The Game-Changing Device That’s Helping Me Get More Out of My Favorite Skin Care Products

This is a “sponsored post.” JeNu compensated FOF with an advertising sponsorship to write it. Regardless, we only recommend products or services that we believe will be helpful for
our readers. All insights and expressed opinions are our own. —Geri Brin

One of the great perks of my job is having the
chance to test all kinds of beauty products,
so I can report the results to you.

It’s especially exciting today, because skin care formulas are getting better and better at hydrating aging skin, helping to give it a healthy glow, and reducing those pesky fine lines and crows feet.

But when we’re faced with hundreds of brands in the stores and online, it’s no easy feat deciding which anti-aging serums, creams and lotions will best deliver on their promises, especially because so many of them make the same promises: Firm sagging skin, diminish brown spots, create an even complexion, and more.

Ingredients Do Matter…

What I’ve learned is that a handful of ingredients, including retinol, sunscreen and anti-oxidants, makes the difference between potent and weak skin care products. Retinol creates healthier cells, reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, lifts and firms the skin, moisturizes, softens, smoothes, and brightens the skin. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that makes skin more resilient to sun damage, can reduce brown spots and improve collagen production. And look for products that include a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen that’s rated SPF 30 or greater.

Two brands I’ve recently tested that showed excellent results are Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair and the MD Complete skincare system. Both lines include pure retinol.

…But Only If Your Skin Can Absorb Them

I love knowing that I’m using great skin care products—with actual science to support their merits—to maintain the health and beauty of my complexion. I’ve learned, however, that I’ll never get optimal results from even the best products, because they usually sit atop the skin and evaporate before finishing their jobs.

Basically, our skin acts as a barrier, one of its primary functions. It keeps the outside world out just as well as it holds everything in. So the common approach of slathering skin care products on a cleansed face with our fingers doesn’t let our skin absorb them as well as it should.

Triple The Return On Your Skin Care Product Investment
The Easy Way

We can help our skin to better absorb the products we apply by using a variety of methods—but most of them are expensive, painful, and require “downtime.” Thankfully, there’s also an easy, at-home option, that I started using about two months ago: the JeNu Ultrasonic Infuser, which is getting rave reviews from magazines like Vogue and Elle, as well as from a renowned dermatologist, Dr, R. Sonia Batra, who also is a regular on the hit show, The Doctors. You can add my rave review to the rest.

This sleek little handheld device leverages the power of ultrasound energy to give your favorite treatment products the push they need to really perform
—and it’s backed by solid data.

During a recent study—where 160 women used over 200 different products from 80 different brands, ranging from Olay to La Mer—81% reported their products worked better when using them with JeNu vs alone. Meanwhile, 84% of them reported a decrease in the look of fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes, forehead and mouth.

On average, the JeNu system is proven to triple the absorption of leading skin care ingredients, so they have the power to work six times better.

Voila, The Beautiful Results!

It’s a cinch to use JeNu, and it takes NO extra time in my skincare routine. First, I apply my moisturizers and serums, as usual. Then I add a pearl-sized drop of exclusive “conducting gel” to the smooth metal head of the small, sleek wand, turn it on, and run it over a section of my face, a minute at a time. The ultrasound energy transfers through special microspheres (hollow miniscule spheres of protein) in the gel, helping my skin to completely absorb my skincare products.

My before-and-after photos speak for themselves. I call the results pretty dramatic, working wonders on the areas of my face that most irritated me: My crows feet, under-eye droopiness, and nasolabial folds (those two lovely lines that run from beneath my nose, on both sides, to my lips.) Although everything hasn’t totally disappeared, the wrinkles and lines are far less pronounced.

If you can’t wait to experience the powers of JeNu, as I have, you’re in luck. Right now, there’s a limited time offer, and it’s such a good one, we have a feeling it won’t last.

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Joan Didion Is NOT My Icon For Aging Women!

That’s the famous writer, Joan Didion,
in the Céline ad.

She’s 80, and Céline has lately decided it’s cool to “celebrate” age. So they’ve chosen a “model” who they believe suits their “understated look.” (BTW, those are fashion buzzwords usually synonymous with over-the-top expensive.)

