Why are Europeans so gorgeous? They accept the skin they're in. Laura Mercier wants youth-obsessed American women to view aging the European way: a ripening into mature beauty.
Laura Mercier is on a mission to help American women succeed in feeling good about getting older . A French makeup artist who has worked with celebrities like Madonna, Mercier believes we need to embrace our mature beauty.
|Confidence and character are more important than "looking young."|
|Love who you are inside. YOU are the canvas for your make-up. Let your self-esteem shine through|
|Don't wear too much foundation. Wear a tinted moisturizer.|
|Apply make-up in natural light so you get the true picture of what you look like.|
|Gray is great color for eye shadow. It works with all eye colors.|
"Because I am French, my mentality from birth has been to appreciate beauty everywhere and not because it is young and perfect," says Mercier. "I have never thought beauty was only associated with the young."
It seems the older American women get the more confidence we wield in business and relationships, but the less secure we feel about our looks. "I find American women even more scared of aging," observes Mercier. "I see more than 100 women a day when I do personal appearances and among 100 women, you know what? Not one will say 'I feel great . I look great.' "
We're sabotaging our sex appeal with too many hang-ups and too little self-esteem.
"I think this country is insane on the matter of beauty ideals ," Mercier says. "It drives me crazy and I swore I would go into battle against that mentality. I don't want women to get depressed because they are getting older or because of the fear that your husband will leave you or that society will push you away."
It's different in Europe, she says. Confidence, sensuality, character and personality play a bigger role in beauty. "A woman accepts that at 50 she is a gorgeous woman who still has sex," she says. "Her children are gone and now she can have fun and still attract people socially or intimately. She feels herself to be a beautiful woman, and it translates into her expressions and her attitude."
Every decade should bring wisdom and joy. You should feel better and better in your own skin. You have to grow to love your wrinkles, says Mercier, because they give you expression and character. They tell a fascinating story about the woman you are.
Mercier's story is this: a former artist, she moved to New York City from France in 1985. In 1996 she launched her own line of cosmetics. A line of skin-care products followed in 1999. She released a video, Flawless Face, in which she demonstrates her tips for applying perfect makeup. The right cosmetics and technique help, but Mercier doesn't think women should rule out a little laser surgery or collagen injections to make wrinkles less obvious or to make skin look more youthful.
What she wouldn't change is the character that the years have given her beautiful face. "I will never have a facelift," she asserts. "I would do something subtle that doesn't touch any feature. But I am scared to death not to find myself anymore, not to find my expression," she says.
It is expression that makes celebrities like Madonna, a past client of Mercier's, sexier at 45 than she was in her 20s. "Madonna is great," says Mercier. "She is very smart and demanding and knows what she wants."
Mercier is also a fan of Susan Sarandon. "She looks so sexy and is a tremendous example of a woman aging beautifully who has the same sex appeal as when she was younger."
And Mercier admires the way actress Meryl Streep is aging naturally.
"These women are very smart," she says. "They each have a special face and don't want to lose that through surgery. They are more focused on character and personality than looks."
Laura Mercier's Beauty Tips
Beauty expert and cosmetics maven Laura Mercier gives this advice so you can look younger and sexier:
1. The most common makeup mistake women make is to wear too much foundation to hide wrinkles, which only exaggerates them. Avoid wrinkles when applying foundation and use it sparsely on other parts of the face.
2. Don't put foundation around the eyes. Use concealer for dark circles, avoiding the corners of the eyes where you have wrinkles. Use a dewy, creamy concealer that will reflect light without adding texture. Fix with a light translucent powder.
3. Don't skip foundation if you need to even out your skin tone. Apply foundation with a sponge and blend thoroughly. Or use a tinted moisturizer if you prefer not to wear foundation.
4. Apply makeup in natural light in front of a window.
5. The biggest skin-care mistake American women make is to take an all-or-nothing approach: either to neglect the skin entirely or to overdo it with heavy moisturizers and creams.
6. Another common error is excessive exfoliation, usually from a combination of Retin A or vitamin C serum with other products like glycolic acid. Many of the products at cosmetics counters today have exfoliants, so read labels and avoid them if you already use Retin A or a vitamin C serum.
7. As you grow older and your skin loses some of its natural color, makeup can help restore a healthy look. Use a tinted moisturizer for a slightly tanned look or a cream blush to put natural-looking color back into your cheeks.
8. Gray is a fantastic color for eye shadow; it goes with every eye color.
9. As you mature and lips become thinner, darker lipstick can make you look older. Use something more colorful than beige, of course, perhaps a peachy tone or a rose shade that does not contain too much red.
10. Use cream blushes and eye shadows, rather than powders, on mature skin.
Photographer: Carole Nickerson