It’s not every day that someone tells you that you’ve changed their life. Especially when all you’ve done is start a makeup company for older women. But that is what Jill Farrell told me at a Super Troopers tea in Canterbury in April…
As we ate our massive scones with cream and jam, Jill leant across the table and told me that before she found Look Fabulous Forever she’d lost interest in herself and become depressed. “I started to think, what's the point?” Then she saw an advertisement on Facebook and thought she’d try our makeup. She really loved the products and realised that she’d been wearing all the wrong colours both on her face and in her clothes, which was a revelation, and suddenly she started to feel a lot better about herself.
“My anxiety and depression has lifted. Now I feel really confident in myself. When I am out, people often notice me and pay me compliments, which boosts me and makes me feel better. Look Fabulous Forever has changed my life!”
Jill’s words are, quite literally, music to my ears. Most of you know that as a business Look Fabulous Forever was born out of my own low state of mind. Throughout 2012 I had been needed to support my younger daughter’s family as they struggled to cope with a very sick mentally and physically challenged baby. As India’s condition improved she was eventually able to come home from hospital with a comprehensive care package, supplemented by an excellent special needs nanny. My daughter and son-in-law resumed their busy lives but, aged 65, I felt I had no meaningful life to go back to. I felt completely lost. I have described it as an existential crisis which I think may be quite common for many women as they hit retirement age. I kept thinking not as Jill did ‘what’s the point?’ but rather ‘what’s the point of me?’ So I came up with the idea for Look Fabulous Forever.
Lovely Jill, Look Fabulous Forever Customer and Super Trooper who I met in April.
My mantra as I put LFF together was ‘there must be other women who feel like me!’ By which I meant a number of different things:
*Other women like me who feel frustrated that they can’t find makeup that enhances and beautifies their older faces
*Other women like me who feel ignored by a beauty industry that insults them with their all pernicious ‘anti-ageing’ rhetoric
*Other women like me who resent being told by young beauty editors that ‘less is more’ the older you get in a subliminal message that makeup is a dangerous minefield best left to youthful, unlined faces
*Other women like me who feel invisible, overlooked and closed out of any conversation around looks and beauty, especially at beauty counters in stores
*Other women like me who rarely see themselves reflected back in advertisements, magazines or billboards for either fashion or beauty products
*Other women like me who still feel young inside and just want to look the best version of themselves rather than ‘ten/twenty or thirty years younger’ (as if!)
My answer to all of these things which I felt demeaned my ageing self was to launch a very different kind of makeup brand. One that would make women feel good, upbeat and positive about their ageing selves. One that would celebrate mature beauty. One that would help women to reappraise themselves so that mirrors would become their friend, not their enemy. And the measure of my success would be the impact that our makeup would have on the self esteem, self worth and self confidence of the women wearing it. Which is why Jill’s words were music to my ears and balm to my soul.
So how and why does wearing makeup as an older woman restore or maintain a high level of self esteem and self confidence? I think that there are several reasons:
1. Makeup is an instant, almost magical, quick-fix
This has always been what I’ve loved most about the time I spend ‘putting my face on’ every day. I look pretty dreadful when I drag myself out of bed every morning. Then the magic happens. My LFF Fairy Godmother waves her wand (and I get to work with my brushes and pots of paint) and Voilà! Just ten minutes later I am transformed into the very best version of myself. Despair has been replaced by delight.
2. Makeup puts both colour and definition back into my face
Young faces without makeup have clearly defined features. They have natural colour in their brows, eyes and lashes, cheeks and lips. Their skin tone is usually even and free from discolouration and patchiness. Makeup restores everything that ageing takes away. It gives shape back to our brows, makes our eyes look bigger and our lashes thicker and longer. It gives us cheekbones and a subtle blush at our cheeks and the final touch of a beautiful lipstick lights up the whole face and lifts the spirit.
3. Makeup and style go hand in hand
Show me a stylish older woman and she will invariably be wearing great makeup. This is why I became so frustrated with what was on offer before I had my trusty LFF. I felt that my makeup detracted from rather than enhanced my style. I knew I was cool toned and my wardrobe was full of those shades which really suit my colouring, but finding perfect matte eyeshadows, a flattering creamy blusher and just the right tone of lipstick was a challenge I often lost. The result was disappointment, frustration and a drawer full of unsuitable products.
4. Makeup is a guilt-free treat
I do think that retail therapy is a thing. Throughout my life browsing in a shop and chancing upon a delightful garment has definitely been a pick-me-up. But nowadays it's more tinged with guilt for many reasons, not least the fact that I already have lots of clothes, some of which I rarely wear. But buying makeup is entirely different. I wear my makeup every single day and most items in my makeup bag last for many months, so the cost-per-wear is extremely low compared to the daily pleasure it affords me. And we all know that in the last war lipstick sales went up because, when times are tough, wearing makeup has a real impact on morale.
5. A well-made up older face is surprising
Like Jill, I often get compliments from strangers when I am out. Older women like us are not expected to stand out in the crowd. Because makeup is such a visible demonstration of self esteem and self confidence it becomes more surprising in a society like ours that doesn’t value older women. Makeup helps others to see you, not least because of the way it restores colour and definition. Do others treat me differently because I take trouble with my appearance? Absolutely! And it’s a virtuous circle because the better I feel about myself, the better I am treated by others.
Sue is one of our new brand ambassadors and shared this wonderful 'before and after LFF makeup' selfie with us. I think the results speak for themselves!
Look Fabulous Forever has always been about much more than makeup. From the beginning I wanted LFF to give me a platform from which to challenge ageism in our society, most recently when I was on a panel at a conference speaking up about the way that older people are portrayed, but also largely ignored by advertisers.
Now I would really like to get the message out about the link between makeup, self esteem and self confidence in older women, and we need your help to do so! We’ve compiled a short research questionnaire which we hope will give us some convincing statistics on the subject. I would be so grateful if you would complete it for us, as the more compelling the evidence, the more likely we are to receive media attention for the results. We’d also love some quotes too, so if anything comes to mind about how your LFF makeup has helped you to look good and feel better (maybe in lockdown or in our current cost of living crisis), then please leave in the comments section below. To reassure you, any comments quoted would be anonymous in our published research.
The survey is now closed - thank you for all of your entries
I spoke to Jill this week to check that she was happy to be featured in this blog. I also wanted her to know the impact her words had on me. My mission with LFF was to improve how older women feel about their ageing selves. And it seems, with Jill at least, I have succeeded. Now, with your help, I’d like to find out if the same is true for a great many other women like her.
Look Fabulous Forever do not own all of the images used in this blog. Please note that all images and copyrights belong to their original owners. No copyright infringement intended.
Friday 11th November
Monday 3rd October
Film Club: Dancing at Lughnasa
Available on Amazon Prime
Watch the film before the event and then join us for a discussion!
Day: Friday 11th November
Meeting ID (if needed): 861 0928 8705
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB
Monday 14th November
Monday 3rd October
Makeup Magic: How to Elevate Your Eyes & Lips
With an EXCLUSIVE sneak peak of a brand new product!
Day: Monday 14th November
Meeting ID (if needed): 842 7153 3871
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB