Beauty before age
You can age glamorously as well as gracefully, writes our beauty expert, who has assembled a team of experts to give their top tips for skin and hair care after 50, as well as the best make-up choices for the mature woman
Beauty when you're over 50 can be overwhelming. Suddenly, you've a lot more concerns; wrinkles, uneven skin tone, thinning lips and hair, and loss of colour to the face are just a few of the inevitable changes that plague women of a certain age. It's not helped that we're constantly being bombarded with images of female celebrities who are newly 50 or hovering around that number and yet they look incredible. Take actress Monica Bellucci (pictured), who at 50, became the oldest actor to be cast as a Bond 'girl'.
Apart from investing in good products, knowledge is half the battle; knowing what to do and how to do it when the problem strikes. To help you look fabulous at 50, we've drafted in our top skin, hair and make-up experts to help make you look instantly younger and fresher. Word of warning though, people may start speculating as to whether you've recently visited a surgeon!
While greying is a standard bi-product of getting older and one that is easily remedied, thinning hair is harder to accept and harder to medicate. The scalp becomes tighter and drier as we get older, which affects the blood circulation and the growth of the hair follicles. If you notice your hair is thinning, act fast, says Kevin Bodenham, owner of Moyo Hair and Beauty in Dublin. "The first step is to get a diagnosis, to understand whether the issue is a temporary shedding of hair or something more problematic such as androgenetic alopecia, otherwise known as male- or female-pattern baldness," he says. "Your GP can give you blood tests, to work out whether you are anaemic (lacking iron) - the most common cause of thinning hair - or have a thyroid issue. If that's not causing the problem, you should ask for a referral to a dermatologist or endocrinologist (a hormone specialist) with an interest in hair loss." Failing that, Kevin recommends, seeing a trichologist - an expert who has specialised, but not medical training, in hair issues.
There are tons of hair-growth supplements on the market, but there are varying opinions as to whether they actually work. While Kevin doesn't discount their aptitude, he believes a good varied diet that is high in protein should be sufficient.
However, he recommends that we be more mindful of what we wash our hair with. "Using high-quality products which have been recommended by your stylist to suit your particular hair needs will minimise build-up on the scalp and ensure a healthy environment for hair growth," he says, specifically recommending Aveda's Invati Range, which he says is the largest selling retail solution to thinning hair and has been proven to reduce hair loss by up to 33pc.
Furthermore, the salon owner says that harsh styling should be kept to a minimum if you find your hair is thinning. Treat it gently to minimise breakage and if you can't do without hair stylers, at the very least use a heat-protective spray first, to minimise the damage they do to hair. Also, hair is at its most fragile when it is wet, so never comb your hair straight out of the shower.
Invati Thickening Conditioner, €31, Aveda, available in selected salons nationwide
Clinically proven to restore strength and improve hair elasticity and reduce breakage. The result is much fuller-looking hair. To see drastic results, continued use is advised.
PhytoCyane Revitalizing Thinning Hair Treatment, €52.75, Phyto, from feelunique.com
Contains 12 treatments that work to encourage healthy hair growth and thicken the diameter of each hair strand. Expensive, yes, but I have a friend who swears by it.
Cliniscalp Trial Rx Kit for Natural Hair Advanced Stages, from €15.95, Joico, available in selected salons nationwide
A three-step kit that contains a unique combination of carefully blended botanicals, essential vitamins and modern technology to fight against thinning and hair loss, and strengthen existing hair follicles.
Anti-ageing skincare can be a minefield, with brands making big claims and even bigger promises, but what is it exactly that we need to be mindful of? According to Joanna Czech, Crème de la Mer's Global Skincare Advisor, when we're over 50, skin becomes unbalanced and dehydrated due to hormonal changes. There is also hyper-pigmentation and skin loses elasticity.
"It is really important that within your skincare regimen you address the whole body," she adds. "The skin is the largest organ and we want it to be healthy and balanced, as 25pc of immune system cells are related to the skin."
She's right; what's the use in a line-free face if your hands, neck and décolleté give the game away, so invest in a good body moisturiser. As well as Crème De La Mer's Body Crème, Joanna, who is over 50 herself, recommends Environ's Derma-Lac Lotion mixed with Environ's Enhanced A, C, E Vitamin Oil.
In terms of face care, what specific ingredients should we be looking for in our products? Powerful antioxidants, such as vitamins A, E and C. One vitamin enhances the other, says Joanna, who has worked with some of the world's most famous faces including Anna Wintour, Kim Cattrall and Trudie Styler. Also, she recommends choosing products that contain hyaluronic acid, and alpha and beta hydroxy acids.
