The ever-elegant Joan Collins shares her beauty secrets with Fiona Hicks and says that while you can’t stop getting older, you can stop getting old anyone can develop glamour
Written by Fiona HicksThere is no denying it: Joan Collins is synonymous with glamour. In an industry renowned for its unforgiving standards, the British screen siren has thrived for more than 60 years. What’s more, while many of her contemporaries have surrendered to the perils of the plastic-surgeon’s knife, Ms Collins maintains that she is ageing naturally.
So how does she do it? And more pertinently, can the rest of us ladies do likewise? First and foremost, she says, you must look after your skin. ‘Caring for your skin should be as easy and natural as brushing your teeth,’ states Joan. ‘If your skin is in poor condition, no amount of make-up will make you look your best. If you look after it, as I have looked after mine, you will be rewarded.’
What’s more, it’s never too late to start. ‘After 40, you undoubtedly get the face you deserve,’ she adds with a smile. ‘But you are never too young or too old to care for your skin.’
Joan has been fascinated by cosmetics ever since she was a teenager growing up in London, but the interest really set in when she made the move to sunny Hollywood in 1955. ‘I have been a passionate advocate of shielding the skin since I first went to Hollywood, where I was made aware of the damaging effect of the sun,’ she says. ‘Since then I have worn hats, big sunglasses and used SPFs to protect my face as much as possible.’
Keeping out of harsh rays is key, but Joan’s dedication does not stop there. ‘Moisturise your skin every day, religiously. Don’t soap your face and always use the mildest possible one for the body.’
It is this healthy, clear, cared-for skin that makes such a good canvas for make-up – and Joan’s look is iconic. ‘When I made The Stud and then The Bitch in the late 1970s, I invented a look that I’ve stuck to more or less ever since: big hair, smoky eyes, and bright lipstick. So when Dynasty and Alexis Carrington came along in the 1980s, her look was already in place – it was mine.’
She is unabashed in how she describes this look. ‘It’s glamorous! I realised that no one is born glamorous, but practically anyone can develop glamour.’
It is fitting that Joan’s beauty idols are the classic movie stars: Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo, Hedy Lamarr, Joan Crawford and Ava Gardner. ‘These fabulous dames really possessed glamour in spades. You can almost see and feel their allure, their power and more particularly, their fierce individuality.’
Of course, a good slick of makeup does contribute to the effect, and Joan is fortunate to have learnt from the best. ‘I picked up beauty tips from many of my fellow actors and was lucky to be taught by one of the legendary Hollywood make-up artists, Allan ‘Whitey’ Snyder, who created Marilyn Monroe’s look.’ His tips have certainly stood the test of time. In an age when call times are hours ahead of filming in order to transform the actresses, Joan takes care of herself. ‘I have always done my own make-up for films or photoshoots. Now I can do it in 10 minutes, faster and better than anyone I know.’
What a lot of women don’t realise is that the transformative power of make-up is both instant and accumulative. ‘You can enhance your features and take 10 to 15 years off your age with good make-up. It also protects your face. I can vouch for the complexions of my friends over 40 – those who have always used foundation have better skin than those who don’t.’ This is why, for Joan, a base of foundation and a dash of lipstick is her absolute minimum. ‘I wouldn’t dream of going out without either.’
Meticulous make-up aside, the remainder of her tantalising glamour stems from the dedication to spending time on herself, and her belief that she deserves it. This is a lesson that any woman can learn. ‘With classic outfits, excellent grooming and a strong sense of self, practically any woman can become, if not a charismatic Hollywood goddess, then attractive and worthy of admiration and some envy for her unique style,’ she states.
‘The so-called “natural” look is just an excuse to be lazy and undisciplined.’
It is this desire to encourage self-pampering that, after many, many years of harbouring the idea, Joan has created her own cosmetics range. Covering both skincare and make-up, Timeless Beauty is a sumptuous line of products in which everything – from the formulations to the packaging – reflects Joan’s exacting standards.
‘I really wanted a line to reflect all of the amazing experiences I have accumulated, so I made sure I was heavily involved in the creation. Every product has a little bit of me in it.
‘Never have I allowed myself to be defined by age,’ she smiles, ‘and these products are designed for someone who wants to look as good as they possibly can, no matter how old they are.’
She may be about to enter her ninth decade, but Joan Collins shows no signs of slowing down or – heaven forbid – relinquishing her cosmetics. She firmly believes that old-world glamour has a place in the modern day. ‘I am certain that looking good and feeling great is the right of every woman, and, with the right products and some clever techniques, any woman can look, and feel, fabulous.’
‘You can’t stop getting older, but you can stop getting old.’
The Joan Collins Timeless Beauty range is available from www.joancollinsbeauty.com and www.qvcuk.com – it is coming soon to Urban Retreat at Harrods: 020-7893 8333, www.urbanretreat.co.uk/harrods