Recently Jayne, our activities co-ordinator at Astley Hall, took one of our residents on a shopping trip to Superdrug to buy makeup. That might sound like a strange idea for an outing, but when Jayne suggested the idea, she was delighted. Together, they spent a long time browsing over the cosmetics counter. They matched foundation and powder to her skin tone and tried different lipstick testers. It was a really fun trip and lovely to have some one to one time, chatting and laughing.
When they got home, Jayne styled her hair and applied her makeup and she was over the moon. Sometimes a simple shopping trip to stock up on cosmetics can be as much of a boost as say, an outing to the theatre.
We have some very stylish ladies at our homes, who are very fashionable, coordinating hats, scarves and jewellery with their outfits and matching their lipsticks. Styling their hair in the morning and putting on their makeup is as important now, as it has always been.
There are a lot of memories in those makeup brushes.
The beauty industry and our society has always bombarded us with images of how to look.
Many of our ladies can recall the 1940’s. There was a sense of escapism in going to the flicks and wanting to emulate the glamorous femme fatales, with their rolled hair and red lipstick. Lipstick was worn like a badge of honour, with brands such as Elizabeth Arden’s Victory Red. Pressed powder and makeup compacts were introduced for women who were now working and “on the go”. A well-groomed feminine appearance was even stipulated by Winston Churchill’s Government as a “morale booster”. Looking your best was all part of the war effort and red lipstick was considered “essential”. It was your duty as a woman to wear makeup.
Roll on to the 1950’s and you think of Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Lauren. Pastels and peaches hues. Out with the red and in with delicate pink. Avon launched their “Ding Dong Avon calling” campaigns and by 1957 there were over 100,000 Avon ladies.
The 60’s heralded the arrival of the smokey eye. Lashings of black mascara and drawn on eyebrows. A sense of liberation and self expression.
The 70’s ranged from boho to super glam. Cream eyeshadow (remember the bright blue one!) and lip gloss.
The 80’s; big hair, big shoulders and power dressing.
On to the 90’s, with supermodels and the introduction of fake tan!
Our ladies have lived through all these times, creating and changing their looks. Makeup has a huge social context and is still an integral part of their lives.
How makeup gives our ladies a boost
Applying makeup have been proved to make women feel more confident and increase self esteem. With makeup, we can style ourselves to suit different situations. It makes us “battle ready” and can be a protective armour. These feelings don’t just stop when you get older. Makeup is still as important to our ladies now, as it was when they were living though the war or the swinging sixties.
Makeup can also help with recuperation, after a time in hospital or an illness, to get you back to your old self.
It is also fun, makes us feel happy and gives a connection with other women. It has been termed “cosmetic camaraderie” and wearing makeup, discussing colours, types and fragrance as well, can be a bonding experience.
Our ladies always want to look their best and we love to help them with this each day. We have weekly visits from the hair stylist at all our Heritage Manor homes and all our ladies enjoy regular pamper days.
Top of many wish lists is a manicure. A number of beauticians have so kindly granted these wishes of Abberton Manor residents, from the Wishing Washing Line set up by the charity My Home Life Essex.
Nicki at The Lawns visits once a month to treat her ladies, who love a chance to catch up with her, whilst having hand massages and manicures. She always makes them feel special and happy. It shows that a little bit of TLC does the world of good.
Cosmetic therapy for dementia
We are all familiar with the phrase “putting your face on” and that routine of getting up every morning and applying makeup is part of most womens’ lives. It is a designated time just for you and it is this routine and familiarity, which makes cosmetic therapy so applicable to women with dementia.
There has been research into cosmetic therapy in Japan in connection with their largest cosmetics firm Shiseido Co. Makeup lessons were organised for residents aged between 80 and 90 across 400 care homes in Japan. The lessons were an hour long and involved some stretching exercises and then applying makeup, with the partial support of carers.
It was found that the process of applying foundation and rouge to the face helped “change the state of mind and stimulate both the brain and body.” Also the posture of residents improved and muscle strength and movement.
A second study by a leading Japanese neurologist concluded that cosmetic therapy slowed cognitive decline and prevented early stage dementia from worsening.
Jayne, at Astley Hall, knows these benefits of makeup first hand and says of one resident “when she is anxious or agitated, I get her makeup bag and she just settles”.
Some of our residents are over 100 and look absolutely fabulous. They did not grow up at a time when anti-ageing products were all the rage or cosmetic treatments widely available but believe in making the best of what you have got and are ageing gracefully. We wholeheartedly applaud them for that!