For Christmas I got Nora Ephron’s latest book, a collection of her journalism. I so love Nora Ephron’s writing style and her take on life and, in particular, I love her piece on ‘8 hours and counting’, as seriously I take ages in the bathroom putting on the makeup and then removing it. I’m reminded of the angst I felt just a year ago when I stayed with someone and had to share the bathroom. (Do you remember when you were young just going to bed having done nothing at all!) Would they understand the time I take and where would I put my teeth?

Actually, it turned out fine, but Ephron’s theory is that as we age we spend at least 8 hours a week on maintenance. Me, it must be far more than 8 hours now, what with the exercises that I’m doing nearly every morning. Does it get a tad tedious as the hours mount up? Not exactly, as I stick to it, and, I accept I have to work really hard to keep up the standards and just keep moving!

And so here’s what I mean by the maintenance necessary (for me, certainly) to keep these ‘standards’.


  1. General faffing around

At night the first thing is the contact lenses – taking them out and cleaning them.  That’s a minimum of 5 minutes (and sometimes more when one contact lens won’t come out, which happens a lot as you get older because you get dryer eyes). Then I carefully take my makeup off, which includes paying a huge amount of attention to removing the eye makeup (at least 5 minutes). Then I reach for a clean white flannel, put it under the hot tap, making it as hot as possible and then cover my face taking particular care to warm up the eye-lids (because I have a chronic condition there that reacts well to warmth). But this technique is also good for exfoliation as I use the cloth to massage the face a bit.  That’s at least another 5 minutes. After this I apply first a serum (I used to buy quite an expensive one but have found Boots No 7 Replenishing Facial Oil simply excellent) then a night moisturiser, also Boots No 7. And more medical stuff for the eye-lids. That’s another 5 minutes.

Then, of course there’s the teeth cleaning and everything that goes with it. So you get the gist, if I have a shower it’s well over half an hour, if not, it’s just under half an hour – every night, no matter how tired I am, that’s my routine.


  1. Make-up

In the morning it’s everything in reverse and then the makeup, which I wouldn’t ever not put on – no way. And I don’t care for that argument that makeup is a patriarchal conspiracy against women – oh please. Life is hard enough. Let’s just have some fun.

You know what, I’m being brave ‘cos here’s a selfie of me with no makeup.  I mean, I am what I am – nearly 70!  And I’ve got the lighting for the frugal clothes just right.  But here’s me in the bathroom with no flattering lighting.  And do you think I’d go out of the house looking like that!  No way.

So here’s me with the makeup (again with no flattering lighting) and it’s my view that I look better with. And that’s what’s important – be happy with your look.

I’d say, though, take note of your complexion, and your colouring, because sometimes, and especially as we age, some of us can look pale and washed out without makeup – I certainly do. Or you can get more blotchy or veiny. That’s me as well. So using a brush and taking all of 30 seconds on goes LookFabulousForever primer and base. And then the eye-makeup – 5 minutes.

Photomac2And here’s me in my office with slightly softer lighting.

Of course, don’t say, ‘but I’m getting too old for makeup!’  No, just adjust the makeup for your face not your age. Watch a couple of Tricia Cusden’s videos – she puts makeup on 80 & 90 year olds – so really age is not the barrier to makeup it’s attitude.


  1. Attitude

Now I’m approaching 70 I really am taking the advice of Helen Mirren. Do have a look at this link to see what I mean!!! Look, it’s not about swearing it’s the attitude. And with regard to your appearance do not listen to advice about what to wear or how to look, even from me! I mean it.

My perspective and take on life is we wear what we want. My only proviso is that we don’t fade away and think less of ourselves as we age – that’s my approach and stance. So wear that frothy dress and those high heels if you want to – go on, do.

And the maintenance thing.  Yes, there is a connection.  (And also I’m trying not to contradict myself!)   But what we should do, I think, is take time to be aware of what is fashionable and what is not. Then we critique it. Then we search out the clothes that suit us.

And in my case, I search in charity shops, but for you, it could be anywhere. But this is us: we don’t listen to fashion journalists, who are half our age. (Or, if they’re deliberately writing for the older woman, are still often at least 20 years younger!) No, instead, we are in charge.  We are in control.  We curate our ‘look’.  We have attitude!!!

And that’s the main thing really, attitude.

Of course, I haven’t mentioned all the times I get my legs waxed (ouch); electrolysis for, you know; the nails manicured and painted; and then there are the facials; plus getting the hair cut and coloured. (All of these are not every week, btw) Then there’s the chiropodist and just lately I’ve been going to the osteopath every 4 weeks or so for my shoulders and a lower back injury.  What with the osteopath, the opticians (for contacts and glasses) and the dentist some months you also seem to need shed loads of money.  Btw, in the UK we really don’t like talking about this thing called money.  But, all of that, reader, is why I buy clothes in charity shops!  And finally, don’t forget the exercises in the morning that are a must. Those are every day.

So, it’s way, way over 8 hours of maintenance, but hey, why not! This keeps me going, or from going under really!!! Ageing is not for softies, someone said (actually Katherine Hepburn) but given the right attitude and doing all this stuff, I can take it, oh yeh, baby!

How about you? Do tell me if you’ve increased the maintenance.

Actually, after writing this I can see I’ll be writing about hair soon, including the unwanted type (I have a lot of that, oh yes). But that’s all for now.

With love

Penny, the frugalfashionshopper

P.S. Actually, re: the ‘look’. Yesterday, I wore (without the hat) that long tweedy vintage skirt I bought recently.  But I caught sight of myself in a shop mirror and, oh lawks, it looked a bit matronly. Tried on a shorter skirt, what a difference! Lesson learnt, be careful of the ‘look’.



