Dreading The Big 5-0?

Five years ago I felt myself forced to embrace the fifth decade of my life. Initially believing that it would be traumatic, depressing & life-changing, I can now report that yes, indeed there have been changes, but most are positive. However, I can't deny that it does take longer to apply make-up these days & I have a lot less enthusiasm towards exercise. That's why I've created this page. I've been talking to friends, beauty experts & medical advisors, to bring all you ladies of a 'certain age' some tips & advice to ensure that we all feel younger for longer. Here's to our fabulous fifties and beyond! 

Smooth Operator

It's a sad fact of life that as we age, albeit gracefully, crow's feet, puffy circles and 'laughter lines' all increase, causing foundation to settle in the grooves. Loose powder can be unhelpful too as it can add weight to the skin & become unflattering. It can be difficult to create a smooth base on mature skin & that's why preparation is a must. If, like me, you are against botox and fillers, my latest finds might be helpful in the key stages of applying your make-up.

I have been testing quite a few different pore minimising products recently & I also love a bargain too. Fitting the bill perfectly is 'Primed & Ready' gel from Collection, available at Boots, coming in at just £5.99. It creates a flawless surface & has a non-sticky texture, just a small amount goes a long way. My second new find is 'Wunderlift' , an amazing skin-coloured cream that lifts the under-eye area in just sixty seconds. Priced at £19.95, you can actually feel the product tightening your skin as it starts to work. Finally, once you have your base, my tip is to use a make-up application sponge to ensure that your foundation is evenly distributed. With steps one, two and three complete, you should be able to add a dab of blusher & go. 


Treat Your Mind

With most of us living increasingly stressful lives, the kindest way to treat yourself is to give your mind some downtime. However, our brains also need stimulation, something to keep them ticking and ward off dementia and other conditions associated with ageing, so fun but challenging activities are the way to go. For me, reading is a passion but it's not just about relaxing with a cosy novel. Sometimes going out of your comfort zone, with a history or self-help book, will trigger brain cells to work in a completely different way.

Crosswords, sudoku & jigsaw puzzles are excellent, but when you need to rest your body too, a great way to chill out is with a podcast. These can be both fun and educational, and the perfect way to enjoy the full benefit is to listen while in a hot bubbly bath. Some great examples are: Untangle - with topics ranging from mindfulness to understanding our relationship with food, The Mindful Podcast - practices for taming bad habits, Soul Music from BBC Radio 4 - exploring songs and what they mean to different people &  Sleep and Relax ASMR - designed to help people unwind and fall asleep to the sounds of natural background noise. 

The Benefits of Herbal Tea

I'm a huge fan of herbal tea & often drink it as an alternative to caffeinated tea at night or when I feel in need of a detox. However, despite having lived in China for a decade, I don't like the taste of green tea, so have been trying out different flavours & their benefits. Some of the antioxidants & vitamins found in herbal teas are great for boosting the immune system too, such as elderberry, echinacea, ginger & liquorice root. 

Herbal teas are made from dried fruits, flowers, spices or herbs, which make them a tempting alternative to sugary drinks & each type of tea promotes a different health benefit. Here are a few examples: chamomile tea is renowned as a sleep aid, peppermint can relieve stomach pain & help with the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. For nausea, indigestion & period pain try ginger & hibiscus tea is great for fighting off flu and lowering blood pressure. 

My personal favourite is Rooibos from South Africa. Recent studies have shown that it's effective for stimulating bone density, breaking down kidney stones and preventing heart disease. In other research, scientists found that drinking six cups of rooibos tea daily for six weeks lowered cholesterol and fat. 

Products available in Boots & Superdrug

Secrets to Super Hair

As we age our hair follicles make less melanin, which is the pigment that determines our hair colour, therefore greying begins and the texture of our locks changes. The rate of hair growth also slows as we age and some women also find that it begins to thin too. 

I'm a great believer in natural products to keep my hair in tip top condition and, apart from occasionally using lilac coloured shampoo, I haven't dyed my hair for over five years. My favourite products are the 'Maui' moisture masks, which I use routinely once a week. Containing ingredients such as agave, hibiscus oil & pineapple extract, these products not only smell delicious but leave my hair feeling super soft and shiny.

There are lots of products to choose from in the range, so the best way to see which is right for you is to simply test them & look at the results. 'Maui' are in the mid-range price bracket, with the masks selling at around £8.99, but one pot will typically do ten applications. There are serums, shampoos, conditioners & anti-frizz treatments, I recommend them all, plus they're vegan friendly too! 

The Bucket List

When we think of writing a 'bucket list' most people associate it with 'things they want to do before they die, quite a morbid thought, but what if the list were neverending? 

My husband & I wrote our bucket lists about ten years ago, ten places, targets or events that each of us wanted to do. It wasn't that we thought we were getting old, but rather the fact that there was so much we still wanted to do with our lives that we wanted to ensure we didn't forget about our aspirations. Turns out we had rather grand expectations, so each year we take it in turns to tick one item off the list. So far we've spent three weeks in a campervan seeing New Zealand, climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, published books and seen Andrea Bocelli performing live in his hometown of Marostica.

