Keeping Your Chin Up

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Photographs are cruel. Those unposed moments when we’re captured with a canapé mid-way to the mouth – and more chins than Russell Grant. And alas, sags, bags and jowls around the chin can affect even slender women, although the more weight you carry, the ‘softer’ the jawline.

There’s one way not to be bothered by the Facebook ‘tagging’ or Snappy Snaps evidence of more than one chin, of course: follow the celebrities’ golden rule of never, ever being photographed either eating or drinking. Does Jerry Hall ever let herself be shot munching on a sesame prawn toast…? Does she heck. She’s got one photo face, which has worked for her since the age of 17, and sticks to it unswervingly.

To tighten the appearance of the jaw in photos, you can also follow the advice of Faye Dunaway, who insists that if you touch the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth while looking at the camera, double chins disappear – and it works. (Up to a point.) And you can always make like supermodel Linda Evangelista, who arrived at a photoshoot I was at with – yes! – a double chin, and then made it disappear completely by tightening the muscles in her lower face. Her secret: she practiced for hours to control every facial muscle individually.

Of course, gravity is to blame for the southward slide of our chins. Professor Nick Lowe (a go-to cosmetodermatologist who works on both sides of the Atlantic) says double chins ‘start to develop anytime from 25 onwards, depending on genes, weight gain and fat deposits.’ Somewhat depressing fact: if your mother looked like Queen Victoria in the chin zone, chances are you will, too.

The good news, however, is that many women I know report amazing improvements in chin tone from facial exercises – although I’m too busy some days to wee, let alone find a window of 15 minutes to gurn privately in front of a mirror. Britain’s own ‘Jane Fonda for falling faces’, the legendary facial-fitness guru Eva Fraser, is – at somewhere around the 80 mark – her own best advertisement. She could probably open envelopes with her jaw edge. (Interestingly, on the www.beautybible.com site that I edit with Sarah Stacey, Eva’s Instant Face Saver facial exercises have been the most-visited page, over the past 10 years!)

For jaw-and-jowl-firming, then, Eva recommends the following:

• Stand in front of the mirror and push your lower lip over your top lip, jutting your bottom jaw outwards.

• Stretch your chin forwards and upwards so the skin is taut.

• Smile your lips upwards and outwards for the count of five – think Jack Nicholson as The Joker – and hold the position for a slow count of five and then relax. If you repeat these exercises regularly every day, Eva assures me you’ll get the result in a couple of weeks.

I’m also very keen on this nugget of advice from Nichola Joss: ‘Over-pronounce “AEIOU” consciously using every face muscle as you say each one – twice a day in the car or in front f the TV, and you’ll see a difference in your cheeks and jawline in a couple of weeks.’

Do also consider yoga. My chin/s are my No. 1 beauty woe but regular yoga three times a week has firmed my jawline immensely, and I know several seventysomethings who swear by it. (More about yoga from me in a couple of months, as I’ve just written a book – YOGA FOR LIFE – which will be appearing on the VH site in May.)

Make ‘moisturise, moisturize, moisturize’ your mantra, too. A saggy chin is one thing: a crêpey, saggy one is something else entirely. The real reason French women have gorgeous firm chins (aside from iron discipline whenever the bread basket enters their orbit) is a double-whammy approach: sweeping every face product downwards and every product used on the body upwards, all the way to the jaw-line.

Do also try facial acupressure: one reason jaws look ‘pouchy’ is because lymph and fluid gathers there. Place the pads of your middle fingers just above the jaw-line, either side of your chin. Press firmly for 15 seconds. (Be warned: this can hurt.) Move your fingers outwards towards your ear about an inch/2.5 cm., and press hard for 15 seconds. And so on, until you reach the hinge of the jaw. It can be quite painful – but it’s worth it. (A good time to do this is when you’ve applied your cleanser, before removing it at night.)

Facial massage/lymph drainage is the main reason I’m a fan of good facials (ideally from Sarah Chapman when I get high enough up the waitlist for a session): not so for much for the cleanse and the mask, but the seriously de-puffing firming massage action, which banishes all fluid from the facial contours. Next-best-thing, happily, is Ms. Chapman’s own rather- scary-looking-but-actually-genius Facialift gizmo: an ergonomically-designed, flexible ‘roller’ gadget which you position over the jaw-line, as a massage ‘tool’, and roll it back and forth. I know lots and lots of women who swear by it – and I think it’s particularly fantastic before having your photo taken. (Resulting photos should be somewhat less cruel…)

Then there’s always the art of disguise. Make-up artists are loath to recommend the use of powder for face-shaping (it’s the potential ‘Pocohontas effect’ that makes it risky). But here’s an insider tip from top make-up artist Jenny Jordan: use a tinted face powder that’s just a couple of shades darker than your natural skintone -not a bronzing powder as it’s too rusty. Using a medium-size fluffy brush, dip it in the darker powder, tap the handle sharply to get rid of the excess, and brush the shading powder onto the triangle beneath the chin to enhance the natural shadow. Use the brush to blur the edges.

And if all else fails? Take it on the chin/s. And play up your good bits, because we do all have them…

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