Jeepers creepers! How can I revive my poor old peepers
22:32 GMT, 2 May 2012
22:32 GMT, 2 May 2012
Some things can sneak up on a woman when she’s not really looking: sagging knees; arms that suddenly resemble giant hams; and even, God help us, a moustache.
But it is only recently, while looking at photos from a family wedding, that I’ve realised something about my own appearance has changed irrevocably. Jeepers, creepers, I thought, what the hell’s happened to my peepers
Like most women I scrub up all right with a bit of make-up and a kindly light, but I’ve never deluded myself I’m a beauty in the usual sense, especially now I’m 51. However, if there’s one thing I was blessed with in the looks department (thanks Mum and Dad!), it was a decent pair of big brown eyes.
Before and after: Sharon's dramatic change was possible without costly cosmetic surgery
Some say a smile is your passport in life, but from the start I’ve found those mince pies of mine have more than done the trick. ‘Hasn’t she got lovely eyes’ shopkeepers would say to my proud mum, before handing me a lolly. At school, a sorrowful gaze could avert a ticking-off. And as a teenager I might not have had the ample bosom or long legs of some of my classmates, but a shy glance from beneath my fringe usually guaranteed me a last dance at the sixth-form disco.
And I must admit as the years went by, I unashamedly flashed, flirted and fluttered my way to many a man’s heart.
Ironically, I couldn’t actually see very well — thank goodness for contact lenses or I’d have had to hide my chief assets behind a thick pair of specs — but with or without make-up, my eyes stood out against my ordinary colouring. I looked bright eyed and bushy tailed, no matter how tired or stressed I was.
So far, so smug, eh Well, hold on. For in the blink of an eye, it seems, my eyes are no longer big, bold or beautiful.
My come hither attributes have withered, almost overnight. ‘My eyes have shrunk!’ I shriek, staring in the mirror at what look like two tiny raisins. My husband peers at my reflection. ‘It’s not that they’ve got smaller, it’s just that you’ve got more lines and wrinkles around them,’ he points out helpfully. I shoot him a dagger’s look, which goes unnoticed.
Sadly, though, I can see what he means — there just isn’t the definition there once was. While the crow’s feet and creases aren’t too bad (thanks probably to the vats of eye cream I’ve used over the years), dark circles make them appear sunken, and they look hooded.
The lids have all but disappeared — one eye in particular looks as if it started to wink, but then couldn’t be bothered.
Anti-ageing tricks: Applying the right make-up from eyeliner to mascara can roll back the years (posed by model)
If eyes are really the windows to the soul, mine is clearly a vain one, because I don’t want to spend the rest of my days with The Incredible Shrinking Peepers. Something must be done, and fast.
I decide to find out what my options are, aside from wearing dark glasses for the rest of my life. Do I just need a canny disguise using make-up — or should I be considering something more drastic
To be honest, I’ve never given much thought to cosmetic surgery, but desperate times may call for desperate measures. So I booked a consultation with the Harley Medical Group in London.
A smiley nurse counsellor called Sarah who, I noted jealously, had beautifully defined eyelids, assessed me. She led me to a scanning machine that analysed my face and scored it on things such as wrinkles and firmness.
‘This is all looking remarkably good,’ she said, reassuring me I wouldn’t require Botox, fillers or a facelift just yet. However, she did understand that my drooping eyes were letting me down.
‘The reason is skin loses collagen and elasticity as we get older,’ she said. ‘The skin around the eyes is especially delicate, so the changes are more noticeable.’ Sarah recommended I consider an upper blepharoscopy procedure (eyebag removal for the upper lids). This involves a fine incision in the crease of the eye socket then excess skin and fatty tissue being removed to reduce the hooded effect — redefining the eyes’ shape and effectively stopping them looking tired and old.
She handed me an album of ‘before and after’ photos of clients, many of them men, who’ve had procedures, including this one.
The effects are impressive, and I find myself estimating that the 2,955 cost would be about the same as a very nice holiday.
Still, I was shocked by how quickly I was tempted to go under the knife, especially when Sarah told me it was a day-case procedure, and I probably wouldn’t need to have it again.
My next visit is to the Shavata Brow Studio at the Urban Retreat salon in Harrods. Eyebrow expert Shavata believes brows frame the face and eyes, and having them tended has the effect of a mini-facelift. Way to go! At the salon in London’s Knightsbridge, my nondescript brows are tinted a little darker than their natural mousey brown, then threaded.
Cotton is twisted to trap each hair and remove the follicle, which means a neatly defined shape.
The effect is terrific: gently arched brows that immediately make my eyes more noticeable.
And at 18 for the tint and 25 for the threading, it is much more affordable than surgery.
Then it is on to eyelash specialist salon Flutter Eyes. I’ve given up on mascara because I find even the most expensive waterproof versions smudge, which doesn’t help my piggy-eyed dilemma. But sweeping lash extensions sound promising, so I put myself in the capable hands of beautician Chelsea, with strict instructions I do not wish to look like Tiny Tears, Cheryl Cole or a cartoon cow.
She promises I won’t, and says fakes are especially good as you get older, when the eyes need more definition (don’t I know it).
Each synthetic lash is applied to a natural one, with adhesive and delicate tweezers. The treatment costs from 180 and the lashes last several weeks, falling out with the real lashes at the end of their growth cycle.
Eyebrow threading benefits: Brows frame the face and eyes, and having them tended has the effect of a mini-facelift, according to experts
Chelsea puts 70 lashes on the upper lid of each eye in 90 minutes. I sit up, sneak a peek, and — oh, my word! Not only do my eyes look ‘present’ in my face, I appear wide awake (though that could be because I had a snooze during the treatment).
Next stop is the Bobbi Brown counter in John Lewis, Oxford Street, where make-up artist Shana explains the theory behind the company’s ‘make-up facelift’.
‘It’s all about light “lifting” the face,’ she says. Everything, from the subtle lip colour she chooses to the pink blusher she brushes on my cheeks, plays its part in putting the focus back on my eyes.
‘It’s creating a look that’s about your eyes rather than the make-up,’ she says, applying corrector and concealer to neutralise the shadows around them.
She then illustrates the extraordinary uplifting effect of a light ivory shadow on the brow, a soft putty shade on the lid and socket, and a bold sweep of dark liner on the upper lash line to emphasise the eyes’ whites. A shopper at the counter with a man exclaims: ‘I want what she’s having!’ Her husband (far too rapidly, in my opinion), says: ‘Go for it!’
By the time I get to the studio to have my ‘after’ picture taken for this feature (having also popped along to hair stylist Stuart Phillips’ Covent Garden salon for some highlights — another good way of ‘lifting’ mature eyes, apparently), I’m feeling bright-eyed, rejuvenated and considerably younger than my years.
Admittedly, the surgery option intrigued me more than I thought it would, but having seen what else can be done I’m not sure it’s something that I’d consider for a while.
This experience has taught me that while you can’t turn back the years, anything that puts a sparkle in your eyes and smile on your face instantly makes you look better.
In any case, this brown-eyed girl is no longer a sad-eyed one — and that’s a wink in the right direction.
The Harley Medical Group, harleymedical.co.uk, 0800 085 4984; Shavata Brow Studio, shavata.co.uk, 020 8993 8333; Flutter Eyes, fluttereyes.co.uk, 01372 386312; Bobbi Brown, bobbi brown.co.uk, 0800 074 6905; Stuart Phillips, stuartphillips. co.uk, 020 7379 5304.