By  on October 19, 2007

Lauren Hutton, wild-haired, barefoot and wearing an unbuttoned oxford shirt that exposes a white tank top, is carrying a watermelon to the garden of her Venice, Calif., home just blocks from the ocean.

If she started modeling to support her taste for globe-trotting, perhaps the nearly 64-year-old stunner founded her namesake makeup brand to secure the freedom of this sunshine-filled California dream. Regardless, Hutton has approached both endeavors in her own way — talking honestly about beauty and aging — and has proved to have staying power despite long odds.

"The reason I keep doing this, because I could stab it in the heart, is that I get literally thousands of e-mails from women saying 'You've changed my life,'" said Hutton during a recent interview in her yard to discuss the brand's fifth anniversary. "Women feel better and have more confidence at 40 and 50 when they don't feel they are the leftover dregs of society."

After an initial investment of roughly $600,000 from her personal savings, Hutton has grown the brand — of which she owns 76 percent; chief operating office Doug Cooper and four other silent partners hold the remaining shares — into a $20 million business last year. Her premiere product, the face disc, is still a bestseller, even though it has gone through several iterations, including a limited edition tortoiseshell variety sold on HSN for $49.95.

The focus of the brand — women 35 and older — has not changed. However, Lauren Hutton has reached into additional categories, one of the latest being mineral makeup, that make sense for its customers. "All of the other stuff I saw I would never use," Hutton said of the mineral products on the market. "It makes older women look older."

The Aqua-Elements makeup contains rock minerals malachite, hematite and smithsonite, and silica beads filled with water to hydrate mature skin. Titanium dioxide and zinc provide sunscreen protection, and zinc oxide acts as an antimicrobial. For fall, the Lauren Hutton lineup features a Base Elements Kit with two sheer concealers and two spot concealers for $38, and a Color Elements Kit with contour shadow, an eyeliner and loose powder for $29.

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