Bucket lists are for now, well I certainly believe so, and the sooner you get started the sooner you can write a second one. Live your dreams, they'll keep you young! 

Winter Wonder

For many women over fifty, the onset of arthritis or conditions such as fibromyalgia can often change their level of activity, especially in the colder months. Even previous operation sites, such as broken legs or dislocated joints can cause unwanted aches and pains. For many months I've been looking at the benefits of CBD oil & how it can improve quality of life, but usually taken orally this might not be the best solution for everyone. 

Now I've discovered this Hemp Gel. Rubbed on to my aching spine twice a day it definitely helps to ease the stiffness & makes sitting at my desk a lot more comfortable. Priced at around £18.99 on Amazon this tub is cost-effective too as it lasts about three months. The aroma is quite herbal & not at all offensive, but it does tend to stain light clothing, so an old t-shirt underneath helps prevent the transfer, although it does wash out easily. 

The Big Secret....

I have my friend, Vanessa, to thank for this tip & believe me it really does work! Admiring her flawless skin over coffee one weekend, I asked my pal how she managed to keep her skin looking so radiant & young. We all know that pores are awful for ageing skin, making it look less smooth & more saggy, and tackling them is key to a wonderful complexion. Here's the big secret...

First cleanse your face with your usual facial wash & then use a good product to exfoliate. I've tested a few recently & find that I get the best results with 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant from Paula's Choice (priced around £22) purchased online. Next step is to cleanse with lemon juice. Yes, that's right, natural lemon juice & a bottle of Jif will do the trick. Apparently after the exfoliant has opened & cleaned the pores, lemon juice closes them & makes them less noticeable. Follow with your preferred eye cream (mine is Clinique Anti-Gravity) and day cream (I like Revitalist Red Cream by L'Oreal). Having tried this lemon trick now for two months, I'm hooked. Not only have my pores shrunk, my skin feels smoother & looks really clear. Try it & see!  



Test, Test & Test Again.

As we get older our skin changes every few years, especially in the loss of elasticity and the appearance of fine lines. Therefore, it's important to regularly evaluate the effectiveness of daily moisturisers & eye serums in order to get the best results. We're all different and what might work well for one person might not give the same results on another. For example, I have two friends who love Clarins double-serum but having recently tested it myself I found that it made my skin dry.

 It's not always true that the more money you spend the better the product either. It all depends on your skin type & personal preferences. I swear by Clinique Anti-Gravity eye cream which is a mid-range product, but I inter-change it with other brands occasionally. For everyday moisture, I like Bio-Therm, Elemis and Clinique products but often seek out new brands to ensure I'm getting the maximum benefit. When out shopping, always ask for tester samples to try at home & use them on a day when you don't intend to wear much make-up to see how you feel. You might surprise yourself & find a new favourite! 

The Importance of Vitamin D

According to my GP, doctors are now realising the importance of testing women for Vitamin D deficiency, something that was relatively unheard of a few years ago. You see, despite us absorbing this key nutrient naturally from the sun, we can only get a small percentage of our actual needs from sunshine. Living in the UK, this makes it all the more important to add a supplement to our diet. 

Vitamin D aids the immune system, tiredness, joint and back pain, depression, the healing of wounds, bone density, hair loss and muscular pain. 

Since receiving results that I was severely deficient in the magic 'D', I've been taking one tablet per day for the last six months & find that my energy levels have increased, as well as my joint pain being greatly reduced. 

Holland & Barratt do a great deal of 250 Vitamin D tablets for £18.49, with the second purchase for just 1p. That's over a year's supply for under £20, result! 

Sunshine is fabulous, but we can't always get enough...

The Grey Alternative

More & more women nowadays are embracing their grey hair, with tones of silver, white & ash coming into vogue. However, many of us will be at that awful inbetween stage, with lots of greying hairs but not enough for a full head. 

Most ladies will resort to dye, either at the salon or from a box at home but, on hair that is already brittle & dry without colour pigment, perhaps it's time to consider an alternative.

Much to my hairdresser's dismay, I haven't had a dye on my locks for three years. In fact, not since discovering 'Tigi Fashionista' shampoo & conditioner, and in all honesty I can't count the number of compliments received for my purple hues. The lilac shampoo attaches itself to blonde hair, creating streaks that blend beautifully & there's a fabulous brunette one for darker hair. Instead of unsightly grey, you'll end up with gorgeous streaks and tip top condition. 

Under £20 for both on Amazon!

Wear it any way you choose!

Dress Your Neck!

A sure sign of ageing is the skin on a woman's neck, sometimes in the form of looseness or in other ladies a double chin.  An easy fix is to add a pretty collection of scarves to your wardrobe as they draw the eye away from the neck area & also enhance any outfit. 

There are many ways to tie or drape a scarf, with dozens of online tutorials to show you how. 

In summer you might want to wear a light pashmina over a cotton dress but in winter a snood or woollen scarf in a bright colour will add zing to a leather jacket or heavy coat. Great places to find beautiful, affordable scarves are H&M, ASOS, New Look, Kanshi Collection (online only) & local artisan market stalls.