Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Growing Old Gracefully Edition

This morning I went downstairs to switch the laundry, and by the time I came back upstairs – three minutes, maximum – it was snowing again. Clearly, it has been a long, cold, snowy winter when the dusting of snow feels like a complete personal betrayal by the local meteorologists. This wasn’t in the forecast! I thought indignantly. What are they DOING to us? Oh, it’s been consistently so cold for so long – mornings in the windchill-factor-in-the-minus-twenties and afternoons in the minus-teens – that I cannot even envision a time in the future that will not be cold and snowy. And there are months left to go before winter can be, definitively, over. Meanwhile I have friends in the States who are discussing their crocuses and having to put on the air-conditioning, and I feel like saying something mean about their government before bursting into tears, which is a very lame and unproductive reaction because if there is one thing no one can control, it’s the weather, and complaining about it is futile. Also, it’s boring and depressing. So let’s move on!

What I really wanted to talk about today is the idea of Growing Old Gracefully. My friend Jeannette (HI JEANNETTE) put the thought into my head. There is a fine line, I think, between Growing Old Gracefully and Giving Up The Ghost. There is also a line, maybe a thicker one, between Growing Old Gracefully and Pulling Out All The Stops. I hope I am growing old(er) gracefully; I recognize there are some things that will never change, unless I Pull Out All The Stops and get botox or some kind of surgery, my face is on a One-Way Street To Wrinkletown. And that’s okay, but I would like to look a little bit less Crypt Keeper, and so I think a good moisturizer and eye cream are key.

I am also – as you know – not ready to embrace my Old Grey Mare Hair, yes, I know it’s in vogue and yes, I realize I could save a lot of time and money if I just let things go au naturel. I am not ready and frankly, I may never be. I have girlfriends who have gone the highlights-to-gradually-go-grey route, and while I think they look amazing – seriously, you should see my gorgeous friend Amy (HI AMY) – it’s just not for me. I spent almost four decades being a brunette, and now I am embracing my feisty redhead years. This era may last until I am in my grave. Or urn.

I really love beauty products and makeup, and I think it’s very important to be putting my best face forward. I don’t leave the house without makeup or without doing my hair, albeit sometimes the makeup is minimal and the hair is in a simple bun. I want to be clear that I do this for ME first and foremost. I feel my best when I look my best, and even when I’m just hanging out at home doing housework, I still like to ensure that my scrubby yoga pants are coordinated with my sweatshirt. I know not everyone will agree with me here, but I don’t feel like myself without making some effort to look nice.

I know that this is controversial as well, but I also – this is secondary but important – like to look good for my husband. It’s definitely not in vogue to say, as a woman, that you enjoy looking good to a man, but it is the truth for me. I like that my husband finds me attractive, but there is something else here too: he puts in an effort to look attractive for me as well. This is not to say that my husband has a specific SAY in the way I look – I wouldn’t, for example, cut my hair into a funky style if he thought it was a good idea. I also discount his opinion about clothes that I like and he doesn’t, as in this top:

I think this top is very cute and flowy, but he hates – HATES – it. He’s not alone; my friend Jen (HI JEN) thought it looked a little Halloween-ish, and my friend Liv (HI LIV) sweetly said that she doesn’t love it. But I do and will continue to wear it, husband’s preference aside.

This is a long, roundabout way of saying that I realized today that I haven’t written a Nicole’s Favourite Things in a long time, and I have many favourite things I would like to share with you, particularly since many of these things are inexpensive drugstore purchases that are, frankly, amazing. Just a little reminder that this is not sponsored, I have not been paid to review these products, and I bought them all myself at full (or store sale) price. Without further ado!

Nicole’s Favourite Things: The Growing Old Gracefully Edition

My Hair Therapist

June will mark my sixteenth anniversary with my beloved Hair Therapist, and since I will have been married sixteen years next month, I think this is significant. She is a magician. As an example, please witness my latest “before:”

And the “after.” God, I love that woman. I also love car lighting.

She has me hooked on this Loma Fortifying Repairative Tonic that I massage into my hair before blow-drying. It only takes a drop, and it makes a huge difference in the health and texture of my hair.

Even Tone Moisturizers

One of the greatest marketing moves ever, in my humble opinion, was that of the Neutrogena shampoo. Remember how they would say that your hair gets used to shampoo and if you switch it up every once in a while by using Neutrogena shampoo your regular product will work better than ever. How brilliant is that? You don’t have to switch from the stuff you love, just use ours every two weeks and your experience will be better. Well, you have to admire that kind of marketing. I ran across this Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair at the drugstore (okay, it was in the beauty section of Superstore) and I thought I would give it a try. I will tell you this: it’s amazing. For anyone who has an uneven skin tone, blotchiness, old scars, this is like a miracle cream. It’s also supposed to work on wrinkles which may be the case, but I’ve really mostly noticed it on my skin tone. This is a night cream; they have a day version but I’m waiting until I use up the Garnier Clearly Brighter before making the switch. I’ve been using the Garnier product for a while and it’s okay, but it sure hasn’t given results like the Neutrogena one has.

