From her pixie crop haircut to glowy skin, how does Dame Judi Dench look so great at 86?

We speak to the experts about the actor's winning formula

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Dame Judi Dench in November 2019 Credit: Getty

Today Dame Judi Dench turns 86 years old, and is as much an icon now as ever before. In June this year the veteran British actor set a new record by becoming Vogue's oldest ever cover star. 

Dench, who began her acting career in 1959 with a part in the television series Hilda Lessways, has earned her national treasure status over a 60-plus year career, via parts in everything from the James Bond franchise, to Shakespeare in Love, for which she won an Oscar in 1999, aged 64.

So what is it about her hair and beauty that is so inspiring? For starters, her signature pixie crop is an ageless style that suits a multitude of face shapes. “The pixie signature haircut that Judi Dench has had for many years is beautifully elegant,” says Jack Merrick-Thirlway, creative director for Neville Hair and Beauty.

“She has petite features, her cheekbones being the most striking, so she really can carry off shorter locks. Even though the cut is super short, the outline is very soft and pairing this with the choppy texture around the crown area really helps to keep a haircut youthful.”  

Dame Judi Dench on the cover of Vogue in June 2020

Merrick-Thirlway believes this style - alongside the silver tone of her hair - makes Judi’s hair one of the most instantly recognisable styles on television. If you have a similar style to Dench’s, you can try Tecni.ART Pli Shaper by L’Oreal Professionnel on damp hair rough dried in. For texture and hold, try Density Paste by L’Oreal. 

Although Dench’s make-up choices are low-key and subtle, the star is often praised for her clever make-up choices. To perfect make-up in your seventies and beyond, the make-up artist Lan Nguyen-Grealis suggests prepping the skin with a hydrating face mask and letting it soak in for five or ten minutes before starting make-up. Try the Hydrating Floral Mask by Tata Harper, £83, “rolled in with a jade massage roller to help get the blood flowing and assist in plumping the skin,” says Nguyen-Grealis.  

“Skin can be porous over a certain age and have patchy dry areas, so massage a light moisturiser in the skin upwards and outwards starting from the neck. Sometimes if the skin is still dry then a little serum tapped around the eyes will give an extra plumpness and glow,” explains Nguyen-Grealis.  You could try the deeply hydrating Native Power Serum by MV Skin Therapy, £73.

Judi Dench in 2017 Credit: Getty

On the flat areas of the face such as the forehead, nose and chin, apply a skin-toned pore filler primer to minimise the look of big pores and minimise colour discoloration or redness. Try the Porefessional Face Primer, £29, by Benefit Cosmetics. To even out skin tone and for some extra dewiness, apply a little BB cream, such as the BFF De-Stress Serum by Trinny London, £39, all over the skin and a subtle highlighting cream concentrating more on the highlight areas of the upper cheekbones for extra lift. You can try the Natural Collections Highlight Stick, £2.49, from Boots

In her Vogue interview this summer, Dench offered little insight into how she looks and feels so good as an octogenarian, however it is undeniable how great she looks at 86. This skin-first technique for doing make-up, before applying foundation or concealer where needed, will keep the skin looking youthful and glowy. “Finally spray facial spritz to keep skin hydrated and prevent it from drying out,” adds Nguyen-Grealis.