts pay off. And remember, chances are some woman longs for what you’ve got!

Vanessa McGradyBeauty: Chelsea Lowe: Are You Trying Too Hard or Not Hard Enough?

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