Putting your best face forward

Beauty and the "Boomer Babe"

by Lynne Cavanaugh

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Facial moisturizers for $19.95 a jar? Toner for $12.49? Make-up removal wipes at $5.99? Wandering through the local discount store's selection of potions and lotions available for highlighting cheekbones, disguising wrinkles and transforming lips from limp to lush can be an overwhelming experience. Is it possible for the boomer babe (otherwise know as the "young senior") to look her best without spending a fortune? Can she even survive without specialized creams for feet, elbows and nails?

At the end of the day, the factors that create the most attractive appearance at the lowest cost are simply a matter of good grooming. Skip the "French manicure and pedicure" and trim your nails yourself after a relaxing soak in the tub. Your nails will be softer and easier to work with after the soaking. Neatly curved and filed nails bespeak classic elegance. Think of yourself as Jacqueline Kennedy rather than Anna Nicole Smith!

Eliminate the "bikini wax" and shave your own errant hairs with a simple disposable razor. One razor, accompanied by a lathering of bath soap, can handle a month's worth of personal shaving before needing replacement. You may find that with nightly shaving of underarms, a morning spritz of alcohol is sufficient as a deodorant. For a more youthful appearance, boomer babes are also on the alert for random hairs that seem to pop up where none had sprouted before.

Neatly plucked and shaped eyebrows are within our reach with tweezers and, if necessary, an eyebrow pencil. No Hollywood "eyebrow technician" is necessary. Facial moisturizers become an increasing priority with maturity. Advertising promises aside, most products accomplish the same thing. They temporarily soothe and smooth skin while helping to retain natural moisture. Choosing the hypoallergenic version is a safer bet when trying a new and, perhaps, less costly brand. A general-purpose lotion smoothes dry winter skin on hands, legs and feet. Toner or skin freshener can be replaced with generic witch hazel for a fraction of the cost and is also helpful for mildly numbing eyebrows before plucking.

As for keeping our "pearly whites" pearly white, our first line of defense is, as always, brush, brush, brush and floss, floss, floss. Toothpaste, floss and a new toothbrush every six months are all that is needed.

We all have our personal preferences for certain scents and textures, but the budgeting boomer babe challenges herself to make use of the cosmetics already on her bathroom counter or tucked away in a drawer. A foundation in a shade a bit too dark can be blended with a foundation a bit too light to create a custom shade, using the palm of your hand as an artist's palette as you blend. Continue using a favorite lipstick by dipping a lip brush into the base of the tube to get out the last wee bit. A top layer of petroleum jelly applied with a brush adds a moist glow to lips. This boomer babe was surprised to discover that a lipstick "just too red" for lips was just right as a blush on cheekbones.

Knowing that there is little difference in quality or performance regardless of price, boomer babes look for clearance tags, buy-one-get-one promotions, and discount coupons. Being flexible on brands and shades of color gives the boomer babe an assortment of cosmetics with which to work her magic.

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A simple, easy to maintain hairstyle requiring only a trim every few months, keeps expenses down. Alternating two inexpensive shampoos is better for hair and avoids the panic purchase of a highly advertised, but no more effective product. Blow-drying can be as simple as drying wet hair. Containing and controlling hair as it loses its color is an ongoing battle with mousse, styling gel and hairspray the weapons of choice.

All in all, the boomer babe asks herself the same questions about beauty expenses as she would with any other budget category. What do I really need? What do I already have? What are my priorities? In other words, shampoo, razors and moisturizers would likely rank higher on the list than a facial mask product. This boomer babe considers foundation, powder, mascara and lipstick as necessary purchases while cologne generally arrives in the makeup basket as a most welcome gift.

Vanity aside, keeping a neat, appropriate appearance is critical in today's workplace. Attention to the details of good grooming combined with the artful use of cosmetics and other health and beauty aids increases our perceived performance and encourages cooperation. We demonstrate respect for others and ourselves when we make the effort to put our "best face forward" at home, at work and in our daily lives.

Take the Next Step:

  • Find more frugal anti-aging tips in The Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Stop forgoing your favorite beauty treatments just because you're on a tight budget. Check out the TDS Guide to Beauty on a Budget and learn the tricks to pampering yourself for pennies.
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