Women on Magazine Covers Only Allowed 3 Wrinkles

Photo: Lucky Magazine

The Beauty Issue of Lucky magazine came out this week, featuring the ever-spunky recent beauty mogul Drew Barrymore on the cover as a living embodiment of the giant coverline, “This Is American Beauty, Ageless, Gorgeous and So Sexy.”

Inside we are treated to Jean Godfrey-June’s gushing review of her “stunningly dewy and luminous” skin. It’s easy to believe her when looking at the cover, with Drew’s slightly asymmetric grin and conspiratorial eye contact. Even I, who have worked with many retouchers over the years, want to suspend disbelief and imagine that — though Drew and I are the same age — she’s still in her twenties. We all know she’s older than she looks in this image. And in order to justify the “Glowy Skin at Every Age!” coverline, the retouchers have left one little nod to Drew’s 35+ status: three little crow’s-feet, despite erasing every other mark of her age.

It’s a classic retouching move, because if she were completely line-free it would be too obviously fake, while three wrinkles feels plausible in an aspirational way. Also in that playbook: Take out the sun spots, small scars, and pigmentation issues associated with pregnancy, but “leave a few freckles,” to keep skin looking makeup-free. Play down the nasolabial folds, minimize wrinkles all over the face, then keep a tiny cluster of “smile” lines around the eyes, to keep the subject warm and relatable, but not shriveled. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t matter how many years over 35 a woman is, she still gets the three-wrinkle treatment. Whether you’re Demi Moore at 47, Jennifer Aniston at 43, or Michelle Pfeiffer at 51, you get three wrinkles. Helen Mirren at 65 is allowed maybe five. To count yourself, see our slideshow of twelve celebs who got the “erase all signs but keep the crows feet” treatment. Then imagine the same for yourself.