Go Ahead: Try Something New
In our teens and twenties, most of us gamely embraced new trends, feathering, then bobbing, then shagging our hair—and seesawing from frosty pink lipstick (80s pop) to matte brown lipcolor (90s grunge). It made us feel pretty, current, and allowed us to play around with different personas. But somewhere along the way, many settled into “what works best for us," adopting a haircut we’ve more or less maintained ever since, choosing an everyday, goof-proof lipcolor (pinky nude for me), selecting a grownup signature scent…and letting Millennials have all the fun with hair and makeup. I think this is a mistake.
I’m not suggesting we chase every new celebrity haircut or get our lips fluffed up like Kylie Jenner or even toss out our carefully-selected makeup and start over. The goal? Tap in, occasionally, to the confidence-boosting power of new.
I have a friend with whom I have a standing bi-weekly manicure date. When we first started going to the nail salon together, she always chose a sheer pink polish for her nails. In an attempt to get her to experiment a little, I began bringing a baggie of nail lacquers that were neutral (but not sheer pink), such as navy, nude and cabernet-colored. The first time I got her to try Essie Afterschool Boy Blazer (a dark blue), was a watershed moment: She loved it. This friend's look is otherwise very classic (bobbed brown hair, understated makeup), but her nails now are always just a teensy bit edgy: rich chocolate, steel grey, khaki green. She’s even rocked nail art. This friend works in sales and says she has enjoyed getting comments on her nail color choices, that it's been a good conversation starter.
Last summer, a group of girlfriends and I met for a drink, and I brought an assortment of lipcolors for one girlfriend to try. Of course, after a glass of wine, we were all swiping them on, and I was able to convince one woman, who’d been devoted to barely-there nude for decades, to try on a deep pinky-red. She has dark hair and green eyes, and it looked gorgeous on her. We all gushed at how perfect it was for her, and she couldn’t stop looking at herself in the mirror. Last month she sent me a text of a new NARS lip color she'd just bought in a deep red, her new go-to hue for evenings out.
Other friends have told me about similar new-beauty boosts: When I was in NYC last month, my friend Didi, who has naturally curly hair but has worn it straight since 1998, was excited to show me her new curly-hair routine. She’d finally embraced her natural texture, and her hair looked sexy and chic. She also looked younger. (That’s a topic for another post, but Didi and I have decided that adding some bend to the hair is a great anti-ager.) Another example: My 40-something friend Susan had pink-tipped hair for over a year (and she is an editor who lives in NYC on Park Avenue, not an actress living in the West Village). She loved it because of the irreverence and unexpectedness of the look—and the mojo spike she got from that, particularly in her posh, uptown neighborhood.
I made a recent (albeit small) tweak of my own. During my New York trip, I went to a Byredo press event with Didi (if you don’t know this fragrance line, yet you should). Normally, I’d gravitate toward Byredo’s Gypsy Water, a crowd-pleasing, sexy-but-safe blend of bergamot, lemon, vanilla and very faint woodsy notes. Most of my favorite scents (which I wrote about here) tend to fall in this fragrance family (bright, slightly floral, not too spicy or woodsy). But another scent at the Byredo preview caught my eye, er, nose. Mohave Ghost, a musky, sweet cocktail of amber, cedarwood, violet and magnolia was like nothing else I owned or would ordinarily wear. I said to Didi, “it’s lovely, but not me.” To which she replied, “Why not you?” So, I took a bottle home and have surprised myself with how much I love it—largely because it is different. And it makes me feel different whenever I spritz it on.
The lesson I’m trying to impart: Don’t become complacent. It can age you (think of that woman at your high school reunion with 80s-era stiff hair, long nails and heavy foundation), and you’re selling yourself short. Whether you make a small change like a new nailcolor, or one slightly bigger like a new haircut, the important thing is to keep experimenting. Next time you do your nails, consider something other than your usual hue. Pop by a local beauty boutique and try on some new lipcolors. Consider a new scent. Ask your stylist how he/she might suggest tweaking your cut or color. Just don’t underestimate the rush you’ll get from feeling refreshed: It’s like you, anew.