Toss the Gloss book review

April 23, 2014

{I did not receive a copy of this book for free, nor am I being compensated for this review.}

I just finished a book entitled Toss the Gloss, Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths for Women 50+ by Andrea Q. Robinson, a beauty insider who has worked at top cosmetic companies (Estee Lauder, Tom Ford) and magazines (Vogue, Mademoiselle) for more than 40 years. She has an impressive list of credentials, so I thought maybe she'd have some valuable tips.

I'll save you some money, or perhaps a trip to the library, by giving you the highlights. Maybe it's because I've read many of these types of books before, but I didn't learn too much new. And it seemed disingenuous for her to introduce the book with the Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi (the opposite of trying too hard, understanding the power and seduction of imperfection), and continue with a whole book encouraging the reader to accept her laugh lines and to not be afraid of the aging process, and then to admit to having had plastic surgery. "Be proud of who you really are" and "love your lines, you've earned them," she says.

Now I don't want to start a debate on a loaded topic, but really?

{Another book I've been reading, French Women Don't Get Facelifts, admits that well, yes, some of them do. That's a better book, however; maybe I will review that one as well.}

So here are the most valuable tips I gleaned from this book . . . 

Less is more as you age. Heavy or liquid eyeliner, eye shadow with glitter, sticky lip gloss (hence, the title), heavy foundation . . . it should all go. Beauty magazines are promoting products for the 18- to 40-year old audience. Most of what you see won't work for une femme d'un certain age. (The only thing that's being heavily promoted for our age is anti-aging products, which she admits include a confusing and overwhelming number of so-called miracle workers ready to promise the world.)

All you need is foundation or tinted moisturizer (and I would add that most over-50 beauty gurus say ditch the foundation and only use tinted moisturizer), cream blush, mascara and eye pencil, lip pencil and lipstick. I would add a brow pencil and some concealer (which she does discuss in detail). If you like, natural-looking eye shadows (taupes, creams, browns. Stay away from green and purple and blue, which can highlight dark circles.).

On my recent trip to Colorado, I only took a carry on, and so had to be extra careful about how many liquid products I packed. This BB cream is a sunscreen and moisturizer, and lightly tinted, as well. Three products in one. I really had a chance to practice the less is more philosophy since I took so little makeup.

I have totally given up on undereye concealer. I have tried everything, including a sample of the $70 Cle de Peu concealer (which she does recommend, however, along with a few far less expensive ones). I've had professional makeup people apply various brands. And no, I don't see a difference. If anything, it is aging. I was happy to see that Tish Jett, in her book, Forever Chic, says that the tres chic French don't even worry about undereye concealer. As Forrest Gump says, in one of my favorite lines from the movie, "one less thing."

Her best-bet advice for better looking skin and dark, undereye circles is to get enough sleep, eat well, drink enough water, and exercise. She discusses retinols, peels, glycolic acid, and other anti-agers as well, and gives recommendations. I would add, give up sugar. Sugar is aging. I have eaten way too much of it over this long, long winter. A couple summers ago, I was able to stay off it for three months, and my skin really glowed. I am looking into an amino acid that is supposed to help with sugar cravings; I will report back.

Drug store brands are, in many cases, just as good as the expensive department store brands. Here was a pleasant surprise. I always suspected it was the name and the packaging we were paying for. Many of the high end names are owned by companies that also produce the brands you can pick up at your local CVS. For example, Lancome and Kiehl's and Ralph Lauren are owned by L'Oreal. Estee Lauder owns Clinique, La Mer, and MAC, to name a few.

Toss the powder blush and use a cream blush. Powder blush is aging.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Have a tube of lotion in your purse, by your kitchen sink, on your nightstand. Use rubber gloves when you do the dishes.

She gives some good instructions, with drawings, on how to successfully use highlighter to either camouflage or highlight areas of your face. I might try some of those suggestions. She offers tips on both salon and home hair color, lip liner and lipstick application, self-tanners, and product recommendations for every category of makeup and skin care. These include both department store and drugstore products. If you follow beauty blogs and read up on these products, there were no real surprises here.

I think the biggest gem in this book is the insider information on marketing and selling beauty and makeup products, and how much false, misleading advertising is out there. Many of the claims are exaggerated, and  based on very small test groups. Do your homework, don't believe everything you read, and remember, more expensive doesn't always translate into better. She says, "the tubes from Target will probably work just as well as the bottles from Barney's."

I'm interested in what over-50 makeup and skincare tips you may have.


  1. I have allergies, but I find the Aveeno products to work well for me... they don't leave that "coated" feeling on your face, AND they're not that expensive either!

  2. Hi Deborah! I agree with you about using a tinted moisturizer helps over 50 skin (I just turned 40 and I use it). Also, if you can find a good highlighter, it helps to have a touch in the corner of your eyes, and also use it under the eye in the crease. Also, as you said, avoid heavy bright metallic and dark eye shadows. Those are my best tips (I used to be the assistant cosmetic manager at a Nordstrom cosmetic department for 6 years). You are completely right. There are many drugstore products that work just as well (sometimes better) then the expensive items. Drinking lots of water and staying hydrated is always great for the skin too. I think you have great tips! Hope you had a lovely Easter!

