Karen Graham, the face of Estée Lauder from 1970 through 1985. © Victor Skrebenski.
Lifestyle: Model Call

Beauty’s First Face

Estée Lauder's first spokesmodel Karen Graham
Reveals Her Beauty Essentials For Aging Gracefully

To say that Karen Graham knows a thing or two about makeup is an understatement. The first model to ever win a beauty contract—with Estée Lauder, or otherwise—got a crash course in primping and priming as her own on-set makeup artist while she booked fashion editorials and campaigns throughout the 1960s; as the exclusive face of our brand between 1970 and 1985, Graham became something of an expert on the subject. At 69 she is still as meticulous as ever with her beauty choices, from finding the perfect shade of blush to permanently perfecting her brows. Here, the stunning supermodel who traded in the New York hustle to live life in the great outdoors on her horse farm in North Carolina shares her secrets for looking gorgeous at any age.

On Everyday Makeup: “I have my morning coffee, I put on my makeup, then I walk my dog. You never know who you’re going to run into — and I feel better about myself when I look in the mirror throughout the day. My objective with everyday makeup is that it looks like I’m not wearing any.”

On Blush: “I like to wear cream blush. I like colors that look like a suntan and I put a little bit all over — under my brows, on my forehead, down the line of my nose. It just gives the appearance of overall health.”

My objective with everyday makeup is that it looks like I’m not wearing any.
Constance Jablonski, Karen Graham, and Liu Wen in New York City, 2014.

On Lipstick: “I’ll wear a bright pink sometimes when I go out at night, but every day I wear a nude lipstick. It looks natural, and it evens things out.”

On Eyes: “I find that waterproof mascara is very good for deep set eyes because it doesn’t run. And I wear black eyeliner on the lower lash line only.”

On Eyebrows: “Once you’re hair goes silver/blonde, your eyebrows go silver/blonde, too, and your face can look so pale that you lose definition. So five or six years ago, I started doing eyebrow tattooing. Every year-and-a-half, I have them retouched. It’s important to go to the right person so they look subtle.”

On Hair: “I get Keratin treatments once every six months. I tried to fight the gray by coloring my hair dark brown with blond highlights, but it started breaking. A friend of mine gave me the name of a good hairdresser who gave me a great cut and convinced me to stop coloring.”

On Nails: “I never get manicures. When you have horses, you can never keep nice hands. That’s the first thing to go!”

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