Wisdom of Women: Bryony Gordon shares her beauty tips and feelings about approaching 40

bryony gordon telegraph columnist
Bryony Gordon: "We want to be supported to enhance the beauty that’s already there." Credit: Billie Scheepers

As a Telegraph columnist Bryony Gordon covers everything from getting sober to body shaming. As part of our Wisdom of Women series, she shares her skincare ritual and body confidence secrets

It takes courage to run a marathon in just a bra and knickers. And chutzpah is needed to persuade Prince Harry to open up about mental health. But for 39-year-old Bryony Gordon, her greatest achievement has been getting – and staying – sober for the past two years. ‘I know that addiction is a lift going down, and if I get back in, it’s only going one direction. But being sober? It’s wonderful.’

Getting dry has fuelled her professional output: the Mad World podcast (which included chats with Prince Harry and Stephen Fry), two books – Eat, Drink, Run, celebrating her forays into fitness, and You Got This: A Fabulously Fearless Guide to Being You, aimed at helping teenage girls grow up happy – and her fundraising for mental-health charity Heads Together. But the married mother of one ensures she prioritises self-care. ‘I’m like a baby: I need regular meals, water, exercise and plenty of sleep.’ Here she shares what she has learnt about herself in nearly four decades.

What does beauty mean to you?

‘Beauty is walking that tricky path between being a feminist, having body acceptance and realising it’s perfectly OK to like make-up and skincare, which I do. I’m like a magpie. I love buying myself beauty products.’

How has the beauty industry changed?

‘I think we want more from our products now. We don’t want to feel bad about ourselves, so advertising is starting to change. We don’t want to be sold a cream for our stretch marks. We want to be supported to enhance the beauty that’s already there.’

So is diversity making a difference?

‘Yes. There’s a much better diversity of role models. But what I’d like to see is us trying to look like ourselves, not someone else. There’s a billion different ways that people can look.’

How has your beauty regime changed?

‘When it comes to suncare on holiday, I used to be like a rotisserie chicken, getting really tanned. But now I wear factor 50 all over. It’s not so much that I don’t want to age, it’s that I do. My parents have both had melanomas removed; I plan on being here for a long time.’

How do you feel about ageing?

‘I’m only just 39, so 40’s a way off. But the older I get, the better my life gets. Unlike my youth, I’m not going to spend my middle years feeling ashamed of myself. I won’t go back.’

What have you told your six-year-old daughter Edie about beauty?

‘I try to stop Edie focusing on looks, so instead of telling someone “You look lovely” I say “You are lovely”. I’m also hot on not trash-talking myself. A lot of women ask me how they can instil confidence in their daughters. I tell them to start with themselves. Stop complaining about your body. If you don’t [stop], you’re just teaching your daughter to do the same.’

What’s the secret of your body confidence?

‘Confidence is just a trick. I think the same things about my body as everyone else. But a few years ago I realised that if I didn’t start liking and accepting myself I was going to die from drink. I decided I was done with feeling ashamed of myself and hating myself.’

What do you do when you want to hide?

‘Er, hide. There’s no shame in it. The world won’t end if you get under the duvet. But if it goes on, go and talk to someone about it. We’re trying too hard to feel good and that makes us feel we’re failing. We need to learn to sit with the anxiety.’

What else keeps you sane?

‘At times, putting my phone in a drawer to disconnect. And running: my therapy. I want Edie to see exercise is fun. Running the marathon taught me our bodies are amazing and more capable than we realise.

Bryony is wearing: Shiseido Lacquer Ink Lipshine, Scarlet Glare 307, £25; and Benefiance Wrinkle Smoothing Serum £82 and Eye Cream £62

The evolution of beauty

Attitudes to beauty are evolving and natural-looking, healthy complexions are taking centre stage.

To celebrate this shift, Shiseido has partnered with Telegraph Spark to bring you a series of interviews with high profile women sharing their life lessons and beauty journeys alongside expert deep-dives on the new aesthetic.

For more information on Shiseido’s intelligent skincare offering, visit Shiseido at johnlewis.com