Trinny Woodall on her obsession with skincare, make-up essentials and setting up a brand

Trinny Woodall has built a career on making over women. In the December issue of IMAGE Magazine, she spoke to HOLLY O’NEILL about her make-up must-haves, setting up a brand and her beloved skincare routine.


What was your first beauty memory?
I remember it so strongly. I was 14, and I went to New York to see my godmother. I had bad skin and she took me to Lord and Taylor, which is a now-defunct department store on Fifth Avenue. I walked in and Clinique had literally just launched, I’m that old, and they had the three-step. It was so innovative. My mother had never really bought me anything because she doesn’t really wear make-up or have a skincare regime so when I got acne she had no way of being able to say to me, this is what you should do. So, I was always on my own journey of self-discovery. I remember buying that real strong salicylic acid toner with the soap and moisturising lotion and I loved that I had a regime!

What five beauty products do you always have with you?
I always have my ring which a girlfriend of mine gave me and it will always have the two latest colours in it. It’s a Trinny London pot, which is stuck on to a solid silver base. I’ll always have Trinny London BFF Cream, €41 because it’s never a heavy base, so I do BFF over my face, and then I do under the eye. I always wanted to develop something like BFF Eye, €30 because I didn’t believe in an eye cream separately in a regime. I always like to do a serum, because sometimes you want that sense of hydration, so I wanted to develop an eye serum and concealer in one. That’s BFF Eye, which I wear every day. I generally wear a Lip-To-Cheek, €29 and I’ll wear any colour, especially Phoebe which is named after my partner’s daughter and it’s a little hint of red. My latest one comes out next year which is called Rossi, it’s slightly like you’ve bitten your lip really hard, and then you put it on your cheek. I wear Wisdom on the eye, which is a very neutral eye and then Miracle Blur, €30 – that’s my stack.

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Trinny's stack ring

Why don’t you like powder?
Miracle Blur can act as a powder for people who are really shiny but Face Finish, €29, is our interpretation of powder, and it takes off the shine, without leaving a residue.

What product was the biggest challenge to create?
BFF was the first one we developed and it took a long time to develop, for the way the pigment was released through the product when it heated up in your fingers, it changed the colour, so that took a long time to get right. When you’re doing colour matching, once you’ve got a formula right and you need to get the pigment to release, it’s very difficult to get the right shades, because you can’t see it, you have to see the release and how it works.

Do you remember the first product you ever bought and loved?
Clinique skincare, and then Miss Selfridge used to have this sort of glittery blue-toned lipstick, it was like a sugary pink with shimmer but it was cool-toned and terrible with my fake tan from No7 that I used to wear, but I loved that lipstick so much.

"I went through a divorce, my TV work dried up, Susanna was wanting to write a book..."

Do you have any weird make-up hacks?
I do all my make-up with my fingers, and I always want to have a synergy between my lip, cheek and my eyes so I will sometimes even put what I put on my lip and cheek as a wash over my eyes, using a neutral shade like VeeBee, €29. I will have that wash of slightly terracotta, peachy colour, which is quite good for a blue eye,  and then my cheek and lip. I do it in two seconds.

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Trinny London Lip2Cheek in VeeBee, €29

Why did you decide to set up Trinny London?
I had spent 20 years making over women so my experience and expertise comes from dealing with 20 or 30 make-up brands. I travelled the world when I did a show after What Not To Wear and I would always have different make-up teams and they always put the same make-up on women. they wouldn’t look at that woman. For probably 10 years I would decant my things in little Muji pots and I would make formulas that I loved. I’d take a Bobbi Brown foundation and mix it with Chanel Aqualumiere and something else and I’d make the texture I felt was the right texture for my skin. I would be going around when I was doing those shows with a little baby stack and be in a bathroom and somebody would say “what’s that?” as I did my face really quickly and I’d say it’s my make-up, and they’d ask where they could buy it. Before you make the commitment to be the entrepreneur and build a brand, there’s a moment that it’s safe inside your head. You don’t have to expose it to the world. I spent a long time with Trinny London inside my head and then sometimes circumstances make you think, this is the time. I went through a divorce, my TV work dried up, Susanna was wanting to write a book, I was thinking I want to do something by myself that I’m 100% responsible for its success or failure. So I thought, I’ll do this.

What was your vision for the products?
I had the pictures, how it was going to be: it was airtight, the pots should be beautiful on their own but stack beautifully, they should open easily but not break in your handbag. The first prototype that came back was so ugly and horrible, I thought, “are we ever going to get to a beautiful pot container?” Then 11 prototypes later, we got it.

How did you set up the online personalised colour matching profile Match2Me? 
Once I had the product, I thought, do I do retail or can I do online and how can I do online? How can I make it easy for women to buy make-up online? Building Match2Me came out of making over about 500 women. Charlotte, who is our chief make-up artist, would sit in my bathroom and we’d get women in – my friends to begin with us, a lot of the products are named after my friends. We’d put make-up on them and see what from the range suited them and then we put that on a big board and from that, we got the Match2Me algorithm.

