According to Oscar-winning actress, Jamie Lee Curtis, “the natural beauty revolution has officially begun.” She wrote this referring to Pamela Anderson, 56, who attended the Paris fashion shows barefaced this week.
Curtis took to social media to applaud the Baywatch alumna: “In the middle of fashion week with so many pressures and postures, and, this woman showed up and claimed her seat at the table with nothing on her face. I am so impressed and floored by this act of courage and rebellion,” she wrote on Sunday. Not sure it takes bravery to bare a beautiful face, but it’s certainly a rebel move when you consider the occasion and the unkind flashing lights that celebrities are subjected to.
I’ve always been pro make-up. Get it right and it can lift your eyes, emphasise your cheekbones, illuminate a tired complexion and most importantly, cheer you up – for little cost and zero commitment. And yet, like Pamela Anderson and Kate Moss, whose glossy, glowing skin stood out amongst women half her age on the front row during Milan fashion week, as I approach my 50th birthday I too am finding that less is most definitely more.
There’s something that happens when your collagen levels deplete that excludes you from wearing full coverage products. Whack them on by all means if it makes you feel better, as a good base will knock back all manner of imperfections, not least of which, the signs of ageing. But when your skin’s natural glow begins to fade (collagen is responsible for not only firmness but radiance) why cover up what’s left of a dimming light?
I can recall the day my favourite foundation stopped working. Having not worn a stitch of make-up for most of the summer, with a friend’s birthday drinks to attend, I laid out my make-up in my usual fashion and began applying my fail-safe base.
But on this occasion, something wasn’t right. The face staring back at me in the mirror looked five years older, the rosy flush on my nose and cheeks gone, my skin a wash out. I tried again. Another fail. I washed it off and left for the party with no more than mascara and a tinted lip balm and immediately felt better. After that, I tried all manner of shake-ups - I added in new products and omitted others until the realisation dawned on me that I didn’t need new products, I needed to use less of them.
Baseless make-up: the counterintuitive secret to better-looking skin as you age
There’s a rule in make-up artistry that states concealer be applied last, after base and certainly after eye make-up. That’s fine if you are going to a red carpet event like celebrities do, as concealer is handy at disguising fallen eyeshadow particles, for instance. But since I found the less I cover up the better I look, often concealer is all I need and want, so it must come first.
I start with a thin swipe of concealer under my eyes (anywhere that’s shadowy), around my nose where pesky spider veins live, and when I’m feeling run down, a dot on my marionette lines, those that form at the corners of the mouth making it appear downturned. Whatever’s left on the sponge I’ll dab on to my chin, which for some unknown reason always looks a little flushed.
My tip here is to tread lightly. Some of my favourite concealers - Dior Forever Skin Correct (£22.95, boots.com) and Kosas Revealer Concealer (£35, spacenk.com) – hold a fair amount of product on the bud of the application wand, therefore I always scrape some off on the back of my hand before I strike, then go back for more if I need to.
Make-up artist Mary Greenwell taught me how to apply concealer properly, starting with my dark circles. She dabs it on the inner corners with her middle finger, which Greenwell tells me is the one with the perfect amount of pressure – though, she says a make-up sponge is a fine alternative – then she disperses the product on to the sides of the nose and down to the tops of the cheekbones. There should be no demarcation line, Greenwell insists.
Once everything is seamlessly blended in, then you must buff with a brush so the make-up becomes one with your skin and is not sitting in the pores. Greenwell doesn’t name a specific brush but I prefer Studio Ten’s Double Ended Face Brush (£28, sephora.co.uk). As for sponges, there’s no comparable Coco Cosmetics by Chloe Marshmallow Sponge (£24.95 for four, sephora.co.uk) in my opinion.
If I do use a base, which is more likely in winter, then I go for one that evens out some of the more unflattering skin ailments like ruddiness, yet leaves some imperfections such as freckles and fine lines. Sheer consistencies include Yves Saint Laurent’s Nu Bare Look Tint Hydrating Skin Tint Foundation (£28, lookfantastic.com) or Glossier’s Perfecting Skin Tint (£26, glossier.com).
If you can afford to splurge, then Westman Atelier’s Vital Skincare Complexion Drops (£62, cultbeauty.co.uk) are incredibly moisturising and the dropper function makes it impossible for you to overdo it. Always use less to begin with and add more as you go.
Natural skin rejuvenation
To look good with less make-up, you need to be vigilant about the upkeep of your skin. There are tweakments that can give you a complexion that’s as flawless and effervescent as women decades younger. New-age injectables like Nucleodyn work at a cellular level, instead of filling or freezing, it stimulates the production of collagen and elastin – the making of young springy skin.
Or there’s Profhilo, which as well as prompting a similar tissue repair mechanism, infuses the top layer of skin with hyaluronic acid for a plump dewy look. Light therapies, such as radiofrequency or ultrasound, naturally tighten and lift the skin’s structure whilst also enhancing collagen.
For Kate Moss, Cosmoss, her wellbeing range of mists, skincare and herbal teas, must surely be a part of her newfound glow – I can attest that the Golden Nectar Pro-Collagen Oil (£105, cossmossbykatemoss.com), is really rather good and worth the price tag if you can afford it. In any case, to have skin that’s as luminous as Kate’s, skincare and sleep are paramount.
It doesn’t have to be fancy, but a consistent evening routine of double cleansing, treating and hydrating is necessary.
Vitamin C helps with brightening, niacinamide is a trouper at calming inflammation, meaning it’s good for minimising acne and redness, while helping skin retain moisture. Retinol will reduce fine lines and wrinkles, though it can be irritating, whereas peptides, which are in plenty of the new skincare launches this autumn, send signals to your skin cells that trigger a boost in collagen production.
Minimal colour, maximum benefit
“Moisture is the key to looking your best as you age,” the make-up artist and Jones Road founder, Bobbi Brown, told me earlier this year. This epiphany led to the beauty entrepreneur creating Miracle Balm, a solid, tinted balm that’s designed to give the merest hint of colour to the face whilst infusing skin with hydrating ingredients. A polarising product, if used incorrectly it can leave skin looking greasy, but once you know how to apply it’s a game changer, particularly for mature skin.
“Start by breaking the seal, then rub a small amount in the palms of your hands and use your fingertips to apply it to the high points of the face starting with the cheeks and then blend,” says Brown, who insists it’s also great on the neck, an extension of the face that often gets overlooked.
Jones Road may have been the first to bring out such a product, but there are now others, including Goop’s Colorblur Glow Balm, which is described on their website as “an effortless pop of color for a fresh no make-up glow”. Colorblur costs $34 on Goop’s US site but is set to land here soon (Goop is sold on Net-a-Porter in the UK). For something with a teeny bit more opacity that’s designed to be popped on the high points of the cheeks primarily, try Merit’s Flush Balm (£32, meritbeauty.com) which comes in nine shades from warm taupe to baby pink.
Underdone eyes and lips
There isn’t much to say here other than apply mascara and be done. I’m currently enjoying Victoria Beckham Beauty’s new Vast Lash Mascara (£30, victoriabeckhambeauty.com), which gives lasting definition without the crunchy feel of some volumizing mascaras – and washes off with warm water alone, which frankly is thrilling.
Vieve’s new Modern Mascara (£23, vieve.co.uk) is also getting rave reviews online – my colleague Lucia goes so far as to say it’s the best mascara “she’s ever tried”, which is high praise indeed.
However, I’m more enamoured with Vieve’s Power Ink Liner in Brown (£23, it comes in Midnight Black too) for its super fine, smooth flowing tip. I sometimes add a small upwards stroke on the outer corners alone to make my eyes appear more wide awake without having to use mascara.
When it comes to lips, a clear balm is not to be underestimated; a good one will provide moisture, which is youthful, while a tinted one is as great in winter as it is in summer, in fact better as that’s when lips need moisture most. Rose Hermes Rosy Lip Enhancer is as sophisticated as they come and is available in three shades: Rose tan, Rose confetti, and Rose Apricot. The £62 price is startling but it’s a one-off investment as the refillables cost (£41, hermes.com) and last all season long, perhaps longer. Otherwise, Burts Bees Tinted Lip Balm is a cost-effective (£5.99, boots.com), and 100 per cent natural.