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{Health} Are Your Aging Eyes Causing All Your Troubles?

2012 February 29

A new report says yes, but another expert says . . .


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“For decades, scientists have looked for explanations as to why certain conditions occur with age, among them memory loss, slower reaction time, insomnia and even depression. . . . Now, a fascinating body of research supports a largely unrecognized culprit: the aging of the eye.”  –The New York Times, February 20, 2012

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FOFs are buzzing (and panicking) about last week’s article in The New York Times that examines a body of research from Dr. Martin Mainster and Dr. Patricia Turner, two ophthalmologists from the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Mainster and Turner claim that the gradual yellowing of the lens and narrowing of the pupil that occur with age prevent sunlight from getting through to key cells in the eye. They claim that this disturbs our circadian rhythms–the body’s natural clock–and leaves us at greater risk for a number of ailments, including insomnia, heart disease, cancer and depression. Their evidence is compelling:  Based on their research, Mainster and Turner estimate that by age 45, the average adult receives just 50 percent of the light needed to fully stimulate the circadian system. By age 55, it dips to 37 percent and by age 75, to a mere 17 percent. “We believe the effect is huge,” says Dr. Turner.

The two doctors claim there is much research left to do, however they recommend that as we age we should make an effort to expose ourselves to bright sunlight or bright indoor lighting. They are also wary of cataract surgery that involves the implantation of “blue-blocking” lenses, as these may further limit the critical light that reaches the eye. Mainster and Turner have installed skylights and extra fluorescent lights in their own offices to help offset the effects.

So is it time to panic? Should you install windows in the ceiling or move your office to the front lawn?  Not so fast says Dr. Russell Fumuso, MD, an ophthalmologist, surgeon and Founding Partner of Ophthalmic Consultants of Long Island (OCLI), one of the largest ophthalmology practices in the country. “The article sounds very dire,” Dr. Fumoso admits. “If you read it, you might think that as you age, you’re inevitably not going to be able to sleep; you’re going to get depressed….you’re going to become some sort of a zombie. In reality, that’s just not true. Everyone in the world gets cataracts as they age–not everyone experiences these other ailments.”
Fumuso goes on to point out that there are other reasons one begins to see sleep disturbances, heart disease and depression in patients in their 50s…namely, menopause. “The body systems are all interconnected, so looking at the eye as the root of all these problems is . . . problematic. It would be nice if it were the answer to everything, but it doesn’t work that way.”

When it comes to the “blue-blocking” lens implants that Mainster and Turner oppose, Dr. Fumuso says, “That’s the Alcon lens. It’s be implanted in over 26 million people in the last 10 years–that’s a pretty good track record. If you’re concerned, talk to your doctor–there are other options.”

So what can we do to preserve eye health and function as long as possible–if not skylight installation? “Stop smoking!” says Dr. Fumuso. “And eat a healthy diet. Your eyes are a lifetime in the making.”

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{FOF Book Critic} Your Spring Reading Guide

2012 February 29

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FOF Linda Wolfe, the award-winning author of 10 books and a 12-year veteran of the National Book Critics Circle, shares 3 books in bloom this spring.

Enter to win all three books that Linda recommends by answering in the comments below: Which do you most want to read?

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THE SONG OF ACHILLES
by Madeline Miller. Ecco. 371 pages.

Song of Achilles won’t be out until March 6th, but if I were you, I’d pre-order this stunning novel by classics scholar and fiction first-timer, Madeline Miller. I read it in galleys, and these days galleys often bear the encomiums that will appear on the actual book’s jacket. They tend to be from friends of the author or editor, and often can’t be trusted any more than the words of the guy trying to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. This galley came with the following proclamation by Emma Donaghue (author of Room): “Mary Renault lives again!”

I took her endorsement with a hefty cellar of salt. But once I cracked the pages, I had to admit that Donaghue was right. Madeline Miller tells her tale of ancient Greece and its warrior heroes with all the knowledge and story-telling strength of that fabled master of historical fiction, Mary Renault – not to mention that very first historical novelist to tell Achilles’ tale: Homer.

Remember the story?  Achilles, the best warrior of his day, lurked moodily in his tent after being insulted by his commander, refusing to go out and fight the Trojans alongside his fellow Greeks. It was only after his best buddy, Patrocles, was killed during the fight, that Achilles came storming out of his tent, rallied the troops, and with uncontrolled rage and much brutal slaughtering drove the Trojans back. When I read the Iliad as a girl, I always wondered what made Patrocles so important to Achilles that he would wreak vengeance for his death on such a grand scale. Homer doesn’t tell us.

