FASHION is now ageless. This week I found myself wearing the same Topshop satin skirt as both a 70-something colleague and a friend’s 13-year-old daughter.
And it worked on all of us. So beauty is ageless, too, right? Helen Mirren rocks pink hair at 73, and anyone who thinks older women can’t wear bright make-up has clearly never heard of Iris Apfel. Or so I thought – until I edged towards 40.
At 39, writer Jo Hoare found her make-up bag was full of cosmetics that no longer worked for her[/caption]
I’ve worn pretty much the same make-up every day since I was about 15 – some variety of BB/CC cream (we called it plain old tinted moisturiser back then), a doll-pink blush on my cheekbones, then either a classic eyeliner flick or look-at-me shade of matte lipstick depending on my mood, finished with a coat or two of volumising mascara. Sure, I’ve played around a bit, flirted with glitter eyeshadows, had a very unsuccessful fling with contouring and tried PVA-textured lipgloss for size. But they were nothing more than one-night stands, and come morning I’d reach for my stalwarts again.
So far, so good. But then something happened. Once I stopped being able to legitimately say I was in my mid-30s, let’s say somewhere around 39 (yep, I pushed it to the max), and embarked on the cold, hard, slippery slope to 40, those once fail-safe favourites were beginning to turn on me. The usually glowy BB cream now looked clammy by 11am and non-existent by lunch. Under-eye concealer congealed like day-old porridge.
Bright lipstick hitched a ride on the B roads of fine lines around my mouth and migrated almost to my chin. And liquid liner threw its hat into the “won’t stay where I’m supposed to” ring, as it cleverly grew a mirror image on my eye crease and my mascara followed, lemming-like, jumping off the cliffs of my lashes to halfway down my face.
But still I wasn’t willing to give up on my signature make-up style. After all, I liked how it looked on me – it was just the products didn’t quite work in the same way they had for the last two decades.
I went in search of alternatives that gave me the same feel but worked just that bit harder. Inspired by that satin slip skirt, I started to think of my beauty in the same way. Just as the 13 year old wore hers with a hoodie and slides, the 70 year old picked a tailored leather jacket, and I met them in the middle with ankle boots and a slogan tee. My make-up just needed a few subtle tweaks, and maybe the odd accessory.
After a lot of trial and error, I’ve replaced each of my old pals with new additions that give exactly the same effect as my old faithfuls, but work better for my ever-so-slightly-older face. Here’s what I found out…
SAYONARA SKIN SINS
As a sufferer of rosacea, the extra heat in my skin means I’m prone to a foundation landslip.
But even if you have “normal” skin, come 40ish you’ll notice make-up doesn’t stick around.
I had to overcome a lifelong fear of powder to combat this, but thankfully there’s a whole new generation of illuminating options on the market now – such as Rimmel London Lasting Radiance Powder, £7.49 – that set make-up without making skin look flat and dull or sinking into fine lines and wrinkles, meaning they look more prominent.
Swept over a high-coverage CC cream – I love It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream With SPF50+, £31 – you’ll get all the glow and none of the grease – a combo that’s guaranteed to make you look 10 years younger.
- It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream With SPF50+, £31 from Boots — buy now
- Rimmel Lasting-Radiance Powder, £7.49 from Superdrug — buy now
HASTA LA VISTA HAIR-MARES
Although this is the age where a lot of my friends are discovering their first greys, I’ve had salt and pepper strands since my late teens, so there was no reaching for the Nice’n Easy for me. Instead, I noticed that my trusty bleach-blonde job (which has hidden the greys forever) was looking a little harsh, and that daily straightening had left my thick hair fine and flat.
A drop of peach-toned conditioner a couple of times a week – I’m currently obsessed with Bleach London Awkward Peach Conditioner, £7 – now adds a subtle warmth that not only spruces up hair colour but dull complexions, too.
Plus using a straightening brush rather than ceramics gives smoothness without that ‘90s All Saints flat hair feel.
For straight locks, I always reach for GHD Glide Hot Brush, £125, or when I’m on the go I pack the super-lightweight Dafni Allure, £155, a cordless straightening brush for when my mane needs a touch-up.
- Bleach London Awkward Peach Conditioner, £7 from Boots — buy now
- GHD Glide Straightening Brush, £125 from ghdhair — buy now
LEAVE IT OUT LIP SLIPS
It’s easy to grow up with a fear of lipliner when you’ve lived through a decade of brown eyeliner used to create two-tone pouts (Jodie Marsh, I’m looking at you).
But as I got older and lost definition, I couldn’t actually work out where my lips ended and my skin began, which meant my lipstick had no chance. A liner as close to my natural shade as possible, such as Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pink Venus, £16, is my new best friend.
It creates shape and gives whatever I put on top staying power. When I want a bold shade, I find lip inks better than mattes, which amplify my smile lines. You can’t go wrong with Dior Addict Lip Tattoo, £28.
- Dior Addict Lip Tattoo, £28 from Debenhams — buy now
- Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pink Venue, £16 from John Lewis — buy now
MOST READ IN FABULOUS
BYE-BYE UNDER EYES
You’d be forgiven for thinking that all women of my vintage spent the whole of their 20s on a ski holiday. But no, those bright white goggles present in all our pictures from the late ‘90s to mid-Noughties are the fault of that illuminator that everyone incorrectly used as a concealer.
You know the one, with the silent T you worried you’d make an idiot of yourself trying to pronounce in Debenhams? It was too dazzling for 19-year-old me and definitely still is now.
Instead, I’ve switched to a unisex concealer that is virtually undetectable on skin – Givenchy Mister Instant Corrective Pen, £26.50 – followed by a super-fine powder to keep it in place, such as By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder Face Setting Powder, £33.60.
It’s full of hydrators that plump skin, which gets dryer with age. What crow’s feet?
- By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra-Powder Face Setting Powder, £33.60 from Look Fantastic — buy now
- Givenchy Mister Instant Corrective Pen, £26.50 from Debenhams — buy now
Stockists: Bleach London (Boots.com), By Terry (Lookfantastic.com), Charlotte Tilbury (Johnlewis.com), Dior (Debenhams.com), GHD (Ghdhair.com), Givenchy (Givenchybeauty.com), It Cosmetics (Boots.com), Rimmel London (Superdrug.com)