Hello, it’s me: Answering your questions



Let’s talk makeup, skin care and more


Hello, friends! I’m just back from a cruise vacation and am easing my way back into the real world. My April favorites blog will go up soon, but I thought I’d take a few moments on a rainy Sunday to answer the questions I’ve received here and on Instagram. Some are about makeup and others are more personal, so this will be a mix of both. Diving in …

Q. How did you get into makeup and skin care?

A. Not to be a downer, but a lot of it was driven by my battle with cancer. I’d really never paid that much attention to skin care until chemotherapy, which was hard on my skin.  At first, I was on a skin resurrection journey. I made a New Year’s resolution to never go to bed without cleansing and moisturizing. When I saw what a difference it made, I added other products into the mix. By the way, I’ve kept that resolution. I’m even a little superstitious about it, so I do my routine every night without fail.

Q. Are you really over 50? Why don’t you have wrinkles?

A. Yes, I’m really over 50. I’m 56, in fact. And I’m not wrinkle-free! I do have a few fine lines, but nothing horrifying. Part of it is good genes; the rest I credit to being committed to good skin care. Morning and night after cleansing, I use a toner, a serum, a moisturizer, a neck- and chin-firming cream, an eye cream and a lip balm.  At night, I add a sleeping oil (Sunday Riley’s Luna). I also use targeted beauty masks several nights per week and always use sunscreen. About twice per year, I get some additional help in the form of Botox at the corners of my eyes, as well as a very tiny bit of filler to make my bottom lip symmetrical.

Q. What is your advice for women with aging skin?

A. Adopt and stick to a skin-care regimen.  Exfoliate. Have facials. Wear sunscreen every day and stay out of the sun when possible. Too much sun is incredibly aging. The same for smoking, so stop. And drink in moderation, because too much alcohol speeds up the aging process by causing wrinkles, loss of collagen and elasticity, dehydration, redness and puffiness. Oh, and wear sunglasses to keep from squinting.

Q. Are you married? Any children? Do they read your blog?

A. Yes, I’m married and we have two adult children. My husband is a newspaper editor. He’s much quieter and more private than I am. I never meet a stranger, which both horrifies and amuses him. Our daughter Elizabeth recently earned her PhD and decided to give back by working with Teach for America for two years. Our son James graduated from college several years ago and works for a pharmaceutical company. As for reading my blog: No way! Every once in awhile, my husband checks out the makeup looks on my Instagram page and tells me if he sees one he particularly likes or dislikes, but that’s about it. Elizabeth has perfect skin — even and poreless. Her makeup routine is limited to BB cream, blush and neutral eye looks. Every once in awhile she humors me by letting me do her makeup. James just thinks I’m his wacky mom.

Q. If you could only use one brand of makeup for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A. I started to say MAC because they have such a huge catalog of products, but I would have to go with Marc Jacobs. The quality is exceptional and I’d need my favorite Le Marc Lip Creme lipsticks at hand. Clara and Slow Burn are my current crushes.

Q. What product do you have the most of?

A. Definitely lipsticks. I have lots of them, ranging from the nudest nudes to fiery reds. I have very pigmented lips, so I didn’t start wearing lipstick regularly until I was in my 30s. Now, I see lipstick as a form of self-expression. Plus, I think my lips are one of my best features.

Q. What is your favorite lipstick?

A. That’s hard, because I have so many! I’ll cheat a little and give you one from each color family. Nude: Whisper by Nudestix. Light pink: Penelope Pink by Charlotte Tilbury. Bright pink: Clara by Marc Jacobs. Coral: MAC Vegas Volt. Purple: Dominique by Nars. Muted red: Lost Cherry by Charlotte Tilbury. Traditional red: MAC Red.

Q. If you could use just one makeup item, what would it be?

A. As much as I love lipstick, I’d have to choose mascara! It makes a huge difference.

Q. Your recent photos look different. Have you had work done?

A. No, and I’d tell you if I had. I’ve lost just over 20 pounds and it is evident in my chin and jaw line. I was worried that losing weight would leave me with sagging skin along my jaw and on my neck, but so far so good. I’ve been using Algenist’s Firming & Lifting Neck Cream.

Q. How have you lost the weight? Are you on a particular diet plan?

A. No plan, just healthy eating. I drink a fruit smoothie for breakfast; have a salad, soup or Lean Cuisine meal for lunch; and dinner is a small steak, chicken breast or fish with a vegetable. Ice cream — and particularly Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate — is my weakness, but I’ve replaced it with sherbet. I’m not on a diet. I’ve made a permanent lifestyle change.