Miller, using the theories of Plato and other ancient Greek scholars and writers, does. Her Patrocles is not just Achilles’ best friend, but his longtime lover. This was a common interpretation of their relationship in the ancient world. There is even a fragment from a lost tragedy by the great ancient Greek playwright, Aeschylus, that speaks of Achilles and Patrocles exchanging “frequent kisses.”

In Song of Achilles, nine year old Patrocles, the son of a Greek king, is sent into exile because he has accidentally killed a bullying older boy. He is “adopted” by another Greek king, who often takes into his care young boys of good families to be potential companions to his son, the golden-haired Achilles. Although Achilles is half-god –his mother was a water goddess – he is unassuming and compassionate. He singles out the lonely Patrocles to be his friend, and from then on they study together, play together, get tutored in the arts of medicine and warfare, and, in their early teens, become lovers.

When the Greeks decide to go to war against the Trojans, Patrocles, who abhors killing, tries to evade conscription. But Achilles, hoping to make his name and win for himself a glorious destiny, is eager to fight. Equipped with troops, weapons and ships by his father, he sets out for the war, and Patrocles, fearing to lose him, follows.

What happens to them and their relationship during those long years is explored by Miller in a beguiling, psychologically astute, suspense-packed, and poignant tale. Don’t miss it!

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AN AVAILABLE MAN
by Hilma Wolitzer. Ballantine. 285 pages.

The available man in Hilma Wolitzer’s wise and touching new novel is 64-year-old Edward Schuyler, a reserved high school science teacher whose beloved wife, Bee, has just died suddenly of pancreatic cancer. Bee, a psychologist, wasn’t the only woman Edward had ever felt passionate about. In his mid-twenties, he’d had an intense and highly sexual attachment to a fellow teacher. Despite her character flaws – Laurel had been inordinately possessive and unpredictable — Edward had loved her, or at least loved her body, “the bold and innovative ways she used it, the way she looked – those small springy breasts as tender as if they’d only recently budded; the springy surprisingly dark hair of her bush.” He’d become engaged to her, but on their wedding day, with one-hundred-and-fifty guests already seated in the church pews, Laurel stood Edward up and disappeared.

It had taken took Edward years of “emotional hibernation” and shallow hook-ups to get over the humiliation Laurel had inflicted on him before he met Bee and once again fell in love. Physically, Bee wasn’t his type at all. She was “full-breasted, with curly brown hair” and “her hips, like her smile, were a little too wide.” But what Bee had going for her was warmth and steadiness – and a ready-made family, consisting of her mother and her two young children. Giving up his Manhattan bachelor’s quarters, Edward had moved into Bee’s suburban home, and overnight become “a husband, a stepfather, a suburbanite, a mortgager, a birder, and a commuter.” More, he found that “He had never been so happy in his life.”

How then cope with the grief of losing a partner with whom he had shared twenty years of wedded bliss? How move forward with life? Or should he move forward?

Wolitzer skillfully takes us inside the head of this bewildered, anguished man as he tries to handle his despair, retain the love of his step-family, and yet possibly find intimacy and happiness again.

This time around, the rules and pathways of courtship have changed dramatically. Edward attends a grief support group and even, at the prompting of his stepchildren, tries online dating, but these do little to assuage his loneliness. So it is only by chance, and with effort, that in the end Edward does find happiness again. I daren’t tell you how because for a quiet domestic story, An Available Man is quite suspenseful.

Elegantly structured, this gem of a novel is the accomplished Wolitzer’s best work so far.

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HOW IT ALL BEGAN
by Penelope Lively. Viking. 229 pages.

How It All Began begins with a telling epigraph from scientist James Gleick’s book, Chaos: “The Butterfly Effect was the reason. For small pieces of weather – and to a global forecaster small can mean thunderstorms and blizzards – any prediction deteriorates rapidly. Errors and uncertainties multiply, cascading upward through a chain of turbulent features, from dust devils and squalls up to continent-size eddies that only satellites can see.”

