Beauty Evolution

The Evolution of Beauty

I’ve been in the beauty industry for over 30 years, watching trends and styles change and evolve; the very notion of what is considered beautiful is different with every decade. From being a hairdresser in the 1970s to the founder of EF MEDISPA in the 2000’s, it’s been an amazing journey influenced by fashion, celebrities and the changing of society. 

2012 is going to bring even more exciting changes and challenges; the beauty world is becoming ever more sophisticated with the introduction of stem cell technology, but there is also an awareness of ‘back to the future’ beauty, bringing back tried and tested methods that your mother used to love!

My beauty journey started with my ultimate beauty idols – I will forever be influenced by the great, classical beauties that are Sofia Loren and Audrey Hepburn.


 The 1970’s – These are some pics of me  in the 70’s!

The 1970’s were all about experimenting with the ideals of beauty, it was a romantic time full of fantasy hairstyles and trying out new ideas. I opened my first hair salon in 1972 and had great fun, with lots of fantasy colours and bob haircuts. In my Notting Hill salon we had all the clients facing the windows with really eccentric and exuberant hairstylists who loved putting on a performance!  Having your hair cut with us was like being part of a show, as everyone who walked past could see your hair being dyed pink!


One of the best cuts I did was a bright blonde bob, where we dyed the under layers bright pink. Every time she moved you got a shock of pink coming through, it looked fabulous! I also made totally wild wigs, which can still sometimes be seen on TV.



I absolutely adored the Vidal Sasson iconic bob. The geometric styles really worked with the feeling of freedom at the time, as you could literally ‘wash and wear’ the styles, without spending hours curling and tonging your hair into submission.  With a sharp bob haircut, a mini-shirt from Portobello market and lashings of mascara, you felt like Twiggy in no time.





Of course not everyone was as fashion savvy and I still had ladies coming in who wanted a more 60’s, seriously bouffant hairstyle, with lots of intricate curls all piled high on the head. This look needed a mountain of hairspray and patience, no ‘wash and wear’ for these ladies!





I was hugely inspired by the Biba look; the style and the glamour harked back to the 1920s and 30’s but translated into something new and exciting for the 1970’s. My favourite outfit was a pair of men’s overalls, with a beautiful, feminine Biba shirt underneath.  The perception of beauty changed as well, you needed beautiful, youthful skin, but with a touch of rock and roll about your make-up.  I wasn’t ever hugely into foundation, I preferred clean, clear skin with heaps of mascara to really emphasise the eyes.  The creator of Biba,  Barbara Hulanicki, described the ultimate Biba girl as ;”a fresh foul with long legs, bright face and round dolly eyes.”





Which leads very nicely onto one of my beauty icons of the time – Twiggy! Her long limbs and waif like figure epitomised a lot of the young ladies of London, who were channeling the super waif look long before Kate Moss! Along with Jean Shrimpton, another classic beauty 70’s beauty, Twiggy had the clear and youthful complexion that everyone who shopped at Biba wanted, along with the perfect elfin cut we all wished we could carry off.




I hated punk, they all looked like they needed a serious wash, but I loved the disco era of the late seventies. I thought the hot pants, big hair and even bigger boots were fabulous. The fantasy element of the early seventies were still there,  but it was much more glam and about the escapism that was encapsulated in the Studio 54 heydays!



 The 1980’s

The 1980’s were all about a powerful, glamorous look. All of my girlfriends and I wanted to look like Alexis Colby from Dynasty. It was an extreme look, it was over the top and seriously camp, but at the same time really beautiful and powerful.  Big, big curly hair was the thing, so everyone was getting perms and applying mountains of mousse and gel. Not great for the hair and you had to keep constantly washing all the product out and then starting again the next day.




I loved big shoulder pads! Wide shoulders with big shoulders worn with a tailored look was the height of fashion, with people taking inspiration from Dynasty, Diana Princess of Wales and even Margaret Thatcher!  Add a bit of costume jewellery and a pair of stilettos and you were all set.




