Ready For Your Close Up: A Countdown to Having Your Picture Taken

I have exactly 20 days until I’m staring down the lens of a friend’s camera in the quest of a decent family picture for our annual holiday card.

I can hear you uttering “ugh, why would you put yourself thru this, it’s hard enough getting a decent shot of your kid”.

And yes, I do worry about becoming an Awkward Family Photo cliché.

To be clear, this is not my family.

But every year, as the holiday greetings tumble in featuring nothing but “tot shots”, I find myself missing the grownups.  I’m sure most don’t want to suffer the buzz kill of an unflattering picture. But I wonder if they’re well and hope it isn’t a sign they’re slowly giving up.

So by participating in the family photo, I’m sending a message to the world that we haven’t shrunk away; we’re just as worthy of being in a photo as our angelic child with the flawless skin.    Getting older, and passing the beauty baton is part of life.

Still….I’m vain.  

In my teens, twenties and thirties I mugged for the camera; my only care was looking thin. But now, being comfortably over 40 I notice…things.  Is that a shadow or my face?  Is that scalp I see?  Hey, when did my face become asymmetrical? And what’s up with my neck?

Holy crap, do I really look like this?    

I tell myself that with a slightly older face the camera has to work a little harder to get it right.  And so do I.

I’m not expecting to look like a Victoria’s Secret understudy, but I want to go into this thinking I look hot so when I see those inevitable bad pictures, I’ll dismiss it as an a bad angle and not a downer that ruins my week.

So to stack the deck in my favor and overcome the muffin top I got from Hurricane Sandy, here’s my game-plan countdown to camera confidence (noting that on Thanksgiving I get a one day hall pass):


  • Cut out the booze. Too much drinking can age you as much as smoking.  Not only does it give you a ruddy complexion, it makes your face bloat and contributes to the waddle under your chin.
  • Cut out all sugar, and white flour.  The goal here is to deflate and flush as much bloat out of your system as possible.  For me, all my gastro-sins wind up on my face as much as they do my butt.
  • Drink warm water and lemon to start the day.  Flushes your system and firms you up.  Learn more here at HealthHelen’s blog.
  • Drink green tea every day.  Gets the metabolism going, fights cancer and is said to suppress your appetite.
  • Do 45 minutes of cardio at least 3 times a week.  Not only is this good for the old bod, but it’s great for your skin and hormones.  There is no downside to doing this.
  • Be diligent about cleansing and moisturizing your skin at night.  I get lazy and rely to much on my make-up remove wipes to do the heavy lifting when I really need to turn on my Clarsonic and put on my night cream.
  • Botox and fillers?  My rule of thumb is to get these at least 4 weeks in advance to solve for any bruising and swelling.
  • Hair cut.  I like my hair to grow in a little bit, so I do this father out.


  • Eat Phase 1 of the South Beach Diet.  To step on the gas in the deflating department, I turn to South Beach.  Phase 1 which is pretty low carb, but I don’t feel deprived because they’re liberal with the diary.  Most importantly, it really works, especially around my waist.
  • Buzz the fuzz.  Get rid of your ‘stache now so you have time to heal from any irritation.
  • Treat yourself to a light chemical peel.  You want enough time for your skin to peel and heal.  For extra umph, I’m going to try the Triad Facial which is the holy trinity of micro-dermabrasion, a light chemical peel and some laser action.
  • Start taking a probiotic to keep things “moving”.  I like Reuteri Pearls; it’s not as strong as a laxative and balances the bacteria in my gut.


  • Eyebrow shaping and tint.  A good brow can be better than Botox, but if you’re new to tinting, leave it to the professionals.  I like the tint because it helps define the framing of my eyes.  My go to gal is Maribeth Madrone.
  • Eyelash extensions.  I would love to try this to give my eyes extra definition, but the $300-$500 price is a little too steep for me.
  • Whiten teeth with Crest White Strips.  Easy to do and has a big impact on your confidence.
  • Color your hair.  This gives you enough time to let it settle in, but also will guarantee those sneaky grays won’t pop thru.
  • Drink a “green juice” every day.  Sure, it tastes like you’re licking the lawn, but they’re pumping your body full of nutrients, great for detoxing and makes your skin glow.  I like Cooler Cleanse Essential Green because it’s low in sugar and doesn’t taste nasty.


  • Apply self tanner to the face. Just a touch to get rid of any of that autumn pasty glow.  My favorite right now is Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow pads for the face.
  • Ambien. One night of beauty sleep isn’t going to cut it.  You need two in a row to look your best.
  • Slather your lips in Aquaphor.


  • Manicure with nude, light pink polish.   This is not the time to experiment with nail art as it will be more distracting than you realize.
  • Try the Victoria Secret Diet.  No solid food; only protein shakes and green juices the day before.
  • Drink a red juice along with your green juice.  The red seems to give my skin a rosy glow the following day.


  • 45 minutes of cardio to get the blood flowing
  • Splurge on a professional blow out and have the hairdresser sprinkle in Toppik if you’re brunette and your scalp sometimes shows thru.
  • Visine.  Drown your eyes in it.
  • Prep with a facial mask that boost moisture.  I like the SKII mask.  You look like a psyco killer wearing it, but hey that’s half the fun.  Then you’re moist.
  • Use a primer for your foundation, and remember to keep it sheer, and blend, blend, blend, blend. A good trick to applying foundation can be found here.

Ok, now I know this may seem a little intense, but it’s doable if you take it in bite size chunks.  At the very least you’ll feel and look great in three weeks.   More importantly, you’ll have tons of mojo and won’t have to rely on Photoshop to be your wingman.

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