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We don’t need products to ‘fight’ age, just a cream to make us feel better

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.

Grumbling aside, my plan for the day was to concentrate on good-quality natural and/or organic products, which don’t offer to resurface my face as though it were a worn-out stretch of the M25. I want treats that feel lovely, smell delicious and lift my spirits. This meant I could steer away from the noisy and acetone-scented environment at one end of the Professional Beauty Show and focus on the more fragrant bit where all the flowery, herby things are and the brands that, generally speaking, I know and love.

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.

I save small samples of things for when I’m travelling, which is how I came to joyfully discover a Darphin moisturiser, the name of which I promptly forgot. It is bringing out a range called Stimulskin Plus (I imagine the “Plus” is a coy euphemism for “older skins”). The scent of Darphin products is addictively delicious, particularly the 8-Flower Nectar essential oil. I’m trying this and I’ll let you know whether it’s as good as that nameless sample.

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.

New to me is Rhodes to Heaven an independent headed up by two women (hurrah!) and purveyor of some very lovely products. Having been thoroughly annoyed by an overpriced and ineffective Jo Malone hand lotion, I have come away with Rhodes to Heaven’s Hand, Nail and Cuticle cream, which claims to do everything, is quickly absorbed and scents my hardworking digits with a beguiling mix of lime, bergamot, coconut and grapefruit.

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.

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