Will the cosmetics marketers succeed in sucking me in again?

This time for sure I’m going to resist the sirens’ call of cosmetics industry marketers. A couple of years ago I posted a piece about how many unused and unsuitable makeup and skincare products I had stashed in my bathroom cupboards that I finally purged to make room for more. It is soooo hard to not get sucked into “new and improved” or the marketers’ carefully chosen, seductive words describing the “latest technology” in skincare, mascara, blusher, or eyeliner.

Just like my daily newspaper, my favourite magazines are getting skinnier and skinnier. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for me or my inventory of makeup and skincare products. The barely-there July/August 2022 edition of Canada’s own Chatelaine magazine is a mere 80 pages, a large portion of which are recipes I will never make. But, the clincher is at the back of the magazine which you have to flip upside down to read.

“The Beauty Awards 2022: 80 Must-Buy Products That Truly Deliver” contains 18 pages of products I absolutely must have to achieve optimal beauty. The best of the best. That’s how they reel me in. I dutifully read each item in each category judged by no less than 35 independent beauty industry professionals. Everything from Best Primer to Best Hair Removal Tool For Public Hair is evaluated and ranked as being the best-in-show. I hear my brain screaming, “Start the car! Start the car!”

Most of the products touted are brands I have never heard of and the prices range from affordable drugstore items to miracle elixirs made from delicate fairy wings and baby tears in the three-digit price range. And, as most of us know, or are told, the higher the price tag, the better the quality of ingredients. Right? That’s a lie, of course, but we do need to avoid certain ingredients that may be dangerous, carcinogenic, tested on animals, or simply irritating. The science behind the marketing claims would require us all to be chemists to understand all the blather.

Another person’s favourite brand may not be a winner for me.

Many women’s magazines (the few that are still publishing) issue an annual “Best Of” for makeup and skincare. Each publication lists different winners so how can we ever be sure we’re getting the straight goods? In fact, every so often I see something listed as the best and it’s a brand I have tried and did not like, so it is highly subjective. For example, many of the best mascaras feature curved brushes which I find are highly overrated and ineffective. I just end up sticking myself in the eye and only landing half the product I want. Give me a straight, bushy applicator brush any day, the kind I trained on as a teenager and still prefer.

The go-to suggested lipsticks are usually unflatteringly dark reds or neon pinks that would suit Lady Gaga but not this old boomer. Even the neutrals do not work for me; I need something bright. The “Best Blush” in Chatelaine’s survey is Nudestix Nudies Bloom All Over Dewy Colour, available for $37.00 at Sephora. The problem with this particular product for me is they promote its built-in brush that “can also be used on eyes and lips”. Seriously? Would you use the same brush on your eyes that you’ve just smooshed on your mouth? Conjunctivitis anyone?

It really is hard to take these recommendations seriously as we all have different preferences and priorities. Most baby boomer women I know use a very light hand when it comes to makeup and skincare products as we age. Sure, we all like a good neck firmer and moisturizer and an effective concealer but products like primers, lip serums, and glowy foundations are a bit beyond our ken these days. The full makeup regimen we employed when we were still employed is no longer employed; it’s a thing of the past.

Even after a major purge I still own too much makeup and too many skincare products. The results simply do not reflect the appropriate return on investment.

All that being said, it’s still fun to read these recommendations. It is highly unlikely that I will actually buy that Claudalie Vinosource-Hydra Grape Water Gel Moisturizer for $62.00. But, I must say, the $30.00 Charlotte Tilbury The Classic Powder Eyeliner Pencil looks awfully tempting since none of the 856 eye pencils I already own does exactly the job I want it to. Hmmm. And, maybe that special Resveratrol-Life Instant Firming Serum which is formulated in Bordeaux, France (so it must be good!) will finally fix my neck issues. Or would the $80.00  IDC Profil Décolleté Firming and Line-Smoothing Cream be better?

