If You Can’t Afford to See an Aesthetician on Rodeo Drive

Portrait of young woman wearing black jacked and red scarf

Wearing articles of clothing to frame your face can take attention off your blemishes.

A few years ago I spent about a year working as a scientific consultant to a company that catered to the rich and beautiful of Beverly Hills. Coming from a background of poor people who had “nice personalites” on a farm in Texas I was not a natural fit, and I realized I wouldn’t be working there forever. Nonetheless, the time I spent moving invisibly among the rich and famous was really quite enlightening.

Of those I’ve actually met, the Hollywood glamorati lead intense lives focusing on their careers. When they have wants, they expect heaven and earth to move to meet them, and right now. One person might spend $10,000 on real (not homeopathic) growth hormone injections so he won’t have to spend that extra 20 minutes in the gym every week working on his abs. The entire office had $40 luncheon plates of wild salmon with organic capers brought in for lunch (except me, on my budget I preferred to dash out and get a tofuburger). The storied self-indulgence of the citizenry of Beverly Hills and Marina del Rey is not without a basis in fact.

Most of us don’t live in Beverly Hills or Marin del Rey. And we can’t have the aesthetician make an emergency house call in between our private sessions with our personal trainers and looking over the latest diamonds at Cartier’s. But here are seven techniques employed by the skin care advisers to the rich and famous and the rich and famous themselves that you can use yourself. And not a single one of them requires a skin care product or a skin care procedure.

1. Bright light makes you look better.

One of the most basic skin “treatments” is good lighting. Even if you have scars or pimples or other imperfections in your skin, they won’t be as noticeable in bright light. If you want to look good without doing anything at all to your skin, simply arrange to be seen—especially when you are being photographed—in bright light rather than low light. Living in the shadows does not make acne look worse. It highlights it.

2. Knowing your worth makes you more attractive.

One of the things about the beautiful people of Beverly Hills that you just can’t miss is that associating with them does not come cheap. They only pay attention to people to those who have a lot to offer them.  And as a result they are seen as beautiful people even though they may have obvious physical imperfections.

I don’t advise that you adapt a prima donna attitude with your friends. But I do advise that if you find things about yourself that your are proud of and confident in, people will tend not to see your acne.

3. Framing your face can take attention off your blemishes.

No, I don’t mean you should have a portrait made so you can hang it on the wall. I mean that you should choose clothes that bring attention to your face in a flattering way. For instance, if you have red acne on your cheeks and you just can’t conceal it or take the inflammation away, then you can use your choices in clothing to draw attention away from it.

Usually this means wearing an article of clothing around your neck that not just complements your skin tones but that is brighter than your blemishes. If you have fair skin and red pimples then you might wear a red scarf. If you have Asian skin and brown spots you might wear a gold scarf. If you have Mediterranean or Middle Eastern or Hispanic skin tones, you might want to wear a textured, brown scarf. And if you have African skin and acne, you may want to wear bright ornamentation around your neck and ears to offset the appearance of acne.

4. You can disguise skin blemishes with beautiful backdrops.

Most people who have acne find that it comes and goes. If there is some setting you can identify where you’d been noticed for clear and beautiful skin, go back to it. People who have seen you in both settings will associate clear skin with the backdrop, and any transient problems with blemishes will be less noticeable.

5. An entourage can help you achieve “beautiful people” status.

And it actually helps to have people you think look better than you do around you.

Hollywood stars tend to cultivate entourage. The presence of fans gives them self-confidence—which makes a difference in how they appear to others. And the presence of fans even changes how people who have never seen them before react to their physical appearance.

Scientists have found that in a group of people, the individual perceived as the most attractive has the most “average” looks of the group. This means that you don’t have to worry about being around people whom you believe to be more attractive than yourself when you go out. You might actually be the most attractive person in the group because you are seen as having the greatest number of shared beauty characteristics in the group.

6. Looking people straight in the eye makes skin problems fade.

In the United States, most of the time it’s considered just plain good manners to look people in the eyes when interacting with them. (In confrontational situations, however, different rules apply, and different subcultures in the United States have different norms.) If you have acne, this has several advantages for you. A smaller portion of your face is in the other person’s field of vision, their gaze focused on your eyes. And slightly lowering your forehead, not to “look down” at the other person, but to change the effects of gravity on your face, will press skin around blemishes and make them smaller.

7. The lifestyles of the rich and famous are not to be taken too seriously.

If there is anything I’ve noticed about the few “rich and famous” people I’ve met, it’s that a lot of them reach a point in their lives they simply don’t care what other people think. While I do believe that the norms of ethical behavior apply to everyone, I also believe that some people are more attractive when they are simply comfortable in their own skin.

It’s OK to use some of the methods of the rich and famous to look better without changing the skin you’re in. Just remember that beauty really is, as the old adage says, more than skin deep.

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