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The 'new' faces of beauty are in their sixties

This summer, 60-year-old actress Diane Keaton will be smiling back at you from an ad campaign -- but not one for Geritol or life insurance.

She'll be the new face of a skincare campaign for L'Oreal Paris, which selected her to portray a new view of beauty.

A wrinkled one.

Keaton isn't the exception but, increasingly, the rule for beauty companies hoping to interest aging baby boomers in specialized cosmetics and skin-care products that promise to reduce fine lines and fade age spots.

Now there are makeup brushes designed to fit under eyeglasses, eye shadows with package type large enough to be easily read and a "Face Primer" that covers the uneven stuff underneath in preparation for a flawless finish.

The pitchwomen aren't the same young faces, either.

This spring, Sharon Stone, 48, began appearing in a campaign for Christian Dior.

Catherine Deneuve, 62, was chosen in January as the third "beauty icon" for MAC Cosmetics, joining Liza Minnelli, 60, and Diana Ross, 62.

By fall, MAC will debut new national ads for its Viva Glam lipstick that star "a 60-year-old woman," said president John Demsey.

In the beauty industry, youth has long been the ideal -- the only ideal -- and for decades, dewy teenage faces were used to sell products, even those aimed at older women.

Now older models are becoming hot properties as cosmetics companies face the facts: Many of their best customers are getting old.

"It's the demography, stupid!" says Matt Thornhill, borrowing on a political campaign motto.

Thornhill, president of the marketing consulting and research company The Boomer Project in Richmond, Va., said the once-coveted population of 18- to 49-year-olds isn't going to grow much in the next decade. But the 50-plus population will shoot up.

And that demographic is boosting sales of anti-aging products, a category that grew an impressive 31 per cent from 2002 to 2004, according to Mintel International Group, a marketing research business.

Yet beauty companies must tread lightly if they are to talk openly about age.

The women born between 1946 and 1964 tend to deny age, and they often don't own up to it in surveys, either.

"I'm not sure that a 60-year-old has to have a 60-year-old in the ads," says Demsey.

"They just want to look at someone who is not a kid."