Friday, July 30, 2010

JOAN COLLINS: Even at 76 shes evermore glamorous. Here the monumental beauty reveals how she does it

Joan Collins asks why people are so surprised when women over 50 can look great

Ageing sexily: Joan Collins asks why people are so surprised when women over 50 can look great

Every time an article is written about me or any of my contemporaries whos had the fortune and discipline to look good at a certain age, I am struck by the tone of astonishment, and the certainty that something is being done secretively to beat the devil.

Why should people be so surprised that women in their 50s, 60s and 70s look sexy and absolutely wonderful?

Unfortunately today, with the medias excessive emphasis on youth, youth, youth, some women over 40 are beginning to feel unsexy and with that often comes a tremendous feeling of insecurity.

The fact that there are scores of women looking stunning and far younger than their biological age seems to be overlooked, or, if recognised, then met with wonderment.

Certainly there are dozens of over-50 actresses who look great: Sophia Loren, Susan Sarandon, Ursula Andress, Stefanie Powers, Raquel Welch, Barbara Eden, Joanna Lumley, Linda Gray - the list is endless and these are just the actresses!

I have many friends in their 60s, 70s and 80s, not in the limelight, but who all look absolutely stunning.

In France, they revere and respect older women, as they do in most Latin countries, where they consider them to be delightful and to possess true sexual allure.

It is a fact that many of the most famous women in history were sexually active well into middle age and beyond.

Catherine the Great, in her 60s, was reputed to take young lovers some 40 years her junior to bed.

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Mae West, who lived to 90, had a lover 45 years younger than her, and she coined the classic phrase: ;Its not the men in my life, but the life in my men.

Sarah Bernhardt, the great French actress and the legendary Coco Chanel both had lovers in their twilight years.

A lot of young people think that sex is the prerogative of the young. Many are appalled by the idea of the over-40s or even their parents being or looking sexy or even, God forbid, having sex.

This is almost a throwback to days of puritanical religious intemperance, when sex was meant only for reproduction. I believe weve come far beyond those beliefs in our new secular world, and even in some parts of the religious one as well.

Actress Susan Sarandon Sophia Loren

Still got it: Susan Sarandon, left, and Sophia Loren have aged very well

Now that sex is used to sell everything from vacuum cleaners toplane tickets, it should be accepted that its everyones prerogativeto enjoy it and have it, regardless of age.

It makes me happy when I read about a couple marrying in their 80s, or rediscovering their lost love from 50 years ago.

Today, 60 is the new 45 and 50 is more like 35.

As for ;old age, Im with that great philosopher Bernard Baruch,who said: ;Old age is always 15 years older than I am. How true! OrGroucho Marx: ;Growing old is something you do if youre lucky.

SLAP HAPPY93 per cent of UK women use cosmetics, making us some of the most enthusiastic beauty product fans in Europe

TheQueen Mother was a fabulous example of living life to the fullestextent until well over 100 and having plenty of admirers. Its calleduse it or lose it; whether its working your brain or your butt, youvegotta work at it.

The number of people over the age of 60is approaching 1 billion - thats one in seven of the worlds totalpopulation - and by 2050 it will be many more.

Getting older should be just that: getting older, but not becomingold and losing ones sex appeal. I believe that one is as young as onelooks, so its absolutely crucial to keep your skin and figure in thebest shape you can - advice which young girls today should heed.

Timeand time again I see women over 50 who have taken care of themselveslooking glamorous, and girls in their 20s and 30s looking... well,rather rough.

Maintenance neednt be as time-consuming asso many seem to think. Protecting ones skin with sunscreen andfoundation takes as long as cleaning your teeth thoroughly.

Doing20 minutes of stretching, light weights and floor exercises three timesa week takes the same amount of time as a long coffee break = andeating a tuna fish salad, sardines on toast or scrambled eggs is surelypreferable to a Big Mac or KFC.

Its not a question ofbeing obsessive about what one does to look and feel young - Im not.Its about doing it so that it becomes almost second nature.

Iwont deprive myself of what I feel like having - I eat chocolates,cookies and nuts; I drink wine and the occasional vodka martini.

Joanna Lumley Actress Joan Collins

British beauties: Joanna Lumley, left, and Joan Collins

ButI have treated my body as I would a car, only the best in petrol, careand maintenance, and Im happy to say it seems to have worked for me.

Ivealways been sceptical about the so-called miracle creams thatproliferate the glittering cosmetic counters of major department storesworldwide.

I raise an even more cynical eyebrow when I seeglossy magazine advertisements of gorgeous 20-something modelsrecommending and extolling the virtues of anti-ageing creams.

Whodo they think theyre kidding? Are the big cosmetic companies convincedthat the average woman is deluded enough to believe the preposterousclaims in their advertising?

Or is it just that youth sellseverything today, so lets show pure youthful beauty and let the poorfool who buys the product think that she, too, could look like themodel if she used the product?