Eye Cream

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will know that I have been searching for a good eye cream FOREVER. I have used Kiehl’s, Clinique, Dr. Brandt, and even, yes, Rodan and Field’s. I have not been overly happy with any of them; the difference is minor in my eye bags, and often by mid-day the creams have made my eye makeup run so I look even worse. I picked up Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Cream on a whim; it wasn’t very expensive in comparison to the other things I’ve tried, and also it’s meant as a night cream. I was a little skeptical BECAUSE it was a night cream, but I tell you, people, this actually works. I look significantly less exhausted, even though I get the exact same amount of sleep every night. This is me this morning, in my harsh bathroom lighting. When I took this I would have been up almost six hours, after getting approximately six-and-a-half hours sleep.

Do I still have eye bags and wrinkles? Yes! But they are so much better than they used to be.

Side note: do you love that necklace? My sweet thirteen-year-old bought it for me when he was on his Quebec trip. He really couldn’t have chosen better, I don’t think. Bonus favourite thing!

BB Cream

I love BB cream and my go-to is either Smashbox Photo Ready or Garnier, which I’ve discussed in detail. However, when I go to the gym, I get really sweaty and my makeup runs, which I hate. Enter this new BB cream – it’s expensive, relatively speaking, so I only wear it on gym days – Garnier BB Light, which somehow, through magic and/or science, matches your skin tone. It doesn’t run even when I (brag alert) run 6.405 km in 40 minutes and get so sweaty the treadmill has drips on it.

Sweaty, yes, but the makeup is still there!

I had much more to talk about today – food that makes you glow and age well, nail products, the very best thing I’ve ever done for my hair health – but it will have to wait for another day! Until then, let me know if you have any products you swear by and what your feelings are about Growing Old Gracefully. I’d love to hear from you! xo


  1. I am going to try these. I’ve had good luck with Garnier before. I loooove the Avon Anew Clinical AHA pads. I saw a big difference in my skin and then I ran out. Thanks for this post reminding me to recommit to my skincare routine.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      I do really like Garnier stuff – I was pretty happy with the cream until I tried the Neutrogena one. Now I feel like Garnier can just go home, because the Neutrogena results have been so good.

  2. I love the necklace! And the top. And I’m taking notes on the skin and eye cream. I also have friends who have done the blonde-highlights-to-total-grey thing and it looks wonderful, but I have this mousey-brown-gray combination that just looks god-awful, so i will have a close and loving relationship with my stylist for quite some time to come. I don’t wear much makeup because I’m bad at it, and the thought of working out with makeup on makes me feel like my face would suffocate.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      I think for people who have naturally darker hair, or brown hair, the highlights thing doesn’t work well. Maybe?

  3. That top is totes adorbs!

  4. I’m in the crocus-blooming part of the States, but not yet with the AC. The weather’s been bouncing around between snow one week, almost-summer like temps the next, and then back to a normal February range. I don’t think winter’s given up the ghost yet.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      Living here, I feel like it has to be basically June to be sure that there will be no more snow…and even then, we can get snow any time of year.

  5. I have dark brown hair and am going increasingly gray, to the point where I actually have SPLOTCHES of gray. Well, I’m lucky that mine are silver, and I actually like them a lot. I do have one friend however, who every so often looks at me intently for a minute and then says, “you know, we could cover that shit right up.”

    Natural hair notwithstanding, I did get Botox in December, and I’m all about it. I had the Grand Canyon between my brows and was always accused of being angry. Now I have the forehead of a serene and dewy-faced ingenue, practically.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      Really? I have never thought seriously about Botox but you can see my forehead and…well…I don’t know. Maybe!

  6. Kimberly Maher says

    I am doing the highlights to grey look, but I have the coloring of a blond, so it works. I will say, though, that I am getting so many more wrinkles. I am trying ROC and am not impressed. I just want some more elasticity. Also, I love the top. LOVE.

  7. This couldn’t be more timely! After my comments about the Olympians and makeup, I’m back on a kick of learning to apply the basics so I can stop looking like an aging hag. I think I will likely never get the hang of eyeliner and eyeshadow, but creams and eye creams I can do! Putting those two on my shopping list.

    Also, what is a BB cream? Should I get that too?

    As for roots…I am considering caving. I have seen some lovely heads of grey hair around here. But every time I flirt with the idea my daughter freaks out – to her it’s a sign that I am getting old, and then she worries. So I figure I can suck up the hair dye for another few years at least – but I am looking forward to liberation someday.

    • nicoleboyhouse says

      BB cream is like a foundation – but it’s also a moisturizer and has anti-oxidants. I really like it for evening out my skin tone, so it probably depends on your own skin tone if you want it or not.

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