Lively proposes in this, her twentieth novel, that The Butterfly Effect can alter lives as well as weather. How It All Began follows a chain of events that result when 76-year-old Charlotte Rainsford, who tutors foreign students in English, is mugged on the street near her London home. The mugger steals her purse, knocking her down in the process, and the fall makes Charlotte fracture her hip. When she’s let out of the hospital on crutches, her married daughter, Rose, insists on having Charlotte live with her and her husband until the fracture is healed.

The necessity of looking after her mother causes Rose to skip a day of work with her employer, the self-centered historian, Lord Henry Peters. Lord Peters is due to give a speech  in Manchester that day about the politics of the eighteenth century, and, not wishing to travel alone, solicits the help of his niece, Marion, an interior decorator. In order to accompany him, Marion cancels a date with her married lover, Jeremy Dalton. Her text message to him accidentally falls into the hands of Jeremy’s wife, Stella. And, staying home for the day, Rose meets Anton, a pupil of her mother’s.

Rose and Anton fall in love, endangering Rose’s marriage. Lord Peters, nervous and out of sorts, makes a fool of himself in Manchester, Stella kicks Jeremy out of their home. Marion finds a new and more satisfying life without him. And so it goes, with character after character experiencing enormous life changes as a result of that unfortunate street mugging of an elderly woman.

Charlotte is the most deeply drawn of the large cast, perhaps because she seems to be the voice of the author, herself in her late seventies. Charlotte’s thoughts are eloquent. “For years now,” she thinks, “pain has been a constant companion. Cozily there in bed with one in the morning, keeping pace all day, coyly retreating perhaps for a while only to come romping back: here I am, remember me? Ah, old age. The twilight years – that delicate phrase. Twilight my foot – roaring dawn of a new life, more like, the one you didn’t know about. We all avert our eyes, and then – wham! You’re in there too, wondering how the hell this can have happened, and maybe it is an early circle of hell and here come the gleeful devils with their pitchforks, stabbing and prodding.”

The other characters are somewhat shallow, more caricatures than characters, really, but they are unfailingly amusing. Henry, who has lost his prominence and begun losing his memory, knows that “history is a slippery business; [that] the past is not a constant but a landscape that mutates according to argument and opinion. Henry is well aware of this, and aware that the eighteenth century has disappeared over the horizon so far as he is concerned, reconstructured, reinterpreted.”

That eighteenth century, whose disappearance from his memory has devastated Henry, doesn’t much trouble his niece, the interior decorator. “That period, for Marion, meant certain furnishings and styles: Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Robert Adam. Stripes. Tottery little tables….She had got through life quite easily knowing nothing much of the eighteenth century.” Jeremy, courting his wife in an effort to woo her back, takes Stella to “a courtship restaurant. He had taken Marion there once, early on. No matter. She hadn’t cared for it – something wrong with the decor.”

And all of the characters, even those who are lightly drawn, have moments of epiphany, sudden realizations of the meaning of what they are going through. Charlotte, living with Rose but not privy to her feelings about Anton, thinks, “Who knows their own child? You know bits – certain predictable reactions, a handful of familiar qualities, The rest is impenetrable. And quite right too. You give birth to them. You do not design them” Anton, after Rose decides to remain in her marriage, accepts the failure of their relationship because it has made him feel alive again. “I had forgotten…not just what it was like to feel, but that feeling existed at all. It is like coming out into the sunlight.”

And what of the mugger? Here, Lively is at her wittiest. “The delinquent …was himself set upon almost immediately by a hostile gang and relieved of £67.27, which were distributed among the gang membership and disposed of within the hour. The delinquent was much annoyed at his loss, but recovered within a day or two; so it goes. Beyond him, unknown and of no interest, he had left Charlotte on her crutches, the embattled Daltons, Henry in his humiliation, Marion, Rose, Anton…Demonstrating that no man is an island. Even a fourteen-year-old with behavioral problems.”

Enter to win all three books that Linda recommends by answering in the comments below: Which do you most want to read?

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(See all our past winners, here.) (See official rules, here.) Contest closes March 8, 2012 at midnight E.S.T.

