If foundation, blush, eyeshadow and lipstick are supposed to perk up our faces and make us ‘prettier,’ why do most of the products we use as we age inevitably disappoint us?
Foundation sinks into our wrinkles and pores, and doesn’t balance our skin tone; lipstick “bleeds” all around our lips; eyeshadow that looked so lovely in the case cakes up on our lids, and blush makes us look a bit like a clown. Even when we manage to find a product we like, our face never stays fresh-looking throughout the day or evening.
Anti-aging creams, serums, and lotions may be all the rage in skin care these days, but what’s up with the trillions of color products out there? What’s happening is that these products–from the inexpensive stuff at the corner drugstore to the ridiculously expensive cosmetics in specialty and department stores–simply aren’t formulated for older skin. Older, as in drier, less elastic, more wrinkled, lined and uneven skin! Changes in the skin invariably affect all of us, and the cosmetics brands we used in our 30s and 40s just can’t compensate for them.
We may live in a youth-obsessed world, but Tricia Cusden, a 60-something British woman living in London, was determined to create a cosmetics collection specifically formulated to bring benefits to the older face. And, she did! Called Look Fabulous Forever, it’s literally changing the faces of women who apply it, and disrupting the beauty industry across the pond. Women started flocking to Tricia’s brilliant online beauty tutorials from the moment she introduced her line in 2013. They now have millions of views. And, even though she hasn’t actively promoted LFF to American women, we represent 20 percent of her business!
Photo by Daniel Hanbury
“I like the fact that we’re disruptive within the beauty industry. We sit on a pro-age, not an anti-age, platform. Everything we say within the brand is all about fabulousness, not about youth,” Tricia told me. “We’re not saying that The Holy Grail of aging is to look 10 or 20 years younger. We’re saying let’s have a look at an older face and say this is a nice face even though it’s got a few wrinkles and a few crow’s feet. Let’s reframe our experience of what it means to age. Let’s say this is actually the best time of life, and let’s start looking forward to it, rather than dreading it,” Tricia added, in her disarming accent.
I adore and admire Tricia for doing what a multi-billion dollar beauty industry would never dream of doing: Celebrate older women with products made just for us! “‘‘You do realize that older woman don’t buy makeup, don’t you?’ a beauty insider told me in 2013, before I launched Look Fabulous Forever,” Tricia remembered “How wrong are you, I thought. They do buy makeup, but they get frustrated when they use it, throw it in a drawer and think they’ve wasted more money.”
Tricia was so determined to make her dream a reality that she up and left her successful, 25-year-career as a management training consultant for blue chip companies. “Look Fabulous Forever was born, really, out of my frustration and difficulty finding products that would work for me, post menopause, when everything on my face changed. My skin changed. The shape of my face changed. My eyes changed. My lips changed.
“Everything tends to fade on our face when we lose melanin in the skin. Our skin color fades. We get paler cheeks and paler lips. Our eyes are less defined than they used to be. And, many women no longer have eyebrows. Makeup can make a massive difference, because in 10 or 15 minutes you can get all of that back,” Tricia said.. “ You put back color, definition, shape, light, and life. Suddenly, the face goes from looking quite dull and featureless to looking really beautiful. That’s what I find exciting. And older women need this more than younger women. But the makeup created for much younger skin simply didn’t work on me anymore. I approached the business from a customer’s point of view, not from a chemist’s perspective.”
Tricia still needed a chemist to develop cosmetics that would suit older skin. “Older skin is like blotting paper; it’s very absorbent, it’s a bit bumpy, and you can’t get a nice sharp line on it because it goes fuzzy at the edges of the lips and eyelids,” she explained. So, Tricia literally Googled cosmetics manufacturers, and found the name of a man from a small, rural area called Suffolk, which happened to be where she grew up. “This is going to sound completely mad, but I think that’s one of the reasons the business has been so successful,” Tricia said. “Even before I met him I thought he was bound to be a good guy.”
On her way to meet the chemist, Tricia worried he’d say her idea is ridiculous, especially because she didn’t have much money to spend on the business. Instead, he told her, “this is the most brilliant idea!” They’ve had a great relationship since that first meeting. “He’s still our main supplier,” Tricia said.
Tricia sent the chemist the cosmetics she liked, explaining why they worked on her face, and he’d create product samples for her. “I started testing them on myself, on friends and on any face that would float into the room. “When we launched I believed we had a line that would stand up to the scrutiny of our customers, and it did. Women who bought our new Look Fabulous Forever cosmetics told us, ‘Yes, this stuff really works!’”
