In the latest in our weekly series on successful women in the beauty industry, Gina Conway, 46, who also keeps Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman’s locks looking great, reveals her haircare heroes, the products she has in her own beauty bag, and what she believes will be the next big thing in beauty.
What inspired me to set up my salons
I now have four Gina Conway Aveda salons in London. When I arrived in the UK 15 years ago from San Francisco I found the customer service experience in salons poor. There certainly wasn’t the US attitude of ‘customer is King’. So when I set up my first salon in Fulham in 2001, my aim was to change this.
I had to change the culture in salons, and one way was to view clients as our “guests”. I wanted to create a sanctuary where they could experience a warm, friendly atmosphere filled with talented, passionate people whose sole goal was to make women of all ages look and feel great.
My best anti-ageing hair tips for 50-something women
Keep the grey at bay! Unless your skin tone is olive and eyes a steely blue, you will age yourself by ten years if you let grey pepper your locks. Take your hair colour slightly lighter and softer as your grey becomes more prominent to disguise re-growth.
And remember, grey hair has a coarser texture and behaves differently to normal hair so you may need more maintenance than you’re used to for your style to look healthy and groomed. Use a mask such as Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturising Treatment Masque (£29) twice a week – it’s packed with hydrating buriti oil.
For your cut, keep it fun and flirty. Just because you’ve hit 50 doesn’t automatically mean you need to have your hair cut short. A sweeping fringe is always flattering as it frames the face and disguises wrinkles.
Layers will also soften the face and lift contours, such as your cheekbones, and the jawline, where sagging is most obvious. My brief to the stylists in my salon is always, “Please don’t make me look like a mum!” (I have three kids).
My hair heroes
I use Aveda Damage Remedy Restructuring Shampoo (£22) and Conditioner (£24.50). It’s rich enough to tame and soften my coarse and curly hair.
For styling I absolutely adore Aveda Pure Abundance Style Prep (£21), especially if you have fine hair. When I work at London Fashion Week or on shoots, this is my backstage best friend. I call it ‘the bra for your hair’ because its blend of botanicals gives you invisible support, right where you need it most on the roots and mid-lengths, and makes each hair strand feel thicker. I use it myself, too, on non-shampoo days, for extra body.
My skincare secrets
I’ve learnt the rejuvenating power of facial massage from my team of beauty therapists and now use oils instead of creams at night to keep my skin nourished. Because Decleor Aromessence Neroli Super Serum (£44) has to be massaged in for it to be absorbed, it’s a good excuse to get more hands-on with my complexion, lifting the muscles and working my fingers over wrinkles to help iron them out.
I religiously cleanse twice a day with Aveda Green Science Perfecting Cleanser (£23.50). It contains Argan oil, so my skin never feels tight and uncomfortable afterwards. I use the Firming Eye Cream (£38) from the same range and twice a week buff away dead skin with the Aveda Tourmaline Charged Radiant Skin Refiner (£32).
By day I also use a tinted moisturiser with SPF. After all the usual beauty hang-ups in my 20s and 30s I’ve grown to really like my skin and don’t want to cover it up with heavy foundations.
My favourite fragrance
I love 3 L’Imperatrice by Dolce & Gabanna (£38.50) with its notes of redcurrant, watermelon, grapefruit, musk and sandalwood. It’s light and citrusy yet has deeply sexy notes at its base that make me feel like I can conquer the world.
I believe aromas can affect your mood greatly and that you should have a few fragrances on standby to bolster you depending on how you’re feeling or your plans for the day ahead. Swapping your fragrances also keeps your nose on its toes so it doesn’t become so accustomed to a particular scent that you stop smelling it.
My make-up must-haves
I’m so busy during the day that making time to refresh my make-up just doesn’t happen. Consequently, my regime has to be long-lasting and involve zero maintenance.
From your mid-40s onwards, a pore minimising primer is a must. I’m a fan of Sothys Paris Pore Refiner Complexion Perfector (£30) as it almost ‘polyfills’ enlarged pores, mattifies the skin, so my make-up lasts longer, and gives my face a silky smooth texture. Some days I wear it alone; on others, I use it underneath my tinted moisturiser.
Even if I have no time for anything else, I always do a lip and strong brow. I use Maybelline Super Stay 24hr Lip Color in Absolute Plum (£8.99) and work Smashbox Brow Tech Trio in Auburn (£17.50) through my brow hairs with a stiff brush to flesh them out.
My stand-out beauty product for women in their 50s is:
Not a product but a treatment. I’ve just tried the A-lift facial, which uses tiny electrical currents to improve muscle tone and increase collagen production. In January I will be using it in my spas and at our clients’ homes for all our mobile treatments. It made such a visible difference after just one session, and a course of it leaves you feeling and looking incredible.
The next big thing in beauty is:
Bespoke luxury treatments done in the comfort of your own home. These days, women are looking for convenience without compromising on quality so more high-end services are going to become available where you can have your hair cut, get a massage or facial and even do yoga and Pilates with a professional in your home or a hotel room.
I’m already tapping into the trend with my new company, Privé by Gina Conway. I didn’t feel the need for at-home treatments was being met by the mobile services around today so with my new Privé service you can book a therapist or stylist and they will recreate the salon or spa experience by bring everything from fluffy robes to scented candles and Aveda tea to you. Currently Privé is only available within London and the M25 but I’ll soon be expanding to the rest of the UK and beyond. (Prices start from £85 for spa services and £100 for hair.)