"Women today just have so many things at their fingertips to be able to use to look young. The most prevalent is hair color," says Allure magazine Editor in Chief Linda Wells. "I mean, you have injections and surgery and everything else, but hair color makes the biggest difference."
Makeup artist Gucci Westman has worked on a number of this generation's beautiful faces, including Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Gwyneth Paltrow.
She advocates women aging gracefully. "You want to look [like] someone who others aspire to be rather than a show pony," says Westman, who is 40. "You want to look like yourself, but more enhanced."
Cosmetics and skin care are better today because of innovation. "There's a lot of integration of science and cosmetics," Westman says. "It's good to access your makeup bag to see what you've used for the past 10 years and get rid of it. Try something new."
"Something new" includes a bevy of options, encompassing sci-fi-sounding treatments such as ever-improving laser procedures and stem-cell creams, as well as more mundane but practical beauty aids such as quick-dry nail polish (perfect for the busy Gen-X alpha woman on the go as she battles BlackBerrys and puts together play dates).
Today's woman can search the beauty department and find:
Better hair dyes and thickening products to keep hair lustrous and fight the thinning that comes with age.
Technological advances in sunscreens — which go hand-in-hand with an increased awareness of the importance of protecting skin from the sun.
Makeup with built-in luminizers that deflect the focus from wrinkles. Foundation made with micro-technology for a more natural finish. Serums and creams that quicken cell turnover to reveal youthful skin, others that make age spots vanish or even out skin tone.
At-home teeth-whitening kits, mascara that can mimic the drama of false lashes and lip-plumping lipstick and gloss.
Step beyond the beauty counter to the med-spa and there are fillers, Botox and other cosmetic procedures to help stop time.
But with all the choices, the most important components of looking your best as you grow older are understanding how your face changes, having confidence and skillfully enhancing what you have rather than blindly following trends, Westman says. For instance, she recommends a good non-suffocating foundation to even out skin tone and help it look fresh, along with subtle makeup.
Women over 40 can still have fun with color, but simultaneously wearing strong eye and lip color can look hard as one ages. But that said, Westman advocates sticking with what works for an individual's style.
If a woman can pull off gold glitter eye shadow — no matter her age — she should go for it.