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{2011 FOF Awards} The envelope, please…

2012 February 28

The Academy Awards may have been given out on Sunday… but, today, we present you with the 2011 FOF Awards. As part of this FabOverFifty annual tradition, thousands of you tell us your favorite things from the past year, from beauty to fashion to technology. Then we narrow the results to three finalists in each category and have a run off! At long last, the big winners:

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FOFs are loco for coco…Coco Chanel that is. Chanel No. 5, voted the No. 1 fragrance by FOFs for the second year in a row, was launched by Coco Chanel in 1924. A bottle of this ubiquitous, musky-jasmine fragrance is sold every thirty seconds, generating sales of $100 million a year. Clearly, Coco has FOFs to thank.
(Runners up: Amazing Grace by Philosophy, Beautiful by Estee Lauder, Angel by Thierry Mugler)

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See ya later, washcloths! This electric, facial-cleansing brush has tickled the fancy (and faces) of FOFs for it’s ability to deep clean our pores. This past year, it won the FOF vote for best beauty product discovery.“I thought I had good skin until someone convinced me to buy the Clarisonic Classic. It went from good to amazing in days,” says Kari Soljyntes of beauty blog, Faboverforty.com. “It’s like a Sonicare toothbrush for your face. (It’s made by the same inventor!). It gets all the day’s dirt and grime off and lightly exfoliates. When you use it, your other skincare products work so much better because they penetrate the skin deeper. It’s an investment for my skin!”
(Runners up: Olay Regenerist, Bare Minerals Products, Brazilian Peel)

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iPad, youPad, we allPad. FOFs are hooked on their iPads and using them for both business and play. “I hardly use my computer now,” says FOF Patty Smith. “I can do everything on [my iPad]–read magazines, books, check email, bank, Facebook, shop. I am never without it!” Another FOF, Corinne Garrett, a university professor and painter, uses it for business. “It beautifully showcases my artwork for clients, manages my calendars and holds all sorts of media,” she says.
(Runners up: iPhone, Kindle Fire, Nook)

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Aw, shucks you shouldn’t have! But, you did…and we’re thrilled! Thanks for voting us #1, FOFs.

(Runners up: Facebook, Amazon, Pinterest)

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Beating out Macy’s, Coldwater Creek and Kohl’s, FOFs chose Nordstrom as their favorite place to shop for clothing and accessories. “I love Nordstrom for splurges,” says FOF Pat Pelland. Another FOF, Mary Robins, found her mother-of-the-bride dress there. “I had great luck at Nordstrom. I bought it there, then compulsively went to every bridal store trying to beat what I purchased and couldn’t. Was delighted with the service and in-house alterations.” Others tout the lingerie department. “The fitters usually have a great deal of experience and they have an excellent return policy as well,” says FOF Kelly Yamauchi.
(Runners up: Macy’s, Kohl’s, Coldwater Creek)

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“Have you ever read a book and then gotten sad when you realized you were close to finishing it? asks FOF Deborah Martin. “Have you ever just fallen in love with characters and wanted to know what else was going to happen to them after the book ended? This is one of those books.” Deborah is not alone–The Help captured the hearts of millions of women, spending more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Bestseller list and selling over five million copies in 35 countries.
(Runners up: The Bible, Bossypants by Tina Fey, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins)

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Who said a movie can’t be as good as the book? Clearly not FOFs! “I loved both the movie and the book. We’ve come along way,” says FOF Annette Brinkerhoff.
(Runners up: Bridesmaids, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Midnight in Paris)

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Beating out French macarons, greek yogurt and gluten-free foods–PopChips are the official FOFoodie favorite of 2011. These all-natural snacks, made from popped “kernels” of potatoes, clock in at just 120 calories and 4 grams of fat per bag. “Yum!” says FOF Mary Beth Schriver. “All-natural sweet potato Pop Chips–a great snack–and good for you!”
(Runners up: Greek Yogurt, French Macarons, Gluten-Free Foods)

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This one was close! Vitamins beat out massage (just by a hair) for the product or service that most improved your health in 2011. “None of us get 100 percent of everything that we absolutely need,” says Dr. Tanya Edwards, a Family Physician who consults at the Cleveland Clinic Center. Dr. Edwards recommends that all FOFs take at the very least–a multi-vitamin. “Our standard American diet is grossly lacking in so many things.” (Read about other vitamins Dr. Edwards recommends for FOFs, here.)
(Runners up: Massage, Yoga, Weight Watchers)

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{Test This} Josie Maran Argan Balm

2012 February 28


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Argan oil–an extract from the kernels of the argan tree–is known in Morocco as “liquid gold” for its healing, conditioning and anti-aging properties. “There are few-to-no formal studies proving a measurable effect of argan oil on skin health,” says Dr. Jessica Krant, a NYC-based dermatologist. “However, the promise is great–it contains vitamin E, many essential fatty acids, and other antioxidants.”

