Beauty Care: Feeling Good About Your Looks Past Age 60
Self-care (beauty/health) can make us feel better about ourselves as we age.
Posted Apr 25, 2019
“Looking good isn’t self-importance; it’s self-respect.” – Charles Hix
I don’t know about you, but while I don’t find aging fun, I do delight in the challenges it presents. When for decades I rarely thought about personal maintenance, I am now on that track, whether it be paying more attention to exercise and good eating as a way of life, changing up my hairstyle so I don’t get branded with a single look the rest of my life, going to an aesthetician or med spa doctor to get the most I can out of my skin, or getting massages for not just the relief from aches and pains, but also for the mere good health benefits it offers. I will admit that I am blessed to be able to do all this and budget carefully for all of it.
I often hear resignation from my age 60+ peers about keeping up with beauty care, but when I think about the alternative, it just sounds unacceptable in my world of one. So I began looking for the advantages to beauty care past age 60 and found that it’s not uncommon to be shamed by others about wearing makeup and/or appreciating it. As psychologist Dr. Vivian Diller has argued, “activities that allow us to take care of our personal beauty needs should not be viewed as ‘guilty pleasures.'"
I recall two women in my mother’s generation (both widows) who exemplified keeping up their looks well into their 80s and 90s. These BFFs were young during the post-war era when women wore curlers to bed and makeup was something you put on before breakfast. Each time I saw them, together or apart (one was my own gorgeous godmother), all I could do was stand back in awe of how beautifully put-together they were — from the tops of their heads to the tips of their toes. As they aged, they had not only “kept their figures.” They had also learned how to adjust their makeup so it was never overdone. And when I saw them in a social setting, they were simply the best-dressed women in the room. My own mom had her life not been taken by heart disease at age 69, would have matched them, as they had all grown up, gone to school, married and had kids around the same time together. I never hesitated to tell either of them how much I admired their looks as well as their sweetness, confirming to them that they were my role models for aging with grace.
When we partake in self-care, we’re engaging in things that make us feel better about ourselves. After all, there isn’t as much head-turning going on at this point anyway, so apart from a husband (and by now you've seen one another at your worst), who else would it be for? In a study, Diller uses the example of lipstick to explain why our esteem and self-worth is boosted by makeup, citing that feeling of “hell yes” you get when you apply your go-to shade makes you more confident.
If you are like me, it’s time to stop feeling guilty for indulging in makeup and beauty. I’m not talking about regular trips to dudded-out makeup counters at posh department stores, paying top dollar for makeup or even wearing it at all. Just do what makes you feel good as well as feel beautiful. If you take delight in getting ready for an evening out or a special event, you may find that taking a lot of that meticulous pride in your appearance can boost how you feel on a daily basis. As a writer working from a home office, I wouldn’t want anyone to see my daily look. But give me an excuse to go out — to an appointment, for shopping, or to get together with a friend, and I am in front of the mirror having fun with makeup and hair or rifling through my wardrobe for a clothes combo I may never have thought up before. That 20-something in me that just discovered how much fun it was to be a girl is alive and well.
As for your face at this age, it’s a crapshoot. Those who were born with good genes or ethnic backgrounds that hold off wrinkles longer are truly blessed. The rest of us go on to fight the good fight as we see laugh and forehead lines deepen, the number “11” happening between our eyes, or watch our jowls begin to form. Yes, there is always cosmetic surgery, but I believe in exhausting all other forms of looking good before I get to that point or that expense. I have seen both good and bad examples of women in their 50s and 60s who, although they wanted to look like their younger selves, ended up looking like someone else altogether after having lifts of all kinds. Google a few aging starlets and see what I mean for a general idea. Lips take on an unworldly look, cheeks are overly-filled, foreheads no longer move, and eyes get stretched to new lengths. Parts of the face that never moved before can look strange while talking. And the next thing you know, their veined, wrinkled hands don’t belong on the same body. Caution must be observed at every turn if you are heading in this direction. But to those women whose demeanor and self-esteem have been bolstered by going this route, my hat is off. What is meaningful to you is all that really matters. And if seeing a new version of yourself works, go for it.
I remember young men who once said they preferred women who were not “made up.” But fast forward that same man to his 60s and have him stand before two women in his own age group — one devoid of makeup and one with a beautifully done-up face and ask that question again. Thing is, while my husband delights in how I present myself, I don’t really do it for him. I do it for me. I have fun with makeup, hair, and clothing, even when I’m using the cheap stuff. Having dominion over my looks means have a sense of control over something. The concentration with which I apply eyeliner is unmatched and when I’m done with my going-out preparation (which for me takes less than 15 minutes) I feel more confident to face the world. Do I feel like sh-t when I have NO makeup on? Nah. But knowing I can pull a rabbit out of my hat when I need to is a skill I have come to appreciate.