Today I have a guest post, written by my Mother! She has her own blog, mostly about her travels and day-to-day activities and she loves to write. I chatted to her about make up when I was with her for lunch on Easter day, and it dawned on me, she would have an awesome perspective of how makeup has changed over the years she’s been using it. And of course how her use of beauty products has changed as her skin has matured. Now heading into my mid 30’s I am all too aware of how my skin is changing and it feels like every few years I’m having to relearn what works for me! Here’s what my Mum has to say:
Erin has asked me to write a guest blog post about make up from the point of view of the older woman.
Well at 61 and a bit I guess that’s me.
I wear make up every day simply in order to look better than I do without it. I prefer the natural look and have never had much free cash to spend on cosmetics. But along the way I’ve found a few products that really suit me, and of course some others that don’t!
I’m proud of my hands; I’ve never bitten my nails and I love to wear nail varnish. I started to paint my nails at about 10, I think. I remember wearing a pretty green shade in the ‘60s and a subtle pearl coloured varnish in the ‘70s. While working on a mobile library in King’s Lynn in the early ‘70s I spotted a customer who had beautiful dark red nails. They were the exact colour of aniseed balls and I’ve been searching for this shade ever since, never quite finding it.
At Centre Parcs a couple of years ago I enjoyed a pedicure, having my toenails painted with Leighton Denny’s No Comment which is an extremely dark purple, almost black. Since then Leighton Denny polishes have been my go-to make. I find them long lasting, hard wearing and in stunning colours. Entertaining names too!
I suppose the next product that I started using when growing up was lipstick. Now, I have a love/hate relationship with lipstick. I have pale skin and any slightly bright colour looks so vivid on me that it drowns me out. My Mum on the other hand has olive skin, much darker colouring than me, and as she was a teenager in the ‘40s and ‘50s she wore bright red lipsticks as that was the fashion and she looked great in them. Trying on my Mum’s lip colour then, wasn’t a good start for me. Once pale colours became fashionable in the ‘60s I found what suited me and I’ve mainly stuck with them. More often than not though, I go without. Lip balm is my friend, in fact I’m probably a little addicted. I started using Cherry Chapstick way before Katy Perry tried kissing a girl!
Come my teen years I was looking for guidance. I bought a beauty book that I remember advising its readers to wait till 16 before wearing any make up. My art teacher at school was more enlightened and one lesson she asked us all to bring in our make up bags and apply our usual make up in the lesson. This was radical as cosmetics weren’t allowed to be worn at our girls’ grammar school. What I recall from this particular lesson was that one girl had followed the fashion of the day and lined her eyes top and bottom with black eyeliner. As our teacher pointed out, this had the effect of making her eyes look smaller! Not the intention!
I also remember having a make over at my aunt’s house. Now this gave me such comfort as I could see from this that make up could really make me look quite pretty. The revelation here was wearing blusher for the first time, on the apples of my cheeks. Blusher livens up my face no end, and I always wear it now, just a little pop of colour. I have used powder in the past but I prefer cream. I use Lychee by Colour Me Beautiful, a product that they have recently stopped stocking. So I am eking out my little pot.
What did I next discover? Probably mascara, and probably Rimmel from Woolworths. Mascara is my favourite cosmetic I think; the one I would take to that desert island. I am blessed with long thick eyelashes and I like to make the most of them. I’ve always worn brown or brown/black, never black as it’s too harsh for my colouring. And I’ve stuck to liquid mascara in a tube, never wanting to use those solid blocks in a compact with a tiny brush that my friends used to apply, mixed with their spit (shudder!) These days my most regular brand is Max Factor. I’m currently using 2000 Calorie though I like False Lash Effect too. A more pricey brand I like a lot is YSL, Baby Doll. This is a fabulous product with a very clever brush that makes my lashes look luxurious.
Eye shadow next; it’s such fun to experiment with colours and where to place them on the eyelid. Of course in the ‘60s the focus was on the eyes so dark colours were the rage. Now, I have deep set eyes so I just look like a skeleton if my eyes are too dark. In the ‘70s I had little pots of gel like shadow that I applied with my fingers. One was quite a bright blue, and they were shimmery. Oh yes, quite the thing, with my bottle blonde hair flicked back and secured with Harmony hair spray I must have resembled a Charlie’s Angel! More recently I’ve been using my Colour Me Beautiful’s palette which contains 3 shades, all selected to flatter my summer colouring. These shadows are subtle and in great colours, mainly matte but the heather has a little sparkle. A ‘grown up’ product.