The make-up of the time was strong, bold make-up. I used to wear big stripes of blusher, in bright colours. It gave a great contour to your cheekbones and was a fun look to wear. I also loved experimenting with eye make-up, so I’d wear red and black eye shadow for a real statement! The New Romantics had a really fun, experimental take on make-up (for men and women!) using bold colours on very pale skin, with lots of eyeliner and  long, feminine hair. As an alternative to the Dynasty hair sprayed within an inch of its life look, this fashion statement was more romantic and had echoes of the class Bridget Bardot look, with hair swept to one side.




The 1990’s

By the 1990s I was living in Hong Kong, but I always came back to England to shop. I loved the aesthetics of Sonia Rykiel, Donna Karan, Calvin Klein and Issey Miyake especially, with Pied a Terre for shoes. After the excess of the 80’s it was refreshing to have a ‘less is more’ approach to fashion and I liked the pared back fashions of the time. It was also perfect for Hong Kong; soft, floaty, feminine designs in linen and silks suited the climate perfectly! The colours were a bit muted for me, and I preferred a pop of colour to liven things up! There was a lot of interest in Hong Kong in the late mid 90’s, as the handover from Britain to China dominated a lot of headlines; so it was great to see Chinese cheongsam dresses became popular with girls back in London.



I really didn’t love the super waif look of the 90’s, the models often looked like they needed a good scrub and I didn’t feel it was a positive image for women to aspire to. I much preferred the Supers! They looked clean, athletic and had an element of glamour that was sometimes missing from the 90’s. They also welcomed back the cleavage, which I always love! Thanks to the ‘hello boys’ campaign, the wonderbra was top of everyone’s lingerie list for the first time since the 70’s.





I was older, so a more grown-up, natural make-up look was key. Bobbi Brown launched in the 1990’s and really encapsulated that toned down, pared down beauty compared to the wild looks of the 1980s. It was a lot less fun, but we probably looked a lot better! My beauty regime was stepping up a gear as well, not only was I paying more attention to my skin health but I was also focused on inner wellbeing as well. I had become a Reiki master during my time in Hong Kong and I was becoming more and more interested in holistic therapies. I began to really understand that to look healthy and youthful on the outside, you had the nourish your inner wellbeing as well!




The 2000’s – pics of me and my family at my clinic launch in 2007

The year 2000 was when the beauty industry really started to buzz about botox. It was quite an open secret among industry insiders and beauty journalists that wrinkle freezing injections were the very best weapon in the fight against wrinkles. I turned 50 and decided to give it a try – I haven’t looked back since! Over the next decade botox became more mainstream, going from an A-list secret to a widely available anti-ageing solution. The key to avoiding the frozen expression of some overzealous botox users is to make sure you go to highly experienced and reputable prescribing nurse or cosmetic doctor. When done properly botox is subtle and you shouldn’t even be able to tell it’s been used at all!



If there was one beauty trend in the 2000s which I really couldn’t stand, it was the obsession with super long hair extensions. That combined with my pet hate of fake tan (often terrible for your skin) was a look that I really didn’t like. Having someone else’s hair glued to my own really didn’t appeal. Popular with American heiresses and some WAGs it started off as an attempt to look expensive but ended up just looking cheap and tacky. Somehow, this look is still going strong now!




When I opened EF MEDISPA in 2007 I would always ask clients; ‘what is your skin wish?’ They would come back with all kinds of different answers, ranging from wanting to look younger and healthier, to waving goodbye to their cellulite or spare tyres. When I asked them who the women were they wanted to look like, the answers seemed almost universal! It was always Elle McPherson, Cindy Crawford and Naomi Campbell! These were women which we had watched grow up from young models in George Michael videos to grown women, often hugely successful business woman and mothers. They were ageing beautifully and subtly, sometimes looking better than they did in their early twenties! Often they were using technology and advances in medical aesthetic treatments which meant I could offer the same to my clients, so they too could halt the ageing process.



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