Marie Helvin: how to keep your looks

Who needs cosmetic surgery, says the fiftysomething model Marie Helvin, when there are so many simple ways to stay looking great?

Embrace your age When you get older you have to realise that your body is the only one you’ve got, and that you’re not going to be 25 again. There are nutty women, the Joan Rivers of this world – sorry, Ms Rivers – who think they look great with unnaturally pulled-tight skin, but I disagree. You should look your age, but the very best for your age.

Marie Helvin

Marie Helvin

Food for thought Don’t watch calories, just eat what you think is right to maintain your weight. If you feel heavy try cutting down on meat, as the fat content is usually high. The only red meat I’ve ever eaten was more than 40 years ago – a hamburger. But you must treat yourself, too. I eat the chocolate that children eat. Milky Ways are my current favourite.

Work it out Find an exercise regime that works for you. If you hate going to the gym, don’t do it. Take up walking, as it’s also stress-releasing – you could tie a pair of special weights to your wrists and ankles for an extra work-out. I don’t go to the gym anymore, because I looked at pictures of myself from the late 1980s and I was like a wrestler

Sun protection Always use a high SPF sunscreen and wear a hat when it’s sunny. Freckles are cute when you’re a little girl, but when you’re a grown woman they’re just sun damage. When I started modelling there was no sunscreen or fake tan, and I’m from sunny Hawaii. In the pictures of me in Vogue decades ago I’m brown as a chestnut. I have terrible sun damage now

Take care of your skin Always cleanse and moisturise to make your skin look its best. I don’t use an eye cream; just keep it simple. I’ve been using soap and water since I was 11. Also, invest in your teeth, getting them cleaned or whitened – not so they look like piano keys, just a bright, beautiful smile

Cut out the cigarettes In my modelling days I abused my body in a big way – drugs, booze, partying. I started smoking when I was 14, because it looked cool. As soon as I quit, about 19 years ago, my skin improved within 10 days, looking brighter and healthier. My boyfriend at the time, the singer Peter Gabriel, made me quit. He said it was like kissing an ashtray

All in the face Don’t hold on to anger or regrets – it’s ageing. Kindness is good for the skin. The writer Maya Angelou said, ‘People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel’

Sleep time Always try to get six to eight hours’ sleep a night. It does wonders for your skin and wellbeing. If you find it difficult to switch off, try taking herbal sleeping tablets or use a sound therapy system – a little device that plays sounds such as ‘rain’ or ‘summer nights’. I use it most nights – if I’m alone, that is, and not with my cats.


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