Foundation may be your rock, but be careful it's not ageing you. Santa Montefiore on how to blend, tone and separate yourself from try-too-hard beauties like Victoria Beckham

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I have come to the conclusion that more make-up just makes us all look older. The poor girls behind the cosmetic counters in department stores look 50 years old when they’re young enough to be my daughters, simply because they have applied far too much foundation. And you know what gives foundation away? The cheeks. My mother gave me a great tip, years ago, and I still do it today: if you have to apply foundation, and let’s face it, most of us do, wipe a cotton wool pad soaked in toner over the balls of your cheeks afterwards. The cheeks have larger pores that get clogged with foundation. Get rid of it, blend, then apply a good blush, preferably a creamy one like Nars or Bobbi Brown stick blushers. Blend again.

People often comment on my good skin. Well, I rarely go out without make-up; I just don’t look like I’m wearing it. I mix my foundation (Bobbi Brown Moisturising Foundation, £26.10) with By Terry Or de Rose Elixir Extreme (£108) and my secret weapon which you really must try – Lisse Minute by Clarins (£21.60) – it’s a strange paraffin wax-textured cream that evens out the skin and makes pores look smaller.

I’ve always loved that wholesome, glossy look of healthy, happy people. I don’t like over-made-up, cosmetically enhanced, manufactured women – they just look dirty and like they’re trying too hard. I’d love to see Victoria Beckham in a pair of jeans and T-shirt, wearing a big smile. Yes, a smile is a woman’s biggest asset, don’t underestimate it. It shows self-confidence as well as beauty and it’s infectious; it’s hard not to like a woman who smiles when she shakes your hand.

It follows that white teeth are a must. In this day and age there’s no excuse for yellow teeth, none at all – but you don’t have to go as far as Simon Cowell or Cheryl Cole. If people have to squint when they talk to you, you’ve over-done it. I went to my dentist, had a mould made and frequently bleach my teeth at home. I have also discovered that there are toothpastes that really do work. I use Arm & Hammer whitening toothpaste which I buy at Boots for £2.60. It really brightens yours smile, especially if you use a good electric tooth brush.

I was in Klosters in Switzerland a month ago. Besides skiing my favourite pastime is hitting the pharmacy where the pharmacist, Silvio, has the looks of a Hollywood movie star. He also has shelves of wonderful, foreign lotions and potions. I saw he had an entire wall dedicated to the brand Avène. Out of curiosity, and because I liked the packaging, I bought the body oil and the body moisturising lotion, as I like to use oil first, then apply cream once the oil has soaked in (I’m not Queen of Creams for nothing!). I was really impressed and went back the following day to buy more. I have since discovered that it is widely sold in pharmacies around London, including a small range at Boots, and is very reasonable. It’s a relief that I don’t have to fly all the way to Switzerland to stock up, which, at the rate I use it, will be very soon.

So, to make you feel good now, despite the autumn gloom, exfoliate, depilate and slather on loads of moisturiser – and smile (that, at least, is free!)