‘Natural’ beauty faces are making a comeback

Call me a cockeyed optimist but I think times may be a-changing. The Kardashian aesthetic may seem commonplace right now, but the number one rule of fashion is that ubiquity eventually leads to rejection. How much cooler does Alicia Keys – who famously forswore make up, even on stage, five years ago after confessing she became addicted to it – look than those who’ve had every quirk in their facial features erased – apart from the phobia of ageing that radiates from their eyes?

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Dr Sophie Shotter, founder of the Illuminate Skin Clinics in the UK, agrees. “Through lockdown, there’s been a big focus on eyes and wanting to look youthful, well-rested and fresh. People are requesting real measurable results but at the same time there’s a definite move away from the pillow face – my patients are all wanting to look very natural, almost being overcautious in their endeavour to achieve it.”

One corollary of the MeToo movement is increasing sightings of older women on our screens who haven’t had lashings of obvious work done to their faces or vast globs of Vaseline smeared on the lenses of every camera on set. After all, if you want an Oscar, go natural – just ask Olivia Colman, Frances McDormand or Meryl Streep. Hollywood reveres Natural. It goes into actual submissive mode when it sees it. It’s just not quite ready to do it en masse.

Some of this is cultural. Americans have always had a weakness for a uniform standard of beauty. The British, on the other hand, have always quite liked kitchen-sink reality. The French play their cards much closer to their chests. It’s hard to say what the heck they have done because, as with their clothes, cars and infidelities, they like their cosmetic intervention to be discreet.

The good news is that there’s more and more of the discreet work on offer. In March, Dr Shotter launches a treatment called Profound in the UK. It consists of ultra-powerful radiofrequency that’s precision-targeted below the dermis at much higher temperatures than existing radio frequency delivery methods such as Thermage. Studies suggest one session is equivalent to a third of a facelift and the benefits are still evident after two years. “Downtime” is five-seven days. Bring it on.

In the meantime, in lieu of Botox, sales of at-home devices, from collagen-boosting light masks and lasers and muscle-twitching electrical currents, have soared over the past 10 months, prompting John Lewis – bastion of Middle England values – to dedicate a section to them.

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There was a lot of talk about everyone being horrified by their Zoom appearance and rushing to get injections after the first lockdown. But if anything Zoom proved what you can do with one of those ring lights (and camera angles). It also demonstrated what does and doesn’t make a difference. Eyebrows, sag and skin luminosity are all noticeable. Wrinkles, less so. The biggest cheat, it turns out, are statement spectacles – they mask the bags, accentuate the cheekbones, etc.

As for make-up – yes to mascara, blush and lipstick, but you can wing it without foundation. Thanks to social distancing, Michelle Pfeiffer – another older actress still getting good roles (she’s just been nominated for a Golden Globe) – applied her own make-up for an appearance last week on Good Morning America (she highly recommends Gucci Westman’s “clean” blush stick). Revolutionary times.

The Telegraph London

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