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Real beauty has no age

The ultimate insider's guide to looking fabulous at age 50-plus

Created date

July 14th, 2014
Author and beauty expert Andrea Q. Robinson
Author and beauty expert Andrea Q. Robinson

In one of the glowing blurbs on the back cover of Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks and Truths for Women over 50+ by Andrea Q. Robinson (Seal Press), fashion designer Ralph Lauren says, “Real beauty, like real style, has no age.” 

While Lauren’s words certainly ring true, after reading Robinson’s book, he could just as easily say that real beauty can’t be found in a jar, no matter what rare and expensive ingredient it contains. 

Andrea Robinson is the ultimate beauty insider. Early in her career, she worked as beauty editor at Vogue, fashion editor at Mademoiselle, and creative director at Seventeen. Later, she was president of Ralph Lauren Fragrances and, more recently, president of Tom Ford Beauty and chief marketing officer of Estee Lauder. 

All that expertise has been culled into an informative and straightforward guide for women over the age of fifty. Robinson starts from a very unique position in today’s beauty marketplace. Her goal is to show older women tips and techniques to help accentuate their beauty, not try to cover up or hide their age behind expensive or ineffective products.

Skin care

Take, for example, skin care. Robinson says, “Invest in skin care, the way you would stocks: cautiously, wisely, and well-informed. I’ll be your broker.” She then goes on to break down some of the lingo cosmetics companies use to lure customers into spending ridiculous sums of money for wonder creams. She shows how all those scientific studies and clinical trials may not have been as conclusive as beauty marketers would like you to believe (see sidebar). And she reveals the hardly shocking fact that beauty editors and celebrities often decide which products are their favorites based upon contracts, deals, and advertising. 

If your bathroom counter is cluttered with an extensive collection of small jars and tubes, it’s time to clean house. Robinson says, “Forget night creams, forget toners, forget eye creams, forget neck creams, forget collagen, forget firming creams, forget lifting creams, forget décolleté creams, and forget super expensive creams. Use a moisturizer instead.”


Besides pulling the curtain aside to reveal how the beauty industry works, Robinson recommends products that perform well. She offers a few different brands for each category—many of which can be found in a drug store. In fact, Robinson points out that while there are many different cosmetics brands, many of those brands are made by the same company. For example, in addition to its namesake’s line, the Estee Lauder Company produces Clinique, MAC, Smashbox, Kiehl’s, and others. 

This overlap is especially true when it comes to colored powder cosmetics like blush or eye shadow. Most of these products are produced by a few (mostly Italian) companies with expertise in finely milled powders. “The end product you see,” says Robinson, “whether it’s $10 or $75, whether it’s headed to CVS or Saks—likely came from the same supplier or factory with many of the same formulas and colors.” 

Hair care

When it comes to hair care, Robinson says that do-it-your-self coloring is perfectly fine as long as you carefully follow the directions and choose your color wisely. (She recommends going a shade lighter than your ideal shade. It’s easier to darken your hair than it is to lighten it, should you discover that your chosen shade isn’t complimentary.) 

She offers this simple beauty truth that many women over 50 forget, “Don’t try to replicate the head of hair you were born with. You’ve grown up. So has your hair.” An insightful guide to shampoos and conditioners for the various hair types includes brands such as Pantene, Bumble and Bumble, L’Oréal Paris, and TRESemmé. 

If you’re wondering why she chose to title her book Toss the Gloss, Robinson says, “Nothing looks worse than over injected lips with lots of sticky, tacky lip gloss. And if you have vertical lines around your mouth, take it from me, that gloss will migrate into those toss the gloss.”


Beware false claims

A recent action by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a perfect example of how cosmetics companies are not above making phony scientific claims about their products. L’Oréal USA, Inc., agreed to settle charges of deceptive advertising about its Lancôme Génifique and L’Oréal Paris Youth Code skin care products. According to the FTC’s complaint, L’Oréal made false and unsubstantiated claims that its Génifique and Youth Code products provided anti-aging benefits by targeting users’ genes. 

In national ad campaigns that encompassed print, radio, television, Internet, and social media outlets, L’Oréal claimed that its Génifique products were “clinically proven” to “boost genes’ activity and stimulate the production of youth proteins” and would cause “visibly younger skin in just seven days,” and would provide results to specific percentages of users. 

Charging as much as $132 per container, L’Oréal has sold Génifique nationwide since February 2009 at Lancôme counters in department stores and at beauty specialty stores. The company has sold Youth Code, which costs up to $25 per container, at major retail stores since November 2010. 

“It would be nice if cosmetics could alter our genes and turn back time,” says Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “But L’Oréal couldn’t support these claims.”