"Today's 50+ woman is yesterday's 40," says Lydia Sarfati, founder and CEO of the Repêchage spa product line. "Our collective concept of what a woman should look and feel like in midlife has evolved a lot from a generation ago [doubters need only consider that Madonna's a Boomer]—and thanks largely to rapidly improving skin- and hair-care technology, our appearance can match up more easily with our sense of self."
The sentiment is echoed by 67-year-old Jacqueline Bisset (pictured), who's as gorgeous now as in 1977, when Newsweek declared her the most beautiful film actress of all time: "I want a product that makes my skin look as young as I still feel," she says. Thus, her decision to endorse Avon Anew Platinum skincare, one of a growing number of lines—from L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift to Fekkai Ageless—aimed squarely at this age group. And not simply because these women are demanding greater efficacy—they're readily paying for it.
"Last year, we launched the Biolight facial to combat two major signs of aging—hyperpigmentation and wrinkles—and this alone was responsible for a 46% increase in our global sales, even in one of the worst economies on record," says Sarfati. "In fact, when you look at the global beauty market, the antiaging category saw a 22% increase in 2011, and that as entire countries were going bankrupt."
Perhaps even more surprising, if you think only the young lead their lives online: Boomers represent the largest faction of Internet beauty shoppers. "54% of women aged 50 to 64 shop for beauty and health products online," says Sara Manke, director of insights and strategy at the Integer Group, which has done two studies on the topic in the last three years. "Boomer-aged beauty shoppers also show the highest growth online—year over year—of any of the age groups."
Aside from the obvious—i.e., Boomers tend to have more disposable income—there seems to be a "giddiness" behind some of this beauty spending, says Manke, "perhaps because you're finally at a place where you know what you want." And arriving there is one of the gifts of midlife: "If you have grown kids, you have this moment when you breathe a sigh of relief and realize, 'it's now about me again after such a long time,'" says Sarfati. "And with that comes a certain element of freedom: You start refocusing on your own needs, going to the gym more, eating better, and generally taking better care of yourself. It's like you get this whole new—and highly enjoyable—outlook on life."
And once you're there, the point—says Decléor skincare founder Solange Dessimoulie—is not to be 100% wrinkle-free. Lines are no big deal, she insists: "As long as you're glowing, that's what people see."
What to Buy
A few products to help you play up the glow and play down the wrinkles and other signs of aging: Avon Anew Platinum Night Cream ($38, avon.com), which combats sagging skin; L'Oréal Paris Visible Lift Serum Absolute Makeup SPF 17 ($16, drugstore.com), which does triple-duty as a sunscreen, foundation, and wrinkle-fighter; Repechage Eye Rescue Pads with Seaweed and Natural Tea Extracts ($38, repechage.com), which serve as an antioxidant transfusion and anti-inflammatory agent for puffy, lined eyes; Decléor Double Radiance Cream ($67, dermstore.com), which blends circulation boosters with light reflectors to make you look positively beaming; and Frederic Fekkai Ageless Rejuvenating Shampoo and Restructuring Conditioner ($35 each, fekkai.com), lest your hair look any less gleaming than the rest of you.
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