TODAY   |  January 24, 2011

Embracing beauty at 50 — and beyond

Actress Susan Saint James Ebersol and celebrity makeup artist Bobbi Brown talk about feeling confident and sexy while aging with grace.

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ANN CURRY, co-host: This morning on TODAY'S BEAUTY , finding confidence and beauty at 50 and beyond. If you're worried about hitting a big birthday milestone and what that will mean to your self-esteem, well, don't worry because we've got Susan Saint James Ebersol , she's a wife, mom, Emmy -winning actress and also a humanitarian. She's also along here with her friend and TODAY beauty contributor Bobbi Brown . Wow , how cool is this?

Ms. BOBBI BROWN: Good morning. How cool is this? This is so cool.

CURRY: This is so great. We're here to talk about something that -- first of all, let me just -- let's get this out on the table, you...

Ms. SUSAN SAINT JAMES EBERSOL (Emmy Winning Actress Humanitarian): Sixty-five , not 50 and over. You know, they have like More magazine, which I love and they're great, but it's about 40 and two months.

Ms. BROWN: Because they're -- they need a magazine called Even More .

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Even More. Even Even More , you know?

CURRY: And you want to -- you say that we need to reshape some of our dialogue about this issue. How...

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Well, you know, Bobbi and I hang out and we talk about it and she'll say, 'Well, what are you going to do, are you going to get' -- you know, this is what my age group talks about a lot, actually much younger I think, and it's -- you know, 'Are you going to do surgery, are you going to do Botox , are you going to do Restylane or fillers or what are you going to do?' And I 'm like, you know, when I was 20 -- or 17 or 18 when I started in the film business, we were the generation -- because I'm that first crash of baby boom that said we're not going to wear false eyelashes anymore, we're going to keep our own names.

Ms. BROWN: You were a hippie.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: I was a hippie, too.

Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: And so I thought why wouldn't I translate that to the end of my beauty years? In other words...

CURRY: But it's tough.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: It is very tough.

Ms. BROWN: You're -- and you're in the middle, you're in the middle.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: I'm in the middle, yes. My mother's 95, so I still have 30 years.

Ms. BROWN: Right.

CURRY: Right. In fact, we have a photograph of your mother and I think your sister in addition in this picture. So there you have this generation of women.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Yeah, look at -- I mean, look at that. I mean, her wrinkles are, like, gorgeous, right? You know, so...

CURRY: But the point is -- let's get back to why it's tough, it's tough because so many women -- we hang on to -- our sense of ourselves is so much defined by how the world looks at us and they constantly put us in -- us in this box of you need to be sort of pretty and sexy and all these different kinds of things, so it is tough.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: It is.

CURRY: So you do -- so have you actually -- I mean, may I ask, have you actually done any of this stuff?

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: It is. No, I've never -- I've never done any surgery. I've done -- I did Botox once, which I kind of liked for my forehead because it -- so I didn't look like I was frowning.

CURRY: Mm.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: But you have to do it all the time and I...

CURRY: Yeah. It hurts probably.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Yeah, yeah.

CURRY: And then I hate my lips, you know? But I told Bobbi , I said I think the trick is to keep...

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: You can't do your lips.

Ms. BROWN: You can't do your lips.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: You cannot do anything to your lips.

Ms. BROWN: That's the only thing.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: You can't. If we were born with thin lips...

Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: ...just wear a good lipstick.

Ms. BROWN: Mm.

CURRY: That's right . ...teach me.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: You know, just wear a nude color lipstick.

Ms. BROWN: That's right .

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: But it's so important for me because Susan 's 10 years older than me and it's important for me to have a role model because how cool is she? I mean, I go to parties at her house in Colorado and she's wearing, you know, jeans with holes in it and just, like a black sweater and she's comfortable with herself, and that to me is a beautiful woman.

Ms. BROWN: So how do you do it , Susan ? Because I'm actually -- I'm on Bobbi 's side on this one, you look fantastic.

CURRY: Well, you know, I -- being a little on the thin side is good, I wasn't and that was great for my face, but being a little on the thin side, you know, you just look better in your clothes.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: So I did that, I kind of cut back. And I do a lot of yoga, that's what I like to do. And a little bit of weights because of the bones because I stopped taking all that bone stuff, too.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: Because I just have to believe that -- my mom has never done anything and she's feeling fabulous, you know, and I think that I'd like to do that. But you have to -- you know, Jane Fonda 's a friend of mine and she said she got tired of looking tired and she wanted to do some stuff, and God bless her, she works on film all the time, I don't, I have the -- I'm not working.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Right.

CURRY: I think if you're working there's more pressure.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: But you're going to be working.

Ms. BROWN: But the -- right.

CURRY: ...working.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: But the point here is that everything you just said was about health, it was about taking care of yourself, being healthy, being -- yoga is about breathing, being relaxed.

CURRY: Right.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Which is...

Ms. BROWN: So in other words, it's talking about taking care of what's on the inside so that you're beautiful on the outside, that's what you just said.

CURRY: Exactly.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: After a certain age -- after a certain age, I tell this to women all the time, stop worrying about what you don't like about your face, fix what you don't like about your body, it's not too late to change your body, to get muscles, to get lean, to get healthy.

