One of them cleanses with olive oil and turmeric paste, while another has laser therapy and ‘vampire’ facials. Here, three women tell Antonia Hoyle about their radically different beauty budgets
Mary Radenkovic, 40, from London, is the founder of the swimwear brand Lavishly Appointed. She is divorced with two daughters aged 20 and 18.
'Surely you’ve had something done?’ This is a question I’m constantly asked, especially by women who can’t believe I haven’t succumbed to the surgeon’s scalpel. I tell them they’re welcome to inspect my face at close quarters – the truth is, it’s entirely natural. I haven’t used anything as strong as soap since my 20s.
Instead, I make my own organic products, and I’m convinced this is the key to my youthful looks. As a former model, five years of having make-up, cleansers and moisturisers slathered over my face took their toll. By 23, my skin was prone to horrible red breakouts and dry patches.
I moaned about it to my mother, who still has preternaturally youthful skin in her 60s and has only ever used natural products. She told me to ditch the synthetic creams she said were destroying my skin. On her advice, I started cleansing and removing make-up with olive oil applied with cotton wool, and toning with chamomile water, a natural brightening agent.
I also swapped conventional moisturiser for coconut oil. As the months passed, my initial scepticism gave way to relief as my skin looked softer and clearer. I carried products to modelling assignments in plastic bottles – I got curious looks from other models, but they were impressed and wanted to try them.
My favourite thing is honey, which I can’t live without. It has anti-inflammatory effects and, as a humectant, helps the skin to attract and trap moisture. Once a week, I leave a layer on my face for 20 minutes. To exfoliate, I mill two cups of almonds in a blender then mix the pulverised pieces with olive oil and brown sugar to form a paste.
The vitamin E the nuts contain is known for its anti-ageing effects, and I swear it softens lines and brightens my skin. Twice a week I put vitamin E oil on my neck overnight, and once a week I steam my face over a bowl of boiling water with lavender oil in it. As well as making my skin glow, it is very relaxing.
I treat spots and blotches with turmeric – a plant belonging to the ginger family that is known for its antiseptic properties. As unconventional as it might sound, a dab of paste, made by mixing turmeric powder with water, zaps them.
Of course, the low cost is a bonus. I rarely spend more than £20 a month on products as I bulk buy from chemists, supermarkets and health-food shops. Yes, my home-made concoctions take a few minutes to prepare, but it’s worth it.
My partner, a lawyer, 46, thought I was in my 20s when we met. I do have lines on my forehead, but I’d never treat them with Botox. Having healthy self-esteem and confidence is far more attractive than interfering with nature.
Mary's Beauty Bill
Coconut oil £35
Chamomile water £12.50
Lavender oil £35
Vitamin E oil £32
Total £185.50 (over a year)
Sally-Anne Stevens, 39, owns a PR company. She lives in London with her husband Leon, 44, the global vice president of sales for a software firm, and their two children, Alexander, four, and Mia, 10 months.
When it comes to staving off the years, while I might be a stickler for all manner of obscure and expensive treatments, none has involved Botox or going under the knife. I think my non-invasive approach to anti-ageing helps me to look like a better, more youthful version of myself, rather than a woman I no longer recognise.
That’s not to say I didn’t despair at those first lines. I noticed my face losing its youthful glow after becoming a mum four years ago. Pregnancy seemed to have depleted my skin of nutrients; it suddenly lacked plumpness. I looked a little tired and almost overnight felt every one of my 35 years.
Conventional facials made little difference. Despairing, I knew I needed to do something more dramatic. So when Alexander was a newborn I went to Court House Clinic in Esher, Surrey, to have a VIP Facial. Stem cells taken from a sheep’s placenta were rubbed into my face as a gel to stimulate the production of skin-plumping protein collagen.
It sounds bizarre, definitely – but straight away my skin looked fresher. Six months later, worried my cheeks were starting to sag, I had a course of four Exilis Elite treatments at the same clinic, where my face was heated with an ultrasound wand to further stimulate the production of collagen. Afterwards, my skin felt even tighter.
