A woe to some, a blessing to others – grey hair is a transition that befalls us all. How can we complement our grey hair look with makeup? Join us in discussion with style specialist Penelope Whiteley who has some great ideas to share. Enjoy the conversation!
My guest today is Penelope Whiteley. Penelope is a speaker and an author of four books, she is a global traveler: she has visited 57 countries and has lived in seven of them.
She also has a fabulous website where she helps women make a smooth transition into their 60s and live life on their own terms. She calls herself the Queen of Ageing Disgracefully, and I love that title. Hi, Penelope.
Hi, Margaret. It’s all about perception, really. We all have a different perception of what aging gracefully is and what ageing disgracefully is.
What does it mean to you?
Ageing gracefully reminds me of my piano teacher, so we are going back 60 years in time. She wore very sensible shoes and Lyle stockings, box pleated skirts and twin sets. She had a bun and a mole-like thing on the side of her nose.
My mother, on the other hand, aged disgracefully. She always dressed very stylishly and she was unique in her dress in those days. She was very colorful, very stylish, very up to date. That is where disgraceful comes from.
I really like that. On your website you always write about living life on your own terms. You say that when we are in our 60s we can ignore some of those rules that we lived by when we were younger and just come into our true self.
Yes, I must admit, I think I banned political correctness before it actually started. I find it most distressing when people are unable to say what they are actually thinking nowadays, because they may offend somebody. They may not, but they may!
I think that if we’re over 60 we have reached an age at which we should be ourselves. Why are we still trying to live within the expectations of others?
This is absolutely true. I think that one of the things we go through are these stereotypes that you mentioned. They all seem to revolve around how our physical bodies change. Particularly for this chat, we are going to focus on how our hair and skin tone change and how that reflects on our face.
You have actually written a book on this, it’s called Grey Hair and You. So let’s talk about the process of greying hair. Also, once you’ve come to peace about having grey hair, how do you use makeup to make it look nice and to bring a glow back to your face?
As we age and start to get wrinkles and lines, and those little bits and bobs which we really don’t like, we need to have a softer appearance. Grey hair is wonderful for softening our appearance. When it comes to makeup, we really do need to understand and apply the ‘less is more’ principle.
Most women over 60 don’t have fabulous skin, but whether you accept that or not has nothing to do with the way other people look at you. However, it’s got a lot to do with the way you look at yourself in the mirror and the way you feel about yourself.
If you can look at yourself in the mirror when you’ve just applied really light makeup and say, “I kind of glow today,” you are going to have a much better day. You are already feeling brighter before you start.
I like the idea of a little foundation, but I don’t like powder as you get older. I think powder often settles in the creases and can make you look a bit haggish. When you use foundation, match the foundation to your décolletage. Don’t match it to the backs of your hands which is where women usually try it.
Moisturizer is important for dry skin. I apply a night moisturizer all over my body and face. In fact, on my body I use colloidal greens, because they are for extreme dryness.
Whatever you choose to wear on your skin – foundation, moisturizes, eye cream – if you have allergies, the cheaper the product the better for you, as a lot of the expensive products contain allergens, despite the fact that they claim to be hypoallergenic.
That is interesting. The less ingredients the better.
Basically, yes. But don’t use Sorbolene products as they are petroleum-based.
Yes, there are a lot of oil products that claim to be facial oils, but they’re petroleum-based, and that is something to watch for.
Yes, it’s called reading labels. You read labels when you buy food, so read the labels on your facial products as well. They too get absorbed into your body.
So, you’ve said that as we age our skin becomes dryer and its tone changes. Sometimes it becomes more pale or not as vibrant as it used to be.
Let’s say that you’ve got this blessing of grey hair and you’ve decided to let it grow, or you’re blending it with your blond hair. Tell us the basic makeup tips for dealing with and maximizing that grey hair look.
I think you have to recognize that there is a danger of looking like a piece of used chewing gum if you don’t wear makeup. A light foundation applied to your face, neck and décolletage would help greatly with evening out your skin tone.
