Model Maye Musk Shares Her Beauty Secrets and How She Became the Oldest CoverGirl in History

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For women of a "certain age,” the revelation of your true chronological age can either be a major social faux pas or a badge of honor. When it comes to embracing aging, model Maye Musk is the poster child and she wears her badge of honor with pride. With the recent announcement that she’s been named the latest (and oldest in history) CoverGirl spokesmodel, it’s clear that at 69 years old, her career is at its peak, a feat unheard of in the industry for women of a "certain age.” Proving that she’s much more than just PayPal and Tesla founder Elon Musk’s mom (she’s also mom to Kimbal and Tosca Musk), the South African-raised mother of three sat down with NewBeauty to talk about all things beauty and share exactly how she became the next easy, breezy, beautiful spokesmodel.

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NewBeauty: What is your first beauty memory?
Maye Musk: I remember as an early teenager, my twin sister Kaye and I were 14 or 15 and we were doing false eyelashes and dark eyeliner because that was the style at the time. We also used single eyelashes underneath our eyes. It was that Twiggy look and it took us a whole hour to get ready to go out. And my second beauty memory is that we used to tease each other’s hair into a beehive. We would both have these big, enormous beehives. I was really into magazines and I learned, well my mother sent me to pattern cutting class, to actually change my clothes to look like a picture I’d see in a magazine. I could turn my pants into bell bottoms and make my dresses into tent dresses, because that was fashion. I also made my own miniskirts and my twin sister remembers, she just reminded me of this, that I would be sewing well into the night to look fabulous the next day.

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NB: Where were you when you found out you were chosen to be the latest CoverGirl and how did you react?
MM: It was a few months ago. My agency, IMG Models, contacted me and said there was an interest, but as you know, as a model, there are companies that have an interest and either it fades away or you book the job. Then it got a little more serious, I got a little more information and I took a few more photos and things like that. Then IMG called and said, “We’ve got it!” You just almost don’t believe it! I kept thinking, is this really going to happen? It wasn’t even a fantasy of mine because it would be ridiculous for a woman of 69 to fantasize that she could ever be chosen as a CoverGirl. If I would have said this to people a year ago, that I wanted to be the next CoverGirl, they probably would have thought, “Oh God, what are we going to do with her?”

NB: You have two Master’s degrees in dietetics and nutrition. How does your background affect your role as a model in the fashion and beauty industry?
MM: One thing I do as a model is that when there is a claim of any type in advertising, in order for me to be attached to anything, it needs to be true. That’s how I feel about any claims people make, so that's also why I have lost some jobs. Because, let’s say for instance it’s for a supplement and I can’t find any evidence that the supplement actually has any benefit, then I will not do it. And these are very expensive jobs that I lose out on. 

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NB: What does beauty mean to you? 
MM: I work with the some of most beautiful women in the world, and of course they’re all younger than I am, but they are so beautiful when you see them and meet them in person. But they become much more beautiful when they're also charming, polite, intelligent, fun and have a sense of humor, then they become more interesting. But you know the funny thing is that all of the people that work behind the scenes, all of the creative crews, they are so creative and I find that really beautiful. They bring their talent, which I don’t have and I don’t understand because I’ve never been artistic. I really appreciate someone who is an artist that can create beauty.

NB: What are your go-to makeup and skin care essentials?
MM: Well for skin care, it’s definitely stay out of the sun and wear a hat. Even with a hat on you should have SPF in your creams and moisturizers. I always need to have under-eye cream, as well as a face cream, because my skin is quite dry and moisturizing it just makes it feel good. I always need something on my lips because they tend to get dry, too. Also, I have never smoked, and I think not smoking has helped my skin a lot. I also moisturize at night of course. When it comes to makeup, I have a very plain face, so it’s like a blank canvas. That’s why makeup artists can do all sorts of bizarre or edgy makeup looks on me and it turns out quite beautiful.

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NB: Your hair seems to be one of your best accessories. How do you maintain your hairstyle and which products do you rely on?
MM: This is my natural hair. Most of my modeling career I colored my hair blond, so it was a bit of a frizzy mess and had a dryness to it. It looked great when a hairstylist did it, but when I did it on my own, it would just look frizzy. Now, I've let my hair go natural and don’t have to color it, so it’s much stronger and healthier. I didn’t know when I let it grow out if I would ever work again as a model; I was just tired of coloring it. When I cut it short, I instantly had an edgier look and suddenly everybody wanted me on editorials. I was in my early 60s and said, “They want me in an editorial?” I usually got booked to be the grandmother or an older woman or things like that. Even though my mother and father had white hair, I didn’t know that I did too until I let it grow out. I do use a blue shampoo from time to time to keep my white hair very white.

NB: What is your approach to anti-aging?
MM: I find facials a little boring. I don’t mind having my face massaged for five minutes, but I don’t think I’ve had a facial in more than 10 years. The last time I did it was because it was a gift, but I remember thinking, “This is so boring!” But skin tightening, I don’t even know how to skin tighten! I don’t really know much about these new treatments, so I’m not doing them. About 15 years ago, I won a treatment with a dermatologist in a raffle. So, I went and they put something on my face and then my skin started peeling off. It was terrible because I had a job the next day and the makeup artist was freaking out because my skin was peeling off. That’s the last time I did anything like that. I can’t do that again and I didn’t enjoy it. I see a lot of people that come out and say, I did this and I did that, but I’m just happy with how I look and where I am now.

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