When I look at pictures of myself as a young actress starting off in the British film industry, I am startled by how much my make-up style has changed through the years. Of course my face has changed too. My 17-year-old features, free of bags, sags and lines, had what now seems like a curious blankness. In my first film, Lady Godiva Rides Again, in which I was really just a bit part, I played a beauty contestant. I had a round face and stringy hair, and my measurements were 36-24-35. (How I’d like to have those now!) The make-up crew worked on my face quickly, slapping on panstick, which was a base as thick as wallpaper paste and almost as orange as Donald Trump’s face, black spindly eyebrows, no eye make-up at all and a deeply unflattering matte vermilion lipstick. This was the identical look that all the other actresses were given. It was far from the signature kohl-eyed look I would later come to be identified with.
Fast-forward to today and a totally different look is in vogue. I call it “Kardashian face”, as those three sisters look eerily similar. They have faces devoid of any lines, furrows or signs of ageing: perfectly smooth, Botoxed and lifted with large filler-treated lips, a tiny nose, the heaviest foundation and thick, black pencilled eyebrows. This look, along with extremely long, straight jet-black hair, is so popular with girls on Instagram now that one could get really confused about how many Kardashians there actually are in the world. This sort of make-up is not as new as its young wearers might think. When I studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in the early 1950s, I was taught make-up techniques that were for the stage and just as heavy as today’s “Insta-face”. Nowadays, though, I like the lighter touch, except for lipstick of course! I think the Cuban actress Ana de Armas, Taylor Swift and our own Felicity Jones get natural glamour just right. Lipstick is the queen of cosmetics and the one thing that always makes your face look better. Even the Queen now wears bright lipstick all the time. For me “nudes” are a waste of time.