Another tip is, always use eyebrow pencil, but don’t go for a black one. Depending on your skin coloring you can use a grey, a charcoal grey, a light grey or even a golden brown.
Most companies offer a blonde now, too. It’s good to know that if your hair is blond or light, or just pure grey, you might be more comfortable with a blond eyebrow pencil, as that frames the face, doesn’t it?
It frames the eyes. When using makeup, the rule of thumb is, you either concentrate on your eyes or your lips. As we get older, we want to make the eyes our focal point, because we want to bring the eye of the beholder to the upper half of our face, not the lower half.
There are many women who love red lips, but that’s not always a good look as we age as it doesn’t go well with our skin. So, we’ve got basic foundation, eyebrow pencil, a little mascara – if you want to wear it.
I’m not a huge fan of eyeshadow, but that’s me. I know a lot of people like it and wear it. I certainly don’t like sparkle of any description. Once you reach a certain age, nothing should sparkle accept your personality and your smile.
I think that’s part of aging disgraceful, to sparkle. I must admit, sometimes I put a little purple sparkle on my eyes. This is a personal choice though, and that is what is important.
I think a little purple sparkle is lovely in the evening, but I don’t think it’s daywear. Blusher is a necessity, because we really do start to look pale as we age. If our hair is grey, we look even paler. But do try to stay away from those that contain sparkle.
I actually use a blush that is a face powder, it contains no sparkle and it gives me the color that I need. Blusher is used for the apples of the cheeks. It is not about face shaping or contouring – it’s about looking bright and healthy.
With lipstick, natural colors are fabulous. Use a lip liner if you must, particularly if you have railway tracks, which some of us do. ModelCo have fabulous lip liners and they come in three different shades. Choose the shade that you prefer the most.
I actually put my lip liner on all over my mouth, and then I put a gloss over it. The gloss is a Dior, and it plumps up the lips a bit which I like. It looks great over the ModelCo pencil: it’s a natural color, It’s not too bright and it works very well with the rest of your face.
Are there any colors that you think work well with grey hair? Would you go more with the peach tones or the pink ones?
I think moving into the peach tones it always a good idea once you have grey hair – and even if you have salt and pepper hair – because it’s about softening the look. You don’t want anything that is really garish and stands out.
Pink is a color that a lot of women have to be careful with, particularly as we age. Pink has to be a very specific shade, otherwise it can make us look a little like La Pupe, the dancing doll, which isn’t a good look.
I must admit I am a great fan of eyebrow and eye tattooing.
Do you mean permanent makeup?
Yes, indeed. I had my eyeliner tattooed on about 40 years ago, and about once every 10 years I have a top-up. My eyebrows I had tattooed on about 10 years ago. You can still see the shadow there, and I love it.
I had my mouth tattooed, and now you can have almost your entire mouth tattooed. I love it. Tattooing, or permanent makeup as they call it, is wonderful.
I’ve thought about it myself with eyebrows, but not for my mouth. I think that once you get to be a little older, you don’t want to be worried about makeup all the time. It may be a very viable option for some people, and you look gorgeous so it worked for you.
I initially did it because I became super allergic to everything. I couldn’t use eyeliners, or mascaras, or eyebrow pencils – anything. So I had the tattoos done, and all I had to do every day for a long time was put some of that tinted BB cream on.
That is a fantastic idea. In closing, I would like to mention your book, Grey Hair and You, where you talk about everything you possibly want to know about greying hair: how to color it, why it happens, how to manage it, etc.
The book was published earlier this year, so it is available to purchase on Penelope’s website. Thank you very much for sharing, Penelope, and thanks for being here. It’s been great talking with you.
Thank you, Margaret. As always, it was lovely to be here.
It’s my pleasure.
Are you suffering the woes of grey hair? What means have you found of coping/dealing with this ‘issue’? Please share your experiences below!