Ms. BROWN: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: And I think it's hard because so many women my age and even younger look at the actresses, and a lot of actresses have started to wipe away their faces and a lot of amazing actresses are not; Annette Bening , amazing, Annette Bening ...

Ms. BROWN: Right.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: When you say wipe away, you mean with surgery and things like that? I see.

CURRY: You mean with surgery, yes.

Ms. BROWN: Filling in and -- you know.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: I see, I see.

CURRY: And so it's -- for us, there's no good role model to look at a woman -- we're supposed to have lines on our face.

Ms. BROWN: Mm-hmm.

CURRY: It's what you're supposed to do.

Ms. BROWN: It's a struggle. I mean, I'm having some gray hair come in and I'm struggling -- like, you know...

CURRY: Well, you can color your hair.

Ms. BROWN: I'm -- but I -- but I have, I let it...

CURRY: That's easy. I've been coloring my hair since I'm -- I -- I'm white, my hair is white.

Ms. BROWN: Mm.

CURRY: I've been coloring my hair since I'm 25.

Ms. BROWN: Mm.

CURRY: But I don't understand whoever invented this new TV system, I'm sorry.

Ms. BROWN: OK. All right.

CURRY: It was...

Ms. BROWN: You don't like HD . OK.

CURRY: HD. No, we don't.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: ...it was -- it was not a woman.

Ms. BROWN: We can't change that.

CURRY: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: It was not a woman.

Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: We can't change that.

CURRY: Yeah.

Ms. BROWN: But -- OK, but now let's talk about what is on the outside.

CURRY: Watch me. Yeah.

Ms. BROWN: Because we just talked about the inside...

CURRY: Right. Yes.

Ms. BROWN: ...but on the outside, because that's your job...

CURRY: Yeah, it is, it is.

Ms. BROWN: ...you really focus on how to make us look our best on the outside...

CURRY: Better. Right.

Ms. BROWN: ...so we can feel better about ourselves.

CURRY: Well, number one, you don't want to look tired, so you do that with the right concealer corrector.

Ms. BROWN: Mm-hmm.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: You want to plump up your skin, that's really important.

Ms. BROWN: OK, hello.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: OK, you plump it up with an SPF moisturizer.

CURRY: Plump up your skin. This was invented up in the mountains. I asked Bobbi , I said -- because it's so dry where we go to ski. And this balm is the extra balm...

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Well, wait -- no, no, no, no...

Ms. BROWN: No?

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: ...we don't do commercials here. It's about a strong...

Ms. BROWN: No, but I mean you need something thick.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: It's about a strong, thick moisturizer.

Ms. BROWN: No, but you need something thick, OK.

CURRY: Thick. Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: All right. Let's check it out.

CURRY: The kind -- you want something a little bit...

Ms. BROWN: Does this mean I'll have a big bulb on my hand?

CURRY: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: ...greasy to plump up your skin.

Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: A cream blush...

Ms. BROWN: Uh-huh .

CURRY: ...instead of a powder blush...

Ms. BROWN: Uh-huh .

CURRY: ...gives you a really nice -- and you need to smile, I mean...

Ms. BROWN: Yeah.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: ...there's no wrinkles on cheeks, OK, so you need to smile.

Ms. BROWN: But what's nice about the cream is that it's not as drying.

CURRY: Right, it doesn't get in your lines.

Ms. BROWN: It kind of gives you a little bit of moisturizer.

CURRY: Yeah, and a little -- a little life so that you're not -- don't look like you, you know, they put you in the funeral home with the powder.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: But your eyes is what really -- your eyes are just popping.

CURRY: Well, black eyeliner -- black eyeliner. Black eyeliner, black mascara makes your eyes pop. Filling in your brows -- as we age, you lose certain definition, so you want to define your eyes. You want to -- you want to pump up your -- plump up your skin, define your eyes, pop your cheeks for color.

Ms. BROWN: And then -- and then use a nice...

CURRY: But what about base makeup because I found that with my skin, even as moist as I can make it, I still -- too much makeup sinks into the...

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Right. A tinted moisturizer is great for women of a certain age.

Ms. BROWN: Because it's not as thick as a regular foundation...

CURRY: Right, it's...

Ms. BROWN: ...it's got a little color to it.

CURRY: And it sinks in a little , too, doesn't it?

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: It just -- it just -- you want things that go out, not that go in, so things with moisture will almost plump and will go out.

Ms. BROWN: Well, you know what, it sounds as though there's a kind of, in addition to what's fixing on the -- physically on the inside and the -- worrying about -- making sure that the things are taken care of on the outside in terms of a natural makeup lift as you like to call...

CURRY: Right. Uh-huh.

Ms. BROWN: ...it's also about what's in your head, and that's what you've really been an example of this morning.

CURRY: Oh.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Which is having this strong sense of who you are and not let the winds of society shake you.

CURRY: And accepting where you are now, not where you were, where you are today.

Ms. BROWN: Exactly.

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: Not what Susan used to look like 20 years ago and 30 years ago, today.

Ms. BROWN: Leonard Cohen has a song and the line is, "Ring the bells that still can ring." So I think that's it, you know, accentuate the positive...

Ms. SAINT JAMES EBERSOL: