The supermodel, now 62, shares her secrets
for looking and feeling great.
By Allan Richter
At 62, supermodel Christie Brinkley seems as beautiful as she was on her many magazine covers and as the sexy blonde in “National Lampoon’s Vacation,” the 1983 comedy classic in which she, in a red Ferrari, and Chevy Chase, leading the Griswold family to Wally World, trade flirtatious gazes while speeding down the highway.
Madison Avenue seems to agree. In January, the apparel company NYDJ rolled out its 2016 ad campaign for jeans featuring Brinkley and other media personalities.
And Brinkley hasn’t lost any of her self-confidence about her toned abs; even in these later years she has posed in bikinis for major magazine covers as well as in social media photos while on vacation, most recently in a purple-and-blue striped swimsuit in the Caribbean last fall.
How Brinkley manages to keep time from advancing is the subject of her new book, aptly titled Timeless Beauty: Over 100 Tips, Secrets and Shortcuts to Looking Great (Grand Central).
Brinkley is clearly proud of her age-defying skills: An asterisk by the author’s name leads readers to a footnote on the cover that boasts her age. Despite the title, Timeless Beauty is not just about the kind of superficial splendor that stops at the skin; it is a manual for overall health and well-being culled from the supermodel’s tips and those of the makeup artists, stylists and healthcare practitioners who advise her.
Brinkley seems surprised that she continues to work, noting that when she took her first modeling job, at age 19, some in the industry might have considered her in the twilight of her career. Yet the evolving industry is more accepting of the idea that “imperfect is sometimes the most perfect,” she says.
The value of internal beauty is a theme she jumps on from the outset.
“You are already beautiful, you always have been and always will be,” Brinkley says. “And I truly believe that everything you need to lead a beautiful, healthy, happy and fulfilling life is already inside you.” She writes of empowerment and turning the “inner voice—the one that can be so critical and demanding” into “your own best friend, coach and cheerleader.”
“Full-spectrum beauty” is what Brinkley calls her holistic approach.
“That’s the kind of beauty we are ultimately after,” she says. “That’s the kind of beautiful that happens when inner and outer beauty align. Full-spectrum beauty is that special something that makes a person’s eyes sparkle with humor, that makes a smile genuine and kind; it’s something in a warm, hearty laugh that lights up a room…That is the fountain of youth because that’s the part of beauty that will never fade. That’s the beauty you want to cultivate.”
Mind and Body Aligned
The mind-body connection, positive thinking and meditation are familiar territory for people who embrace a natural approach to wellness, but Brinkley offers a fresh take on these subjects by putting a decidedly personal spin on them. And she cites scientific research, without weighing readers down in clunky statistics, to back up her support for these techniques.
Smiling, for example, is Brinkley’s big beauty and modeling secret because, as research shows, even a forced smile can make you feel happy by helping release endorphins and can lower heart rates and reduce stress.
A self-described “meditation opportunist,” Brinkley meditates only when turbulent times crop up in her life. She has been meditating since she was 13.
But Brinkley eschews solitude in favor of laughter with friends, her number one salve that has helped her through her two divorces. (During a stop on her book tour, a man in the audience jokingly asked if she would marry him, and she replied with a laugh that she has had it with marriage.)
“Full-spectrum beauty” and “meditation opportunist” are just two of the catchphrases Brinkley coins to conveniently package the themes that support her approach to wellness. A section on food, for example, is titled “No more ‘deny-iting’” to describe her food philosophy: consciously eating well and healthfully without forgoing delicious food.
“When you stop thinking about what you can’t have (and lamenting it),” Brinkley writes, “and start thinking about what you can have that will fuel your body, that’s when you’ll be successful in maintaining your perfect weight and good health.”
Brinkley stocks her “enlightened” kitchen with what she calls power foods that frequently show up on her plate. And they each seem to have a beauty benefit in addition to contributing to physical well-being.
For example, walnuts—she started eating more walnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and flax and chia seeds to get the omega-3s she lost when she gave up fish—help smooth skin and add shine to hair. The lycopene in tomatoes are anti-aging, the vitamin C in kiwis prevents wrinkles and the antioxidants in dark chocolate help protect skin from sun damage, she observes.
Among the other essentials—sometimes creatively accessorized—that are regulars on Brinkley’s plate and in her fridge and pantry are kale (she bakes them into chips sprinkled with Himalayan pink salt), broccoli, blueberries (she sometimes eats them frozen), cabbage, pickles, apples (with almond or peanut butter), avocados and fennel. (For one of Brinkley’s creative uses of avocado, see the spring roll recipe)
A separate colorful section in Timeless Beauty highlights foods that promote skin health: wild salmon,brazil nuts, radishes and carrots, among others.
For Brinkley, nutrition plays a big part in hair health, too. Kevin Mancuso, Brinkley’s trichologist (a hair and scalp expert who specializes in such issues as hair loss, hair breakage and itchy, flaking scalp) suggests eating at least one serving of protein a day to keep hair healthy. Mancuso, creative director at Nexxus salon in New York, points to lean meats, fish, eggs and soy products as good sources, noting that many people do not get nearly enough protein.
To get the amino acids needed for hair health, Brinkley recommends a number of supplements: Methionine, to form sulfur chains that strengthen hair structure and stem hair loss; arginine, to improve blood flow to the hair follicles; and glutamine, for hair-building sulfur. B vitamins—especially for vegetarians since they are often found in animal foods—and zinc, as well as vitamin D, are also important for healthy hair, Brinkley notes.
“Crash dieting of any kind can leave your hair follicles without the nutrients they need to generate healthy, new hair,” she cautions. “So that’s yet another reason to stop deny-iting”!
None of those tips will mean much, however, if you don’t invest in a water filter for your home or, at least, one for your showerhead since water can deposit minerals on your hair and dull color or make it feel slimy depending on the water quality, she says.
Brinkley is just as creative about her approach to fitness as she is to food. She encourages couch potatoes to “multi-taskercize” by combining some movements with what would otherwise be a sedentary night in front of the television. To tighten and tone abs, she says, “try to pull your ribs in flat, visualize trying to hold your waist in, making it as tiny as possible, and feel the deep muscles in your abs working.” Continue breathing and adjusting tighter, and add foot or leg lifts if you want.
Brinkley’s painful injuries over the years, including a 1994 headline-making helicopter crash while heli-skiing the Colorado mountains, have left their scars. Starring as Roxie Hart in the Broadway show “Chicago,” one scene called for her to be waiting in the wings crouched and stiff, causing her enough pain to leave the show. Though doctors urged Brinkley to have surgery to correct her problems, she opted for physical therapy to avoid an invasive treatment.
“I’ve always been—and still am—determined not to let them get in the way of doing the things I love and staying in shape,” Brinkley says of her injuries over the years. “The more I move, the better I feel. I just needed to know the right moves to get all my muscles working together again, and feeling improvement every day is pretty good motivation
to keep moving!”
Those injuries make her advice on exercise all the more powerful and inspiring. She offers tips from her physical therapist, Sinead Fitzgerald, and some of her favorite exercises—designed to help prevent injuries and maintain an active lifestyle—from her movement trainer, Ari Weller. Each exercise in her book, including a Dynamic Plank that targets the core and a Reverse Push-Up targeting the chest, shoulders and arms, is accompanied by a photo of Brinkley demonstrating the move.
Brinkley is at her best, however, when she’s putting her own creative spin on wellness moves.
In photos of her stretching on the beach, Brinkley, wearing a colorful print pantsuit, looks as if she is performing in a Broadway musical. “I know these exercises sound silly (and look even sillier),” she says, “but I promise the results are priceless.” Among her more personalized tips: Set an alarm every hour at the office as a reminder to get up and move a bit; write daily exercise goals and try to do a little more each day; and turn up the music and dance, a practice Brinkley enjoys with her daughter, Sailor.
Timeless Beauty is not meant for reading in one sitting. It is a thorough and exhaustive reference guide, handsomely designed with engaging, colorful boxes, photos and sidebars meant to be consumed like carefully paced snacks that nourish while leaving one wanting more.
With Timeless Beauty, Brinkley shows that beauty is more than skin deep. Moreover, apparent from her many tips on nutrition, exercise and positive thinking, her 62 years have taught her that beauty is part of a connected system that deserves a holistic approach to keep it healthy.
Vegetarian Spring Rolls with
Ponzu Sauce & Wasabi
4 sheets rice paper
3 sheets certified organic nori
1 head Boston or butter lettuce
2 medium rainbow carrots, julienned
1 cucumber, cut into ¼-inch strips
1 avocado, cut into ¼-inch strips
½ cup microgreens, plus more for garnish
These are almost as fun to make as they are to eat. Prep the veggies ahead of time and then get the whole family involved in the rolling. You can use all-rice paper or nori sheets if you like; we do a mixture of both.
Brush the rice paper or nori sheets with water until they start to get soft. Clean each leaf of the Boston lettuce and lay one or two leaves over each sheet. Next, add the carrots, cucumber and avocado, and spread some microgreens on top. Using a sushi mat, roll each sheet slowly until you form it into a roll. Cut rice paper rolls crosswise into 2 1/2-inch pieces and nori rolls into 1 1/2-inch pieces and arrange on a platter. Garnish with the microgreens.
Serve the rolls with ponzu sauce (I add a teaspoon of coconut aminos and some chopped scallions to store-bought ponzu) and wasabi paste on the side.
Yield: 35 Pieces
Source: Timeless Beauty (Grand Central Life & Style) by Christie Brinkley
Photo by Marcus Donates/Beast Media