No matter how long I do this, I get brain freeze when I start to browse the cosmetic aisles. The lights, the perfumes, the aggressive sales people all start to blur as I try to sort through hundreds of products to find those few I actually need. In the past year, one of the most confusing areas has been the explosion of BB creams and CC creams. When Tish Jett of A Femme D’un Certain Age asked me to do a guest post on the subject, I jumped at the chance. A Femme D’un Certain Age is one of my favorite sites. Tish Jett cames to France for work and stayed for love. On her delightful blog she shares her always intriguing insights about Parisian fashion, food and style. I’ve become addicted to checking out her site before sitting down to my own work. It just makes my day.
This week Cindy of Prime Beauty is hosting Fashion Flash. If you’re looking for a new beauty care product, check it out first on Prime Beauty. Through Cindy I’ve discovered beauty products like eyeliners that I can actually use, a new favorite fragrance and blush that looks as good on my cheek as it does in the package.
About Face ( Seal Press)
There is a double standard about a woman’s appearance. On the one hand, the media seems to obsessed with every detail of style icons like Kim Kardashian, Byonce and Kate Moss. Women like Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and singing sensation Susan Boyle are mocked for their hairstyles, waist size and fashion choices. But when women, especially over 40, show interest in skin care and style, they are labeled as vain and foolish.
About Face edited by Anne Burt, is a great collection of personal essays on beauty and appearance by 23 accomplished artists and writers. The book starts with an introduction by Bobbi Brown, internationally reknowned make-up artist and creator of her own make-up line. She writes movingly about growing up short and dark haired in an era where tall blonds like Cheryl Tiegs and Christie Brinkley were the prevailing beauty standards– and how she has sought to help women define their own unique beauty qualities. While the tall blond thing is still totally out there, her line of neutral make-up freed women from the candy colored makeup that had been the standard cosmetic lines.
The authors of the essays range from early twenties to Alix Kate Schulman, author of “Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen” who is now in her late seventies. These well -written pieces include exploration of racial identification, the image of aging on a mother’s face and the role of men and love in establishing a comfortable self image. , Many of the essays struggle with reconciling feminism and vanity. The conclusion? You can still keep your feminine credentials if you use make-up and get regular blow-outs. Good to know.
This week, Jodell of Black Cat Plus is hosting Fashion Flash! Black Cat Plus is a positive, dynamic look at plus size fashion and lifestyle issues. Rather than fussing about ways to look “thinner”, Jodelle explores beautiful options for all occasions. For example in her recent post on Valentines Day she suggested a sexy red dress with ” ruching at all the right places”, a draped uber feminine grey print skirt or a sheer white blouse over a pair of dressy black pants. These are real time suggestions as she finds affordable examples currently available online or in stores.
The Bra Book by Jene Luciani
I know I am an information wonk and love to drill down on a subject. I believe that if it is worth writing about, its worth getting deep into the details. The Bra Book shows you how its done.Luciani shares her own breast issues and clearly cares deeply that “our girls” get the care and support they deserve. This book It is so full of fresh and helpful ideas that I found it hard to pick out my favorites:
* For VNS ( visible nipple syndrome) Luciani recommends adhesive circles such as Fashion Form Breast Petals, that covers the nipples yet peels off painlessly. Even better they work equally well for swimsuits.
* Back bulge will ruin the line of even the most perfect designer outfit. The Bra Book suggests trying a bra that closes in the front because it pulls the breasts forward rather than spreading out down the back. Trust me, it works.
* Monthly bra pain? Not a problem is you switch to a softer fabric or a larger size during your period.
*Strapless bra slipping? The Bra Book suggests going down a size for a tighter fit.
The Bra Book covers breast changes throughout a woman’s life including pregnancy, weight loss and gain, menopause and mastectomy. It profiles the 16 ( yes, there are 16) different types of bras and how to choose the right one for every situation. As I read the book, I just couldn’t wait to slip the book in my bag and run out to try out some of those 16 different styles and shapes.
This week the Glam Gals of Fabulous After Forty are hosting Fashion Flash. In addition to fashion and beauty advice, they now have celebrity news and I am looking forward to their Oscar coverage. There seemed to be two main styles of gowns– strapless ball gowns for the younger stars and V neck long sleeve sheaths for the over 40 crowd. I’m not sure if I liked the latter. I remember from my mother of the bride days ( married two daughters in three years), that the designers found clever ways to get the ball gown effect without baring arms. One dress offered the option of a little bolero jacket over a strapless A line satin gown. Another added little chiffon drapings over the upper arms with a fitted bodice. My all time favorite was a shirtwaist style top with a full satin skirt that has almost too big to get through a door. The long sleeve sheaths at the Oscars just seemed to be a bit dowdy. Any thoughts?
