Hair and make-up trends come and go, but a glowing complexion never dates. We asked mother-and-daughter beauty experts to share their grooming tricks – and traumas – and what they’ve learned from each other.
The complexion therapists
Abigail James is one of the most sought-after facialists in London and is known for her natural approach to skincare combined with advanced technology. Abigail, 43, lives in London with her two sons, aged 12 and 16. Her daughter Georgia, 19, is a student who has modelled in Abigail’s guide to a glowing complexion, Love Your Skin.
ABIGAIL In my early teens you would find me steaming my face over a bowl of hot water and playing with what my pocket money could buy. The Body Shop was huge in the 1980s – I remember long queues outside our local store. Many cans of Wella Silvikrin hairspray were consumed over a week – I don’t think my hair moved some days! When I’d overdone it with Sun-In bleach and home perms and looked like a yellow poodle, my mother let me take a day off school.
I have allowed Georgia to experiment, and there have been a few disasters! The thick brow was interesting, as was the self-tanning, which was often streaky and orange. She’s much more high-maintenance than me. As soon as she got herself a paper round at 14 she had her nails done. I like a no make-up look and I’m all about efficiency and no stress.
I hope I’ve drummed into Georgia that you do need a skincare routine. Even if it’s basic cleansing and moisturising. I’ve taught her to read the ingredients on product packaging – just because it smells pretty doesn’t mean it’s great for your skin. We can both be allergic to synthetically fragranced skincare and I will occasionally get a Snapchat picture of a reaction from a product she has tried. It used to happen to me all the time until I refined what worked. Rituals, Medik8, AlumierMD and Osmosis are just a few with non-synthetic fragrance that I’m currently loving.
Social media has made us a lot more face-focused. When I was younger it was all about the supermodel body; now there’s immense pressure to have flawless skin. I want all of my children to feel they can be themselves. I encourage Georgia to be relaxed about ‘beauty’. Simple is beautiful; a scruffy bun is cool.
Georgia and I have a very open conversation when it comes to health and beauty. I advocate a healthy diet and lifestyle to balance fun and going out. I had eating issues when I was a teenager. I have tried to instil in Georgia the freedom to be a strong woman. You never know what is going to influence them along the way, so I’ve just tried to give her that inner strength.
We’re both rigorous with sunscreen. Georgia has beautiful pale skin and is very good with sun protection. I tan easily but also have to be careful – I use AlumierMD Clear Shield Broad Spectrum SPF42 and Medik8 Physical Sunscreen SPF30 on my face. As a teen I would bake myself – we would use Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil in an SPF2 or baby oil. We even had a sunbed at home. Just the thought of that is beyond crazy. I’m now fighting the effects of that sun damage.
GEORGIA The first thing Mum taught me was how to cleanse properly. I now know that this is the basis of good skin, and since then I have cleansed every day without fail.
When I was 17 Mum took me to a Bobbi Brown store to get a personalised foundation and concealer that was colour-matched to my skin. She would always tell me if I hadn’t rubbed in my foundation properly or blended my contouring enough.
Mum may be more high maintenance in her own skin routine but that’s because she is older. My routine is minimal – just Rituals cleansing balm and Origins Ginzing moisturiser daily. Day-to-day I don’t wear much make-up – Mum has taught me to be comfortable with the way I look. However, when I go out I can take three hours to get ready.
I have inherited dry skin from Mum. When I’m tired or have been on a few nights out I can see lines along my forehead, even at age 19. Mum has taught me to use moisturiser that suits my skin and to make sure I drink lots of water. I put oils and serums in my hair – Matrix Biolage rehydrating mask or Mum’s own blend with coconut, argan and essential oils – to keep it healthy and try to not use any heat, not even blowdrying.
Mum can pull off a red lipstick – but I 100 per cent can’t. She can also do an incredible black liquid eyeliner flick. I often get Mum to do my make-up – she makes me look as though I am glowing.
When I was growing up, Mum let me experiment and work things out for myself. If I got it wrong she would always do her best to correct the situation. When I home-bleached my hair and it went a banana/copper colour, she took me to a salon to get it corrected.