This week, we’re conducting our own “study”: 8 FOFs will put Josie Maran Argan Balm (retail value: $42) to the test. The balm is made of shea butter infused with Argan oil, and“creates a protective barrier to seal in hydration and leaves the skin softer and more supple,” according to the Josie Maran website. The company claims distressed skin will be relieved “instantly,” and also suggest using it on unruly cuticles, dry feet and frizzy hair.

We want you to tell us: Is this balm a bomb…or a blessing?

8 FOFs will test this product. Click here to find out more about it, and then leave a comment below for a chance to test it.

PS – Want to be guaranteed a product to test? Join the FOF Beauty Club now!

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(See all our past winners, here.) (See official rules, here.) Contest closes March 7, 2012 at midnight E.S.T.

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{Tested} Beecology Buzz Balm and Honey Hand and Body Cream

2012 February 28

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Beecology products are made with all-natural, renewable ingredients (no parabens or preservatives) including honey and wax from a Cleveland family’s own hives. In 2011, Beecology products were listed in Cleveland Magazine’s “Best of” issue and picked up by Whole Foods. We wanted to find out–is there truth behind the buzz?

So, we sent our FOF testers two products, Buzz Balm, a natural remedy for chapped lips, and Honey Hand and Body Cream, a “never-greasy,” moisturizer made from cupuacu (tropical fruit), shea butter and Beecology’s own honey. Were these products the bee’s knees? Read on.

Quick take: 5 out of 7 testers would recommend Beecology hand and body cream to other FOFs. 3 out of 7 testers would recommend Beecology lip balm to other FOFs.

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Nelli Douglas–Ontario, O.R.

Did these products effectively moisturize your hands and lips?
Yes.

What do you think about the fact that they are fragrance and preservative free?
I don’t have any allergies, so I would have preferred a light scent.

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips? What changes did you notice?
A big difference in my hands–within two or three days the chapped appearance was gone and they felt much softer. I did not notice a big change in my lips–I didn’t feel the balm was penetrating my lips and had to use it quite often for them to continue feeling soft.

{click here to read all the reviews!}

Would you continue using these products? Why or why not?
Yes. I suffer from dry, chapped hands with cracks near my fingernails. I have not seen any sign of these conditions [since I started using the products]. I will also continue to use the lip balm, because I like the peppermint tingle after applying it.

Would you recommend them to other FOFs?
I would recommend the hand and body cream especially for people who suffer from dry skin. The lip balm was great but didn’t give me any better results than other brands.

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Linda Paul–Catasauqua, P.A.

Did these products effectively moisturize your hands and lips?
Yes. The hand and body cream was especially effective.

What do you think about the fact that they are fragrance and preservative free?
I actually missed a fragrance. The lack of preservatives does not matter to me.

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips? What changes did you notice?
I noticed a tingling when applying the lip moisturizer which I did not particularly care for. The hand and body cream left my hands soft and smooth.

Do you think these products are a good way to achieve smooth skin on your hands, body and lips?
I did not like the tingling from the lip balm.  The hand and body cream was not greasy and was quickly absorbed. It left my skin very soft and smooth.

Would you continue using these products?  Why or why not?
I would probably not use the lip balm. The hand and body cream was delightful and I would continue to use it, although it would be better with a light, floral scent.

Would you recommend them to other FOFs?
Definitely the hand and body cream, but not the lip balm.

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Sarah Baldwin–South Thomaston, M.E.

Did these products effectively moisturize your hands and lips?
Yes.

What do you think about the fact that they are fragrance and preservative free?
Preservative-free products are very important to me. I loved the natural, sweet, honey smell of the hand cream. I shared the cream with my staff and they all agreed.

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips? What changes did you notice?
My skin and lips feel soft and moisturized while using these products. The lip balm soothed my chapped lips although the peppermint was too strong. I did not like the tingling, burning sensation.

Would you continue using these products?  Why or why not?
I would continue using the hand cream because it works, smells wonderful and best of all, is all-natural, free of petroleum and preservatives. I would not continue to use the lip balm because I did not like the strong sensation left by the peppermint.

Would you recommend them to other FOFs?
I would recommend the hand cream without hesitation. I’d recommend the lip balm, only if you like the tingling sensation of mint.

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Kim Sortet–Mooresville, I.N.

Did these products effectively moisturize your hands and lips?
The hand and body cream wasn’t very moisturizing. The lip balm was very moisturizing – love it!

What do you think about the fact that they are fragrance and preservative free?
I have extremely sensitive skin, eczema and am deathly allergic to fragrance and preservatives, so this is very important.

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips?
The lip balm is the real winner. [It had a] pleasant peppermint smell and feel–very soothing!

Do you think these products are a good way to achieve smooth skin on your hands, body and lips? Lips only.

Would you continue using these products?
Yes. It is so hard for me to find a fragrance-free product, let alone, preservative-free.

Would you recommend them to other FOFs
Absolutely!

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Patricia Marinace–Bayville, N.Y.

Did these products effectively moisturize your hands and lips?
The hand and body cream was an effective moisturizer, but felt greasy. I thought the lip balm was a good barrier for moisture loss (it prevented by lips from becoming chapped) but not a very good moisturizer–it felt waxy.

What do you think about the fact that they are fragrance and preservative free?
Frankly, I did not like the fragrance of either product, especially the lip balm. They both had a petroleum smell.

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips?
Immediate changes–notably my hands and lips felt smoother, but the lasting effects were no better than any other product I’ve used.

Would you continue using these products?
I will finish using these products, but would not purchase them in the future.

Would you recommend them to other FOF members?
No. I feel there are other products on the market that are superior to these. I think that FOFs are looking for, and can afford a more effective, more pleasant smelling product. This product did not say luxury to me at all.

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Darcy Roederer–Cedar Rapids, I.A.

Did these products effectively moisturize your hands and lips?
Yes, but I enjoyed the lip balm more then the hand cream.

What do you think about the fact that they are fragrance and preservative free?
The hand and body cream smelled very olivey! I happen to love olives, so after awhile, I didn’t mind it. The lip balm didn’t seem to have any smell and I enjoyed it tremendously! The fact that both are preservative-free is great. With all the chemicals that we are exposed to, it is nice that Beecology products are more natural!

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips?
I didn’t really notice any difference on my hands and forearms. I liked that the cream isn’t greasy at all. I noticed a difference on my lips when using the balm. They were much softer and smoother.

Would you continue using these products?  Why or why not?
Yes, [I’d continue to use] the lip balm but not the hand cream because of the smell and I didn’t see much improvement.

Would you recommend them to other FOFs?
Yes, the lip balm.

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Michele Marrucco–Stamford, C.T.

Did these products effectively moisturize your hands and lips?
I really loved the hand and body cream, it felt like it was moisturizing, without being sticky. I liked the lip balm, and felt it worked well. It also did not feel sticky, a huge plus.

What do you think about the fact that they are fragrance and preservative free?
I would have loved to have some fragrance. I liked that it had no preservatives, it made me feel that it was safe and clean.

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips?
I looked forward to moisturizing with the cream. I used it on my elbows, hands and feet. It felt really good after the shower and on my legs after shaving. It was light enough to put clothes or hose on immediately.

Did you notice any changes in your skin and lips?
Yes–a smoother body and hands. I would use the lip balm when my lips are severely chapped.

Would you continue using these products?  Why or why not?
Yes.

Would you recommend them to other FOFs?
Yes–very nice products.

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{Fashion Flash}

2012 February 27

Fashion Flash time! This week, it’s hosted by Fabulous Over Forty, a blog with practical insights on maintaining your beauty sans surgery. The brilliant blog is researched and written by FOF beauty blogger Kari Solyntjes. Check out her amazing advice and enjoy all the other links from our fab Fashion Flash friends.

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{What do you think of this look?} Academy Awards Edition

2012 February 27

If you were watching the Oscars, we applaud you. It took some serious commitment to stick it out to the end. We also applaud our two favorite performances–both of which came from FOF men. First, a knockout hosting job by Billy Crystal; second, the best acceptance speech of the night from Christopher Plummer, Best Supporting Actor winner. As for the FOF Oscar Fashion . . . well, we weren’t exactly bowled over. Honestly, our Fab sisters made a better showing at some of the earlier-season award shows. At least, that’s our vote . . . but what do you think?

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Glenn Close

Glenn Close found her power color when she pulled on this form-fitting Zac Posen gown and paired it with a very smart, tuxedo-style blazer. Buuut, when we watched her live interview on the red carpet, things fell apart. The jacket and dress pulled awkwardly across her arms, chest, thighs and belly. In the end, it was like she was battling a green serpent. A very pretty green serpent.

