The great thing about ageing is that now I need glasses I can’t see what I look like in the mirror when I’m not wearing them.
So I was recently thrilled to discover that blackheads that have graced my nose since I was a teen had suddenly disappeared. But then they reappeared when I accidentally left my glasses on to go to the bathroom and glanced at myself in the mirror with 20/20 vision. Funny that.
I have little knowledge about beauty or interest in it apart from wishing I was beautiful. I should have taken makeup lessons as some of my friends did when I was in high school but I did not.
So lately some of my dearest friends have told me on separate occasions to pluck my eyebrows or put some lipstick on and I appreciated their honesty. I’m lazy and I need a kick up the beauty bum.
My daily morning beauty routine goes like this:
1. Cleanse face.
2. Add moisturizer with a high sun protection factor.
When I do the killer steps some of the younger ladies have a full face of make up. The session starts at 6am and we’re all in serious need of a shower afterwards so I don’t get it. Although I guess the attractions of our hunky body building personal trainer Joel might have something to do with it.
Still, no matter how lazy I am or how hopeless at applying makeup like most of us I do want to look as good as possible in the shortest possible time. If you’re a low maintenance woman aged 40+ here are some beauty tips for you:
1. Pull out the stops only when you have to
My friends at the Noosa Boardroom say I can use their facilities anytime for free but I don’t because that would mean I have to put on clean clothes and make up every day.
When meeting people my morning beauty is slightly more involved. If I go to a business meeting I wear make up which includes BB cream (a tinted moisturizer), lip liner and lip gloss.
I always curl my eyelashes which is a quick way to make your eyes look prettier. If you’re looking for beauty tips eyelash curlers are it. I carry them with me at all times.
For parties and conferences I will also add bluster and mascara. But mostly I venture out in all my unmade up glory because really, who cares?
2. Deal harshly with unwanted facial hair
Still I understand the allure of beauty. I make the effort to look as good as I can at events because I know how important first impressions are.
Like most of us I enjoy being surround by attractive people, not gnarly old witches with hairs growing out of moles on their chin and werewolf eyebrows – which is pretty much how I’d look if I didn’t pluck the hairs out of the moles on my chin. Notice the use of plural there.
My chin has other problems too. As well as the hairy moles it’s also developing a fine blond fuzz. My 79 year old mother recently confessed she has electrolysis on her chin and I guess that sometime in the future I’ll need to as well but I’m not ready to go there yet.
A kind neighbor (and qualified beauty therapist and hairdresser) has recently started cutting my hair, trimming my fringe and waxing my eyebrows. Last month was the first time I’d ever had my eyebrows waxed and before that I only rarely tweezed them, mostly because I might bump into one of my style blogging heroines at a blogging conference.
3. Focus on what’s most important to you
Despite Nicki of Styling You‘s assurances that she dresses daggy at home it’s hard to imagine her eyebrows ever meeting in the middle. She’s more well groomed than I’ll ever be which is something for me to aim for.
I pull out a few other stops for conferences too. I sometimes get my nails done with Shellac, a special kind of long-lasting nail varnish. I love that; it’s my biggest treat ever.
In fact my idea of having made it is to get my nails done weekly. But I bet I wouldn’t do it even if I had more money than sense because manicures take so bloody long.
I’m fascinated with beautiful hands and nails. I love them. Pretty hands are the holy grail of beauty for me and something I can only aspire to but the Shellac mani before conferences gives me confidence, happiness and a pop of color.
I do not dye my hair which makes me a minority compared to other Aussie women my age.
But I do maintain my own bikini line because even I can see that having fluff poking out of your swimwear is not a good look.
And I keep my toe nails painted at all times because otherwise they are yellowed and goblinish. I do not want to scare small children.
I shave my legs and armpits once a week or as needed for special occasions. That’s not as bad as it sounds because I had laser hair removal on my legs many years ago and, although I didn’t have the full six sessions needed for total hair removal, my leg hair is sparse and barely noticeable.
Trips to the spa are few and far between so enjoyed all the more when they do occur.
4. Don’t fight gravity – you’ll lose
I do attempt to maintain my body though, regularly working out to keep my bum, legs and arms toned and wobble free. It doesn’t work though; no matter how early I rise, how heavy the weights I lift or how many times I climb those killer steps my body still sags, wobbles and wrinkles.
I’m not overweight but I can see the flesh starting to fall away from my bones, the pull of gravity winning the battle. A fight I foolishly engage in because none of us will ever beat gravity as we age.
Vanity starts in youth and the messages from the media that our youthful looks must be preserved get embedded then too. Even as a poverty stricken student I would save and save for the most expensive anti wrinkle creams by Lancôme. And that was before I even had any wrinkles.
5. Forget expensive beauty products – save money for travel, adventure and life-enhancing experiences
Nowadays I use skincare products by brands like Olay, L’Oréal, Garnier or Neutrogena. Lotions and potions you can buy in the supermarket.
Although I was ecstatic to be gifted some Natura and Benessere organic beauty products during my recently trip to Italy I’m not prepared to spend the extra money it costs to use them all the time. Although I did splurge on SKII cream and miracle when I went to Japan a few years ago because I’m still a sucker for good advertising, which is why I avoid the type of women’s magazines that are full of it.
I haven’t bought any perfume for a while. The bottle my mother gave me when she visited two years ago isn’t quite finished yet and the less I use it the more I appreciate it when I do.
It’s okay because I’d prefer to save the money to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or go trekking in Nepal. I bet the ever-lasting beauty of the Himalayas and the tough lifestyle of the sherpas will take my mind off wrinkles for a while.
So that is me; low maintenance, unpolished and barely adorned.
Have I given up? Maybe but it might be a more conscious decision to avoid getting sucked in by social expectations and sucked into the beauty hype and the marketing around it.
I resent the fact that you have to get your eyebrows plucked in order to be socially acceptable. I sometimes fantasize about becoming a Buddhist nun and living in a society where people still love me even though I have bushy eyebrows, hairy toes and a fuzzy chin. Maybe even with the hairy moles, although that might be a stretch too far for anyone.
But I’m not quite ready to withdraw from modern society yet so until then I’ll carry on doing what it takes to be meet the social expectations of Australia where I live.
I’ll stick with the low maintenance beauty track though because the older you get the better you understand how to make a little grooming and maintenance go a long way.
And the less time, money and energy you invest in your looks the more you have for travel, experiences and creating memories will last longer than beauty ever can.
What are your low maintenance beauty tips?