Mum knows it all when it comes to skincare – but I can spot a decent eyeshadow palette. I’m always suggesting ones for her to buy – usually brands that I want so I can use them, too – such as Revolution New-trals vs Neutrals from Superdrug and Urban Decay Naked 3 palette. And I’m forever getting into trouble for using her perfumes – Frédéric Malle L’Eau d’Hiver, Byredo Gypsy Water, Le Labo Labdanum 18 – and her waxing strips.
The natural beauty pros
Chemist, herbal botanist and beekeeper Jo-Anne Chidley, 46, founded Beauty Kitchen – which creates sustainable, effective beauty products – in Glasgow in 2010. She’s married and has a daughter aged three. Her mother Josie Smith, 67, spent 40 years as a NHS nurse specialising in respite care and the use of complementary therapies. When she retired in 2015 she joined the business as its aromatherapist and also runs charity workshops. They live half a mile from each other in Overtown outside Glasgow.
JOSIE My mum grew up in a travelling circus and her act was ‘the human belt’. She would hold on to her ankles doing a backbend around someone’s waist! While I didn’t inherit her talent (Jo did!), she did pass down her love of concocting hair treatments – such as lemon juice in summer and beer in winter. Having four daughters who were obsessed with their hair, creating her own products was the only affordable option. This fascination with beauty products has been inherited by Jo.
Growing up, I let Jo make her own mistakes. I just wish I’d taken more pictures of her in her 1980s Rimmel frosted lipstick – she wanted to be like the singer Tiffany – so that I could show them to my
granddaughter when she is going through that phase.
I used to use anything that sounded too good to be true. Since working with Jo, I am more questioning of the claims that beauty brands make. I read the ingredients on packaging, research them and I don’t fall for the ‘before and after’ pictures.
Jo is definitely more high maintenance than me. I am a bit of a hippy, so I’m interested in naturally active ingredients. We both believe in multi-use products, particularly Jo, who travels a lot and has a young child. The Beauty Kitchen Handbag Beauty Balm is a moisturiser, mask, lip balm, eyebrow shaper and highlighter in one.
Jo has got me addicted to konjac sponges for cleansing and exfoliating. They are made of Korean tree roots and are 100 per cent natural and sustainable. They last around three months. I’ve got Jo using dry shampoo for volumising when she’s too busy to wash her hair (I use Une Nuit A Bali Dry Shampoo).
Our Celtic roots mean we both suffer from redness. Jo has scarring on her cheeks due to rosacea, which flares up with the weather and stress. Mine is problematic when I eat certain foods. We manage it using aromatherapy oils such as lavender and frankincense, which are both in our Seahorse Plankton products.
JO-ANNE Mum was an Oriflame make-up lady. I remember going to Oriflame parties at people’s houses. This was my first lesson in beauty – listening to people discuss skincare and what they wanted from their products.
Growing up, I always admired Mum’s hair. It was long, thick, poker-straight and naturally blonde. It still is. Unfortunately, I didn’t inherit it – my hair is fine and flyaway, which is why I am furiously developing a 100 per cent natural haircare range.
I’m more adventurous than Mum – in beauty and in life. I love to travel, staying in communities where we have set up links such as Rwenzori village in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I have had my hair every colour and cut – even a skinhead at one point. It is how I create my look, which can go from 20s Gatsby style make-up to 70s Abba-inspired glam. Mum is very 1990s in her approach – think Michelle Pfeiffer. I encourage her to keep to this as it suits her and she feels confident with it.
Mum has always encouraged me to have a good skincare regime. She advocated using natural products and a ‘less is more’ approach to make-up, highlighting your best features and not hiding your flaws. This is something I plan to pass on to my own daughter as well as the idea of green beauty – natural ingredients in sustainable packaging from an ethical business.
I love trying new products. We bought the Liberty London advent calendar because it was a way of discovering new brands. At the moment I love Weleda Skin Food, Chantecaille Just Skin Tinted Moisturiser and Lipstick Queen’s Frog Prince Lipstick. I am constantly giving Mum products to test. The Beauty Kitchen range is only tested on humans, never animals, so Mum and I are the first ones to try anything new.
If I were in her bathroom I would steal her secret rose body oil recipe. Rose oil is great for both anti-ageing and treating sensitive skin issues such as acne. Mum has been making it for years for herself but never seems to give me any!