Maybe I should just stick to my promise to myself to use up all the crap I already own before I start loading up on more. Nothing seems to make any noticeable difference anyway. My mother had a simple regimen of Dove soap and Nivea Creme for most of her adult life and when she passed away at the age of 85, she had beautiful skin with no wrinkles and a nice chunk of money in the bank. It would be nice if I could become my mother after all.

The makeup we wore when we were young is no longer appropriate for aging boomers.

I once received a free lipstick called “Frosted Apricot” in an Estée Lauder promotion in 1971, more than fifty years ago. Fortunately, it has very little actual frosting, practically none, which is a good thing because frosting and sparkle for our age group is not attractive. I’ve replaced it many times over the years and amazingly, it’s still available and I still use it as my go-to colour. I also never get tired of OPI’s “Cajun Shrimp” nail polish and miraculously, they still make it too.

If you’re having trouble sourcing your favourite and perhaps discontinued lipstick or whatever, Google “discontinued cosmetics” and chances are you’ll get lucky and find one or two are still available on a remote website. I’ve done this a few times and managed to score a discontinued Estée Lauder, Lancôme, Sheisedo or NARS product.

There’s a wonderful British mystery series on Acorn television called “Agatha Raisin”. It’s jolly good fun. I love the clothes, shoes, and handbags that actress Ashley Jensen wears as the title character and was particularly fascinated with her signature bright coral lipstick. I Google’d extensively to find out the brand and colour, finally ending up messaging Jodie Marie Spencer, the makeup artist for the , show. To her great credit, Ms. Spencer got back to me and informed me that it was Metal Flame by Tom Ford which has since been discontinued. Not ready to give, up and after a greal deal of sleuthing I finally managed to track a new one down on Poshmark here in Canada. When we like something, we get desperate.

I also recently purchased a Lancôme dual-finish face powder that I used to like and used in the 80s. I was happy to discover that I still like it even though I had not used it for thirty years. I was shocked though at how much it had increased in price—almost double what I used to pay nearly forty years ago.

Nearly four years ago I tried microblading my eyebrows and documented the experience in Boomerbroadcast. At the time, I was thrilled with the results, having plucked my brows to extinction in my foolish youth. Now, I’m not sold on the procedure as it turned out to be too expensive to maintain and too time-consuming. The results were not as long-lasting as I had hoped and, of course, we couldn’t get touchups for two years during COVID. It was worth a try, though, and that’s how we learn whether we like it or not. Someone else’s experience may not reflect our own.

A friend of mine loves one of Revlon’s oldest and most enduring lipsticks called “Cherries in the Snow”. I remember it from the sixties and seventies when I sold cosmetics at Eaton’s College Street store in Toronto. Obviously, the product has value and still holds up, just like us old boomers. It’s tried and true while not necessarily endorsed by 35 independent beauty experts who have no idea what our generation wants and prefers because they do not have our decades of experience.

Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara is frequently recommended as being the best, but it does not work for me. I’m a decades-long fan of Lancôme’s Hypnose mascara, the one with the straight brush but, a friend who tried it found it irritated her eyes. Over the years we have carefully edited and selected our choices and we alone know what we like. Right? What’s your experience with makeup and skincare products as we age my fellow boomer broads? Do you have any particular favourite products you like?


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Gail Czopka
Gail Czopka
1 year ago

Absolutely bang on Lynda. I’ve worn Lancome’s Duel purpose & mascara for years…. Great products. But I have given up on Lancome’s very expensive face creams & turned to Ponds. I think the key is just drink lots of water although I have started taking collegin powder in my tea hoping it will help the aging process. Just finished the series Mad Men which gives you some good insight into the game of marketing products & the sophistication of turning a product into a consumer want & need even at our age.

Margaret Payne ( Lamey)
Margaret Payne ( Lamey)
1 year ago

I still use frosted apricot and I have for decades. I always get 2 as I am afraid they will stop making it.
Still love my cover girl clean pressed powder I used in the 60’s. Especially love the smell. As a young gal my Aunt introduced me to Chanel No 5. It’s a favourite.
I try others and always go back to it. Guess I am a creature of habit.