After spending over forty years in the same industry, and rising to executive
positions that would ultimately revolutionize that industry, you’d expect a person to have amassed a treasure trove of information for women over 50, and even some “dirt.”
Andrea Q. Robinson is that person, and her years as the ultimate insider in the world of beauty, makeup, and skincare have given her enough fodder and then some to write Toss the Gloss: Beauty Tips, Tricks & Truths For Women 50+. Her resume is more than impressive: former chief marketing officer of Estee Lauder president of Tom Ford Beauty, beauty editor of Vogue, and president of Ralph Lauren fragrances. As president of UltimaII, she spearheaded the natural (“naked”) makeup trend, and it is this adherence to looking unfussy and overdone that is the central theme of her book. She ascribes to the Japanese concept of “Wabi-Sabi,” the beauty of imperfection, and making the most of what you’ve got in a low-maintenance manner.
Part tell-all, part memoir, and part source book, Toss the Gloss talks about Robinson’s life–the glamour and the glitz, but it also gets to the nitty gritty of the cosmetics industry and tells it like it is–all while concentrating on us, midlife women. She makes no bones about the disconnect that exists between the “suits” and our audience. “The people running these corporations are afraid to address our specific needs with anything other than antiaging creams…the fifty+ ‘real women’–are the largest demographic, with more money to spend. They need to wake up and realize that we’re worth their investment.”
I grew up in a home with a mom who was a cosmetician, so makeup and skincare were a big part of my life. I have always enjoyed reading fashion magazines, not just for the fashions, but for the articles that discussed new and innovative skincare treatments that were entering the market. While the book didn’t go into detail about all the chemical properties of lots of lotions and potions, what I found to be really helpful were Robinson’s lists of which products were useless for our age group, and which advertising slogans were bogus. (“Moisturizing,” yes, “Clarifying,” no.)
She provides a good amount of gossipy tidbits and inner circle secrets (the “gift with purchase” deals are only there to lure you in, and one research lab in each corporation usually creates the same ingredient that is widely used in both their low-and high-end products), but the real value lies in the primer chapters that provide instructions on how to apply head to toe products. (The drawings here were probably the one thing I did not like about the book–for someone with “two left hands,” such as myself, actual photographs would have been more helpful. Regardless, Robinson explains all techniques in grand detail, so if you’re not visually inclined, you can still get the hang of it.) Also very helpful are her recommendations of products and color for each skin type and hue.
I applaud Ms. Robinson for finally addressing the ever-changing beauty needs of the 50+ woman. In this book she remains true to her philosophy, and does so, “without fuss.” I so appreciate someone from the industry who actually believes “less is more” when it comes to makeup for our demographic. And while the author does touch upon actual “facelifts,” she spends more time on the facelift you should be giving your makeup bag and bathroom vanity. There’s been talk of Robinson starting her own makeup line, for, of course, women our age. I will definitely look into that when the line hits the stores.
This is a book that I will come back to again and again. I plan on taking it with me the next time I go shopping for makeup, and like a good cookbook, I’m sure the pages will eventually become stained with colors and product as I thumb through it. As the author says, “Some things do get better with age, and we are one of them!”