Beauty Kitchen is available at Holland & Barrett, hollandandbarrett.com
The ageless beauty gurus
Beauty vlogger and entrepreneur Tricia Cusden, 70, trained as a make-up artist at the age of 65 when she set up Look Fabulous Forever, a make-up range for older women. She is the author of Living the Life More Fabulous: a guide to feeling great whatever your age. Her eldest daughter Anna, 43, joined the company four years ago and is now the CEO . Anna is married with sons aged seven and nine. She and Tricia both live in Southwest London.
Tricia Like my own mother, I wear make-up every single day. It takes about 20 minutes but, apart from my lippie, I don’t have to retouch it before bedtime. When I was growing up my mum loved applying make-up. She used a limited range of products from Max Factor and Revlon, but she always looked her best, even if she was only popping out to the shops.
My skin is relatively unlined. However, I have had acne rosacea for the past few years, which is quite distressing when I have a major breakout. Stress definitely exacerbates the problem as does eating gluten and chocolate.
I am definitely more high maintenance than Anna and probably always have been! At her age, I was wedded to the idea of daily make-up application and a thorough skincare routine. Anna is more relaxed about it.
I’ve passed down the need to cleanse scrupulously, even after a heavy night out. And I’ve probably banged on about the need to apply moisturiser and sun protection.
I find some of the make-up trends among the very young baffling. Especially the liking for Groucho Marx type eyebrows, which look heavy. However, faces really benefit from the framing provided by well-defined
eyebrows, so I developed Brow Shape, a liquid paint that is applied with a fine brush to give a very natural look to faded or nonexistent older brows.
I don’t accept the advice from – often much younger – beauty editors that ‘less is more’ when you are older. Older faces lack ‘luminance of contrast’, which means that everything on the face looks paler, more faded and features lack definition. Make-up restores colour and shape to the face and lips.
Anna Mum was always the most glamorous mother on the school run. She loves make-up and I remember her wearing Chloé perfume when we were little. I grew up in the era of grunge when Kate Moss was photographed in her pants with very little make-up on. I would wear a bit of mascara, some eyeliner and that was about it. We were a far cry from the uber-groomed, make-up obsessed teenagers you see now. I’m sure this was also a reaction to the glamour that Mum espoused – you’ve got to be different somehow, right?
Mum paid for me to have a make-up lesson at Champneys when I was 14. The consultant used a really orange lipstick and purple eyeshadow, which I hated! But Mum’s motives were the right ones – it was helpful to know roughly what I was doing. Mum also introduced me to the cleanse, tone and moisturise beauty regime when I was about 13 – using Almay products, which I have more or less stuck to. She was very firm about taking make-up off every night, which I always do.
I would have liked to inherit her cheekbones! I’ve got long red curly hair and am over 6ft tall, so superficially we don’t look very alike. But as I’m getting older, I see more aspects of my face that remind me of her.
Beauty heroes – Then and now
THEN: Mascara cake – a block of solid mascara that women often spat in tosoften it before applying with a brush
NOW: Liquid mascara – and brush in one. We haven’t looked back since Helena
Rubinstein introduced it in 1957
THEN: Over-plucked eyebrows – or drawn on heavily à la Audrey Hepburn
NOW: Microblading – a form of temporary tattoo to make eyebrows look much bolder
THEN: Teabags soaked in water and rubbed on to legs to mimic a tan
NOW: Self-tanning waters for a lightweight natural glow in a bottle
THEN: Teabags soaked in water and rubbed on to legs to mimic a tan
NOW: Self-tanning waters for a lightweight natural glow in a bottle
THEN: Hot waxing or razors using refillable razor blades
NOW: Laser hair removal – even at home with the Philips Lumea range
THEN: Sunflower oil and tinfoil
NOW: Sunscreen, suncreen, sunscreen…
THEN: A simple pot of face cream
NOW: Serums, more serums and vitamins A, C and E
THEN: Curling tongs and frazzled hair
NOW: Sleek straightening irons
THEN: Au naturel body hair
NOW: The Brazilian
THEN: The overhead dryer and weekly set
NOW: The beachy wave
Interviews by Victoria Woodall