What do you think?

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Viola Davis

We’d like to suggest a special lifetime achievement award for Viola Davis’s cleavage and upper arms, which have stolen the show in ever dress she’s worn this awards season. Her flowing Vera Wang gown is a showstopper as well and we love that she revealed her natural hair!

What do you think?

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Virginia Madsen

The color of this one-shouldered gown is totally grape. I mean great. But it’s just too long. Virginia, get thee some hem tape.

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Jane Seymour

Lady in reeeeed, is defying the laws of physics. Jane Seymour, 61, looks red hot in this chevron patterned gown, and her face is perfect. And by that we don’t mean Botoxed within an inch of its life. Girl’s got radiance and wrinkles. She looks real. Really beautiful.

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Meryl Streep

Meryl went gold and green in this Lanvin gown, which was part of the eco-friendly dress campaign organised by Colin Firth’s wife, Livia. Per usual, we liked Meryl’s intention, but her execution didn’t claim the gold. There’s too much fabric here! I want to whip out a safety pin and raise the neckline myself. Not to mention the woefully misguided chain link belt. Oops, we mentioned it.

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Sheila E

Prince’s former prodigy, Sheila E, 55, is clearly still living the glamorous life. Not only does she look stunning in this form-fitting white gown, but she continued to look great while she played the drums . . . . through the entire 4 hour show.  Bangin’.

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Melissa Leo

No doubt this dress will polarize the fashion press, and I admit, it looks odd on the red carpet. But during her presentation speech, Melissa looked totally cool. She was shimmery and chic but also completely in-character–which is to say, tough, street smart and cool.

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{Health} The REAL Reason French Women Don’t Get Fat?

2012 February 23

Read about this French “secret,” and then comment below to enter to win it! 6 FOFs will win.

Americans are obsessed with the way French women eat. They appear to subsist on butter, cheese, pastries, red meat–not to mention cigarettes and red wine–yet they manage to stay trim and youthful from their berets to their Louboutins. Plus, they have a lower incidence of heart disease and diabetes than American women.

Books such as French Women Don’t Get Fat credit France’s smaller portions, active lifestyle and emphasis on fresh, organic food. These certainly play a role.  But a recent study at Harvard suggests that one finicky little chemical compound–resveratrol–may also deserve credit.

“Resveratrol is found on the skin and vines of red-wine grapes,” says Dr. Heather Hausenblas, PhD., an exercise and diet expert at the University of Florida, and the science advisor to ResVitale, a company that makes resveratrol supplements. “It’s a potent antioxidant that protects the plants against extreme weather, bugs and other environmental stresses.”

In 2006, investigators at Harvard Medical School and the National Institute of Aging found that mice treated with resveratrol lived longer, more active, healthier lives–despite being fed a high-fat, high-calorie diet. They tested three groups of mice: One was fed a standard diet (SD), one was fed a high-calorie, high-fat diet (HC) and one was fed a high-calorie, high-fat diet with resveratrol (HCR). “After six months, resveratrol essentially prevented most of the negative side effects of the high calorie diet in mice,” said Rafael de Cabo, Ph.D., the study’s co-senior investigator. It protected the mice against heart disease, diabetes and other illnesses typically associated with a diet high in red meat, cheese and pastries.

But, don’t run for that bottle of merlot just yet. According to Dr. Hausenblas, the average bottle of red wine has 2-4 milligrams of resveratrol–but studies typically use doses of 250-1000mg. Also, not all wine is equally potent. “We source our resveratrol from organic grapes grown by traditional French methods,” Hausenblas explains. “If the grapes are chemically treated with pesticides and herbicides–as they are in most vineyards–they don’t produce as much resveratrol, because they don’t need to protect themselves.” Hausenblas recommends taking a supplement with 250-500mg of organic resveratrol a day, although studies have shown is that up to 1000 mg a day is “well tolerated in humans.”

In December, we sent a resveratrol supplement to a group of FOF beauty testers to try out for one month.  See their results for yourself, here.

Then, comment below to be one of 6 FOF women who will receive a month’s supply of ResVitale’s Resveratrol 250mg supplements to try for yourself.

(See all our past winners, here.) (See official rules, here.) Contest closes February 29, 2012 at midnight E.S.T.

