At 79, Betsey Johnson Has Never Felt Better

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At 79, Betsey Johnson Has Never Felt Better

Oil of Olay moisturizer. Nars Lipstick, red, of course. And last but not least, the Luv Betsey Mascara. I’m really a drugstore girl. I stay in the Olay department.

You’re known for your signature look. How did you settle on it? 

You don’t know you’re doing it, and all of a sudden, one day you can’t stop doing it. You find the makeup that works for you, the hair that works for you. I always hated my hair. So in the late ’60 or early ’70s, I got to London, and I went to a hair salon called Antenna. They were adding hair onto hair, and rockers like Rod Stewart would go there to get their extensions. It was very rock-and-roll. I met [my hairstylist] Andrew, who I’ve been working with for 35 years. 

I love [fake] hair. I always hated my soft, wavy, crummy, thin hair. So I got these hair extensions. They’re plastic. They’re called monofilament, and they’re tight around and set with a hot sealer. They last, unfortunately, for only three or four months, but it’s my look. From that day on, I don’t do anything to my hair. I wake up every day and it looks perfect because it’s imperfect. I usually wear it up and very spritzy. It’s the only way I get recognized. On the days that I’ll wear it down, I get very sad because no one will come over and say hi. 

Would you ever change it up? 

There’s no way I’m changing it. It’s a look that I don’t want to veer from, and I know it works for me. It’s nice to get to that point. I think it takes a long, long, long time to find. It’s discovery of who you are and what you want to look like, and then it becomes who you do look like, because you become it or it becomes you. It feels right. But at my age, my very young 79, which I just turned, I look great! I think I look better than ever, in a weird way. I would never want to look like I did in high school. I would never want to look like I looked in my 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s. 

If you could change one thing about beauty standards either on social media or in fashion, what would that be?

I love to have fun with beauty, just like with my clothes. Keep it light and easy. Never take yourself too seriously. For me, it would be to continue pushing that mindset. Continue pushing the boundaries and remember to take time for self-love!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

Bella Cacciatore is the beauty writer at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.

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