Saturday, 30 January 2010

Smoke and mirrors

Aging. It is troubling. I keep reading gossip pages and they are packed with stories of celebrities in their 30s and 40s butchering themselves with surgery. The end result is usually very stretched and waxy skin combined with a permanently startled expression. Maybe the skin is smoother, but how do these people fail to notice how terribly odd they look?

I will be 40 this year. That in itself is a bit of a shock. I don't think my skin looks in need of surgery. Although, saying that, I do think genes have a large part to play. My Aunty Daisy, who died when she was 86, had the most beautiful skin all through her life. Yes, she had lines, they were delicate, like the feathery lines in an antique porcelain teacup. Her skin was always luminous and milky-white. My mum too was famous for having flushed and girlish skin throughout her life. Although I am generally quite happy with the condition of my skin, I do also believe that a few well-selected make-up products do make a huge difference. I shall come on to my personal favourites later. First some horror-stories.

Madonna. I was reading that she's had more cheek implants. Apparently, this is the latest thing in Hollywood. Faces become more gaunt and sunken with age. Personally, I see that as a good thing - more prominent cheek bones! But Madonna seems desperate to balance an impossible equation: she wants a skeletal, muscly body, yet she also wants plumped up, baby skin. Not possible, I'm afraid. Personally I think she is in desperate need of a few crumpets with Golden Syrup. That is what I'd prescribe. I find it quite sad that such a ballsy woman as Madonna feels the need to go under the knife. Although, she does have to undress in front of Jesus every night, doesn't she? (I am referring to her 22 year old boyfriend, of course, not the son of God).

Meg Ryan. I had the shock of my life when I saw her in a movie trailer recently. Her face appeared to be frozen in a very alarming way, not dissimilar to Jack Nicholson in Batman.

Steve Martin. I watched It's Complicated last week. I did enjoy it, but the funniest part of the movie was Steve Martin's chipmunky face. His cheeks are so round and waxy that his eyes seem to have sunk into tiny, black slits. And those cheeks - what is he storing in there, nuts for winter, the tattered remains of his once-great talent and wit? Who knows, but he is now a terribly odd looking man.

Look at Cary Grant. He was 62 when this photo was taken and was still a beautiful man. No chipmunk cheeks to be seen here.

European actresses and actors seem more comfortable with aging. Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Rossellini are both as beautiful as ever, in a very natural and honest way.

Anyway. As I can barely afford to heat my house then botox and surgery are certainly out of the question for me. Here are my tips for radiant, glowing and healthy skin. The lines may still be there, you will simply just have to accept them, I'm afraid. But your luminous, porcelain, rosy skin will minimise their effect, I promise.

Sun = bad. Sunblock = good

I've used sunblock daily for 20 years. My favourite product currently is L'Occitane Ultra Moisturising Fluid with SPF 20. It is smells of milk and freshly laundered cotton. It is packed with shea butter, which soothes and calms red, angry, sensitive skin. I love it. Probably best for drier skins though.

The most magical primer in the world!

I have been so cynical about primers, I thought they were the cosmetic industry's latest con - an expensive and totally unnecessary product. But, my absolute favourite make-up product at the moment is L"Oreal, Studio Secrets, Smoothing Primer. It is a springy, marshmallowy, luminous mousse. When you put it on it seems to air-brush your skin, minimising lines and imperfections. It also adds radiance. But, one of my favourite benefits of this product is that concealers and foundation just glide on top. I bought 4 of these the other day! I was so worried it would be discontinued! My only complaint is the cost: £12 is cheap compared to brands like Lancome, Philosophy or Bobbi Brown, but the pot is absolutely tiny. Worth every penny though, I'd say.
A rosy, radiant glow.

Think of flushed, baby skin: dewy, rosy and plump. I think a radiant glow is such a youthful and feminine look. My products of choice to achieve this look are both from Bobbi Brown and consequently are not cheap.

Bobbi Brown's Pot Rouge is a lovely cream blusher (the older I get the less I seem to use powder products on my face, they are so flat and drying). This seems to impart a luscious glow from within. I love the 'Pale Pink' shade. It is an expensive product, but I've been using my pot for 2 years and have still barely made a dent in it.

For ethereal, luminous skin you really need a Bobbi Brown shimmer brick. This is an iconic product, but absolutely deserves its cult status. It will bring your face alive and give such a healthy shine. I love the 'Rose' and 'Nude' shades: Rose for a sexy, pink, flushed look, Nude for a very gentle outdoorsy glow. Sadly the Nude was a limited edition last summer, I am already fretting about how I'll live without it.

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