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During my trip to New York the Wall Street Journal stopped to chat with The Ageless Sisters.

By Anne Kadet

My pal Sheila, who is 64 going on 18, emailed with a tempting offer: If I wanted a sneak peak at the delights of middle age, we should attend the FabOverFifty Beauty Bash convention in Chelsea. For just $75, I'd see plastic surgery consultations, melanoma checks, bra fittings, even a menopause makeover. "It's the state fair for women of a certain age!" she said.

We met up early to fortify ourselves with giant cappuccinos, and Sheila gave me the lowdown: In Milwaukee, ladies are still allowed to go gray and gain 300 pounds. Here in New York, no matter what your age, you're supposed to look 35. And that takes money. A former creative director at Chiat/Day, Sheila used to patronize $400 hairdressers and get semiannual Botox injections. Now she's a tapped-out freelancer, reduced to using home hair-dye kits. And while she looks fantastic, she longs for the old life—and for youthful, Mick Jaggeresque lips. "If my novel ever sells, I'll get a mouth adjustment," she vowed.

Ramin Talaie for The Wall Street Journal

Sarah Baldwin, 53 years old, watches in the mirror as New York makeup artist Sandy Linter demonstrates techniques at the FabOver50 event.

When we arrived, Dr. Sharon Giese, an Upper East Side plastic surgeon dressed in black thigh-high boots, was already onstage with a patient, constructing a firm, youthful jawline one Radiesse injection at a time. The patient looked remarkably relaxed under Dr. Giese's long needle. "She's got to be on three Xanax," Sheila hissed.

Dr. Giese pinched her patient's face and admired her handiwork. "We're starting to see a nice jawline here," she said. "It makes you look not so sad. You can start to look a little sad and nobody wants that. Because you should be happy!"

"She's wiping off blood," Sheila observed.

We learned that Dr. Giese charges $900 per syringe, but there's a 30% discount if her assistant does the work. "My offices are right by Bloomingdale's and Barneys and all the great stores," said Dr. Giese. "Come make a day of it."

Sheila explored other options. One Park Avenue surgeon said her best bet was an old-fashioned jaw lift—that a $15,000 surgery saves money in the long run. Dr. Edward Kwak, who gave a PowerPoint presentation in a private booth, said his Ultherapy ultrasound treatment ($3,000 to $5,000) would produce the equivalent of a facelift with zero recovery time. I asked how much he paid for the ultrasound machine (about $100,000), and suggested that Sheila invest in her own device and zap herself at home. Dr. Kwak frowned. "I wouldn't recommend that," he said.

Wandering the exhibition booths, Sheila observed that nothing betrays your age faster than your hands, so we were excited to meet Amos Lavian, president of Dermelect Cosmeceuticals ("The Secret for Youthful Looking Hands!"), based in Great Neck. He introduced his company's flagship product: the world's first anti-aging nail treatment, engineered with proteins extracted from sheep's wool. "Will it get rid of my arthritis?" Sheila asked.

Jackie Silver and Cynthia Rowland, "the Ageless Sisters," were selling a $100 facial exercise system and a $60, vacuum-operated Luscious Lips pump. "I used it this morning and I'm still plump!" said Ms. Silver, flashing a pouty smile. "I've already used it 200 times today!" interrupted Ms. Rowland. She clamped the device to her face and pumped away. When she finished, her lips were really quite puffy. But Sheila wasn't buying. And for the first time that afternoon, she ran out of jokes. "I hate them," she said quietly. "My friend buys all that late-night infomercial stuff. It never works."

I ran this by Geri Brin, the New York event strategist and FabOverFifty.com founder who organized the bash. Ms. Brin, 64, assured me that the facial exercise system and lip pump are effective. And that's what the event was really all about—introducing to New York women beauty options in all price ranges. Some women are willing to do daily facial exercises, she said, but "I'd rather spend the money and have a plastic surgeon."

The point seems to be that if you're over 50, you'd better do something to combat the inevitable. Ladies who "let themselves go" wind up with big jowls and drooping breasts, said Ms. Brin. She even made an arboreal analogy: "An old tree might look great. Old women don't." Indeed, in her stirring Beauty Bash missive to fellow NYC boomer ladies, Ms. Brin championed the relentless pursuit of the right products and services: "We're not a complacent generation that accepts wrinkles, circles, sags and spots lying down."

Sheila, no slouch herself, regained her high spirits upon snagging a free demonstration cut from Mark Garrison, a $350 hair stylist with a shop in the East 60s. He gave her what he described as a new version of the shag. Sheila promptly whipped out her FBI mug shot to show him the shaggy 'do she sported as a 19-year-old. "Wow, cool, hot stuff," he said. His 2011 version was a bit more sophisticated, but very rock 'n' roll. Sheila gave him a huge hug. "I feel like I'm back in 1968," she said.

The piece de resistance: a session with Sandy Linter, a prominent New York makeup artist promoting her new book, "The Makeup Wakeup: Revitalizing Your Look at Any Age." She peered at Sheila's makeup job and pronounced it a "train wreck." Ms. Linter turned to me. "It's a mess. Her mascara is a mess. Don't lie!"

I wasn't sure what to say, so I complimented the doll-like Ms. Linter on her own lashes, which were long, soft and thick. "Thank you," she said. "I put them on in clusters."

Ms. Linter knew her stuff. When she stepped aside 10 minutes later, Sheila didn't look younger, exactly. But she looked successful. She had that certain look that says, "I can afford a $700 hair and makeup job." But Ms. Linter wasn't done. She pulled out a plum-hued gloss and outlined Sheila's mouth using generous strokes—to build up the lip, she explained.

Sheila flashed me a smile: "Do I have Jagger mouth yet?"
—Ms. Kadet, who writes the "Tough Customer" column for SmartMoney magazine, can be reached at [Link Removed]

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