The Beauty Of Reinvention

When my dad, Joe Brown, was 70, he started a career as a children’s book author. Eight years later, he has seven published books and a screenplay based on his stories. Considering he spent 50 years as an attorney, my dad’s recent accomplishments prove that reinvention can truly happen at any time.

Find your passion

My first brush with reinvention happened when I was still in college. I had no idea what to study. I started at the University of Wisconsin, transferred to the University of Arizona and came home after my freshman year announcing I wanted to drop out. As you can imagine, my parents insisted that I get a college degree. I told them that I didn’t know what to do with my life. My mom said, “Forget about what you want to do with your career. Pretend it’s your birthday and you can do anything you want.”

The first thing that came to mind was a trip to the makeup counter at our local department store. Seeing the spark in my eye, my mom encouraged me to look at schools that offered courses in makeup. With my dad’s help, I found Emerson College, which allows students to design their own major. I ended up with a BFA in theatrical makeup. Even though my dad cracked the occasional joke (“What are you going to take, Mascara 101?”), he supported me 100 percent.

Discovering what you love is an essential part of reinvention. In my 30s, when I was a freelance makeup artist in New York City, my passion for natural-looking makeup led me to develop my own brown-based lipsticks—which expanded into a makeup and skin-care line that was eventually bought by the Estée Lauder Companies. In my 40s, I channeled my passion for women’s causes into a partnership with the not-for-profit organization Dress for Success.

Don’t let age define you

When I turned 50, I was so adamant about redefining the notion of age, I wrote the book Living Beauty, featuring older women who were gorgeous simply because they’d figured out how to look the best for their age. Rather than trying to recapture who they used to be, they lived in the moment. Living in the moment is no easy feat. Our tendency is to rehash the past and worry about what’s up ahead. But in my opinion, it’s another necessary element of reinvention. You have to focus on the now to see opportunities.

Push past no

I’ve been a risk-taker for as long as I can remember. In 2010, I had the idea for Pretty Powerful, an ad campaign featuring pictures of real women. I didn’t know how customers would respond, but it’s grown into a worldwide philanthropic effort to empower women.

I’m constantly searching for ways to do better because I believe life is an evolution. It’s not about reaching an end goal and hanging up your hat (or, in my case, packing up my makeup brushes). It’s about continually growing. My dad says he wakes up each day with a smile on his face, his head full of ideas for new stories. With some luck, I’ll be just like him when I get to be his age.

BOBBI BROWN is Health’s contributing beauty and lifestyle editor. To keep up with Bobbi, follow her at