Just Ask A Woman ... About Beauty

I have stopped way short of the knife, but I have to confess I am a beauty products junkie. I've had facials made of nightingale droppings (yes, exactly what you think they are). I've bathed in mud, seaweed and salt. I have bought even more skincare than Sindi, the woman who was in our piece today (see the video here).

In full disclosure, I worked for Avon for 10 years and have helped create ads for beauty companies, so I guess I'm a convert to the magic of "better looks through chemistry." Recently, I've upgraded to a weekly Skin Care Sunday routine while watching "Cold Case" on CBS on Sunday nights. But, like many women, even though I try to look as young as I feel, I realize that I look best when I am happy, rested and loved. And wisdom counts, too!

But in a youth-obsessed world, lots of us struggle with accepting our age, even when we are comfortable in our own skin. In research, where I've asked women their real age and the age that others "take" them for, I've seen that most subtract a good five or 10 years from the real number. We either feel younger or we talk ourselves into it.

It's easy to blame the beauty industry as the culprit, but perhaps we're all a little bit guilty. After all, who wakes up saying, "Gee, I'm glad I look older today?"

Inner beauty? Outer beauty? Tell the truth ... where do you stand?

Talk to Mary Lou — email her here or add a comment below.

Mary Lou Quinlan is the founder and CEO of "Just Ask A Woman," a marketing and brand consulting firm based in Manhattan. During her 25-year career, she was director of advertising at Avon Products, EVP of ad agency DDBNeedham Worldwide and CEO of N.Y. agency N.W. Ayer. She's won her industry's highest awards, including Woman of the Year from Advertising Women of New York in 1995 and the 1997 Matrix Award from New York Women in Communications.

She is also the author of the best-selling marketing book, "Just Ask a Woman, Cracking the Code of What Women Want and How They Buy" (Wiley, 2003) and "Time Off for Good Behavior: How Hard-Working Women Can Take a Break and Change Their Lives" (Broadway Books 2005).