My current favourite shade is a lilac shadow by Bobbi Brown. It brings my eyes forward, so to speak , and provides some colour on my face.
I experimented with eye liner in the ‘60s; of course I did. Other girls looked so with-it with that smooth black line so close to their eyelashes. I never got it right. Using a liquid product, there was always a sliver of pale eyelid showing between the lashes and the liner. It wasn’t till the 80’s that having been inspired by a friend who wore a subtle soft line on her lower lids, I found a soft pencil with a smudger and found that a thin line,once again in brown, enhanced my look. A few years later I was brave enough to line my upper lid too. Now I’ve found what works I’ve tried other colours too and currently favour a blue pencil, once again from Colour Me Beautiful and I also love a grape pencil from Clinique.
Now, moisturiser. A friend sent me a pot for my 21st birthday. I was honestly grateful, and have been ever since. I vary the makes I buy and try to spend as little as possible on day creams. As I’ve got older I spend more on night creams, using Clinique or Time Bomb. I have a few age spots on my face and hands so do what I can to reduce these.
Usually I steer clear of foundation. I look too made up wearing them, so I prefer a tinted moisturiser. Once again I vary the make I buy, currently using a Bobbi Brown one. I also steer clear of powder. It really ages me and I see no need to wear it.
I’ve always had dark shadows under my eyes. I can sleep for England, that’s not my problem. The shadows are probably genetic, so sorry, daughters, you get it from me; but I’m grateful to Erin as she started using Touche Eclat and I could see the difference it made. So although it’s an expensive product I’ve been using it since the ‘90s and now wouldn’t be without it.
What’s left? Eyebrows. Now, I’m a wimp, I can’t cope with pain, and this has stood me in good stead here. The ‘60s fashion was to pluck brows almost into non-existence. All I could cope with was to remove those stragglers under the brows, and this only after a bath or a hair wash when the pores are open. As a result I still have fairly thick well shaped brows. As I age the outer edges have become thinner and so I add some colour on occasion. I could probably do this more often to look fashionable, but as you’ve probably worked out, that’s not my aim. I use a very fine eyebrow pencil in a blonde shade by Clinique.
A product I thought I didn’t have a use for is Garnier’s Perfect Blur but I tried a magazine’s free sample and was hooked. It’s a primer that’s applied after moisturiser and before foundation or tinted moisturiser and its effect is to smooth the skin. You can feel and see the difference.
I use hand cream a lot, applying it last thing at night and throughout the day when my hands feel dry. I like my daytime cream to contain an SPF but not many brands contain it; why ever not? If I’d started using it earlier I might not have those age spots. Molton Brown, Clinique and Neutrogena do hand creams with SPF.
Because I have a skin condition called polymorphic light eruption (PLE) I prefer creams with a high SPF.
The condition means that I can develop an itchy rash when my skin is exposed to the sun. It can occur anywhere on my body except my face and hands, and currently the usual area is my neck. The rash spreads and can last 2 or 3 weeks, causing me sleeplessness and distress. I manage PLE by not sitting in the sun, wearing a neck buff like this one and, most importantly, using a high SPF sun cream every day on my neck and chest. I use Anthelios 50+ cream.
Another product I rely on is Imedeen tan optimiser. Four years ago I started taking these tablets in preparation for an Australian holiday. I had only a few small rashes on that holiday, and those disappeared quickly. The tablets were off the market for a couple of years for reformulation but have now reappeared, albeit they’re only available online.
During the hiatus I used Viridian SPF Skin Pro Factors tablets which weren’t quite as successful, but were an OK substitute.
Victoria Health is a very good website for both beauty and health products. Their monthly newsletter is full of information and product delivery is almost instantaneous!
I love Lush products but my skin sensitivity means I avoid the heavy perfumes they use. L’Occitane is more up my street, though expensive, so their products are always on my birthday and Christmas lists.
Palmers Cocoa Butter creams have a lovely vanilla perfume, but I find it hard to pump out the last of the product.
While staying at Hope Street Hotel in Liverpool last year I used the free samples of REN products, and fell in love with the body lotion, Neroli and Grapefruit body cream as it softened and smoothed my skin beautifully. Marks and Spencer sell it so I’ve bought myself some.
Thank you so much Mum, for writing this blog. It was really interesting to see how fashions and make up has changed and your opinions. I can’t believe your art teacher had you bring in make up for a lesson! If I’d been asked to do that my make up would have consisted solely of one heavily used and unsharpened black eyeliner – but it *was* the 90’s! It’s interesting to see how we steer towards similar brands too – I really need to try out that Garnier Perfect Blur!