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

Won’t you let me take you on a sea cruise? 

Well, hello, my friends. I’ve just returned from a relaxing, fun-filled cruise to the Bahamas — a girls’ trip with my mother, sister and daughter. We had a super time: We swam with dolphins, sat in the sun and made some great memories.

As usual, I overpacked. I wore about two-thirds of the clothes I took along and less than half of the makeup products. That’s OK, though, because my husband and I are headed for Jamaica in a few weeks. I’ll wear the apparel that went unworn on the cruise and pare down my makeup bag to include just what I used in Nassau and Freeport. Since many of you are planning fun-in-the-sun getaways, I thought I’d share what made the cut:

  • SunBum products: I always burn, never tan so I must be very cautious about protecting my skin. I’m a big fan of SunBum products and my faith was rewarded on the cruise. I burned only on my back, and that was my fault because I neglected to reapply my sunscreen as I should have. I use SunBum’s SPF 50 spray and keep my lips protected with the company’s pomegranate lip balm in SPF 30. I once burned my lips on a trip to Myrtle Beach and it was excruciating. My friends Kelly and Nikki swear that burning your lips can cause cold sores, even if you’ve never had one before.  I’ve still never had a cold sore, so I don’t know if they’re right or not!
  • Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen: I use the SPF 70 version on my face. My cheeks and nose didn’t burn during the cruise and my face didn’t break out, so I’ll use it again.
  • Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation Serum: I serendipitously found a generously sized sample of this light-coverage foundation with SPF 30 in my sample drawer while packing. The minimal coverage was just the thing for a cruise.
  • Effaclar BB Blur: I find this BB cream that blurs imperfections perfect for “no-makeup makeup” days. Bonus: It contains SPF 20.
  • MAC Eyeshadow Palette in Cool Neutral: This 15-shadow palette featuring cool tones was all I needed for a variety of makeup looks. For those who love warm tones, there’s a warm-tone palette also.
  • Too Faced Love Flush Long-Lasting 16-Hour Blush Wardrobe: Six pretty blush shades that stay put? Enough said.
  • Benefit They’re Real Mascara: This is my ride-or-die mascara because it lengthens, volumizes and stays put until I take it off.
  • Best Damn Beauty Best Damn Lip Mask: My lips love this quenching, moisturizing, softening mask with its pale pink tint. It doesn’t purport to plump, but I swear it does make my lips look fuller.
  • Tatcha Polished Rice Enzyme Powder: This just-add-water cleansing powder is perfectly portable and great for brightening and exfoliating.
  • Hand sanitizer: There are hand-sanitizer stations located throughout cruise ships. If you’re out at sea, chase away germs by availing yourself of them and take a small bottle of your own. In this case, more is more: Germs spread to cruise passengers and crew members at the speed of light. My sister and I would have spent more time at our ship’s casino if we hadn’t learned there was an onboard epidemic of strep throat. We decided handling chips and cards wasn’t worth the risk. That’s probably a good thing — I finished a winner, up $12!

A note about a previous blog: Thanks to all of you who contacted me here and through Instagram in response to a recent message about handling the end of a relationship. I heard from people who were estranged from friends, boyfriends, sisters-in-law, parents and adult children, and did my best to thoughtfully respond. I deleted the column because upon reflection I want to limit Makeup Plus 50 to more upbeat topics such as product reviews, recommendations and ideas. To the many who identified with that particular blog, know this: Your memories will someday be more sweet than bitter. In time, you’ll look back on the person and be glad they were a part of your life, no matter how briefly. I’ll leave you with this French proverb: “Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.” – Ronda

Lip service: How to get the perfect pout

  Eyes may be the window to the soul, but lips are the ticket to sex appeal. Use these four easy steps to make sure your lips look and feel their best when they’re moving, pouting or –better yet — kissing: 

  1. Start by slathering your lips with an exfoliator. I prefer Tarte’s Maracuja Lip Exfoliant, which is billed as “a powerful resurfacing lip scrub that exfoliates lips then provides instant hydration—quenching lips with no greasy or filmy feel.” It features rough, sweet sugar granules that remove roughness and flakes and has a pleasant, slightly minty taste. 
  2. If you have stubborn flakes, let your exfoliant soak into your lips for a few minutes before using a clean toothbrush or cotton bud to gently slough them off. 
  3. Apply a rich, creamy balm designed to provide extra hydration and softness. I swear by Best Damn Beauty’s version, the Best Damn Lip Mask. It’s packed with soothing and anti-aging ingredients, including organic agave nectar, jojoba oil, vanilla CO2 extract and resveratrol. I wear it overnight and also let it absorb into my lips while I apply my facial makeup (my lipstick application comes last in my routine). 
  4. Apply your favorite lip product. Remember that bright and dark colors can make lips look smaller. If you have thin lips, it’s best to stick with lighter shades that give the illusion of a fuller pout. Matte lipsticks can also make lips look smaller; if you have small lips use a glossier formula or add lip gloss to make them look larger. Matte lipsticks can also accentuate lip lines, so choose a more moisturizing lip product if that’s an issue for you.  

Remember: Taking care of your lips is a critical part of your beauty routine. By following these four steps, you can ensure that your lips are plump, luscious and, mmmm, kissable. 

Tarte Maracuja Lip Exfoliant, $16, Sephora, Ulta and tartecosmetics.com

Best Damn Lip Mask, $26, bestdamnbeauty.com

Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme Lipstick in Clara, $30, Sephora and marcjacobsbeauty.com

Let’s get this party started!

Some people collect seashells, others collect miniature spoons or shot glasses. Me? I collect makeup and skin care products.

While folks who ar11738040_10207223964861421_8295229614218691584_nen’t into cosmetics might see my passion for makeup as vain, I see it as an artistic outlet. Some artists create their masterworks on blank canvases or from raw clay. Me? I’m more of a paint-by-numbers kind of gal. I simply fill in the outlines and contours of my face.

Really, this blog is simple in concept: I’ll write about beauty products and trends and how to adapt them to suit your age, whether that’s 20, 30, 40 or more (confession: I’m 55). I’ll tell you which products worked for me and which didn’t — and why. And you have my word that I’ll always be honest. There’s no reason to waste your hard-earned money on products that aren’t worth trying.

You might be wondering how my addiction to cosmetics began. (Or perhaps not, but I’m going to tell you anyway.) When I was 40, I was diagnosed with the big C. Breast cancer. Not a nice surprise — and six months of chemotherapy really did a number on my skin. Up until then, I’d been pretty haphazard about cosmetics, and particularly about skin care. Oh, I washed my face at night and in the morning, but that was about it.

All of that changed during chemo. I looked gray, drawn and worn. The fact that I had no hair, including eyebrows and eyelashes, didn’t help things. Fortunately, I found a class designed to teach cancer patients how to look and feel better through makeup. It was miraculous, and my love for the transformative power of cosmetics was born.

That, of course, is just part of my story. I’ll share more of myself in future blogs and I hope you’ll share with me in return. I’m looking forward to the journey!