My cool 33-year-old daughter thinks Joan looks “totally chic,” as does FabOverFifty’s cool 25-year-old art director. As a matter of fact, so does my stylish FOFriend, Marla Ginsburg, who is the hottest fashion designer on HSN right now.

Call me vain (don’t become more disagreeable than that, please). I’m just not into that kind of “chic,” at 67, and I don’t want to look that kind of “chic” if I live to be 80. Although Joan’s writing is certainly inspirational, I don’t find her wispy thin hair, jowls and turkey neck especially inspirational, chic or cool, even if they are accessorized by trendy big black sunglasses, an oversized pendant, and a simple black (undoubtedly $4,000) sweater. I’m also not a fan of the anorexic look at Joan’s age. (One fashion writer called her “cigarette thin.”)

I know many women would think Joan is growing old “gracefully.” I’m not sure what that means. Does that make you unrefined, uncouth, unsophisticated, graceless, and unattractive if you color your hair, buy a wig, have your jowls eliminated, wear makeup, and shoot your wrinkled forehead with Botox?

Please don’t misunderstand me. If Joan Didion doesn’t mind showing off her crepey neck, good for her. Katherine Hepburn hated her neck but didn’t want plastic surgery, so she covered it with lovely scarves and high-necked sweaters, and I think she looked gorgeous, at 40 and at 80.

I think pretentiousness is the only thing the Céline campaign “celebrates,” something at which
the fashion industry excels.

On the other end of the “let’s celebrate age” spectrum, Dolce & Gabbana brings together two nonnas and throws four of its hip bags and a teddy bear into their laps (chic nonnas never leave home without two handbags each AND their teddy bears!). I’m not sure what message the creative geniuses at D&G are attempting to communicate (Be young again with D&G? D&G: Ageless?) but I also think its campaign is affected.

The last ad, from American Apparel (below), gets it right, as far as I’m concerned. Sixty-year-old with a great body modeling underwear.

I would not want to see a 60-year-old with a
jiggly stomach modeling panties. So why do I want to see an 80-year-old with jiggly jowls modeling eyeglasses and a pendant?

Then again, you don’t need to care what you look like when your eyeglasses cover your entire face.

Tell me, my FOFriends, which approach do you favor?

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Are You Starting To Let The Physical Changes In Your Body Change The Way You Think and Act?

Kirstie Alley looks marvelous again, having lost 50 pounds during the past year. She was beautiful when she was on Cheers in her mid 30s, and she’s still beautiful—and sexy—as she approaches 64. Without playing psychiatrist, I can safely say that Kirstie Alley didn’t feel too good about herself for many years, when she “let herself go,” as my mom would have said. She gained loads of weight, dressed slovenly, had messy-looking hair and didn’t wear a lick of makeup.

Kirstie recently told Matt Lauer on the Today Show that she was motivated to change this time because she wants to continue acting, “hook up,” and feel good about herself during this period of her life. She vows she will finally continue to take care of herself.

Although most of us would never dream of “letting ourselves go,” like the talented actress and comedienne had done, many women over 50 do, indeed, start to let physical changes in our bodies change the way we think and act.

“Not one of us has ‘come of age’ without weathering bumpy periods and having to make adjustments to a life’s plan. Each of us has matured through the life events that have shaped our characters. Now, as we meet new and inevitable challenges and opportunities, we can draw on a lifetime of experiences,” writes 70-year-old Anne Reizer in the introduction to her smart new book, Beautiful Encore, Makeovers For Mature Women.

“Women in our generation have worn all manner of clothing and hairstyles in our lifetimes,” Anne continues. “We spent our twenties in miniskirts. We have worn culottes, maxi dresses, wrap dresses, dresses that looked like nightgowns, power suits with dramatic shoulder pads, western and bohemian styles. We have idolized women like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Audrey Hepburn. Why are we now limiting our style and grooming to a much more narrow menu. Do we feel minimized by our ages? Do we feel that only young women have a right to feel beautiful? Have we decided, for the sake of convenience, to give up—to let apathy dictate that we let go of our curiosity and our commitment to looking good?”