Book of the Week
When I was a young girl, the Swiss health clinics were one of the perks of the very rich that included Greta Garbo and Elizabeth Taylor. From injections of embryonic lamb cells to long soaks in hot minerals baths, these remedies were standard for the rich and famous over 40. So when I saw “The Swiss Secret to Optimal Health” by Dr Thomas Rau on the pile of discount books, I plucked up a copy for myself.
The first third of the book is pretty dense science. I know that I can be a science wonk, but these long discussions on lymph glands, hyperacidity, and toxic load put me into an infomation haze. When Dr Rau actually got to his Swiss Detox Diet , I finally began to understand how its concepts actually worked. The basis of his approach is focused on increasing the alkalinity of the body which he believes can treat everything from allergies to cancer. It is very similar to the approach of Crazy Sexy Cancer by Kris Carr but not nearly as much fun. However the last third of Dr Rau’s book has a useful collection of recipes that help the body reduce toxins and restore PH balance. They are also easy to do and genuinely tasty. Most were gluten free and dishes like Asian baked cod and zucchini lasagna were so good, no one believed they were from a detox style diet book.
This week Jackie of Aging Backwards is hosting Fashion Flash. Jackie also writes for The Examiner and Style Goes Strong covering health, nutrition and aging providing useful info in an upbeat voice. She is one of those people who can spot an idea and find a practical application. We can go to the same event, hear the same presentation and she will find a nugget of information that went right past me. No wonder the PR chicks are so happy so see Miss Jackie show up at an event.
Both Jackie and I worked during our “Mommy” years, but I’ve had close friends who had focused their lives and energies on their children. When the last child went off to college they struggled with anxiety and depression and it was hard for them to enjoy their new stage of life. Beyond the Mommy Years is a great resouce for all moms who need to relearn their lives. Author Carin Rubenstein, PhD is uniquely qualified to write this book. A social psychologist and mother of two, she inteviewed over 1000 women on their views, challenges and solutions to reinventing the post- parenting years.
For many women their lives were centered around playground community, sports and even PTA events. When the last child is deposited in a college dorm room, moms need not only to restructure their days, they need to find a new identidy. Beyond the Mommy Years offers dozens of suggestions on finding new meaningful paths include going back to school, starting a new career and and making new relationships. Its a cruel coincidence that mommy years often end at the start of menopause. This positive book offers special advice and support for the physical and emotional tsunami that accompany “The Change”.
As any Mom of a college grad will tell you, parenting doesn’t end, but evolves when a child leaves home. Rather than packing lunches and running to gymnastic practice, I now get to take an ecstatic 18 month old granddaughter to a doggie run and then go out to a wine bar with my editor. If you wait long enough, you can have it all.
This week the host of Fashion Flash is Staness of Menopause Makeover. In addition to timely medical advice and a great health calculator and record keeper, IMO Staness has some of the best low calorie recipes on the web. This week I was looking for something to bring to a Super Bowl Party on Feb 3 that would not lower the life expectancy of the assembled sports fans. Standard Super Bowl buffets usually feature buffalo wings with blue cheese dressing, nachos with cheese and meat and every kind of chip on the planet. I road tested the turkey chili recipe from Staness and it was perfect. According to Staness, the heat from the chili peppers increase metabolism so that I actually burn calories as I eat it. This chili is also high in iron ( from the turkey) and in vitamin C ( from the tomatoes, peppers and chili). Now I have to decide if I’m even going to even mention that it was low fat, low salt and just all around wonderful for the body.
This week I am also so excited to introduce our newest Fashion Flash blogger– Barbara Hannah Gufferman, author of The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money and More. She interviewed top experts including Diane Furstenberg ( fashion), Frederic Fekkai ( hair) and Dr Patricia Wexler ( skin) to come up with ideas of the best and the brightest to deal with issues that affect 50 plus women.
In addition she has a weekly front page column on Huffington Post, is the Chief Pundit for Fabulous Over Fifty and is a regular contributor to AARP. Barbara has appeared on The Today Show, and Good Morning America and is a regular on NPR, Dr Oz Sirius Radio and the Oprah Channel. Last year the National Osteoporosis Foundation honored her for her outspoken support of women’s health.
