Trinny Woodall first rocketed into the public consciousness 20 years ago with her hit makeover series, What Not to Wear, alongside long-time friend and business partner, Susannah Consantine. Whereas she once focused primarily on helping women worldwide improve their sartorial game, she’s shifted her personalised approach to aesthetics into the beauty world, as evidenced by her makeup range, Trinny London - which has rapidly gained cult status since its launch (she told us all about it when we met her in 2019). As well as managing her expansive content empire (loyal viewers obsessively wait for her live videos that span Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube), she is meticulous about adhering to a strict skincare and wellness protocol – all of which she outlines in minute detail below. Get ready to take notes.

“Throughout my life, I’d always done makeovers on women.

From when I was at school aged six, to the main part of my career when I teamed up with Susannah and we did makeovers on TV and we had a column and we wrote books. So makeup is the perfect extension to that, because it’s something that women notice when they have a makeover – it’s the first thing they notice. When I was making over women, it was not just women in middle age who needed a makeover, it was girls who were interning, and it was women who’d begun to feel invisible.

I feel every woman wakes up and thinks, “Let me give myself a bit of a makeover.”

That’s what we do when we put on our makeup: we want to slightly improve the way that we see our reflection in the mirror, or to do things to make us feel that we have the energy to do anything. So that is my underlying passion, and it works incredibly well in the makeup space.

I’ve always been obsessed with makeup, but for me, I’ve always wanted to see a woman’s face before I see her makeup – especially her skin. 

For years, I would cover my skin so much because I hated my spots and I was just a big old mask. I also really enjoy the opportunity to educate women around not so much less is more, but owning your skin and just tweaking things.

My personal style is to wear something that brings joy to those around me, and something that brings me joy when I look in the mirror.

It’s generally colours, and it’s generally colour with colour, and more often than not there will be some sparkle somewhere. Clothes really affect my mood, so I only really wear black when I feel my most confident. I never want to wear black when I’m tired, as it would just amplify my sense of tiredness. So I kind of have got into quite a discipline about always reaching for colour when I’m feeling my most blue.

My style is an eclectic mix of things: I have things in my wardrobe that are thirty years old, next to a Zara piece I bought yesterday, and a Gabriela Hearst jacket I also bought yesterday. So it’s a mix. 

It depends on how flush I feel. I spent 90 per cent of this year only buying from Zara on the high street, however in lockdown I didn’t buy that much. Today I’m receiving an order I made from Net-A-Porter –  I made it at 3:00 am in the morning, you know… always a mistake, from their sale stuff, I ordered way too much, I’ll probably keep one thing.

I think I feel a change in anything I buy from now on: it has to really feel important in my wardrobe, and that doesn’t matter if it’s a top I spent £29 on from Zara or a really expensive jacket.

I have to visualize myself wearing it like 30, 40 times. You know, does it have that place? So I won’t be going and buying many more evening dresses in my life because I probably go to one black tie event a year.

I never had (an investment) navy blazer and I always had cheap Zara ones, but what I bought at the weekend was a classic navy blazer with very, very long sleeves – so if I stay this shape, I’ll have it until I die. It’s investment dressing.

I don’t think I’d say I’m a minimalist; I’d say I’m a permanent self-educator.

I always want to learn more, and I’d hate to think I’d have learnt everything because every woman is slightly different and there’s so much choice out there.

I’m asked questions so much around skincare, and it’s about being able to give advice that would appeal to many women. Because if somebody asks “which retinol should I use?”, unless you’re in front of that woman and you know her routine, you know her skin, and you know her budget, and you know how lazy she is or not, you don’t know what to recommend. So I’m quite general.

I always want to know, for example, how do probiotics work on the skin? That’s a huge trend this year, especially with the virus – people want to feel that they’ve got some sort of antiviral element to their skincare routine. So I’m interested in how that develops, who’s doing it, and how they’re doing it.

In the day and age of influencers who just get sent so much stuff, I generally only put things up that I have really tried for quite a long time.

I would never dream of recommending a retinol that I haven’t tried for at least three months.

I do have a lot of products that I recommend, but I am 56, so I have been trying products for 30 years or 40 years, actually… my God… that’s scary. So there are things in my beauty inventory that are 30 years old, you know.

Like Jan Marini’s Bioclear, a phenomenal glycolic product. It’s been around for years and years, and the formula’s improved over time as new technologies come in, but at the base of that is a fantastic formula. Obviously, ingredients have become more sophisticated.

(My daily beauty routine) starts with cleaning my skin twice morning and night, because I need to make the pore really, really clean with nothing on it.

That would be using a cleansing balm. After a cleansing balm, I always use a gel because I want it to be squeaky clean, so whatever serum I’m putting most of my money into will actually penetrate where it’s meant to, and not have a barrier of the cleanser still on. In the morning, I always do a vitamin C, and in the evening I always do a retinol.

In the morning I always do an SPF and in the evening I always do a barrier over my retinol like a peptide. So that’s my basic routine, but for a few months I might do quite a strong retinol treatment, therefore I need nurturing in the day to counterbalance that. Then other times, I might want to do a layering of six or seven products – so it just depends on how much time I have.

For my hair, it goes one of two ways.

I either spend like 45 minutes doing an extremely complicated blow dry, which gives the kinks in my hair, or I diffuse my curls, because I do have curls, and they become frizzy over time, with the highlights or lowlights I’ve had.

I’m not quite into the curly girl method, which lots of people talk to me about, but I do like to use something I’ve just discovered, something I adore, called Iles Formula, which is for curly hair. It’s quite expensive, it’s nearly the price of serum I might put on my face, but it really hydrates my hair when I’m using it.

Aveda’s Be Curly is a great one too, at a slightly better price point. Then I might tong the top four pieces just to give some texture on top of the volume.