I am not crazy about the term “mature women,” (at least it’s better than “senior” AARGH!) but I am crazy about the message in Anne’s book. If we relax our commitment to “looking good” on the outside, it won’t take long until we feel crappy on the inside. “Without a polished exterior, your interior is in shadow. Illuminating yourself by caring about your hair clothing, makeup, and most important of all your health is neither a superficial pursuit nor an insurmountable goal. Looking good leads to engagement and success in other facets of your life,” Anne explains.

Think about it this way: Have you ever known a put-together woman, in her 50s, 60s or 70s,
who didn’t care about her health, her work, her family, her friends? I haven’t.

Although Beautiful Encore presents before-and-after photos of 27 “real” women over 50, this is not a how-to book, Anne explains in the introduction. It doesn’t tell us what cut is best for our hair, what blush is best for our cheeks or what sweater and slacks are best for our shape. Rather, the photos are designed to inspire and empower each of us to “reinvest” in ourselves, “physically and emotionally.” Each of the featured women has a different story, body type and lifestyle. But all of them share the “curiosity and positive attitude necessary for change,” Anne writes. “A sense of curiosity keeps life interesting,” she explains. “New people, new experiences, new goals and new ideas add to my belief that life is expanding, not narrowing.”

Besides the stories and photographs of the women, the book includes 10 health and beauty articles, written by experts, that explore topics such as exercise, nutrition and hearing. “Older Wiser Happy,” the first article, by psychotherapist Pamela Benison, talks about the challenges of aging that we all face—no matter who we are or where we are—and how we can unlock and use our inner resources to welcome and overcome them, and “create a happy, healthy future.”

Pamela quotes Eleanor Roosevelt:

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence
by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself,
‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’”

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

I’m always intrigued by women who reject the ideas of coloring their gray hair or having plastic surgery, because they want to “grow old gracefully.”

I never thought there was anything graceless about having my hair colored when I was 35 and I still don’t, at 67. My mother-in-law colored her hair until she died, at almost 90, and she was the most graceful woman I have ever met.

As for plastic surgery, I guess you could say turkey necks and jowls are graceful (on turkeys), but I wouldn’t apply that adjective to a turkey neck and jowls on a woman. Sure, it’s “natural” to have gray hair and sagging skin when you age, and if you want to keep them, I say “knock yourself out.” As the French philosopher, Voltaire, said: “I don’t agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

Yet, I was amazed by the response to the first question on a poll that we posted on FabOverFifty last week:

You notice your hair is thinning and your scalp is showing. You:

  • Try to rearrange your hair to disguise the bald spot (69%, 331 votes)
  • Invest in a quality hairpiece or wig (14%, 68 votes)
  • Do nothing (12%, 56 votes)
  • Buy scarf and hat wardrobes to stylishly cover it up (5%, 23 votes)

“Huh?” I thought, when I saw the numbers. Have all of you who chose the first answer taken leave of your senses? Are you certain that you’d actually emulate Donald Trump, even when you know it’s virtually impossible to disguise a bald spot by arranging neighboring hair over it. What are you thinking?!? Would it embarrass you to wear a well-made hairpiece or wig? Would you worry that others would discover your “secret”? Do you think thinning hair, plus a combover, really truly look better?

If you’re going to try and rearrange your hair to cover an obvious bald spot, it seems to me that you aren’t too excited about seeing scalp in the first place. On the other hand, if you don’t give a hoot whether your scalp shows, you wouldn’t bother doing a thing and you’d have selected the third response on the list. As you can tell, I don’t think much of combovers. They’re bad enough on men; they’re horrible looking on women. I’d rather shave my head. It makes a more dramatic statement then oddly positioning a thin cluster of hair over a shiny bald spot.

A full head of hair acts like a frame around your face and is integral to looking fresh and more youthful. Really. It is.

Thinning hair is one of the most obvious signs of aging. No matter how thick your hair was at 30, it’s just not going to be quite as thick when you’re 50 and 60. If the thinning is unnoticeable, you’re a lucky lady. If it’s obvious, and you see patches of scalp right smack in the front of your head, like I did, you’re less fortunate. But make no mistake about it: A combover is definitely not a substitute for a full head of hair.