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{The Look for Less} Steal This FOFashion Week Style

2012 February 22

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Maybe they should rename it FOFashion week…

New York City’s Fashion Week is dominated not by FUF models, but by the FOFashion forward, from Franca Sozzani, editor in chief of Vogue Italia, to jewelry designer, Efva Attling, Sweden’s queen of bling. It’s also our FOFavorite place to scope out style worth stealing. Check out these 3 street styles from Fashion Week and then, get them for less.

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Patterned Tights
Once reserved for leggy waifs, patterned tights have made a comeback on more shapely sisters…namely, shapely FOF sisters. Trust us, ladies, the fashion future is hosey. “We may have varicose veins, sun spots or cellulite,” says Hallie Peterson, owner of Leg Luxury tights. “so, when we cover our legs with patterns, it looks a lot better than going bare or even wearing regular nude hose.” Glenyse G. Thompson of styleosophy.com agrees. “They add unexpected texture and/or color to your outfit.”

Get the look: Leg Luxury tights, $22 from the FabOverFifty shop

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Itty Bitty Bags
We’re all grown up, but our bags are shrinking?! We’re talking about itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny,  honey-I-shrunk-the handbags. “Fashion is having an Alice in Wonderland moment, with exaggerated proportions flinging outfits into thrilling disarray,” according to the fashion website and store, Asos.com. If your own body proportions give you agita, there’s nothing like a dinky dollhouse-sized bag to throw them for a loop!

Get the look: Mini Metallic Quilted Cross Body Bag, $21.49 from Asos.com

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A Fur Collar
When the weather outside is frightful, there’s nothing more delightful than a fur collar–preferably detachable–to give it more va-voom! As the weather warms, you can remove it and keep your statement coat working a bit longer. “[A fur collar is] a cool addition to a fitted sweater, a sheath dress or a narrow coat.” says FOF Style Guru Terry Gibralter. “ Well said, Terry… and well worn, Fashion Week FOFs.

Get the look: Helene Berman Faux Fur Collar $46 from TheOutnet

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{Giveaway} Hand-Embroidered Bead Bracelet

2012 February 22

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Don’t want to wait to win it?  Buy it in the FOF Shop now!

Tricia Milaneze, owner of Lavish Jewelry, is giving away this colorful, hand-crocheted bracelet. Enter to win by answering in the comments below: What do you wear on your wrists?

Tricia Milaneze recalls a time several years ago when she almost abandoned her jewelry business entirely. A single mother to two children on the autistic spectrum, Tricia, age 36, was also working a demanding “day job” as an immigration attorney. “I had a good position at the law firm, a good salary and insurance. But my jewelry orders started to get bigger and my clients started to complain because they couldn’t reach me. I couldn’t do both things well. I had a feeling I’d lose what I had built with the jewelry business if I didn’t dedicate myself to it full time. So, I left my law job.”

Her chutzpah has paid off…in 2011 she made more than a million dollars in sales, and her beaded baubles were featured in InStyle and Lucky. Plus, Tricia’s jewelry is now for sale in the FOF Shop!

We spoke to Tricia about how she and her team create Lavish’s unique designs.

Your jewelry is handmade in Brazil, but you operate your business out of Miami. How does that work?
I’m originally from Brazil, but in 2000 I moved just north of Miami, where I operate Lavish. Each piece is designed by me and crocheted by artisans in Brazil. I still visit Brazil often, but it helps that my brother lives there–he is my business partner.

Tell me about the creative process when producing your jewelry.
We start with an idea on a piece of paper, but because we work with wire, a lot of the pieces end up looking different then the original drawings. We have to see how the wire is going to behave. We change a little here, a little there…the creative process is very dynamic. We make a few pieces first, and from those we develop a whole collection.

What materials do you use?
Copper wire–because it’s very flexible–and glass beads.

Where do you sell your pieces?
I sell in the U.S. and also internationally–Japan, London and Italy–mostly in boutiques, catalogs and a few department stores. I am also now selling my jewelry in the FOF Shop. I’m hustling it.

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Enter to win this hand-embroidered bracelet by answering in the comments below: What do you wear on your wrist: a bracelet, a watch, both, or nothing at all?

One FOF will win. (See all our past winners, here.) (See official rules, here.) Contest closes March 1, 2012 at midnight E.S.T.

Thank you for entering. This contest is now closed.

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