0 In Fabulous over Fifty

War paint

When is too much makeup too much? You have to be your own judge here…I am certainly not judging anyone.

Having said that (grin) I have been noticing some pretty made up women on the downtown streets of Naples. Perhaps I am noticing because I have been looking at the effects of age on my own face lately.  RBF (resting bitch face) that’s a beautiful acronym from the millennials, isn’t it? My lovely little Savannah was sitting on my knee this past summer and said: “Nana, I really like the lines around your eyes….but not the ones on your neck.” Well thanks, kiddo…didn’t even realize I had lines on my neck!! I do now!!

When I was a little girl my mom used to say (with her curlers hidden under her kerchief) the only thing a woman needs for a polished daytime look is a great pair of sunglasses and the right shade of lipstick! To this day that is pretty much my daytime look.

Not my mom….but not far from how I remember her.


Let’s take a look at the classic beauties, the one thing you do notice is how little makeup they appear to wear.

Annette Bening – 59 years old


Helen Mirren – 79 years old. That’s one year away from 80!!!! My word!

Meryl Streep – 68 years old

There are no heavy eyeliners, deep red lipstick or candy apple red cheeks. Perhaps it comes with age….Perhaps we really do figure it out.

I think the key is to embrace what you have and who you are. I am not saying that we shouldn’t make ourselves up to make ourselves feel better….but when is enough just that? Enough. Perhaps the time in our lives has come to recapture the glamorous us as opposed to recapturing our youth.

I have a book called Toss the Gloss. It is written by Andrea Robinson. She has seen and heard it all! She is a straight talking, charming, funny lady whose career has included chief roles with Estee Lauder, Tom Ford Beauty, Vogue, Seventeen and Ralph Lauren.Andrea claims that any more than 10 minutes of makeup is a waste of your time. She also fully believes in less is more. Her arsenal?  Foundation, blush, lip liner, lipstick, mascara and eyeliner. That’s it! I highly recommend her book to anyone that is interested in how to put their best face forward.

So why do some women wear SO much makeup?

Perhaps it’s for beauty? Confidence? Sex-appeal? Conceal the fact that we partied too late last night?

Below is an article based on the findings of Alex Jones, PhD, lead author on a study, that looked into makeup’s effect on appearance. In a new report, Jones, a postdoctoral researcher at Gettysburg College, looked into how much more attractive does an application of makeup — smoky eyes or ruby lips — make someone? The surprising finding: Barely.

Women tend to have darker eyes and redder lips than men do, and we wear makeup partly to exaggerate those sex differences. There’s also a corrective aspect: Blush makes us look healthier; foundation makes our faces appear more symmetrical.

The recent #Nomakeupselfie campaign would have us believe that we’re entering a paradigm in which both men and women celebrate the unadorned visage. Or, more likely, that we’re still living in a paradigm where hot people look hot in photos, regardless of whether they used a concealer that day.

But surely there must be some sweet spot between #NoMakeup and #AllTheMakeup; some physiognomic Camp David where we look like we’re trying—but not trying too hard.

The problem is, people are terrible at imagining what other people find attractive. Women think men prefer skinnier body types than men actually do, and the same goes for men and muscley-ness.

But are women similarly wrong about how much makeup they think others will find appealing?

Researchers Alex Jones at Bangor University and Robin Kramer at Aberdeen University in the U.K. photographed 44 early-20s white women, all of whom had just washed their faces, with a Nikon D3000 SLR camera in a naturally lit room. Then they gave them “a range of best-selling foundations, lipsticks, mascaras and blushers,” and told them to apply the products as though they were getting ready for a night out.

The women did so.

The researchers took their photos again.

Here’s an example of how the models looked before and after:


(Sorry about this annoying sub logo…STILL working on it!!)


Then, the researchers replicated, altered, and arranged each model’s photos so that they progressed in a series from clean-faced to fully made-up. Each progression looked something like this, except with 21 images for each model

(I promise it will be corrected soon!)

They showed the photo series to 44  University students. For each model’s series, the subjects were told to select the photo that best represented what they themselves thought was most attractive, the one they thought most women would like best, and the one they thought most men would like best.

Suffice it to say, ladies who frequent ‘da club’ might have been dropping a fortune at Sephora for nought.

The female participants thought the models looked better with slightly more makeup than the male participants did. However, all of the participants thought male observers would want the models to be wearing more makeup than female observers would.

They were wrong—men and women preferred the same amount. And that amount was less than the models had actually applied.

Specifically, people thought the models looked best when they were wearing just 60 percent as much makeup as they had actually applied. But they thought women would want the models to be wearing 75 percent as much, and that men would want 80 percent. (Interestingly, the men thought other men wanted the women to be wearing more makeup, even when they themselves didn’t. As if to say, “Oh, I’m the progressive one around here. It’s those other guys you have to watch out for.”)

“Taken together, these results suggest that women are likely wearing cosmetics to appeal to the mistaken preferences of others,” Jones and Kramer wrote in the study, forthcoming from the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology.  “These mistaken preferences seem more tied to the perceived expectancies of men, and, to a lesser degree, of women.”

In other words, the models were primping for nonexistent ideals, not for actual humans.

Does this mean we should toss our makeup? 

Jones: While the effect of makeup was small, it still did increase attractiveness — certainly no reason to throw it away!

There’s a lot we don’t know about makeup at the moment, at least from a psychological perspective.

My colleague Kramer explains: “Though makeup does make faces more attractive, it is a very small contributor to attractiveness judgments. If people do feel the need to hide behind it, they should know it’s not as effective as they might think!”

While this study only examined one makeup look: that of a night out. Other styles may change attractiveness in different ways. The models also applied their makeup themselves. Makeup applied by a professional might be more effective and result in a greater boost to attractiveness.

But it IS comforting to consider that in this age of impossibly high beauty standards, the only people who expect us to look flawlessly made-up, are ourselves.


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