The dozens of products in the LFF collection include distinct eye, lip and face primers, which prepare your skin for foundation, lipstick and shadow by filling in open pores and fine lines, and make your makeup look fresher and last longer. “Our Fabulous Prime is lovely, smooth and silky, and feels like satin on your face,” Tricia emphasized.
“Our Fabulous Base is light, fresh and creamy, with a dewy feel, but provides a good level of coverage. It evens out your skin tone and gives your face warmth and depth to achieve a flawless finish,” she said. “Most older women want to unify their skin tone but they don’t want something that looks heavy and caked on, as though they’re wearing a mask. The formulation has to feel lightweight on the skin and comfortable.”
Tricia has “bad acne rosacea,” and wakes up with red patches and blemishes around her nose, and spots on her chin. “I wanted a foundation that would cover that stuff but still make me look like I have skin. LFF makeup doesn’t come into the room five minutes before I do. We have the most beautiful base, which works brilliantly, and we sell a lot of it.” Tricia applies her makeup only once a day–around 8 a.m.–and reports that “it amazingly still looks good” before she goes to bed. “If I go out for an evening function, I never refresh my makeup, apart from my lips,” she said.
The LFF cream-to-powder blush “goes on smoothly because it’s creamy, but can be blended with a brush to give you a really pretty finished effect,” Tricia added. “While powder blushers tend to stick in every wrinkle, ours doesn’t.
“You can buy LFF confident and assured that every single product has been formulated to suit your older skin. You’ll be putting them on your face and you’ll say ‘Wow, I really do look fabulous!’”
“My original idea was to personally sell the line at makeup parties,” Tricia explained, “but within four or five months I didn’t need to go out and sell directly at all. Everything was selling online. We were getting orders from Hawaii, Saudi Arabia, Alaska, all over Europe, Australia, the UK.” Tricia claimed her success was completely serendipitous. “We’d produced a couple of fairly professional videos showing my makeup being applied on the real faces of two of my oldest friends. We put the videos on YouTube, and soon they were getting thousands of views.
Customers can watch over 40 clear and concise videos today, all featuring before & after photos. “A makeup artist applies the makeup, and I do an introduction and voiceover which explains how to apply the makeup to get the effect you want,” Tricia said. “Or I show exactly what’s happening to my face directly in front of the laptop screen, which acts like a mirror.” ‘Define Your Eyes and Lips Over 60’ is the most popular video, with almost two million views.
Although it might seem counterintuitive to buy makeup online–because you want to see and try it–Tricia and her team offer a number of ways to make the process easy, so you can feel confident you’re choosing the best products and shades for your distinct face.
1. A tip section on the website helps you determine whether you should choose warm or cool colors for your blush, lipstick or shadow, based on the colors of your hair, eyes and skin tone.
2. You also can look through the gallery of real women photos to see the women who look closest to you, and exactly what products were used to create their makeup effects. “We only use models in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond,” Tricia emphasized.
“If your selection isn’t/wasn’t what you were expecting, you can pop the products back in the envelope, and we’ll refund your money or replace them with other products, Tricia said.
“Take account of the changes in your face and don’t carry on doing what you’ve always done with your makeup. It will look dated quite quickly. Older women, for example, look great if they’ve got a good lip color on, especially if they’ve got white hair like mine,” Tricia advised. “But many women say they couldn’t possibly wear a bright color on their lips! They start putting on makeup at a certain age and get wedded to a certain look. You need to start reappraising everything when you’re older. You need to honestly look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do to look my absolute best?’”
Tricia’s written a book, Living The Life More Fabulous, which will be published in February. It encompasses makeup, hair and style, but she also talks about confidence and risk taking, and about health, exercise and nutrition. “This is our third act, and the best act of our lives,” she said.
“I got my first personal trainer at the age of 69. I absolutely hated exercise, but my body is responding beautifully to it, and I’m feeling stronger and better. My book makes the point that it’s never too late to start a business, to start a fitness campaign, to even start applying makeup differently. We can as a generation shake up this whole idea of older age being a problem, a drain of resources, and something we should do everything in our power to prevent. That’s absolutely stupid.”
(Excludes collections/gifts, samples and gift vouchers. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer. Valid through Sunday, October 15, 2017)