ON the few occasions I have been approached to enter the I’m A Celebrity jungle, I have recoiled with horror at the mere thought.
You’re probably thinking I’m phobic about rats, snakes, bugs and the enforced company of someone from Towie — but apart from the last one, they don’t bother me in the slightest.
No, it’s the prospect of appearing on prime-time TV without make-up that really would send shivers down my spine.
And it seems I’m not alone.
Broadchurch actress Sarah Parish revealed yesterday that she’s undergone a pioneering skin treatment to try to combat the signs of ageing.
She said: “I was noticing on camera it was becoming hard to light me in certain ways because I was losing laxity in my skin and becoming a bit jowly.”
Join the club, dear.
Which is precisely why, just like 48-year-old Sarah, I also opted to have the non-invasive “facelift” procedure known as Ultherapy.
I’m a woman “of a certain age” (54, as you ask) and a couple of times a week I pitch up to the Loose Women studios at ITV in London looking more Michael Crawford than Cindy.
There, the team of expert hair and make-up artists show me how transformative a bit of effort (on their part) can be.
And the studio lights help, too.
“Sadly, afterwards, it’s always back to the reality of looking generally worn out,” I remarked to my Loose Women colleague Katie Price, who, with her characteristic frankness, replied: “Not necessarily. You could do loads to improve your look.”
So, pointed in the right direction, I began my research and ventured tentatively into the world of “beauty maintenance” where, like Sarah Parish, an ever-increasing number of women are enhancing their “no make-up” face with the help of a few tricks of the beauty trade.
But would it work for me?
First stop to address that puckering on the lower jaw was The Garrett Clinic on Harley Street.
There, with the steely-eyed precision of a mechanic assessing whether some old banger is a write-off, Lee Garrett scrutinised every inch of my face before declaring: “I think I can do something.” Phew.
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But first, an impressive machine called Visia photographed my face from three different angles and made some rather brutal assessments — the worst being my irreparable sun damage and an overall calculation that this 54-year-old’s “tru-skin age” was 55.
To be honest, I thought it would be much older.
Lee started with Ultherapy to my lower face, a one-hour treatment he has tried previously on my neck with noticeable success.
It involves rolling a hand scanner across the selected area, administering a series of sharp stinging sensations as it sends ultrasound rays to the muscle-like tissue under the skin and, hopefully, creates new collagen.
Sarah says she noticed a change to the texture and quality of her skin within four months of the same treatment (though done at a different clinic), and I echo that.
A good cut and colour can work wonders
Jane MooreSun columnist
Six weeks after my first visit, it was back to face the scrutiny of Lee and his Visia machine once again and the improvement was beyond my wildest expectations.
My skin looked visibly firmer around the jawline and distinctly clearer too. And what’s more, not only had my “tru-skin age” dropped to 50 but I have lost count of the number of times people have commented on how “well” I look since the treatment.
Next on my list was the possibility of “permanent” make-up, by which I mean tattooed brows, eyeliner and lips. Yes, tattooed.
Reassured by how natural theirs look, I decided to take the leap.
My research led me to the door of Tracie Giles, one of London’s leading experts in what’s described as “bespoke permanent make-up” on brows, eyeliner and lips.
“Eyebrows are like a frame to your face, so making them more symmetrical and defined can really make a difference,” said Tracie.
To start, she used a pencil to draw in the shape and colour of my proposed new brows, so I could see how they’d look before making the leap to permanence. Well, up to three years, anyway.
Once satisfied, I lay back and she began using a microblade to insert tiny dots of pure, hypoallergenic pigment into the outer layer of skin — a technique that mimics the appearance of brow hairs.
It took about an hour and I was delighted with the end result — slightly darker, more symmetrical brows with, hoorah, the more defined ends of my youth.
Six weeks later, I returned for my follow-up appointment to check the colour and decided to have a thin “permanent” line on my top lid too.
Now I’m not going to lie — for me, this was quite painful.
But there was no redness, meaning I could go about my day without anyone having the faintest clue what I’d just had done.
My eyelids were sore to the touch for a couple of days, but that soon went.
And the lips? Well, for a woman of my age whose lip definition has faded significantly of late, it would probably prove equally transformative.
But, dear reader, I chickened out and declined.
Next was an appointment at Agnes dos Santos, expert in individual eyelash extensions.
I’m pretty adept at sticking on a set of fakes for a special event these days, but there’s always the clear and present danger that one of them will end up floating in my drink.
With extensions, they are individually and painlessly glued to your existing lashes — about 50 to 100 to each eye — giving them the appearance of being fuller and, depending on the type you choose, longer.
I asked for the more natural-looking “feather lashes” which took around an hour, and was thrilled with the result. They lasted for around a month.
A good haircut and colour can work wonders, so finally I popped in to see my regular hairdresser, Natalie, at Charles Worthington, for an easy-to-maintain, short cut that I’m told has taken years off me.
While I won’t be spending hours of each week having endless beauty treatments, I will do a top-up of all of the above in a couple of years’ time.
Now bring on that “no make-up” selfie.
- The Garrett Clinic (020 3355 4399) – Ultherapy session costs £3,800
- Tracie Giles (020 7584 1005) – brow treatment starts at £495, eyeliner at £295 and Gloss and Go lips at £595, depending on the technician
- Agnes dos Santos (020 7602 7040) – lashes start at £110
- Natalie at Charles Worthington (020 7831 5303)