Thelma & Louise, 1991. Photo / Supplied

Book A Beauty WOF: How To Refresh Your Look At Any Age

Self-described old clapper Janetta Mackay puts her face on the line for some expert assessment of ways to deal with ageing

"Like a car, your skin can’t just run on water, it needs oil as well,” so I’m told, after my lipid-depleted but apparently well-hydrated skin is given a check-up. I’m under inspection from Jackie Hendy, high-tech training manager for the About Face group’s clinics.

A device has been used on points of my face to measure the levels and Jackie surprises me by saying that the water tank isn’t what needs topping up, it’s more lubrication that is needed. Aside from choosing good skincare and nourishing food, supplements of essential fatty acids (especially those with Omega 3) would help, she says, underlining the connection between how we run inside and out.

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Lately, I have indeed been feeling a bit like my dinged-up old station wagon. Some bogging and panel beating would smarten it up, but it won’t run smoothly until a problem with the transmission is fixed. So, too, with my appearance it seems. This is reinforced when we talk about the role Intense Pulsed Light can play in cleaning up surface pigmentation while deeper Fraxel laser would be better to stimulate collagen production to plump tired skin from within.

From Jackie, through to the leading appearance medicine doctors and skin company founders whom I’ve talked to about ageing, the consistent message is that the best results in dealing with it are obtained by taking a holistic, realistic and informed approach. The most common wish they hear from women transitioning into their 50s and then the post-menopausal years beyond is to look their best selves — for their age.

It's important to follow advice to ensure everything keeps running smoothly. Photo / Getty Images

That starts with wanting a fresh healthy complexion. Some have specific issues they want dealt with as well, typically sun damage, sagging, deep lines, loss of volume and jowls. Clinic 42 says it is working with mature clients a lot lately on improving neck and jawline contours and reducing double chins. Prescription Skincare says the backs of hands are another giveaway area that can have age spots and hollowing addressed.

The daily prescription: use sun protection, stay fit, eat well and follow advice on how to maintain what you have to ensure it keeps running smoothly. The degree to which you go in for tune-ups is up to you and your budget. Like an older model car, you’re not going to achieve the same performance specs as a new one but there’s no reason you can’t be kept chugging along in impressive nick.

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The DIY end involves effort with grooming and adopting skincare routines that promote the everyday essentials of hydration and lubrication. Add in other products that reinforce the integrity of the vital barrier layer for skin health.

Products with active ingredients that promote skin cell turnover and reinforce its underlying condition include gentle chemical exfoliants, key vitamins and anti-oxidants and peptides. For anything extra, it’s best to consult widely to help determine your priorities and personal preferences. As with a mechanic you trust and return to, so too it should be with skincare practitioners, especially in the appearance medicine area. Quick fixes seldom deliver lasting results. That’s something we should all know once we have a few years on the clock.

Viva fashion shoot, 2016. Photo / Babiche Martens

Go Back To School With A Refresher Session
Keep your road worthiness up to date with a refresher session every so often. As we age, we do tend to get more cautious, but who really wants to fade into the background? Booking in for a new hair colour or a makeup lesson can give you a nudge to try other new things.

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On a whim, I coloured my dark brunette hair red a few months ago. Thanks to the guidance of Caleb Alex at Servilles in Takapuna the copper shade selected was a success. I was surprised by how many people said the change brightened up my face. It also meant my makeup shades and wardrobe choices required a rethink — no bad thing, because it’s easy to get into a rut. I’m still a [greying] brunette at heart, but for now it’s a boon not having to retouch my roots so often, although I’ve had to switch at home colour care products to deter fading. A consultation at M.A.C also found me a better nude lipstick from their vast array, moving me away from my usual mauve tinge to something spicier.

My makeover reminded me that cosmetic experimentation is pretty low risk, it is after all reversible. Having a signature style is one thing, never updating how one looks is another.

The Makeup School founders Dianne Ensor (right) and Gabrielle Jones. Photo / Supplied

The Makeup School in Auckland, which teaches professional artists, runs a 40+ Tips and Tricks Makeup Masterclass. This relaxed two-hour plus group evening session demonstrates modern techniques on an older model and encourages conversation. Among topics covered are priming the skin and applying foundation and looks for every day and evening outings. School founders Dianne Ensor and Gabrielle Jones are in their fifties and saw a demand for the classes because so many of their friends were asking advice on keeping up to date as they aged.

The next scheduled 40+ group class ($80 per person for between eight to 14 people) is in October, but private bookings can be made for more expensive individual sessions, or smaller groups ones. At these you can be guided in wielding a brush on your own face. Visit

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Other makeup lesson providers may also tailor courses to suit your age, with Bobbi Brown and Mecca Cosmetica being good starting points. M.A.C’s 90-minute individual tutorial, $150, focuses on your needs and interests. Many brands make the booking fee redeemable on product. Some will do a quick rundown on how to apply the likes of eyeliner or highlighter for free in quieter times. Hairdressers should also help with styling tips. Whatever your favourite brand, it is worth asking what they offer. If being in a store setting doesn’t appeal, look to a salon or home booking with a makeup artist.

Booking a special occasion makeup application or brow grooming is a good time to upskill too. The artist should be aiming primarily to please, rather than to sell, so you may find their recommendations prompt a rethink.

As we, like the seasons, shift gear, it’s wise to rev up a bit and embrace change.

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