When we're over 50, we must be very careful with the type of cleanser we use. Opt for something quite gentle, says Joanna, as the lipid layer of the skin gets thinner with age. Sun protection is also vital. Don't go out without it on your face, neck and décolleté at any time of the day. Furthermore, she insists on keeping your eye cream in the fridge, as the cold will help reduce puffiness.
Because older skin loses moisture as it gets older, a powerful serum and intensive moisturiser are must-haves for everyday use. Also, don't forget to give your lips some TLC, as they lose noticeable plumpness as you age.
While it is very important that we appropriately attend to our skin at home, professional help should be sought at least four times a year.
"I find deep tissue massage of the face and décolleté, such as in the Crème de la Mer Customised Facial (available exclusively at Brown Thomas Dublin), mechanical or mild chemical peels (Pumpkin Enzyme or Vitamin C), LED therapy with ultrasound and stimulating microcurrents, micropuncture, vitamin and oxygen infusions are all terrific for this age," Joanna concludes.
Cleansing Lotion, €95, Crème De La Mer, available in Brown Thomas Dublin
Gentle, super-hydrating cleanser that will leave skin feeling really soft and nourished. Gentle enough to use on sensitive skin.
Revitalising Supreme, €79, Estée Lauder, available in selected department stores nationwide
Thick and rich in texture, this high-performance anti-ageing cream instantly awakens dull, dry skin. The statistics are pretty impressive too: 92pc of women who used it showed firmer skin in just four weeks.
Ultimune Eye concentrate, €65, Shiseido, available in selected department stores nationwide
Shiseido's most prize-winning product, this has won 55 international beauty awards and is widely considered one of the best eye creams on the market for its ability to smooth small wrinkles and hydrate the hallows of the eye.
When it comes to make-up, don't settle for what worked for you decades ago, says award-winning make-up artist Kim O'Sullivan. "Open yourself up to a new 'less is more' approach. Detox and simplify your make-up wardrobe," she says.
For starters, finding the right foundation is so important as you get older, says Kim, who owns The Dublin Make-up Academy. Skin tends to be drier so opt for a formula that is moisture-rich. This will ensure skin stays hydrated and will prevent product sitting in fine lines. Also, it's so important to select the correct colour. "My best advice would be to try before you buy. If the shade is too light it makes skin appear flat and lifeless. If it is too dark, it will shadow lines and make them appear deeper. The darker shade will also drag features down adding a dullness and heaviness that is ageing," she says, recommending L'Oréal's Visible Lift Serum Absolute Advanced Age-Reversing Make-up Foundation and Bobbi Brown's BB Cream, which is said to be adored by Oprah and Meryl Streep.
Tired puffy eyes are instantly ageing, so invest in a great brightening concealer, such as Charlotte Tilbury's new Magic Eye Wand. As well as applying it under the eye area, Kim's top tip is to dab a small amount of your chosen concealer onto your eyelids to banish any redness or blue veins. It will also give your eyeshadow more staying power.
A liquid highlighter should become your best friend, says Kim. "The brilliance behind highlighters and illuminators are that they instantly lift and brighten the face to give a more fresh-faced youthful glow."
Another vagary of age is our eyebrows, which invariably become thinner and lighter. Kim recommends opting for a fuller softly-defined brow as it will instantly lift, define features and create an overall youthful appearance which can be likened to that of an eye lift.
A thin application of eye pencil applied close to the top lash line will instantly open up the eyes, smudge the line gently with your ring finger to soften it. Also, Kim advises applying a flesh or cream colour eye pencil to the inner water line to illuminate any redness associated with age.
One of the earliest signs of ageing is thinning lips. Using a good lip treatment to keep the lips hydrated is a must as that helps retain moisture which gives the lips the appearance of being fuller. To plump them up in an instant, lip gloss is the answer. Stay away from dark, deep lipsticks. Rosey reds and pinks are safer bets.
BB Cream with SPF 35, €37.50, Bobbi Brown, available in selected department stores nationwide.
Ultra-hydrating and won't sit in fine lines. Also, it gives a gorgeous glowing finish to the skin and provides excellent broad-spectrum skin protection.
Mini Miracle Eye Wand, €39, Charlotte Tilbury, available in Brown Thomas and BT2 stores nationwide
One side of this genius little wand contains a hydrating eye cream. The other has a light-reflecting concealer that diffuses the appearance of under-eye hollows.
Eyebrow Stylist, €7.99, Sleek Make-up, available on cloud10beauty.com
One of Kim O'Sullivan's favourite brow products, the retractable angled pencil gives a natural finish and the handy brush on the other end allows you to brush through to soften out lines.