12 thoughts on “A few maintenance things I do

  • 26th February 2016 at 10:37 am

    For blepharitis use a compress heated up in the microwave (I use one manufactured by The Eye Doctor). It really helps!

    • 27th February 2016 at 8:49 am

      Thanks so much for your comment, Pat. Yes, I bought one of those and used it a lot the last winter when the blepharitis was really bad. But I didn’t exactly burn my face but having used it a lot I started to get two round red areas on my upper cheek, which flared up whenever I put the mask on. I could see that something was not quite right. Basically I now have two sensitised areas on my cheeks that flare up whenever I get hot! So the hot flannel is what I use now as I can control where it goes and I put the cloth hardly at all on those two areas. After the hot cloth I splash cold water on the face and all is kept under control.

      And actually the blepharitis is also under control with the daily application of the hot cloth – it just takes time!!!!

  • 26th February 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Penny. THANK YOU. I LOVE this post! It’s about time that more of us “mature” women bloggers and writers put ourselves out there pre-makeup. Your naked face is beautiful! And it’s true. I would also never not not wear makeup. I’m a makeup junkie and proud of it!
    And it does take more time, trust me, I take WAY more than 8 hours a week to look halfway decent–it’s all part of what goes with the aging process. We need more posts like this! XOOXOXOXO!!

    • 27th February 2016 at 8:52 am

      Oh Catherine. It’s so nice to meet and get to know another woman who admits to the amount of time it takes to keep us women going!!!!

      And I don’t buy a lot of makeup for my actual face but the eye makeup, oh yes, I have tons of that. Although my role model is Joan Collins once upon a time it was that 60s look of black eyeliner and mascara and of course, the pale lips. As a result eye makeup is my thing!
      I continue to love your blog – you should get paid for what you write it’s so good!

  • 26th February 2016 at 4:00 pm

    I think I must take longer too, and that’s just to walk the dog! I rarely (never say never) go out without: moisturiser, SPF30+ in some form, lipstick, eyeliner/browtint-to a greater or lesser degree depending on how far I am from salon appointment; they are just my “basics” done every morning after showering. Without salon tinting and/or make up my fair brows and lashes mean my features disappear.

    • 27th February 2016 at 9:00 am

      You are so right – I’m exactly like you and do just the same. My eyelashes are pale and my eyebrows a mix of white and ginger! Having the eyebrows dyed is the best decision I’ve made for a long time – they are the framework for our face.

  • 26th February 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I am a similar age and so agree with all you have said. It somehow creeps up on you and I call it body maintenance, whether that is the dentist, exercises or makeup. I never go out without moisturizer, sun screen and mascara and that’s for walking or yoga! When going ‘out’ its makeup for me to give my faded look some colour and as to what to wear, totally agree that you should wear what you like and feel comfortable in, rather than be dictated by the fashion pundits.

    • 27th February 2016 at 9:08 am

      Yes, as we age we can fade away both metaphorically and literally. And the way to combat that is to i)have attitude and ii) put on the makeup.

      I’ve found that some of the people I know who say I don’t want to wear makeup now (or indeed never have) have dark hair so that is their frame for their face, and then often or not they have an olive skin or just a bit darker than my current whiter shade of pale! As for those shots put up every now and then of women with grey or white hair supposedly to encourage you to go grey. But they’re never what I call ‘old’ women. No, they’re either gorgeous older models with long glamorous locks or younger women who look stunning with white hair. But a pale older skin with grey or white hair – oh no! Will write about this soonish. Thanks so much for your comment!

  • 28th February 2016 at 11:49 am

    Hi Penny, It was good to meet you yesterday in Lewes.
    For blepharitis, I have found gently massaging the length of both the upper and lower lids after applying warmth helps to get the oils moving and eases the irritation somewhat. Another thing I have found useful is increasing Omega 3s in my diet and keeping well hydrated. It is such a nuisance condition!
    Looking forward to your grey hair post,
    Best wishes, Caryll

    • 1st March 2016 at 8:45 am

      Hi Caryll and what a lucky co-incidence meeting like that as I was just walking back to my car and nearly went a quicker way, but said to myself no, I’ll pop into just one more charity shop!!!!

      Re: the blepharitis, yes, with the hot cloth I massage the eyelid area and as I do this daily it is being kept under control – it’s always worse in the winter, don’t you think.

      Best wishes to you too!

  • 10th March 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Hi Penny! I’ve been meaning to comment on this great post for a little while. Getting ready for bed! Why does it take so long these days? I’ve always been surprisingly good about removing make up but it’s the dental care that seems to take so long. Three different sizes of Teepee brushes, flosssing & using the electric toothbrush…

    When I was young, I wouldn’t go anywhere without make up – walking the dog, answering the door etc but nowadays I have more confidence & attitude & I guess the French would say ‘Je suis bien dans ma peau”. I do love makeup however & see it as part of my professional uniform. I also love my statement Raybans which cover wrinkles, bags, dark shadows etc. Have tried to post photo to show you but my iPad won’t play ball!

    • 11th March 2016 at 8:42 am

      Yes, I love sun-glasses and as a result of wearing them whenever the sun is out my opticians says I’m unlikely to get a cataract – because I’ve protected my eyes. But I do admit to having several pairs, and each are worn if they match the outfit!!

      And yes, I agree, the teeth, then the makeup, the contact lenses – it so adds up!

Comments are closed.