When Adrien Arpel’s book How To Look Ten Years Younger came out in the 1980s, my teenage son rolled his eyes and asked, “Who the heck wants to look five years old?”
My mother, nearly eighty at the time, said that even if she did look ten years younger, she’d still look old.
Since I’d just turned forty-two, I was fascinated with the book. Growing up, I hated always being the youngest-looking. I had to show my driver’s license until my thirties.
At forty-five, though, I sat at a make-up counter for the first time and asked the beauty consultant (that’s what her badge said) for make-up advice for my eyes, because my eyebrows and lashes were so pale. She sighed and told me she honestly didn’t know of any way to camouflage “crepey, droopy lids.” She paused, then added, “Except surgically.” I was horrified.
Out in the car I looked in my mirror and realized I did have droopy lids. Hooded, reptile-like lids, in fact. Lids like my father’s. Lids that would soon block my vision if they continued to descend. I finally looked my age.
A few weeks later I tried another of those free makeovers offered at a department store cosmetic counter. This woman was in her early twenties and called herself an aesthetician. She looked like a hooker. I left there covered with makeup, which took me hours to scrub off, plus a list of her recommended products, which would have cost more than $300.
Several other makeover experts gave me contradictory advice. “Never put anything shiny on your eyelids.” “Avoid matte eye shadow.” “Don’t ever use blue eye shadow.” “With your eyes, you should use blue.” “You need some false eyelashes.” All of them, of course, recommended expensive creams and ointments vital to my beauty.
I gave up on the makeovers.
After cataract surgery a couple years ago, my doctor suggested that if my lids droop much lower I should consider Blepharoplasty (eyelid surgery). “In order to see better,” he said. “In a few years you’ll be eligible for Medicare; they might even cover it.”
Soon after that my husband and I went skiing for the first time that season. The sign at the lift ticket window said, “Seniors (65 and over) — $33.” I was sixty-three. I said I wanted a senior ticket, which was true – I didn’t want to pay the regular $47. I felt bad about lying, but what really hurt was that the guy didn’t ask me for proof.
The next time I walked through a department store I decided to give make-up one more try. Most of the saleswomen seemed too heavily made up, so I approached a thirty-something man at a French cosmetic counter.
“Do you have any suggestions for camouflaging my droopy eyelids?” I asked, not expecting much help from him.
He looked at me for a long time and then said in his wonderful accent, “No one will notice anything about your eyes except the beautiful blue.”
No big sales pitch. No exotic products recommended.
I look ten years younger since I started using that French moisturizer, eye cream, throat balm and Cabernet blush.