Age Before Beauty No More

In the world of beauty products, the hint of a sea change came in 1997, when L'Oreal asked former "Melrose Place" vixen Heather Locklear to be a spokeswoman for one of its hair color lines. A few years later, actors Julianne Moore and Susan Sarandon signed on with Revlon, and Kristin Davis became the face of Maybelline.

Recently, 52-year-old Christie Brinkley, a CoverGirl spokesmodel from 1976 to 1996, returned to the company to promote CoverGirl Advanced Radiance, an "age-defying" foundation. French beauty Catherine Deneuve, 62, launched her own limited-edition makeup collection for MAC Cosmetics' Icon line, which leads us to wonder, in a Carrie Bradshaw-esque tone: Are baby boomers and beyond the new twentysomethings? All those Gap and Garnier Nutrisse ads starring Sarah Jessica Parker seem to suggest so.

According to Lois Joy Johnson, fashion and beauty director at More magazine: "It used to be that if a woman of 40 looked amazing, it was hard to believe. Now women are looking great and are wearing their age as an earned badge." Anne Martin, vice president of global cosmetics and beauty marketing for CoverGirl, agrees. "Women like Christie live full and exciting lives. Christie appeals to the same woman today as she did in the 1970s." According to Martin, half of the women who buy CoverGirl products are over 35.

In a recent survey conducted by More in conjunction with Frank About Women, 67 percent of women ages 40 to 60 said they prefer products represented by models closer to their own age. The survey also found that only 5 percent of these women buy upscale, brand name cosmetics from department stores and boutiques. "Women would rather go to Peru or buy a Porsche than upgrade the cosmetics they've been wearing," says Johnson.

Johnson and Candace Corlett, principal of WSLA Strategic Retail, a consulting firm for retailers and manufacturers, say this trend will only accelerate as the influence and purchasing power of mature women grows. With Linda Evangelista modeling Ann Taylor fashions, Brooke Shields sporting Jones New York threads, and Demi Moore becoming the face of Versace last summer, "all the rules have changed," Corlett says. "No one wants to think about numbers anymore. The spirit of these women is, 'Until I'm old, I'm ageless.'"

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