Beauty Confessions of a 56 Year Old
Hello 56, who the hell let you in?
One minute you’re a dimple-cheeked forty something who could get away with being several years younger and the next you mistakenly press FaceTime and this scary apparition is peering down at you – all folded neck and chin and hooded eyes.
What can you do? Few have the time, money or inclination to spend the next 20 years sealed inside a medi-spa or to be stretched and stitched by some weird-looking dude in Harley Street. Here’s all I know about looking as good as you can, without being ridiculous.
Most expensive beauty unctions are a waste of money
Gill would agree, which is why she spends so much time weeding out the over-packaged rubbish. Only this week my husband brought me back a “collagen molecular spray” from Milan – he knows of my love for foreign pharmacies – which promised, as ever, to be ‘anti-ageing’. Of course I’ll spray it around and am grateful for the thought, but it will not make one iota of difference to my skin.
A pot of coconut oil is mostly all you need
It’s the perfect cleanser and make-up remover and costs next-to-nothing. Massage it into your face while in the bath, then thoroughly wipe off with a wet muslin cloth. Naturally antibacterial, it’s also a breath freshener, body moisturiser, scrub (just add salt or sugar) and an overnight hair treatment. NB: Remember to seal the jar well and use a wooden spoon to extract the oil or it could go rancid. PS Do not eat. This stuff is 92% saturated fat.
A half decent moisturiser will do
All moisturisers fundamentally form a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss when exposed to dry air or wind. Which is why I often prefer more moisturising facial oils, my current companion being an organic Argan oil for which I was recently royally fleeced in Marrakesh’s medina. In my VIP days, Sisley moisturisers were a requirement, but nowadays I’ll reach for anything that’s affordable and begins with ‘organic’ or ‘bio’.
Serums can be seriously good
They’re the magic weapon in your beauty armoury. GOW’s Niacinamide Serum is great for regulating sebum and costs the price of two fancy coffees (£9). Change it up with GOW’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum which seems to plump everything. Squirt on after toning (use pure rose water which costs about a fiver from your local chemist) and before moisturising.
Sun = wrinkles
Those with beautiful skin never, ever roast it. I’ve been a hat and factor 50 wearer ever since a friend got skin cancer in her early 20s. Desist now and ensure your foundation/base/whatevs includes a high SPF.
Facial horticulture is a weekly must
Buy decent tweezers and a magnifying mirror with suction pads. No-one wants to be that woman with errant waving follicles.
Invest major money in your hair and teeth
Either go au natural grey and channel a fabulous sharp haircut, or find a colourist you love. Shiny, swingy, perfectly tinted hair from Josh Wood is worth forgoing any amount of seasonal fashion fripperies. Ditto get those snaggly teeth sorted – no-one wants Tony Blair’s smile. Also keep up with the hygienist appointments as there’s a halitosis epidemic out there, and nothing screams ‘old’ more than sour breath. Also lightly bleach if you can be bothered. There’s lots of kissing years left.
Hands and necks are a dead giveaway
Do yours now look like they’ve been vacuum sealed with a Hoover nozzle – every blood vessel and sinew on show? Sadly, zero can be done. Don’t bother with half gloves, a la Madonna and Karl Lagerfeld, but do consider soft turtlenecks or distracting jewellery, a la Anna Wintour.
Parmesan feet suck
I once heard a well-known magazine editor ridiculed for having crusty “Parmesan” heels on the front row. The horror! It was enough to send me scurrying for my Margaret Dabbs Professional Foot File, which is truly brilliant.
No eyebrow shades of grey
They frame your face, so keep them on fleek. Save yourself the cost and humiliation of sitting in one of those eyebrow bars in Selfridges (where you are bound to see an old boyfriend), and buy yourself a Julienne eyelash and brow tint from the internet. Easy peasy.
Forget Botox and plastic surgery
Do like Anna Murphy in this brilliant read and get over trying to completely change your face – everyone’s used to it by now. If anything, get those brown spots zapped off – an unmottled complexion is a younger-looking one.
These pills really do pop
Not a fan of gobbling handfuls of pills but I believe entirely in these four: Turmeric that targets inflammation, Vitamin D for bones and immunity, Ionicell for great hair and nails and Hyaluronic Acid High Strength because it actually plumps skin from within and it’s Shabir’s favourite.
Try smiling more
Your resting face looks increasingly worse as gravity takes its toll. Just saying.
Ask for facials instead of gifts. No-one needs more stuff and they have the added benefit of letting your lie down undisturbed for a least one whole hour.
My go-to are both celeb magnets for a reason. Anastasia Achilleos is a genius who will even massage inside your mouth to get results, and Amanda Lacey’s complexion is a perfect advert for her plant-based range. Anyway I’ve known her since we were both truly young in Sydney in the 1980s, and as author Gertrude Stein once wisely said: “We are always the same age inside”.