I have a habit of quite haphazardly making a smoky eye.

I sort of focus on what I want around the eye and then as you get further away from the eye, it gets quite messy. I learnt a trick from the delightful Rae Morris, one of your best makeup artists in Australia: she taught me to take the BFF Eye, which she adores, and just do an upward motion from around under my eye, upwards past my eyebrow, and it just gives me that perfect lift. So my smoky eye suddenly lifts my eye instead of dragging it down. That to me is key, as we go down the path of life, gravity does make everything fall.

The other one I always need, I would say, is blusher. I went through years in my 20s of fake tan in a bottle and it just flattens your face. I think blush lifts your mood and makes your eyes sparkle, adding that little bit of colour.

I used to do Pilates every day for about five years and I had a body which was very, very, very toned.

I probably did it too much, actually, but I was just working very hard and I got the discipline of doing it. As a result, I did get a bad injury in my neck, and I had to have surgery. So for three years I did nothing.

Now I do Pilates/strength training three times a week, and to be honest, it’s kind of the minimum you need to do when you’re in my stage of life because you just have to do a lot more work to maintain that strength. I want to have top rate posture all my life, I want to have strong limbs. I want to be up to race up those mountains. So exercise for me is less about, “Look at the abs on my tummy”; it’s more about, “I have the strength to do anything I want to do.”

Interestingly, my mother never really had a beauty routine.

My grandmother never wore makeup. They both had very good skin. So when I got spots age 13, my mother was the last person to get advice from, because she had no idea what a spot was. So I think when you’re in that position, you learn a lot of things yourself and you experiment a lot more. I didn’t inherit, it you know; I knew lots of people who use the cleanser their mother suggested and wear the foundations that their mum wore. I didn’t have any of that. So I made lots of mistakes.

I always had my friends come to my bathroom because I was experimenting so much and they wanted to see what I was experimenting with, whether it was makeup or skincare. I think I was probably always the educator, and I loved just making over my friends, changing their skin routines, and suggesting colours. I’ve just always done it.

I’m old enough that I went to New York to visit my godmother when I was 14 and Clinique hadn’t yet come to England.

I went into Lord and Taylor on Fifth Avenue, and I spent literally all my pocket money on Clinique’s Three Step system. It was so innovative then there was this thing on the counter that you moved to work out your skin. It was like some of the personalisation online today, it was that kind of comparative.

I just thought, oh, my God, I can change the kind of toner according to my skin! I stuck to it religiously. Washing my face with that soap, putting on the two stronger toners, the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion… I remember it so strongly, that memory, because before then, my mother probably brought me up on Boots Number 7 (ed. note: not available in Australia) or the equivalent, you know, and that was it. Nothing. I had no routine.

My biggest beauty influence is Eve Lom, because Eve Lom introduced me to the idea that your skin is your biggest organ.

It’s affected by everything you put inside you, and the stress, environmental, and emotional factors that you have in your life. She really instilled that in me when I was in my 20s. I haven’t always taken up that advice, but I know that advice in the back of my head. I know that if I hydrate my body really well then inflammation in my skin will reduce hugely.

Since my 30s, I’ve always done SPF 50. I’d say if anyone wanted any advice in their 20s, it’s this: you might love a tan, but there are so many brilliantly convincing gel bronzers out there like our Golden Glow that you will be happy when you’re in your 50s that you did apply that SPF.

I’m of the firm belief that unless you live on a farm, you don’t get the nutrients you need from your food.

I just think that even if you go to your lovely organic local store, by the time you ingest (fruits and vegetables) and they’re a few days old, our body only absorbs a certain amount. I think there are a few supplements today which are really key that we should consume.

Now I don’t know for Australians, but in Europe, vitamin D is a key vitamin supplement that we should all be taking a lot more of. So everyday I do vitamin D.

I think during this time that we have this virus around, we need to be protecting our body and zinc is good, as it reduces inflammation in our body. If our body is less inflamed, we have, I think, less a chance of contracting COVID (Ed. note: alongside, of course, getting vaccinated and practising social distancing).

I feel my most beautiful when I feel my most joyful.

Because when you’re feeling full of joy, the physical stress on your face diminishes greatly. I could be joyful, you know, on a boat in the sea, reading, and feeling glorious and rested. I think when I’m really rested, I feel my most appealing, and when I’m very stressed, I need sometimes a lot of makeup to give that same look that I would get (otherwise). I really need to do good makeup. Luckily with Trinny London, I can do good makeup in five minutes. So it’s very quick to get that look.

I hate the word anti-ageing.

I picked up “as we go down the path of life” from a lovely dermatologist in America, Dr. Julia Hunter: all our experience and everything that happens does translate onto our face. To me, it’s less about ageing and it’s more about having fantastic energy. If you have great energy, you feel full of energy. You never look in the mirror and feel you look tired, and I think that’s what it is.

When you’re younger, you might be really tired, and wake up with a hangover, but your face and body look after you. As we go down the path of life, they look after you a bit less, so you really have to look after them. You have to take really good supplements, look at your diet more, and then you will be full of that energy that makes you feel glorious. That’s the most important thing around ageing.”

Story by Tess de Vivie de Régie. Photos from @trinnywoodall and @trinnylondon

Comment (2)

  1. April 19, 2021

    I’m a big fan of Trinny’s (since 2002!!) but probiotics on your skin will not stop Covid and LLysine is not a general antiviral, it’s only effective in treating the cold sore virus. Please take proven precautions, vaccination and distancing.

    1. April 27, 2021
      Admin 2

      Hi Erin, I think I’ve been a fan from about the same time! Love her 😍 I’ve added a note about the importance of social distancing and getting vaccinated. Thank you for reading! x