As a 50-year-old former beauty editor and lifelong beauty aficionado, I know a thing or two about the trends that come (square nails, vajazzling), the ones that go (sunbeds, grapefruit boob jobs) and the odd few that boomerang right back (Bardot hair, liquid eyeliner and ruby red lips).
My love affair with beauty began at my mother's dressing table. So enamoured was I with my mum’s powder puff, Estée Lauder rouge and raspberry lipstick that I ended up with a cotton bud ingrained in my left ear and said lipstick up my nostril for my first trip to A&E: at five years old, I'd already encountered my first beauty emergency.
My passion led to a career in beauty journalism. At Vogue Australia, my boss would scold me at every Monday morning meeting for being too bronzed (I spent my entire Sydney weekends sunbathing seal-like on Bondi Beach, little did she know this was also accompanied with a pack of Silk Cut) which was simply not becoming for an editor in a country where ‘slip, slop, slap’ was the suncare mantra. I then became an editor myself of beauty titles including Boots Health & Beauty and Top Santé.
I've recently turned 50 and my attitude to this milestone year is that getting this far is a privilege not afforded to all. So I am delighted to be ‘ageing’; after all, what is the alternative? I eschew all procedures and actually feel happy about nature's changes - it helps that I have a loving husband who compliments me regularly and there is always the kindness of candlelight!
Most women I meet become more and more ‘themselves’ as they mature: more witty, more decisive, more discerning, more interesting, more arresting and richer in every conceivable way and to celebrate being 50 and fabulous, I’ve started a blog, www.thefclub.uk, with a dear friend.
Bloggers Jane Druker and Marie Louise Pumfrey of thefclub.uk
As I enter this new decade, I'm reevaluating my beauty regime. I’m aware that I have a drier dermis, hands that tell the truth of time and that some makeup may no longer flatter. My skin, hair and hands all need more TLC (in caps for good reason!) and so my beauty edit has become much more targeted.
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Here is my rigorous edit of my essentials for 50-plus skin. Not the kind of skin that feels comfy in a shapeless cardi, but the SJP, Elle Macpherson, Cindy Crawford kind that says “why the hell not?” to animal print, leather and shorts (although not all at once). Remember, no one has to age gracefully more.
1. The best cleanser I can afford
Whenever my budget has trampled all over my desire, I have spent my bucks not on moisturiser but on cleanser. Cleansing is, to my mind, the most important part of any skincare regime – it must be gentle and secure a fertile ground for absorbing moisture successfully. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish , £26 is an affordable mainstay but my new favourite is a cult buy - Eve Lom Cleanser , £55. It’s richer for drier skins and lasts months. For my money it hasn't been bettered since it launched in 1985.
2. Serums and oils for my neck
Writer Nora Ephron was right when she said your neck gives the age game away more accurately than your face. We don't disguise it with makeup as we do our faces and the fragile skin is prone to sun damage so it's where wrinkles and freckles (especially if you have been a sun worshipper) come home to roost. I slather my face, neck and decolletage in face oils and serums rather than in cream. This approach provides greater silkiness for my now parched skin and is absorbed more readily than moisturiser. I use any and all serums liberally but Kiehls Midnight Recovery Concentrate £38 is a favourite. I spend more on oils: I choose Rodin Luxury Face Oil £105 for superior concentrate or Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil £85, which delivers a shot of retinol and I wake looking refreshed.
3. Upmarket aromatherapy for body
For the body, it's all about the upgrade because you don't want to be sharing shower gel - or any smells for that matter - with your teenagers. For the very best bodycare, I look to Aromatherapy Associates and Aesop for answers. The essential oils used in their products are second to none. For bath: Aromatherapy Associates De-Stress Mind Bath and Shower Oil £45. For shower: Aesop Geranium leaf Body Cleanser £31. For moisturising: Aesop Rejuvenate Body Balm £67. These products don't just moisturise effectively but by changing the way I smell, they change the way I feel and that should never be underestimated.
Many women of my age tell me they feel they are entering the ‘invisible" years’. It’s important to give your confidence a boost by ‘owning you’. Have a trademark haircut, lip colour and scent. I am extremely affected by fragrance and alternate between Le Labo Patchouli 24 £120 in winter and Diptyque 34 £72 in summer. I have literally been chased down the street by women demanding to know what I'm wearing!