And to add insult to injury, the photos are retouched until themodels faces and skin have perfection possible only in a two-year-old.What sane woman is going to believe that a lotion can refine, renew andtransform skin in ten minutes?

FADED GENESAbout 30 per cent of facial ageing is genetic; the rest is due to lifestyle factors such as sunlight and smoking

The advertising agenciesmust be laughing their heads off at the thought of their targetcustomers buying their ; miracle products. Its really quite sad tosee a lady earnestly discussing with a make-up expert at the beautycounter how a particular cream is going to erase the 40 years of hardliving etched in her face.

The ageing process of the skinis attributable to so many factors - the pollutants skin has to copewith, air conditioning, heating, general exposure to the sun, wind andthe elements, not to mention the various toxins we put into our bodythrough what we eat and drink.

Take anti-cellulite creams. These are one of the great mythical jokes perpetrated on modern woman.

Theonly way to reduce cellulite is to radically banish junk and fatty foodfrom your diet, take copious amounts of fish oil and other supplementsand, yes, dear reader, exercise, exercise, exercise until your derriereand everything on it falls off.

We all know what a dragthat is, but theres no way around the drudgery of reality. We live ina quick-fix society where we need instant gratification for everything.Too fat? Get lipo-sucked. Stringy hair? Glue on extensions. Wrinklesand lines? Head to the beauty shop for a pot of the latest miracle skinstuff.

Its all a beautiful 1 billion con foisted upon insecure women by canny cosmetic conglomerates.

Joan CollinsJoan CollinsJOAN COLLINS

Through the decades: Joan, pictured in 1967, left, 1975 and in 1982, right, takes care of her looks but doesn"t deprive herself

The Advertising Standards Agency - the watchdog that protects thepublic against false claims - ruled against one of these companiesrecently.

The firm claimed its anti-cellulite serum couldactually melt away the fatty look of cellulite. The ASA concluded theads were misleading, making medical claims they could not stand up andordered a recall of all the products.

Now, please dont get the impression that Im against any skinprotecting beauty product ever produced.

Aucontraire, since my early teens my mother, aunts and even mygrandmother encouraged me to take care of my skin by proper cleansing,moisturising and protecting.

This was long before the sophisticated products available today that boast they can do everything except whistle Dixie.

I used the simplest products - cold cream, baby oil, Vaseline, rosewater - all the generic skin products available at the local chemistand then a low-priced foundation base usually from Woolworths.

Mummy also didnt let me have too many sweets or chocolates and mademe eat all my greens and insisted on a teaspoon of cod liver oil eachday - ugh! But it worked for Granny, Mummy and my aunts, and it workedfor me.

 Queen Mother

Inspiration: The Queen Mother was fabulous example of living life to the fullest and having plenty of admirers

Although I was making a life-long commitment to skincare, I stillbaked my face and my body in the sun at every possible opportunity,until one day, recently arrived in Hollywood, my glamorous friendCappy, whose skin was like porcelain though she was almost 30, beratedme for my sunbathing habits.

Do you want to look like them when youre 40, she asked, indicatinga posse of darkly tanned lizard-like women lapping in the sun by theBeverly Hills Hotel pool?

God, no, that couldnt happen to me, I laughed, with all the cockiness of a 21-year-old.

;Itcertainly will if you dont quit putting your face in the sun, saidCappy sternly. ;Once you get sun damage, theres absolutely nothing youcan do to get rid of it, so stop now or youll regret it for ever.

So I took the advice of one of the most youthful women I ever met and since then have been fanatical about protecting my face, if not my body, against the suns rays in summer and winter.

After moisturising, I slap on foundation, which protects skin far more efficiently than any of the socalled miracle creams and I always wear a hat or a cap because even on the darkest of days the suns rays can penetrate through the clouds and cause damage.

Thats my miracle cream, and many of my girlfriends who have followed the same advice still look amazingly good. I strongly believe in protecting first rather than shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted.

With harmful UVA and UVB radiation in the environment, it is essential to start your regime as soon as possible if you want to stave off the ageing process and look glamorous well into later life.

Some media witches have mocked me for always wearing make-up. But they should take note, for I can assure them that if you take two women over 50, one of whom has always protected her face and one of whom has never done anything other than wash with soap and water, guess which one will have the best skin?

And not just slightly less lined, but skin that looks 20 years younger.

But it is essential to always put something moisturising on your face and then, with foundation on top, you will avoid much of the wear and tear of ageing.

Im often amazed when some lined, red-faced, blotchy skinned woman proudly announces that shes never allowed an ounce of make-up touch her face.

Well, bully for you, maam, if you want to go to the grave looking like Draculas grandma, but if you want to look young, then start applying make-up.

I know its not possible to retain the dewy skin of a two-year-old, but it is possible to look good after une age certain, as the French say.

But the most costly miracle creams used remedially are not going to erase a lifetime of living in your face if you didnt start caring yourself in your teens.

So teach your children well: its never too early to start - as the amount of creams and lotions aimed at babies delicate skin can attest to - so start now!



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