  3. Well let me jump in for the 60+ women that may comment. (or you other gals who will see this number on your odometer eventually any way;-) I use Avon Anew Platinum, formulated for the aging skin of the 60+ woman. I changed to a cream blush a number of years ago because powder made my skin look dry and snuck into little fine lines. Mascara always gave me grief and I have my blond eyelashes dyed once a month with a vegetable based dye. Eyeshadow gathers in the creases so I rarely wear it any more and try to think positive that my aging face shows character with may life lines of experience.
    Good discussion Deborah!

  4. I've just switched over from a foundation to a tinted moisturizer and discovered a really good sunscreen.
    I've added Retinol to my anti aging arsenal and coincidentally just published a post to that effect.

    Less make up is definitely better for my almost 60 year old skin!

    i am with you on the eyebrows though and have a Jane Iredale brow kit that I use everyday.
    Thank you for the book review and I am looking forward to your thoughts on the book about French women not having face lifts.

  5. Hi Deborah, thanks for giving these tips. I use eye cream from Keihls and I used to use Clinique cream in the yellow jar for my face but changed to CeraVe from a sample I got from the dermatologists office and loved it. It is not expensive and works great. Maybe I will do a blog post on that for MM! For the eyebrows I have blonde hair and my eyebrows are starting to disappear so I fill them in with a brow pencil from the makeup line from YouTuber Michelle Phan. My daughter introduced me to her makeup for Christmas and she also has a great concealer that has many different shades as under our eyes are different from summer to winter. I am going to order from Avon tonight a BB cream that has SPF of 15 and see how that works out. I think that I will pick up this BB cream by Neutrogena that you are recommending too! Thanks for sharing all these tips and I look forward to your review on the other book. Take care.

  6. Interesting discussion, Deborah. I use Clean and Clear to wash my face, and in the morning I apply salicylic acid (still acne-prone) and Olay complete defense, a moisturizer with spf 30. I reapply that or other sunscreen periodically. I use Retin-A (retinoic acid) every night; I think that is one of the best anti-agers available. For makeup, I like the mineral powder (right now it's Mary Kay but I've also used Bare Minerals). I use mascara and lip color (gloss - my bad???) and brow color. I recently received one of those battery powered cleansing brushes and I like it. I feel facials are beneficial and go periodically but not nearly as often as I'd like to, due to cost. Overall, though, I like my routine and think it works well for me.

  7. This was such a good review and I like what you've shared and the comments, too. I'm over 60 and keep things simple. Of course...healthy diet, lots of water, exercise is essential. I think it's good to get some sun even though I am blond with blue eyes. I wear sunscreen to the beach but not for a walk or hike (I did have to put some on my face and neck on a hike recently though). I have sensitive skin so I use Curel fragrance free...put it on liberally at night, lightly in the morning. I use Merle Norman concealer and mineral make up. I buy Vaseline lip's just Vaseline in a tube. And a little eyebrow powder on a eyebrows are very light. I went gray...I like to call it silver about a year ago and it's been freeing! I love it! And my best kept beauty secret? I smile a lot! It makes everyone more beautiful. Hugs, Diane

  8. I'm allergic to makeup. I can sometimes wear it (and do) and it won't bother me for a while, but it will eventually start to feel like I have nails being driven into my head. Hypoallergenic cosmetics affect me the same way. I'll only wear a powder foundation because I found the liquid foundation affected me more because it soaks into the skin. I also use a little blush powder for the same reason. I can't put anything on my eyes (mascara, eye shadow or eye liner), so just brush a little foundation there if I'm going somewhere special. I use Neutrogena cream on my face at night and in the morning. I have to agree with Diane (above) that smiling makes everyone look more beautiful. Yesterday on my walk I saw an elderly woman walking towards me, with such a grumpy face and she looked so sad & miserable. I gave her a smile as we passed each other, and when she smiled back her face just lit up! I try to smile more so there are "laugh lines" not "sad lines" on my face as I age. Wendy x

    1. I'm enjoying the comments. And this one is perfect...not only can you look more beautiful with a smile, you can cause someone else to be beautiful, too. That's amazing! Great comment Wendy! Hugs!

  9. Thanks for all the comments ladies, and all your tips. A smile is like an elevator, haha, lifts our faces and our spirits!!

  10. I think the best tip is to stay out of the sun. Don't go to tanning booths and protect your face from harsh sunlight.And drink lots of water and of course, eat healthy. I have always used very basic products and my skin looks pretty good for being 58 - no deep lines or wrinkles, but I have stayed out of the sun. I use Suave lotion, only because it doesn't irritate my sensitive skin like the expensive brands, I moisturize religiously, only wear under eye concealer, a tiny bit of gel eye liner, and I use my rose colored lipstick for both lips and my cheeks. My mascara works on my eyebrows, too, with a very light hand. I wash with Noxzema and that's it. I tried the expensive anti-aging lotions and all they did was make my skin red and dry. Thanks for the tips on not buying that book. It does seem very hypocritical to write a book like that and then admit to plastic surgery. I think some people look very strange with plastic surgery. It takes away character. I want my children and future grandchildren to see my honest face. A smile always makes you beautiful. Hugs xo Karen

  11. What a very informative and interesting post Deborah. I am very much a beauty junkie too so I have tried everything from drugstore brands to high end and I am in the middle with my opinion. I do agree that less is more as we age but as far as serums and creams, it is a matter of preference. I have been using the moisturizer for years. It is expensive but it really works for my skin. I like coverage with my foundation so I use Bare Minerals. A bit of lipstick, mascara an I am good to go. Love to drink lots of water to keep my skin hydrated and I am trying to eat more fruits and greens. But I do not get eight hours sleep normally. I am working on changing that however. Thanks for the book review and the great beauty tips. I should d a few beauty posts too. I love the topic.