Q. Where do you get the quotes you post on your Instagram page?

A. From friends, from random internet searches, from other people’s Instagram feeds. I love quotes and clearly others do too because they get a lot of likes and seem to inspire people. Sometimes they reflect the way I’m feeling and other times they don’t. I just choose quotes that appeal to me and that I think others will relate to.

Q. You review a lot of products. Are you paid for it, or do you get the products free?

A. No, not paid. And I wish! Nope, and I’ll tell you if I write a sponsored post.

Q. Do you have pets?

A. I do! Two cats live with me: rescue kitties named Otis and Bea. They are siblings but Mama Cat apparently slept around because I’m sure they have different dads. Otis is a black and white “moo” cat and Bea is a gray tabby. I love them to pieces! My husband works in another state and our old man is with him — Sparky is a 16-year-old orange cat.  I would love to have a dog, but I travel a lot and that would not be fair.

Q. Who is your favorite makeup artist?

A. I like Lisa Eldridge’s work and watch her YouTube videos for tips. Her looks are always clean and wearable. Also, Wayne Goss has great, practical advice and reviews.

Q. Do you have a YouTube channel?

A. Not yet. I plan to start one as soon as I learn to edit videos.

Q. Who are your beauty icons?

A. Marilyn Monroe, because she just had an incandescent glow. And Elizabeth Taylor was so beautiful. On a more contemporary note, Scarlett Johannson.

OK, that’s it for now. If you have any questions, send them to me here or on Instagram. I’m Makeup_Plus_50. -Ronda


Let’s talk about what’s sexy (and what’s not)


What’s sexy? A scented, warm bath is sexy.

Like many makeup-loving women, I post photos of my daily beauty looks on my Instagram account. (It’s Makeup_Plus_50, if you would like to follow me.) Instagram is a fascinating site, really, and I’ve come to like it much more than I like Facebook. Since Instagram is all about photos, I guess you could say the “picture is worth a thousand words” adage rings true, at least for me.

Anyway, I recently posted a photo in which I was wearing a top I’ve owned for awhile but never worn. I’ve lost almost 20 pounds since February and it’s more flattering now that it was then. It’s a nice, kind of sexy black top — lower cut than I wear on a daily basis but nothing crazy (see photo). The picture had been up for five or 10 minutes when it arrived: what’s known in social media parlance as a “dick pic.” For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s when a guy sends a private message containing a photo of his, as they say in romance novels, engorged manhood.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I’d guess not many women are aroused by the unsolicited arrival of an up-close view of a stranger’s private parts. So, if you’re a man and you’re reading this, take it as an advisory. Do not send women you don’t know pictures of your penis. Now, if you want to send a penis pic to a woman you’re married to or seriously dating, that’s another matter entirely. If you’re both aroused by it, share away — just be aware that your sexy shots might be seen by others in the event of a breakup.


The little black top …

Anyway, today’s special delivery got me thinking about sex and sensuality. I’m going to be candid here and say that I feel sexier now than I’ve felt in a long time. Feeling sexy is something that comes and goes in a woman’s life. There were times when I felt decidedly unsexy: when I had young children to raise and for a long time after I had cancer, for example. But today? Maybe it’s self-confidence … maybe it’s that I’m comfortable about who I am and what I want .. maybe it’s the weight I’ve lost … maybe it’s that I’ve come to terms with my age .. but I feel good and desirable and, yes, pretty darn sexy.

So, if a picture of a stranger’s private parts isn’t sexy, what is? For me, and for many women, it’s little things, such as:

  • A candlelit bath in steamy, scented water.
  • A hot stone massage.
  • The sensual slide of a balm cleanser as I wash my face.
  • An unexpected flower delivery.
  • A hot shower with my favorite scent.
  • Catching and holding my man’s eye across a crowded room — and knowing, without a word, that’s he’s thinking sexy thoughts.
  • A hand on my thigh under the table at a crowded restaurant.
  • A man who remembers my birthday without being reminded.
  • Leisurely putting on my makeup as I prepare for an evening out.
  • Jungle Gardenia perfume.
  • Jean Paul Gaultier’s Le Male cologne.
  • A kiss on the shoulder — or the neck.
  • Catching my guy looking at my lips.
  • Red lipstick and black winged liner.

That’s about all I can share here. Remember, a little mystery is terribly sexy. Remember, too, that sexiness isn’t the exclusive purview of women in their 20s or 30s. It’s so easy to get caught up in our day-to-day lives — our jobs, our errands, our children, our household tasks — that we lose sight of our sensuality as well as our sexuality.

