What not to wear, on your face

Trinny Woodall, the wardrobe makeover expert, wants you to wear less makeup. (Photos: NYTimes)
“I have never met somebody who covers their whole face in foundation who needs it,” Trinny Woodall said. “Start where you need it the most and blend out.”اضافة اعلان

Woodall is best known for hosting, with Susannah Constantine, the original British version of the television show “What Not to Wear”, editing women’s wardrobes with a generous side of armchair psychology. Now she has moved on to beauty routines.

She was in New York for the WWD Beauty Inc Awards, where her beauty brand Trinny London, which went on the market in November 2017, was honored for its new 2022 skincare line. At the ceremony she sat next to Hailey Bieber and her male guest.

“I thought, ‘Who is this very young man?’ I introduced myself and said, ‘What’s your name?’ It was her husband, Justin Bieber,” Woodall laughed.

If she was tired after arriving from London the night before and attending a ceremony at 7am, she did not show it. “If we look energized, we feel energized, so if my skin looks tired, I sort of oxygenate and bring that life back,” she said and proceeded to manically sweep her fingers over her cheeks. Then she moved up to her forehead, rubbing her fingers together in a scissor shape.

The Trinny London brand is friendly in tone, with names like BFF De-Stress for a tinted serum and Miracle Blur, which Woodall enthusiastically likened to spackle for the skin. “It’s about what can you do in just two seconds to feel better,” she said.

The packaging is bright yellow and silver. Many Trinny London products come in small round pots that can be snapped together into stacks. They are like a more grown-up version of Glossier or a less expensive version of Westman Atelier. The line is sold mostly on its own website and in a few stores. It was introduced in the US at Saks Fifth Avenue in the summer, and according to Trinny London, its revenue was $60 million by the end of 2021.

Dresses over pants?Woodall, 58, is a London native who was described by the British newspaper The Times as “proper posh with mighty connections”. She has been lanky since she was an adolescent and said she never had curves “to lean into, and was always cast as Oberon or Hamlet or Macbeth at school.” As she spoke, in her room at the Whitby Hotel in Midtown, she dunked a cookie in a cup of Earl Grey tea with milk and sweetener.

She was not always well dressed or adept at applying makeup. “I worked in finance from 1985 to 1987 and wore my dad’s old coats and bought suit jackets and shoes in men’s shops,” she said. “I hid behind clothing to let me be one of the boys. Then in the late 80s, I wore heavy coverage makeup and a frosty pink lip. I would put it on before my boyfriend woke up in the morning.”

Her career took off in media in the 90s, beginning in the middle of the decade when she and Constantine wrote a column for The Daily Telegraph called “Ready to Wear”. It was popular enough that the two started “What Not to Wear”, a makeover show on British talk shows. The show came out in 2001 on the BBC and was broadcast internationally. Woodall appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show.

“I was talking to a fashion editor at i-D who said that whole thing is coming back,” she said of the styles she often used on the show, like dresses over pants (“It should have never gone away”) and wrap dresses (“It’s like a Playtex bra. It lifts and separates and shows a waist”).
“It’s about what can you do in just two seconds to feel better.”
At the Whitby, she was wearing a silver-ribbed shirt from Cos with a turtleneck dickey from Dries Van Noten over it. On top of that was a transparent black gilet, also from Cos, and a metallic blazer and trousers from Me + Em. The layers served a purpose, she said. “I have a long body and short legs, so when I wear that gilet under the short blazer, you don’t know where my ass ends and legs begin.”

Developing a beauty brand
Woodall worked in television until she was 49. Her career also included style books she wrote with Constantine, and the two women had a shapewear line.

Starting in 2012, Woodall steered away from fashion when she began researching and developing her beauty brand at the kitchen table of the London home she shares with her partner, the advertising magnate and art collector Charles Saatchi.

Trinny Woodall at her Trinny London in-store shop at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, November 3, 2022.

She had often been dismayed when makeup artists she worked with pushed the latest trends or strong red lips without regard for a woman’s personal style, let alone age. “So I had this thing of, ‘How could I make it easy for women to buy makeup?’” she said.

Woodall’s stardom was mainstream enough that she had fans even after she left television. “One day in 2015, before I began the brand, I started doing Instagram,” she said. “I just put my phone on and started recording. I was never good at taking pictures, so I was on video.”

Woodall has 1.2 million followers, many of whom watch her on Instagram Live, without makeup in her closet trying on things she orders from Zara. Often, she films herself applying makeup or advising a follower on colors.

The way she talks about putting on makeup is both soothing and imprecise. “OK, I guess I’m just doing a flush,” she told me as she patted on a shade called Phoebe (named for Saatchi’s daughter) from an array of Trinny London samples in front of her. “I’m going to give a little flush to your cheeks. You just do a nip, if you do anything, don’t you?”

Trinny London has a quiz called Match2Me, which it built to help women select makeup and skin care online. The tone is akin to a traditional magazine-style quiz, showing photos of skin tones and eye color and asking about how oily or dry one’s skin is.

“You know, we use hundreds of different models,” Woodall said. “When we launched, we used 160 women from 83 to 16, from ebony to alabaster. I never wanted people to look and think, ‘I can’t see myself on this website.’”

‘A reset’
The line is aimed at women 35 to 60, but Woodall thinks that the customer range is broader.

“What I learned from doing the shows around the world is that the bicoastal LA woman, the New York woman, is an anomaly,” she said. “Let’s get her out of the picture for a second because I’m more interested in the Chicago suburban mum or the woman at South Coast Plaza in California, the woman in New Jersey.”

“You know, we have some women who feel a bit lost and they need a reset,” she said.

She speaks very quickly when talking about tips. It is easy to envision her as a teenager showing her British friends Clinique products she had bought in America. Now, she is aiming her advice at an older crowd.
“When we launched, we used 160 women from 83 to 16, from ebony to alabaster. I never wanted people to look and think, ‘I can’t see myself on this website.’”
“There are little things that are helpful,” she said of women over 35. “Think about how much powder is on the skin, because it will sit and look tired.” She never wears the stuff. “Maybe on telly,” she said.

For eyes: “Black eyeliner will close them up and emphasize dark circles, so blend it out. And please don’t get an eyeliner tattoo, as it will go green.”

She was leaving the next day to go back to London, then Spain to visit her sister for the holidays, then somewhere warm with her daughter Lyla. She was browsing yoga retreat destinations on her phone.

She remembered one more tip: “As our eyes lower with age, the brows follow it down. So go against the grain and fill the brows in under the arch and over the end,” she said with a sense of urgency. “It gives you a bit of an awakening and avoids a brow lift.”

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