  12. This was such a timely post for me. I am in the throes of needing to make a few beauty changes. I just got in from a shopping spree buying new moisturizer, night cream, foundation, etc. I am needing to concentrate more on skin care than on makeup. This is all new to me. Until a few months ago, with little effort, I was very happy with my skin's appearance. Suddenly, I am fighting breakouts. I am going to be diligent about my skin care, and if that doesn't do the trick, I will be in the dermatologist office with teenagers fighting acne! I am also experimenting with a new shade of hair color. My hair is going through changes, also. Thanks for the book review. I am glad you shared the major tips you got from reading the book. My tip has already been mentioned: as someone who used to be a department store cosmetic shopper (many years ago), I can honestly say that many of the drugstore brands have improved so much and are now on par with more expensive cosmetic lines. It may take a little experimentation, but what you need is out there.

  13. I've always had sensitive skin ( redhead ) so I have never been able to use heavy moisturizers. And what I find completely unfair is that.. I now have someone else's I woke up one morning and they changed, my hair has been changing and going awry, there are puffy circle things under my eyes, I am getting wrinkles but if I use a heavy moisturizer I will still break out !! ? Now that is just not fair. LOL ! So I use and have used Neutrogena cleansers and moisturizers for most of my life and in the last year I did find a heavier one that I can use in addition to the light Neutrogena, and it is the Bare Minerals for Combination skin.

  14. Thanks for the review and tips, Deborah. I have "French Women Don't Get Facelifts" but haven't finished reading it yet. I'd love it if you reviewed it some time.

    I use tinted moisturizer by Oil Of Olay; that plus some mascara and lipstick and I'm good to go. I have rosecea and even though I should be covering it with something heavier, I don't like the feel of these foundations on my skin. At least I don't have to worry about blush! :o)

    I've also enjoyed all the commenter's tips. Thanks for sharing everyone!

  15. Great review and smart tips, Deborah. I practice most of what you mentioned, and I agree 100% that less is more. Women should not wear dark or heavy makeup after a certain age. It only ages us more. I also agree with eliminating sugar, including flour. I have it, but not on a regular basis. Since I started juicing in the morning, cut back on sugar, and completely eliminated beef and pork, I have felt better than ever. Drinking plenty of water is a must too. For me, the most beneficial contributor to beauty and good health is avoiding stress and making sure our spirit is well fed ... seeking peace, forgiving offenses, and guarding our heart.


  16. Oh, and I almost forgot...laughter. It's magic. :)

  17. What wonderful review, dear friend! I'm 45 and starting to notice a few lines and changes in my skin. sigh. I gets bit blue from time to time about the whole aging process but then I realize how blessed I am. God is truly so good! Attitude plays a huge part in how you look. If you smile and glow a bit to covers a multitude of sins! Water is very important as well as diet. I'm much more aware of what goes into my body. I do love BB creams and lip liner as well as a layer of product to keep my eye shadow from creasing. If my hair looks good and I have a smile on my face, I'm pretty happy. My girls say they can't tell when I have make-up on or off. I guess that's a good thing?? Lori

  18. I found this post very interesting & informative. I have given up under- eye concealer because what I saw in the mirror was worse than me with no concealer. You're right , "one less thing". I have also found so many beauty "experts" discouraging and flat out liars because they talk about how they maintain their youthful appearance, sell books because they look the part, only to find out they use plastic surgery as their main beauty regime. I am very interested in information on practical ways to make the best of what I have appearance -wise without surgery or having to be a slave to a hairdresser / beautician. Your post helps a lot !

  19. I use Cera VE and Mario Badescu cleanser, Skin Actives collegan serum & Awakening night time cream.Cera Ve SPF15 moisturizer and Lumene BB cream, Avon brow pencil, clump crushes mascara, powder blush...I have oily skin.

  20. Among the excellent points in your post... inexpensive drug store products may be just as good as (and possibly better than) their department store counterparts. Many luxury brands are owned by, and manufactured by, the same companies that produce mainstream brands; their products use the same ingredients as the cheaper versions. And product efficacy may vary widely throughout a single brand; it may offer terrific products alongside some clunkers. Most review sites rely on the highly subjective opinions of users. For independently researched reviews I rely on , a name many of you will recognize. Paula Begoun's research team has vetted thousands of products for safety, efficacy and value. Although by no means perfect, this is my go-to site for product analysis, and it has saved me thousands of dollars over the years!


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