Coco Chanel said: “Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you deserve.” Well what about at 74? What kind of face do I deserve then, Coco?
I would bet that she’d not expect someone of my advanced years to say that the face (especially the skin) I have right now is the best I have ever had. At twenty I was plagued with low grade acne, on my thirtieth birthday I was pregnant with Suzy and my skin was briefly clear with that lovely glow that comes from all those pregnancy hormones, and at 50 I was back with the acne as my menopause raged through my body. I had hoped that the end of my menopause would also spell the end of my spot-ravaged face - but no such luck! In many ways and with great irony, my skin actually became more troubled the older I got.
And yet, here I am today, my skin completely clear of painful lumps and spots, no red, flaky patches and with soft, smooth and really healthy looking skin. How so?
Believe it or not I never consulted a dermatologist about my skin. There were many reasons for this, not least that I was always very good at covering up all the problems. Makeup provides amazing camouflage for skin discolouration and even quite angry looking spots can be effectively disguised with a good concealer. I remember staying at a friend’s house and her being really shocked when she saw my face after I’d cleansed my makeup off before bed. A second reason was that I felt embarrassed by the condition of my skin but never really believed that my break-outs warranted medical attention. On bad days I would despair but felt that it was a cross I had to bear. And then I started to research skincare for a chapter in my book ‘Living the Life More Fabulous’.
Two things struck me very powerfully the more I read. One was that lifestyle has a massive impact on the appearance of your face and skin (Coco was right about that!) and the second was that topical treatments in the form of great skincare really can make a huge difference if they contain the right ingredients formulated in the right way.
I suffered from terrible acne and rosacea which began with menopause and never cleared
Lifestyle & Skin
Initially I adamantly refused to make a connection between my bad skin and my lifestyle. I have never smoked, I have shunned alcohol for most of my life (thank you migraines). My mother died of skin cancer so I was vigilant in the sun, I usually sleep well and I have always eaten a reasonably healthy diet. So I complacently believed that none of the usual culprits for less than perfect skin could be blamed. And then I started working with Lindsay, a Personal Trainer and we often discussed what I was eating. Yes, my diet contained a fair proportion of fruit and vegetables, but I also liked ice cream, the odd biscuit and a daily piece of cake with a cup of tea at 4pm which I saw as not only essential but quintessential. My grandchildren even called me Granny Cake for goodness sake!
I had sugar in all my drinks of tea and ate bread either at breakfast or lunchtime often with honey or jam liberally slathered on top. I began to really look at just how much sugar I was consuming in various forms, including daily ready meals which often have hidden sugar to make them tastier. Fired by a determination to get fitter and stronger through exercise (for the first time in my 69 years) I decided to cut out all ice cream, cake, biscuits, bread and sugar in drinks and to cook fresh meals every night. As you’d expect, I started to feel much better and lost some weight, but the almost miraculous thing was that my skin started to clear. It took time, but as my skin renewed itself my improved diet started to show on my face. No more pain, soreness, redness and discomfort. No more despair and embarrassment. And no need any more for lots of judiciously applied concealer!
With the help of healthy lifestyle changes, my skin began to heal and looked noticably better
The Best Skincare
While all this was happening, research for my book had led me to the recurring themes of ‘key ingredients in great skincare for older skin’ and to a decision to launch our very own LFF skincare line of products. I had initially been reluctant to go down that route. Makeup is instant - it works or it doesn’t. You like it or you don’t. And those decisions can be made in minutes. Skincare is effective (or not) over time and I was using a moisturiser by an American dermatologist called Dr Perricone that I saw as the least worst option. By which I mean that my terrible, unhappy skin seemed to tolerate it just fine. It was also quite expensive (about £60 a pot) which, again, I found reassuring. I was worried that we would produce some creams and lotions and they might not suit my challenging skin - what would I do then?
I needn’t have worried. I started to work with a skincare specialist chemist. We discussed all the best and most essential ingredients which I knew were things like hyaluronic acid, various vitamins, peptides, ceramides and retinol, but, in a form to protect the skin if exposed to the sun. It took two years and a great deal of frustration, but gradually we developed the perfect balance of colour, texture, smell and ease of application, combined with all those well-known goodies, to produce our range of serum, day, night and eye creams. About six months before we launched it all, I started using the skincare every day and watched and waited in trepidation in case my skin decided it wasn’t happy with these lotions and potions.
My skin has now completely cleared and quite honestly has never looked better
The relief and delight that I felt as my skin initially accepted the change and then started to positively glow with health cannot be overstated. We’d made a considerable investment of both time and money into developing the products and now I could, hand on heart, say ‘I use these every day and my skin has never looked better!’ Since then we have had a fantastic response to the serum and moisturisers and have thought about other lotions and potions that you might find beneficial. Last week we launched our wonderful new hydrating clay mask and have already sold a third of our stock in just seven days! And in the spring we will have a gentle exfoliator which I have been testing and is already a firm favourite with me. Also on the way is a hand cream to smooth, hydrate and keep the backs of your hands free from discoloration and, later this year we are planning to introduce a special neck and decolleté cream for those problematic areas of skin which are so often sun-damaged.
I do hope the photographs of me with horrendous skin haven’t put you off your muesli! My spots invariably would develop overnight, so I’d often dread the mirror in the morning. Now I rarely think about it because I know that the acne and rosacea have gone for good. I no longer reach for my LFF makeup to hide my awful skin but to enhance my happy, healthy looking face. I’ve worked hard to achieve this miracle and yes, Coco Chanel, you were right, although it has taken me a bit longer than fifty years. At 74, I finally feel that I have the face that I deserve!
Upcoming Event Information:
Teatime with Tricia - Life Armour with Dr Christie Lewis and Marishka Dunlop
Day: Tuesday 25th January
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB
Life Armour is a brand of nourishing supplements designed to protect against the stresses and strains of modern life. It was founded by Marishka Dunlop, who spent 18 years in skincare innovation roles and noticed how the pace of modern life was impacting her own wellbeing and that of so many women she spoke to.
Dr Christie Lewis is an NHS GP and a Private Health & Life Coach. Her aim is to help others achieve more joy, balance and happiness in their lives by focusing on the key areas of health, including; nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress and happiness.
Makeup Magic Monday - Winter Skin Rescue
We are back this New Year with another Makeup Magic Monday session, and this time we will be discussing our top tips for winter skincare. Sally will demonstrate our *brand new* Hydrating Clay Mask and we will talk about looking after your skin from the inside out!
Day: Monday 7th February
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB