Q. I am 64 years old. I smile when I see foundation products that claim to have light-reflecting pigments which help disguise fine lines. I have fine lines – but I also have deep ones. I don’t think any foundation can help. Do you? If that is the case have you ever trialled any of the ‘home cosmetic surgery’ gizmos such as the Phillips Re Aura? Do any of them work?
A. Actually we do think that good make-up well applied can help. That isn’t just foundation but moisturizer, primer, concealer, foundation and possibly specialist line-filling products. Sarah was recently supporting the charity Look Good … Feel Better at Harvey Nichols store in Edinburgh and was talking to a customer who had a challenging complexion with open pores, lines of all sorts and sagging. Sarah suggested a make-up makeover at the Armani counter – and the results were quite wonderful. Of course no make-up will act as a face-lift but it can soften, camouflage and improve the signs of ageing to a wondrous degree. A makeover is free. Why not book a couple, and see with your own eyes? On the second point, we haven’t trialled the Re Aura but we have over the years been impressed with some of the non-surgical face-lift devices that claim to help rejuvenate faces. Several (including Cleo, click here for information, originated with medical use for conditions like Bell’s Palsy. We suggest you organise a home or in-store trial of various devices and judge for yourself.
Q. I have incredibly pale, English rose skin and always have trouble finding foundation shades that are light enough for me. Do you have any suggestions?
A. We have a couple of ideas. First of all, the range which we find offers the lightest shades is good old Bobbi Brown (in particular check out Skin Foundation SPF15, which you can find here; it offers very subtle coverage and may be just the ticket.) Clinique also offer good, pale shades, says pale-face Jo. Lastly, we want you to know about a new range called Dainty Doll, created by Nicola Roberts, who has definitely spotted a gap in the market for pale skins. The range is at Harrods but easier to find on-line at www.boots.com, and the mineral make-up that she has created comes in a suitably pale shade. But it IS a mineral foundation, rather than a creamy one, so if you don’t want to make the switch, we think Bobbi or Clinique are your best bets.
Q. I suffer from an almost permanently red nose. In winter it’s not so bad because I can put concealer on it under my foundation, but even then it can show. In summer when I wear very little or no makeup the problem is really embarrassing, and it doesn’t help that my partner teases me about it whenever he can. Do you know what could be the cause of this problem, and is there anything I could do or not do in order to remedy the situation?
A. Without being able to see your skin, it’s hard to tell – although it sounds just possibly as if you might be suffering from rosacea, which is an increasingly common skin woe, in our experience. This is sometimes accompanied by a change in the texture of the skin – a sort of lumpiness, or swelling. Does that apply to you…? But if it’s common or garden redness, then we would suggest that the best way to distract from this, if you don’t want to use concealer, is to even out your skin tone generally with a good tinted moisturiser. This can be amazingly effective: women we know with a lot of broken veins are often amazed at the difference that simply applying tinted moisturiser makes. We thoroughly recommend Estée Lauder DayWear Sheer Tint Release, and also Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturiser – both excellent options. (You can always apply them over concealer, too. Experiment till you find the technique that works best for you.) By the way, do let your partner know that you’re really sensitive about your nose – in a non-confrontational way, if possible! If he doesn’t take you seriously, is there anything that he’s touchy about that you can tease him about, to let him know how it feels…? He might soon stop! If you do feel that you might have rosacea, a wonderful resource is the Rosacea Support Group, at www.rosacea-support.org.
Q. I am 44 years of age, have quite good skin, but I would like to ask how I can 1) get rid of brown pigment marks, 2) diminish the appearance of open pores. I have a brown pigment mark on my cheek and open pores around my nose and chin.
A. Age spots are one of the beauty world’s biggest challenges. We are currently doing a really comprehensive Tried & Tested of this category, and we promise we’ll get back to you when we know which are the ‘winning’ products, assuming that any of them do perform pigment-lightening miracles. The open pores are much easier to deal with: first of all, don’t use moisturiser on that area (although of course, you do need to use sun protection by day in summer). Many silicone-based ‘primers’ will basically smooth the appearance of open pores; we particularly rate Cosmetics à la Carte Skin Veil, in which the polymers ‘fill’ in the pores; Skin Veil makes a terrific make-up base but you can also (so Jo has found) apply it over make-up to smooth skin’s appearance. Skin Veil comes in three shades: Original (clear), Vanilla (barely-there) and Honey (a slightly deeper shade), but to be honest, they are all imperceptible on skin. All you see is better skin, not primer. You could also try Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector – we can’t vouch for it personally but have heard good anecdotal reports.
• Clinique Pore Refining Solutions Instant Perfector, £18 at www.boots.com – buy here
Q. I’m Pakistani in origin, 28 years of age, and looking for a foundation. Most of the foundations I have tried leave me with dry spots, which only become visible after application. Please recommend some foundations which I could try. I am interested in Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation in Warm Ivory; I just haven’t had the time to test it yet. Would this foundation be a good buy? I’m also interested in MAC Studio Sculpt The Gel Foundation. I like medium coverage with a dewy satin finish, rather than a matte look.
A. Our answer is: get thee to a department store! There is really no way that you can choose a foundation from a website – although it can help you take a possible short-cut to counters where you might find a foundation that works for you… You need to try a foundation on your skin, and because these products are an investment, you need to get one that perfectly blends with your complexion. There’s just no way to do that without trying… The Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation looks like a good starting point. From the sound of it, your skin may be on the dry side and a gel formula may not work so well – and we certainly recommend also trying the MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation before you make up your mind.
A third suggestion would be to check out Clinique’s foundation range: they have an astonishing array of formulations and shades, and their consultants are very well trained at ‘Foundation Fittings’ where they assess skin types and tones. They do an excellent range of deeper shades. Our hunch is that Supermoisture Makeup might work well for you, but they’ll advise.
Usually we put web links for all our recommendations but we’re so keen for you to go into store to sort this issue that we’re not going to. Websites are great for foundation replenishment – but not for buying for the first time, because of the absolute importance of getting the shade right. It really is worth taking time to do this. Many, many millions of foundation bottles lurk in women’s dressing table drawers, belonging to women who’ve impulse-purchased foundation…!
And one last point: it may be that you need to look at a richer moisturiser. The ‘dry patch’ issue isn’t an everyday one with foundation, so maybe try switching to something more moisturising as a day cream?
• Bobbi Brown Skin Foundation, £30 for 30 ml at www.houseoffraser.co.uk – buy here
• MAC Studio Sculpt Foundation, £24 for 40 ml from www.debenhams.com - buy here
• Clinique Supermoisture Makeup, £21.50 for 30 ml at www.boots.com - buy here
Q. My problem is one that is really causing me so much embarrassment in the last few months: my nose has become purple-coloured and I have failed to cover or get an explanation as to how it came about. I am 62 years of age – not a drinker – and am using Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish and Instant Boost Skin Tonic. It seems to me it has only since I have been using these products that this has flared up. I was advised not to use the scrub or brightening mask as they would stimulate the skin too much. No make-up stays on my nose so makes it difficult to conceal it – I am at a loss, so please help.
A. We think it’s possible that you have developed rosacea, which is almost certainly not linked to those specific products but to a whole host of other factors; in fact, many women we know find some relief from Liz’s range, so it’s more likely to be a stage-of-life thing, we feel. It’s jolly hard for us to tell without seeing you, but you may want to pop along to the doctor and see if she/he agrees with that diagnosis, and take things from there. There are various lifestyle steps that can help with rosacea – more of those in a minute – but obviously the key is to start with the cosmetic solution, as if you can conceal it you automatically feel better about it. (That’s just a fact, and frankly, it’s why we love make-up.) We suggest that you first of all try a mattifying product on the nose, which can help make-up to stay put better. Apply the mattifying product, allow 10 minutes to sink in, and then we suggest that you experiment with mineral make-up, which can be extremely concealing without looking heavy; you can then carry it with you for a touch-up during the day, and swirl on to add cover. Our testers highly rate Bare Escentuals Foundation SPF15, to which we’ve awarded a Green Beauty Bible Award; NB, despite the name ‘foundation’, it is actually a powder. Another option is Susan Posnick Colorflo, (this is our own favourite mineral make-up), in which the powder is contained in the actual brush handle, which is good for on-the-go touch-ups (you pump the brush end to prime the product with powder). Find it on-line at www.tlcbeautyclinic.co.uk, or click here. (For your info, there’s also a brush available for the Bare Escentuals product, but you need to go to a bricks-and-mortar stockist like Selfridges or their own London boutique – at 40 Neal Street, London WC2H 9PS – to find that element.)
• Bare Escentuals Foundation SPF15, £23 at www.lovelula.com; buy here (NB if you enter the code bb13 at the checkout you’ll get an exclusive 5% discount)
• Susan Posnick Colorflo, £41 at www.tlcbeautyclinic.co.uk – buy here