Watching the red carpet parade of beautiful women at the Golden Globes, I was mesmerized by the flawless chests above the strapless or plunging gowns. While we usually focus on signs of aging around the face and eyes, the skin on chest is often more lined and sun damaged and in need of some TLC. These women who professional lives depend on their beauty clearly knew this and they take great care to create a smooth polished and sexy decollete.
After trying out a wide range of anti-aging tools for my face, I realized that there was now quite a difference between the skin on my face and the skin on my chest. Last year I had most of the freckles and age spots on my chest removed by laser, but one big oddly shaped splotch resisted treatment. Normally one spot ( even though it was shaped like a medieval serpent) would hardly be worth mentioning. But I get so many questions about the best way to even out chest skin tone, I decided to explore other tools for this area.
I asked Dr Marmur to use a Fraxel laser but she pointed out that the brown mark was slightly raised and textured ( photo on right). For this type of spot she need to zap it with an electro cautery needle. After numbing the area with a tiny shot of lidocaine, Dr Marmur touched the raised area with the heated wired needle. The skin actually sizzled as the tip burned off the raised brown splotch. It took less than a minute. The area was quite red and as directed, I dabbed on a bit of Aquaphor and covered it with a bandaid. When the lidocaine wore off, my chest felt just a bit sore.
The next day the area was still red and raw, but not painful ( see photo on left). Dr Marmur warned me that the chest skin will stay red for up to several months. Since body skin tends to heal more slowly than on the face, winter time is an excellent time to have laser work on body parts hidden by pants and sweaters. One week later the area has healed to a slightly dry, faint brownish pink splotch ( photo to right). In a month I’ll post a follow-up pix. If ever find myself walking on the red carpet, at least my decolette will be ready.
In the chaos of the holidays, just about the most important Fashion Flash post seemed to disappear into the net. Calorie packed holiday foods and more alcohol than you see all year can seem to add pounds and inches overnight. Shawna of Female Fat Loss Over Forty has got you covered. Even if you are traveling or just out of your regular routinue, this exercise guru has the answers.
I clicked through a story on the high calorie holiday foods and it was as though they were describing the content of my fridge. My Christmas Day dinner was a roast goose, filled with dried cherry and pecan stuffing with a pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. A four ounce serving of goose clocks in at 340 calories, 18 grams of fat and 137 mg of cholesterol. Scary. I decided that next year I will stick with turkey that is not only delicious it was the protein of choice for Yale obesity unit.
After sampling just about everything on too many buffet tables, this is the time of the year when people make that classic New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. Turns out its the most popular resolution– and the one that few of us keep. For 2013 and I want to make resolutions where there is actually a chance I will follow though. Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? Which ones have you been able to keep?
Each year in December, the three day Mount Sinai conference on new developments in dermatology is the holiday gift that keeps on giving. The best of the best share what they’ve discovered and how they care for a wide range of skin, nail and hair problems. This year the presentations were truely amazing and I got answers to long asked questions including:
* How long do you need to stick to an acne regimen to determine if its working? Hint: its shorter than you might think.
* How can I moisturize the skin without clogging pores?
* Can women of color use lasers?
Founded by Dr Albert Lefkovits, this program attracts worldwide experts both to speak and to learn. What I find is especially helpful is that most of the speakers focus on real time practice and not just on lab or bench research. While its certainly encouraging that a new formula can help a guinea pig, I want to know how it will work for me. And at this conference, there were very few guinea pigs.
In the following weeks I will be covering important developments from the conference that include:
* A dummies guide to anti-aging lasers- which ones are painless, who should use them and what results can you expect
* The critical path for rejuvenation– the order of anti-aging treatments.
* The link between a tiny insect and rosacea– and what it means for treatment
* The gold standard for successful acne care
* How medications used for arthritis can get eczema under control
* Photodynamic therapy that deals with both aging and acne
* Cellulite treatments that can deliver real results
Its sad but true that we are judged on our appearance. That’s the bad news. The good news? The significant skin care developments covered at the New York conference certainly level the playing field.
Jodell of Black Cat Plus is hosting Fashion Flash. Her posts are always on point and packed with fresh ideas and information. Check out her take on the new line of plus sign of clothing from Adele and Burberry, plus size beauty pagents and fashion tips for work and play when you are a plus size forty something chick.
October is also Menopause Awareness Month. Last week I took a look at beauty issues that are co-travelers with menopause that include dry skin and hair loss. For diet advice that really delivers look at Menopause Makeover that offers nutritional advice to deal with post menopause weight gain. And no, its not inevitable and irreversible.