Every so often I indulge in an act of heroic self-sacrifice and commit shoe leather and patience to a trade show. My heart sinks slightly whenever I feel it necessary to join the crowds at an exhibition, and I say “necessary” because it is, because things change all the time and my job is to write about them. If I go about it the right way, I still end up with sore feet and a banging headache, but I’ll have had sufficient useful conversations to get an idea of what’s new for us middle-agers. And by the way, isn’t it a curious thing that although arguably the greater part of what gets sold to women is of the anti-ageing, wrinkle-nuking variety, I never see a miracle product advertised by a model of the age group for which it is intended? Everything that comes with “anti-ageing” on the bottle gets its price hoicked accordingly – even a brand as trusted and basic as Simple sticks a quid on a tube of “regenerating, age-resisting” facial wash as opposed to a tube of “kind to skin” moisturising facial wash. The UK skincare industry is ticking over at around £2.1bn – with the women’s share having risen 31% – so that’s a sizeable sum extracted from us on the flimsiest of excuses and some efficient scaremongering. Why must we “fight” the signs of ageing? Cancer is something you fight, not crow’s feet.
First up was Phytomer. I love Phytomer so much that last year, I went and poked about its laboratories. I don’t care what you say, its Pionnière XMF Cream does a brilliant job and smells fragrantly of the sea (lovely). I tried it for three months during which my skin was described as “dewy” – not a word normally used for the 58-year-old complexion. It is expanding that range and I plan to give it a thorough going over. And top marks to the company for no depressing mention of “anti-ageing” on the packaging.
Aromatherapy Associates is another favourite, mainly because the heavenly single bottles of bath and shower oils make perfect “cheerer-uppers” for friends. The new range is called Rose Infinity (top marks again for not mentioning anti-ageing on the packaging). A good eye cream is the Holy Grail as far as I’m concerned and I’m going to try theirs – I can cope with the words “rejuvenating, illuminating, perfecting”, because it suggests good skin, which is what I’m after.
Finally, and I’m very excited about this, I got caught by the eyebrow extensions at Lash Perfect (as it were) – more out of curiosity, really. It turns out to be a new process for building up eyebrows with the help of tiny tweezers, adhesive and individual hairs – like lash extensions but much more fiddly. My eyebrows are fair and more or less invisible so I submitted to a demo and came away with quite magnificent and entirely natural-looking brows (not in the least TOWIE). That the hair can be attached to existing hair or, in the absence of any brows at all, to bare skin means it could be of real benefit to those whose eyebrows have suffered hair loss as a result of chemotherapy or simply age.
Finally, finally, and before you run away with the idea that brands must embark on major sucking up when someone labelled “Press” turns up on their stand, I always tuck my label in my pocket. I prefer to assess how anyone else “invisible” might be treated, because it seems fairer somehow.