Saturday 21 April 2018

Celia Holman-Lee: Perfecting the art of ageing gracefully

Former model Celia Holman-Lee (62) shares her best over-60 beauty tips and tricks

Celia Holman Lee
Celia Holman Lee
No change: Celia Holman-Lee in her younger days
Celia Holman Lee at the Peter Mark VIP Style Awards 2013

Ailn Quinlan

IT'S POSTURE, stupid! Although model agency boss Celia Holman-Lee is much too polite to put it to us Bill Clinton-style, good posture is one of her top beauty care tips for the over-60s.

Now 62, the former model and owner of Ireland's longest running model agency – she set up the Holman-Lee Agency some 40 years ago – she believes one of the most important things she learned from life on the catwalk is how to hold yourself.

"Stand straight, ears over shoulders, shoulders back and down, backside tucked under," she exhorts, adding that this helps tighten and tuck in your tummy muscles and straighten your spine.

"Drop your shoulders when you're sitting, stretch your neck and tuck in your tummy muscles."

Do it constantly and you'll feel the benefits, she says.

"You look good, you feel better, your clothes look better on you because you're holding yourself correctly and you're also exercising your tummy muscles!

"I've been teaching models for 40 years. The next time you go to a fashion show look at the way they walk – it's all in the posture, in how they carry themselves and how they make clothes look good.

"I make my body more youthful-looking by standing straight and holding myself correctly.

"Sometimes older people are inclined to slouch a bit as they walk. It's very important to be aware of this and to correct it. Posture is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself," says the statuesque Holman-Lee, mother-of-two and now a granny-of-three.

The over-60s are a health-conscious group, savvy about their nutrition and physical health and conscious of their style, says the celebrity stylist and Limerick-woman – and they're particularly aware of the need to look after their skin.

It's a belief underlined by new research from pharmacy chain Boots, which shows Irish people have a positive attitude towards ageing in terms of physical and mental health, fitness, appearance and outlook for the future.

The Let's Age Well Barometer, a survey of 311 people over the age of 60, found that more than eight-in-10 said their generation was proactive in managing their health.

Connacht and Ulster were most positive, with nine-in-10 people saying that they thought their generation was proactively managing their health, followed by Leinster and Munster, where eight-in-10 older people felt the same way.

A solid skincare routine is crucial to manage and minimise the signs of ageing, Holman-Lee says:

"Having a good routine going is important as you get older. Have good day cream and night cream and use creams that have an anti-ageing ingredient – I use Boots No 7 Restore and Renew Day and Night Cream and the Lift and Luminate Day and Night Serum."

Holman-Lee swears by high-quality serums: "Every woman is using serums now; they're using them day and night," she says, adding that she feels that they result in a noticeable "softness and a glow and a little bit of firmness.

"I've never had botox, dermal fillers or a peel. I've never had to do these things; I've never needed to because I've always cared for and pampered my skin," she revealed.

She recently launched the Boots More Treats for Over-60s, which allows customers 10 Boots Advantage Card points for every €1 spent on Boots-branded products. In turn these can be redeemed on Boots and non-Boots-branded products across the store (for more information, log on to

"I believe in the efficacy of good quality skin-care products which have good research behind them and are from a brand you can trust.

"We must remember to treat our body as if it's one of the most beautiful things in the world!"

The skin-protection afforded by a good sunblock is another must-have, and is crucial to ageing skin, she warns.

"Loss of firmness in the skin happens as you get old, so use a good sun protection. I use sunscreen factor 50 in summer and factor 15 in winter.

"Dermatologists tell us that up to 90pc of the signs of ageing are caused by exposure to the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays. The best thing you can do to dramatically reduce your signs of skin ageing and wrinkles in the future is to use daily sun protection with both UVA and UVB five star protection. I use the Soltan range."

Don't forget to tweak your make-up as your skin ages, she advises, warning that your skin colour changes as you age:

"It gets a bit greyer as you age. We drop a shade in our skin tone. I use fake tan on my body and on my face I get a good foundation. Make-up can be difficult because your skin tone is changing, so find a foundation that works for your skin."

Holman-Lee is a fan of the Boots Matchmade Foundation service which uses a nifty handheld gadget to assess which of the 15 shades of the No 7 Stay Perfect foundation matches your skin.

Always go for good quality products, whether for skin care or nutrition, she counsels, and never be afraid to ask your pharmacist for advice.

"Fish oils and calcium is very important – fish oils keep all the joints moving. As you get older, one of the results of menopause is the issue of bone density, so we need calcium and we also need to walk and exercise.

"Osteoporosis is a major health issue for older people, particularly women. It happens when your bone density decreases, which raises your risk of fractures.

"It's important to have calcium in your diet to keep your bones healthy, so eat calcium-rich foods and talk to your pharmacist about a calcium supplement."

Get a bone density test done, she advises – she confesses that she hasn't got around to it herself yet, but she's aware of the need and takes a calcium supplement.

She walks about twice a week, she says, though she admits she should do more and plans to increase that to four days a week.

Three days a week she does weights in the gym, purely for muscle tone.

"As you move on in life and reach the over-sixties, you need to exercise with the weights because the skin and muscle tone in your body softens and you need to constantly built it back up."

It's also worth taking a hard, pragmatic look at your body shape and deciding what bits you'd like to play down, she says.

"Stand in front of the mirror in your knickers and bra and ask yourself what you don't like about your body."

This is not a self-flagellation session about a saggy tummy or flabby thighs, she emphasises – it's the first step in the direction of minimising the impact on your overall appearance of some part of your body that you're not crazy about:

"You might have a very big bust, for example. Under no circumstances should you wear high-necked garments – either wear a crossover dress or a V-neck.

"Also avoid wearing cowl necks or round necks if you want to minimise your bust."

And while you might conscientiously exercise with weights to improve the muscle tone in your arms, they may still not be your best feature.

If you find you have an issue with them but still want to wear a sleeveless dress, select one with thick straps, says Holman-Lee – it will make your arms look longer.

"Never wear capped sleeves or a sleeve that ends on the muscle of your arm because this draws attention to the part of the arm which you don't want to focus attention on – the part above the elbow is where sagging muscles tend to happen, so sleeves which reach below the elbow always look very well.

'Pull in your tummy muscles – this is an exercise that you must do continually until you're doing it unconsciously.

"I'm constantly aware of tucking my tummy in. It's a brilliant exercise and as a result my tummy is not too bad."

If you're not happy with your tum, try wearing a wrap dress or something that has a fluid fabric under the bust.

"I don't like to preach that you should do this or do that – finding your own identity is a learning curve and you are your own best teacher, but these tips are just the bits I've garnered from a very long career in fashion."

And remember – the elbows and knees are a showcase for ageing, she says, so wear sleeves that reach below the elbow and dresses which skim the knee: "Feeling and looking good starts with having great self-esteem. Look at all the great things that you have accomplished so far and think about all the great things you will accomplish in the years to come. Consider all your experiences as building blocks.

"I've always encouraged people to embrace ageing. Getting older shouldn't stop you from feeling good both mentally and physically.

"It's great to see from the research that the over-60s already have a positive attitude towards ageing."

Ageing and the Irish

* Over-60s in Munster have the best attitude towards ageing according to research from Boots Ireland – about 66pc of people living in the region felt positive about their physical and mental health, their fitness, their appearance and their outlook for the future.

* Residents of Ulster were also very positive about how they were ageing (63pc), followed by Leinster (61pc) and Connacht (54pc).


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