When I accepted that my once thick, curly hair had become thin, dry and resembled straw—and there was no turning back—I decided to check out custom hairpieces. I remembered seeing ads for years from a New York company, called LeMetric, and when I discovered it was still in business, I made an appointment to meet with the owner, Elline Surianello. After examining my thinning tresses, she explained that she could create a hand-made piece, made of genuine hair, that could be sewn into my own hair or attached with clips (there are pros and cons to either method); washed with regular shampoo, and dried and styled with a blow dryer. Elline and I discussed the most flattering length, texture and style; the cost, and how frequently I’d need to return to her salon to have the piece adjusted if I chose the sewn-in method, since it would loosen as my own hair grew.

That was about three years ago, and not a day has gone by
when I haven’t worn a hairpiece.

My first piece was fairly straight; the new one, which is about two months old, is curly and pretty much resembles the way my natural hair used to look. Getting a piece was one of the best beauty decisions I’ve ever made. I feel good wearing it and get compliments on my hair all the time, to which I usually respond, “Thank you, but it’s not my own hair.” People are flabbergasted. Even a salon owner in my neighborhood couldn’t tell I was wearing a hairpiece.

Then again, I think, IT IS my own hair. After all, I own it. It’s really no different than my silk-wrapped nails, jewelry, makeup, shoes and clothes. It all helps me look the best I can. But don’t trust me. I’m biased.

Just take a look at these two photos, and tell me, which Geri Brin do YOU prefer?

P.S. A custom, hand-made hairpiece isn’t cheap, but Elline also sells synthetic wigs and pieces that cost substantially less and will make you look great. BTW, Elline has become one of my dearest friends and she did not pay me a penny to write this blog. You can email her at to discuss your options, even if you live outside of New York. Or call her at 212.986.5620

Setting Up A ‘Virtual Date’ with a Harvard-Trained, Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

I’ve visited a psychic, figuring what did I have to lose (It was fun!). I tasted live teeny tiny snails in Paris (They were delicious!). I made out with a devilishly handsome stranger on a flight from Atlanta to New York when was I was 41 (We were together for 12 years, until he died 14 years ago!). And I interviewed for a big job when I was 8 months pregnant (It was 1981 and I positioned lots of bags in front of me to hide my physical state.).

Although I haven’t gone sky diving or climbed Mount Everest and refuse to eat soft-boiled eggs (my mother practically forced them down my throat in the fifties), I like stepping out of my comfort zone, even if it’s not always very comfortable. Sometimes, it’s even downright idiotic.

Having liposuction on my jowls (they were getting pretty nasty looking); a chin implant (I was almost as chinless as fifties gossip columnist, Dorothy Kilgallen); some work done on my upper eyelids (the droopiness made me look sad and tired) and Ultherapy (lax skin looks, well, lax) were some of the best step-out-of-my-comfort-zone-moves I ever made.

Although I enthusiastically recommend plastic surgery, I recognize that many of my FOFriends are A) nervous about B) against or C) can’t afford it. Despite their concerns, I still believe it’s a mighty interesting exercise to at least have a consultation with a world class, board certified surgeon and hear what he or she has to say.

I recently had a conversation with Dr. Brooke Seckel, whose practice, Boston Plastic Surgery Specialists, is located in Concord and Boston, MA. He has 32 years experience, teaches, launched a residency program in the field and talks about his work with passion and intelligence. You can have a painless, quick, convenient—and gratis—Virtual Consultation with Dr. Seckel by clicking here, but first, read my Q&A with him for a bit of insight into his philosophy.

What exactly is a Virtual Consultation?

The Virtual Consultation is handled through email. I’m not yet at the stage where I use a video camera and conferencing that let me see and talk with a patient, although that will be a logical evolution of what I’m now doing. However, my Virtual Consultations still give me the opportunities to communicate with patients with whom I normally might not otherwise have communicated.