4. SOS nourishing for coloured hair
Nourish has become the mantra for my hair; it is dyed and fried like many women of my age. Once upon a time, I was a brunette, then a redhead and I have been a blonde for 15 years, so I have no idea how grey my hair actually is but I have absolutely no intention of ever finding out. I have to colour it much more frequently; six weeks is as long as I can go between appointments and I now have a blonde shade all over, rather than simply having highlights. I have my colourist on speed dial (I much prefer having my hairdresser come to me rather than being bored witless in a salon for hours) and use better quality hair cleansing and moisturising materials.
Hair loses natural oils as you age, individual hairs become thinner and the growth cycle shortens so Mother Nature is not on your side and you have to fight back! One brand that stands superiorly above the fray is Davines. It's paraben- sulphate- and gluten free – positively vegan, although that's not why I use it. It's rich, lathers up a storm, smells delicious and leaves my hair silky. I use Minu Shampoo £14.70 and Coloured Hair Conditioner £7.50. And the Dyson hairdryer £299 , my Christmas mas present last year, is worth every penny, making hair look professionally blow dried and smooth.
5. Sun-free tanning
I don't sunbathe anymore or indeed go on tanning beds which I did at the tail end of the 1980s. Instead, I rely on a steady supply of self-tan so that I can go sleeveless and bare legged. Green People Self Tan Lotion £18 does the trick. I avoid wearing anything too low cut - that neck and decolletage won’t withstand too much inspection especially under the bright light of summer.
6. Keeping makeup modern
My attitude to make up has always been experimental; that hasn’t changed in 30 years and I hope it never will. I still adore a glittery lip (now back in a big way), dense eyeshadows (Sophia Loren is a beauty heroine) and am currently sporting white acrylic nails that are positively Kardashian. But I would never wear all three trends at the same time. Being more discerning about what suits me is a badge of honour that has come with experience.
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7. Foundation that apes natural radiance
As I age, I use a less dense foundation that moisturises effectively, aping radiance at the same time. This, plus a light-handed concealer are the most effective armour not only against pollution but provide the canvas needed for brilliant makeup application. I rely on Armani and Chanel but a recent find is Autograph Illuminating Touch Radiance Foundation from M&S £12.50 - apparently made in the same spot as Chanel and it shows.
8. Eyes that are framed
Eyes, which start to 'disappear' can easily be widened with a bit of skilful framing. My eyebrows are turning white - the horror! - so I invest in an eyebrow kit to fill in and shape with style. My favourite is M&S Autograph Eyebrow Kit £12.50. If you pluck your own (I do) make sure you do so while wearing your glasses!
Then make eyes appear larger with the help of inky Bobbi Brown Long Wear Eye Pencil £19 and Benefit They're Real Black mascara £20.50.
One addition to my eyeshadow arsenal is the Victoria Beckham limited edition Estée Lauder Eye Ink in Black Myrrh £36; it adds a glossy, elegant sparkly finish that everyone comments on. Glitter can be extremely glamorous on older eyelids, drawing out the colour of your iris – so don't abandon fun just because you're 50.
9. A moisture-rich red lip
Lips can thin with age; mine are thankfully still full but get super dry (after 50, everything gets drier!) so I always carry Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour lip balm and apply lip gloss liberally during the day – Laura Mercier Lip Glacé £19.50 has yet to be bettered. For evening, I switch to Kevyn Aucoin For Keeps £24.75 , a soft rose which is ‘my’ red. Reds work wonders on middle age complexions - a colour ‘pop’ becomes your greatest friend as it gives the illusion of lifting your face.
10. A 'youthover' smile
Make your dentist your best friend – visit regularly. I have my teeth cleaned at the hygienist every three months and whiten them every year at home with bleaching trays made by my dentist and using Philips Zoom Day White. Your teeth should be as white as the whites of your eyes, it's an instant youth-over.
Jane Druker is co-founder and editorial director of www.thefclub.uk the site for grown-up women with great big lives, whose mantra is 'Y the Fxxx not!' Follow Jane and The Fclub on Twitter.