Busting Image Myths As You Age

Sandy Dumont: The Image Architect

Time and time again I come across old wives tales in glossy magazines regarding beauty tips. For example, More Magazine consulted renowned beauty experts and outlined 40 beauty tricks for women over 40. Item Number Two pronounced “Go Golden” in order to look younger. The advice was to wear warm-toned foundations and use golden bronzers. 

Actually, as you age, your skin becomes more yellow, just like a garment or handbag. Take a look at a white shirt that is a few years old and you’ll see what I mean. With each year it becomes more yellow. Thus, in order to look more youthful, as you age you ought to add a bit of pink, not yellow, to your foundation, lipstick and blusher colors. 

Here are the five biggest image myths today.

1. “Go Golden” as you age! See above paragraph. 

2.  As you age, you should lighten your hair color, especially if your natural color was black or very dark brown, such as Italians and Greeks often have. 

An acquaintance of mine was a victim of this myth. As her near-black Italian hair started to get streaks of white, she was advised by a stylist to lighten her hair overall to a medium brown shade so she would look younger. Gone was her lustrous black and silver hair, and in its place was a head of mouse brown hair that was actually aging. Fabrics with high chroma as well as shiny hair will brighten the complexion and give a more youthful appearance. Hair that has lost its luster drabs the skin and the persona. It is aging. 

In reality, if you have black hair, you don’t usually need to alter your hair color, you need to alter your makeup colors. Dark clothing colors often look severe. Dark hair can have the same effect, especially as we age, so a bit of “softening” is often necessary. Black garments look harsh when worn with orange lipstick and blusher, and it is much the same with dark hair. You’ll look severe, even older, with orange lipstick as well as peachy-brown tones. Pink tones melt away black’s harshness like snow in the sun. 

A few caveats:  if your dark tresses do not grey attractively; i.e., your hair begins to look drab or yellowy, you may consider coloring your hair or asking your hairdresser to brighten the grey tones. Otherwise, dark hair usually looks attractive with silvery streaks. If you opt to color your hair, choose a color half a shade lighter than your natural color, rather than choosing a shade darker. Consider leaving a few silver streaks at the front for a dramatic look. 

If your hair is medium or light brown, you have the option of adding blonde highlights close to the face instead of dying it. The blonde streaks will keep your hair from looking drab. 

3. As you age, you should wear softer colors. Pastels, in particular are recommended

My own mother was a victim of this myth. In reality, pastels are aging when you’re past 40.  When she was young, my mother wore black a lot because it flattered her blonde hair. She decided to switch to mauve and slate blue once she reached 60, because she had read “softer” colors were better when you’re older. I was shocked when I saw her when I came home for a holiday visit. I took her to the bathroom mirror, added a little fuchsia lipstick and soft pink blusher and showed her how beautiful she looked in black. Then I let her see that the drab blue and mauve colors made her look much older. 

The truth is, fuchsia is more flattering than mauve; and royal blue is kinder to the face than slate blue. It’s not the dark colors that are aging, it is makeup and hair in “aging” colors and styles that do the most harm. 

4.  Red nail polish is aging. 

This is really a myth. As you age, your hands often tend to have more discolorations. Veins become more visible; knuckles can look a little red, for example.  Red nails become a camouflage, in fact. They actually take the attention from discolorations because  they are so much brighter. And due to the principle of simultaneous contrast (Google it and you’ll understand), the red nails actually cause your hands to appear whiter, so they look younger. 

5.  Lengthen your skirts as you age. 

You only need to look at the silhouette of Betty Ford on the arm of President Bush, being escorted down the aisle of the National Cathedral for her husband’s funeral to know that this is a myth. Mrs. Ford was a dancer with the famed Rockettes in NYC when she was young. Then, and at the funeral at age 88, her legs were shapely and fabulous. So was her figure. It’s not age that determines your skirt length, it’s the “quality” of your legs. 

Unless you’ve developed bulges or extra fat at the knees, the most flattering length is anywhere around the kneecap, including an inch above – like Betty Ford. Wearing your skirt at mid calf is extremely aging. If you need to cover unsightly knees, wear your skirt just at the spot where the kneecap ends. Otherwise wear pants! You’ll look younger than with a mid-calf skirt.


Sandy Dumont is an international image consultant who has been helping women look better for more than 30 years. Contact her at www.theimagearchitect.com or 757.627.6669

Classy Casual by Sandy Dumont, The Image Architect




Speak Your Mind

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.