I started these consultations about five years ago, when I began to get inquiries on my website from potential patients who lived out of state and even in Europe and India. I’d ask them to send me photographs and to tell me exactly what troubles them and I’d let them know if it was worth it for them to meet with me in person. It’s expensive to come from out of town, especially if someone is not even a candidate for plastic surgery. I still insist patients come for in-person consultations. I do not book surgery based on a Virtual Consultation.

How many Virtual Consults do you do in a typical week and how much time do you spend on each?

I certainly get at least one VC form a day; some days I’ll get three. The Virtual Consult gives a patient the opportunity to describe exactly what’s bothering her and to send me photos. It also can save someone the time and expense of a trip if she’s not a good candidate for surgery.

Based on the photographs, I can say, ‘Come and see me. I think you may be a candidate.’ Patients really seem to like it.

I usually spend 20 to 30 minutes reading, analyzing, sometimes consulting my associate for an opinion about a particularly challenging problem, finding proper content to send back to the patient, and writing the email.

Besides responding to the form they submit, do you give the potential patient anything else?

I’ve been writing informative, high-quality web content for six years so I have an excellent backlog of information to send potential patients. If someone wants a breast augmentation, for example, I’ll respond to her and will include links to articles on how to choose breast size, whether to use silicone or saline, textured or smooth implants. My goal is to educate patients before they ever show up at the office. If there’s anything really worrying a patient, it usually comes out in the Virtual Consult.

It’s just horrific how much misleading information is available on the Internet in our extremely competitive field. Some websites invent names for procedures to make you think they’re gentle and non-surgical procedure, when, in fact, they’re not. But there also is good content out there if you know which sites are reputable.

Besides the issues you address through the VC, what important characteristics should someone look for in a plastic surgeon?

Honesty, professionalism and patience. Surveys have revealed that price doesn’t come up till later in the decision process. Choosing a plastic surgeon is a personal experience. Patients also report that they’re not looking for flashy, fancy dressers or offices.

It’s imperative to ask if a doctor board certified, whether he or she belongs to the American Society of Plastic Surgery (ASPS) and how much experience he has.

Trust your gut feelings. Each one of us has a subconscious sense when we meet someone: ‘Do I trust him? Do I feel safe and comfortable here?’

You can also take recommendations from friends and relatives. But it’s face-to-face interaction with the doctor that counts most.

What about reviews?

There’s been a lot of controversy about fake reviews. Some doctors buy reviews, too. Fortunately, Google will not accept a review if it’s written from the surgeon’s computer. A review must be sent from a patient’s own computer.

How much importance should a woman place on the locale of the doctor?

It’s pretty important that you have access to your doctor after you’ve had a complex surgical procedure. There are people who go to the Dominican Republic and then have great complications. Their local surgeons are offended that they went there, so they’re reluctant to see the patient once there are problems.

I perform a fairly unique procedure to correct dark circles under the eyes, so people come from overseas for it. About 20 percent to 30 percent of my patients are from out of state or out of the country. I tell them, right upfront, that they need to stay local and can’t fly for 10 days. I see them on days 1, 3, 5, and 7, following surgery, and then at day 10. I’m comfortable with a patient driving or taking a train after 5 days, If there’s no unusual swelling, vision is fine, and a patient is reliable, but they still can’t fly.

Flying is risky after complicated, multiple procedures. The risk of blood clots in the calf—which can lead to pulmonary embolisms—is very high immediately after any kind of surgery when you’re put to sleep and lying down on a table. If you’re already at risk and get into negative pressure cabin on a plane, you could get dependent pooling of your blood.

What do you say to a woman who absolutely wants plastic surgery, but can’t afford it? Should she just forget about it?

Absolutely not. Mass General, for example, a renowned hospital in Boston, has a clinic where world class plastic surgeons supervise the Fellows who are almost at the end of their training. Fellows will perform the surgeries with their ‘attending doctors,’ who must be in the operating room. So you have the advantage of a leading surgeon being in the operating room, without having to pay steep fees. Most major cities have programs such as this. Call the Department of Plastic Surgery at the leading hospital near you and find out if they have a Resident’s Clinic.

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