Norma Kamali on Living Your Best Life at Every Age

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This article first appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

Her new book I Am Invincible may sound like a declaration of her own 50-year history in an industry with a short attention span, but 75-year-old legendary fashion designer Norma Kamali penned the original manuscript as a gift to a friend on her 50th birthday. “I gave her a small leather-bound Moleskine notebook with my ‘50 Tips on Turning 50!’ I was amazed at the reaction. I received texts, emails and follow-up calls from many of the party guests asking me to make my book available.” That book has now evolved into a gift for all women with advice and encouragement for conquering every stage of life. “This is my gift to you,” she writes. “Sleep, diet and exercise are my ‘Three Pillars.’” Here, she looks back on how those three pillars have helped her remain effortlessly ageless, decade after decade.


Finding Herself
“In my teens, the look was teased hair with bangs and a flip at the bottom, black eyeliner and nude-white lips with white nail polish. In my 20s, although I was shy, my beauty routine was an artistic endeavor influenced by models like Jean Shrimpton and actresses like Sophia Loren. If I could go back in time to give myself some advice, I would say ‘learn to love yourself’—not in a narcissistic way, but with self-care and self-respect, because that reflects how you feel about yourself and draws people to you who will treat you the same way.”


Makeup Maven
“Even in my 30s, a blue-red lip and nail color with a strong brow was my entire look. I would style my hair with a huge front roll above my forehead. This stage is when you start to notice the fine lines on your face that used to come and go after a good night’s sleep. Well, now they are not going, and strands of gray hair start appearing here and there, too. These discoveries do take your breath away for a minute, which is precisely why this is the time to take action with your health.”


Less is More
“In my 40s, I started believing in the ‘less is more’ theory, and by the time I reached 50, I had already given up on my red lips and nails. After my 40s, my makeup disappeared, and my brows, some mascara and a clear lip tint color dominated my look. The 1980s is when I started my best self-care practices.I consider sleep, diet and exercise the best self-care you can do for yourself, but now I mix in Thai massage, mediation and acupuncture.”


Healthy Vibes
“Skin health is really important as you age. I never use the phrase ‘anti-aging’ because we are all aging every minute of every day. By exfoliating, moisturizing and using something like a tinted moisturizer that develops like a tanner, you don’t have to wear a layer of makeup on your skin. My feeling about skin care is keep it simple, be consistent and use timeless ingredients that work.”


Self Expression
“I realized after years of external influence to look like the current beauty trend, that the best and smartest look for me was just to look like me. This realization took some time, especially coming from a childhood growing up with beautiful Irish kids with little noses and milky-white skin. When I was a little girl, as my nose kept growing, I would sleep on it to try to get it to turn up. Then, as I got older, beauty trends worn by celebrities and models had a strong influence on me, but the results were frustrating. I now appreciate how good it is for your self-esteem to feel good about yourself and your authentic look when it’s based on a healthy lifestyle and simple, effective self-care.”


Genuine Glow
“At this age, I feel the most beautiful when I feel happy. The most beautiful people are those who enhance their authentic beauty by first incorporating a healthy lifestyle from sleep, diet and exercise; use a simple, but effective skin-care routine; and maintain simple grooming habits—for example, hair, nails and brows.”

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