I sit down at my mirror every day and apply make-up; some may think that makes me sound very shallow, but I know that it’s the best twenty minutes I will spend all day to improve my sense of well-being and give me confidence to face the world.
We live in a visually rich society; when people meet us, some part of their response is inevitably based on our appearance. Make-up brightens the face, adding definition and colour. It helps us to look softer and prettier, and I thoroughly believe it’s a powerful way to feel more confident about yourself.
I recently had an email from a customer of Look Fabulous Forever who was so intrigued by how much better a small amount of make-up made her look that it kick-started a whole programme of change, including 40lbs of weight loss!
A makeover in support of Cancer Research UK
So it was with that wonderful endorsement of the power of make-up to make us feel and look better ringing in my ears, that I accepted an invitation from Cancer Research UK to support their 'Right Now' Campaign by participating in a makeover video featuring Tracey (see above).
This time last year, Tracey started to lose her hair due to the chemotherapy she was undergoing to treat her breast cancer. One year on and Tracey is one of the lucky ones. Her cancer is in remission, she no longer needs any treatment and, as you can see, her hair has grown back.
When I met Tracey I was immediately impressed with her lovely skin so the key requirement of the makeover was simply to restore colour and definition to the face. As we get older we lose something called ‘the luminance of contrast’ which means that features like brows, eyes, cheeks and lips stand out less in comparison to the surrounding face.
So, having made the skin on Tracey’s face more even-toned with a foundation, I added some shape and definition to Tracey’s eyebrows with the Look Fabulous Forever Brow Shape. I then brought colour back to her cheeks and lips with a pretty pinky-toned blusher and vibrant lipstick.
Tracey’s eyes are quite hooded in appearance so I applied LFF Cream Shade to her eyelids and Taupe Eye Shade to create the subtle illusion of the socket line, something that is not so evident when eyes are hooded. This made Tracey’s eyes look bigger and prettier.
A couple of coats of mascara and the makeover was complete. I’m very happy to report that Tracey was very pleased with the final result.
It’s really wonderful that even a small touch of make-up can lift the spirits of any woman, but it can have a huge impact on someone who is recovering from cancer - like Tracey - or someone who is still undergoing treatment for cancer.
Jan is an LFF customer who is currently in the same position that Tracey was this time last year. Jan wrote: "I only wish I could send you pictures of the difference just your LFF foundation has made to my face. Six weeks ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer and I am now bald. The chemotherapy and steroids have conspired to make me blotchy and given me breakouts. But I followed the directions and it was easy to feel and look very much better. I am going to become a make-up girl again... I can make bald look good!"
Eight beauty fixes for older women
Cancer is such a fearsomely horrible disease. I realise that it is a complex and multi-headed beast. It can strike any one of us at any time and our chances of survival depend on the type of cancer we have, the stage it's reached, our age at diagnosis, where we live, the treatments and medical care available to us and to some extent on our lifestyle, health and fitness when the disease strikes us.
This year I have lost one very dear friend to bowel cancer. Another friend has undergone surgery to remove two tumours in her lung which were spotted at an early stage, thanks to a routine check-up after surviving the removal of an initial tumour three years ago. And yet another friend is giving support to two of her close friends who are now receiving palliative care for inoperable cancers. It sometimes feels as though cancer is everywhere and has almost become an inevitable part of getting older.
Learn more about different types of cancer and the treatments available
How to lessen the risk of developing cancer
Whilst age is the greatest risk factor for developing cancer, Cancer Research UK is at great pains to point out that there are many things we can do to increase both our chances of not succumbing to cancer in the first place and also to our likelihood of surviving it if we do.
I think most of us already know what these are, but I am going to remind you anyway:
Obesity is an important factor: Extra fat in the body produces hormones and growth factors that affect the way our cells work. According to Cancer Research UK, it's thought that more than 1 in 20 cancers in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese.
Why body fat is a health risk
Eating the right foods is the second best thing you can do to cut the risk of cancer, after not smoking. The foods we choose to eat affect our risk of developing cancer, so cut out processed meat, sugar rich food and drinks and fat-laden fast foods. Increase your intake of fibre, vegetables, salads, fish, nuts and seeds.
Reduce risk of cancer by going vegetarian
Increase your activity levels and get fit. Around 3400 cases of cancer in the UK each year could be prevented by keeping active. Increasing the amount of exercise you take also helps with weight loss and promotes fitness. I was given a Fitbit for my birthday and I am now doing my 10,000 steps a day assiduously!
Five ways to make the most of your activity tracker
And finally cut down on alcohol: Regularly consuming more than the recommended 14 units of alcohol a week (that's only seven 175 ml glasses of wine) increases your risk not only of liver disease but of at least five types of cancer. The less alcohol you drink, the lower your risk of cancer.
I nurture a particular dream. When I turn 90 on Christmas Day 2037, my daughter Suzy will have her sixtieth birthday a month later and my grandson will have just turned 30 years old. Knowing Suzy, she will undoubtedly have a huge party to celebrate and I want to be there strutting my stuff on the dance floor with Patrick!
I do realise that this vision depends on a certain amount of chance, but I also accept that much of my health and fitness is in my own hands. So when I say "I wish you a very happy and healthy year ahead" I also wish you the courage and determination to take responsibility for your own health if you need to address either your weight, your diet, your fitness levels or your alcohol consumption.
For more information on Cancer Research UK's 'Right Now' Campaign visit cruk.org.