Do you have a signature scent?
I have decades. I went in the 80’s for Fracas by Robert Piguet. In the 90’s it was Vetivert by Guerlain. In the noughties was Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon and now I’ve found one called Woody Fig, €70 for 50ml, by a guy called Samuel Gravan. Years ago I worked for Caron in Paris developing a fragrance for somebody so I always loved fragrance. I feel that when you kiss somebody you should smell their fragrance, but when they leave the room they should take it with them. I never want to feel it lingers. It needs to be so personal to you.

Will there be a Trinny fragrance in the future?
We have got one in the mix for next year!

Is there any treatment that you haven’t tried that you would like to try?
I said about a month ago that I’ve never tried Profhilo. I just tried it on my hands. My hands were really lined, you saw the veins a lot and my hands are closer to the camera than my face so I was really aware of my hands. When you are a woman who is not 20 anymore, it’s important that your hands, neck and face stay the same. It’s just great. I don’t know how long it will last but it’s basically just hyaluronic acid, just under the skin.

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La Mer The Moisturizing Lotion, €220

What was the last beauty product you bought?
Last week I was at the airport I went and bought – I mean it’s such an old one and I shouldn’t even bother – but I bought the La Mer The Moisturizing Lotion, €220. The touch of it on the skin and that feeling afterwards if you’ve prepped it right is just great. Moisturizer, to me, is something which should never be anything about active ingredients, it should be only about comfort because you should have done all your active ingredients in your serums.

How do you think social media has changed beauty?
The introduction by brands that are really inexpensive to bring active ingredients to everyone, like The Ordinary, The Inkey List, Niod, Garden of Wisdom, that changed beauty more than social media. Social media brought that to a wider audience, and there was an ability for those brands to speak directly on their social media channels to a consumer. They have this active following, unlike make-up where you follow for the madness or the colours. Having people like Caroline Hirons and Gothamista, people who have incredible regimes and talk about them and really educate about ingredients is a thing that’s made beauty far more important for many women.

What is the best piece of beauty advice you’ve ever received?
Never consider that your toner is the last part of your cleansing routine. It’s the first stage of your treatment routine. If you’re still getting make-up on your cotton pad from your toner, you haven’t cleansed your face enough.

Biologique Recherche P50, €59.50

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What’s your skincare routine? 
In the am, I might do Sarah Chapman, €57 or Emma Hardie cleanser, €59 or if I’m treating myself, de Mamiel cleanser, €50 – all cleansing balms. Then I will do Biologique Recherche’s exfoliating toner P50, €59.50.  Then, I’ll do a vitamin C – Skinceuticals, €135, or the Allies of Skin phenomenal 30%, €131, a brilliant vitamin C. Then I might do an antioxidant, a more semi-hydrating serum, so I might do de Mamiel antioxidant, €101 or Antipodies Plumping Serum, €35.95 which is beautiful such a good serum. Or I might do the All-In-One Concentrate by Venn, €175 which is a great new brand trying to reduce the number of products we use. Then I’ll use a very general moisturizer, or I go straight to BFF. At night, I do a little microneedling, so I clean my skin probably with a glycolic cleanser, it might be Neostrata, €29.25 or my favourite is Dr Julia Hunter Skin Therapy The Maximal Strength Cleanser, €50 – which is not too stripping, then I’ll use a peel also from Julia Hunter.  It’s a very finely tuned peel that stays on. Before I do it, I’ll do a microneedling three times a week with very light feathering movements and a 0.5 needle, then I do the peel. Then I do a vitamin A, €135 and Night Regeneration, €148 from Julia Hunter – it’s an amazing regime, very active, appalling packaging but the most active skincare ingredients of any range and I’ve tried many. I end with some tretinoin, which is Roaccutane, and I’ll do that three times a week, it’s prescription retinol tretinoin – I do a tiny pea size and I always do neck, hands and face.

Do you go for facials?
I do facials at home, every Sunday or every few Sundays. I love dry sheet masks. I have a portable LED mask I always take with me, from The Light Salon. They’ve now brought out a bio-cellulose mask which you can use under the LED. It’s very difficult to use a mask under LED because you want the LED to work but because it’s bio-cellulose, the LED can penetrate. At home, Dermaluxe, which is an LED company, sent me a salon LED. It’s an old model but because I was really into LED, they sent it to me. Also, there’s a woman called Teresa Tarmey, who’s an incredible facialist in London, I have fractional radiofrequency with her which I find is very good for acne scarring, and I have vague acne scarring still and it helps the skin tone to regenerate and stimulates the collagen.

Who would you love to see wearing Trinny London?
I would love women who maybe wore too much make-up on never wore make-up, to find that when they wear Trinny London, people come up to say, “have you changed your skincare routine?” That, to me, is the biggest compliment you could ever get wearing make-up.

What is the worst beauty mistake you’ve ever made?
Wearing too much fake tan. I wore it in a decade where you couldn’t get great colours. It would come off on the sheets and my hairline became a little bit orange. When I would see a woman, years ago, who would be covering her waist because she didn’t like her tummy, I’d want to say, let me give you your waist back. I see a woman with too much fake tan which has flattened her face and she wears no blusher and she has a nude lip on and I think, let me give you your face back. It can be fantastic, but also, it can go so wrong.

Why do you think that women trust you so much?
I don’t try and make it perfect. It is what it is. We never say, “let’s film that again.” Whatever comes out, comes out and I think people appreciate that.

This is an extended version of an article that originally appeared in the December issue of IMAGE Magazine, on sale now. 

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