Here’s a final tip: Your inner thoughts are manifested in the way you present yourself to the world. In other words, thinking sexy thoughts makes you sexier. – Ronda

Shake, rattle and Hum — and hyaluronic acid 

I’m fascinated by makeup and always have been. As a little girl, I was entranced by my mother’s cosmetics — especially the miniature Avon lipstick samples that lived in her makeup drawer. And my Aunt Emily was a wonder. I’d watch as she drew winged liner as sharp as a knife’s blade with her old-fashioned cake liner. She’d add a bit of water to the powder and a few minutes later she was the epitome of 60s glamor.

In the years since, I’ve learned that while makeup works miracles, it’s the skin beneath that’s most important. Skin is the palette and makeup is the paint — and it’s critical to keep the palette as smooth, supple and line-free as possible. After all, paint applied to a rough surface often just illuminates its flaws.

My skin isn’t perfect, but it’s in pretty darn good shape for my age. Why? Because I pamper it. I have a thorough skin-care routine and I stick to it every day without fail.  Right now, my skin is looking particularly peachy and I credit the skin-care supplements I recently added to my routine.

Every day, I consume two tablets of Youtheory hyaluronic acid and four capsules of Hum Arctic Repair. Hyaluronic acid is an anti-inflammatory that benefits joints, tendons, ligaments and skin. Arctic Repair contains oil from wild organic lingonberry seeds and promotes itself as “clinically proven to rejuvenate the skin.” All I can say is that after two months of regular use my skin is clear, smooth and even. I look better without makeup than I have in years.

I’m particularly impressed with the Hum brand. In addition to Arctic Repair, I’ve been successfully using the company’s Flatter Me, which supports healthy digestion. I’m about to try two new Hum products — Red Carpet Ready, which promotes glowing skin and healthy hair, and Skinny Bird, which purports to help with weight loss. I’ll share my thoughts on those after a month of use.

Youtheory Hyaluronic Acid Advanced Nutritional Supplement, 120 count, $19.50 at Amazon.com.

Hum products are available at Sephora.com.

If you can’t say something nice …


I woke up this morning feeling let down … let down by myself. I try to put my chin up and ignore slings and arrows, but every so often I disappoint myself and fire back with both barrels. While it feels good at the moment of impact, it feels less so when my temper cools.

The good news is that spring is in the air and there’s a distinct change afoot. Green blades are springing up on the lawn and a wild daffodil is blooming in the corner of the yard. I live in a historic district and I often wonder about the long-ago woman who planted it. Best of all, my Carolina Wren – the one that sleeps beneath my back-porch rafters – has returned with his puffed-up feathers and sweet, sweet song.

The change of seasons is a good time to make some changes in my life. I’ve already started. For the first time, I’ve joined a gym. And I’ve embarked on a healthier eating plan by replacing some meals with healthy juices. Although those changes are good, it’s also time to make personal changes too. After all, my mother always says that pretty is as pretty does – and lately, I haven’t been feeling so pretty. With that in mind, here are four things on tap:

• I’m going to stop borrowing trouble. I’m a stewer and a brewer; I’ve always been. I dwell on things that ultimately aren’t serious at all. (You know, the whole mountains out of molehills thing.) I’ll lie awake at night, my mind churning over issues that in the light of day amount to nothing: something I said, something someone else said, a real or imagined slight. I’m going to work on that.

• I’m going to relax. It’s not so much that I don’t like change; it’s that I like being in control. I want to decide if and when something happens or doesn’t happen. I don’t like to cede decisions to anyone else. I like to chart my own course, steer my own ship. I must learn to be more graceful and accepting when that’s not possible.

• I’m going to listen more and talk less. I don’t like silences. Sometimes I catch myself babbling just to smooth over quiet moments that seem awkward. I once watched a film in which the protagonist left silences for others to fill. The things people said in those quiet times were fascinating and extraordinarily revealing. It’s a technique I employed in my work life as a reporter and I want to apply it to my personal life too. Sometimes I get tired of my own voice!

• I’m going to be my own best friend. My husband’s job is in another state and I’m a writer who works from home. While I enjoy my own company, that kind of solitude on a daily basis can be daunting. As I mentioned, I joined a gym. I’ve resolved to take a group class at least three times per week. That will keep me moving about and active. And I’m going to take myself out to lunch or dinner at least twice per week without fail. My home is lovely and my two cats are sweet creatures, but it will be refreshing and healthy to get out more.

Finally, and not insignificantly, I’m going to work on those take-no-prisoners blasts. When I’m tempted to go in with guns blazing, I want to employ Thumper’s quote to his mother from Disney’s Bambi: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”