I wouldn’t say I’m addicted, but seeing a visible difference afterwards, which I always do, makes me want to carry on, and most months I have something done. Non-invasive treatments don’t just make me look better, they give me a rare chance to relax and take a break from working motherhood.
Over the past couple of years I’ve had a course of ‘vampire’ facials, in which blood was taken from my arm with a syringe and the skin-stimulating plasma reinjected into my face. As gruesome as it sounds, it didn’t hurt. Nor did mesotherapy (injections of vitamins and minerals into the layer of fat below the skin) or LED light facials, in which coloured rays of light penetrate the skin to boost collagen production.
The only treatment I’ve been disappointed by is a carbon laser peel. It was supposed to remove the damaged upper layer of skin but I didn’t notice much improvement. Of course, I am lucky to have the disposable income to be able to afford all this, and fortunate, too, that I have an accommodating husband.
Leon is more than understanding, actually: now that he has seen the results he’s started indulging too, and had the LED light and sheep stem-cell facials on my recommendation. Having brighter, younger-looking skin has definitely bolstered my confidence. I don’t have to wear as much make-up as I did, and my skin is smoother and firmer. I would never say never to surgery or Botox, but hopefully this approach will make it unnecessary.
Sally-Anne's Beauty Bill
Exilis Elite £2,000
VIP stem-cell facials £4,000
Vampire facial course £7,200
LED light facial course £4,000
Carbon laser therapy £200
Total £17,400 (over three years)
Naomi Isted, 37, is a fashion blogger and presenter. She lives in London with husband Haydn, 43, a company director, and their two children; Fleur, seven, and Rocco, 18 months.
I can’t pretend it didn’t hurt, but it was worth the few seconds of agony. Having filler injected into the top and tip of my nose altered the illusion of its proportions. Suddenly my least favourite feature, which I’d always regarded as too long and too thin, looked straighter and smaller. I was thrilled.
When you work in the fashion and beauty industry, a symmetrical face and good looks definitely help, which is why I’ve come to rely on fillers and Botox. Since my 20s, I’ve had hyaluronic acid injected into my upper lip to make it the same size as the lower one every couple of years, and Botox once or twice a year.
At first, it was a purely preventative measure to help slow the onset of wrinkles in the first place. But after I stopped breastfeeding Rocco a year ago, Botox became a necessity. A two-mile run each day and a demanding schedule meant I was back to my size 8 figure, but my face suddenly looked grey and every line showed.
I felt self-conscious and my confidence plummeted. Expensive creams had no real effect, so I embarked on a series of five procedures over the space of four months with aesthetic physician Dr Shirin Lakhani at Elite Aesthetics. The first was more Botox, injected into my forehead wrinkles and crow’s feet at the eyes. It’s something I now do three times a year.
As soon as I see the effects wear off, I want more – it’s definitely addictive. I then had fillers injected into my cheeks to restore volume, and into the lines running between my nose and lips. I also had filler put under my eyes to get rid of the bags caused by the 5am starts – all mums of small children have them.
No concealer had worked but this made them vanish instantly, and the effects last for about 18 months. I’ve also had two sessions of collagen- stimulating facials and a non-surgical facelift, in which thread was pulled from my chin through a point on my cheeks to hoik my skin gently upwards.
I was worried about looking jowly and knew doing this now could prevent me having to have a full surgical facelift down the line. My plan was to restore youthfulness without looking fake, which I believe Dr Shirin has done. Seeing so many botched treatments in the course of my work has made me value the importance of finding a practitioner I trust.
I’ve had about £10,000-worth of procedures since my 20s. Fortunately, as a blogger, top treatments are more accessible to me – but even if that wasn’t the case I would still consider them worth spending my money on. My youthful appearance has helped not only my career but also my marriage. Looking better makes me happier, which means I am nicer to be around.
Naomi's Beauty Bill
(for under-eye bags) £450
Fillers in temples, brow, mid-face,
jawline, chin, nose and lips £2,700
Non-surgical facelift £750
Two Fractora sessions £1,300
10 Botox treatments
(£350 per session) £3,500
Six sessions of hyaluronic acid lip fillers
(£300 per session) £1,800
Total £10,500 (over 15 years)