My haircare secrets and four-step approach to skincare, by Time Bomb’s Gail Federici

In our series on leading women in the beauty industry, the co-founder of John Frieda professional haircare reveals her top hair tips and her approach to skincare in our 50s. By Fiona Embleton

Gail Federici is the entrepreneur who launched the Time Bomb skincare range and Colour Wow haircare (available at Space NK). It was she who helped to make John Frieda haircare for professional use into a household name, and who invented the game-changing Frizz Ease hair serum.

Why I co-founded John Frieda

It was 1982 and I was Vice President of Communications at a professional beauty products company in the US, so was dealing with haircare every day. But what I really wanted to do was open up my own advertising agency. Fate intervened when I needed a hairdresser for the Alternative Hair Show in Milan and I asked John Frieda if he would do the seminars.

Things were really on the up for John and I was impressed with his plans: he had a new range of products that he had launched into Boots at a time when the only professional line was Vidal Sassoon. Frequent TV appearances meant sales were booming.

But he was struggling to balance a manic schedule of working for Vogue on shoots with managing his salons and product line. He said he needed a partner and asked whether I’d be interested instead of starting up the ad agency. I instantly said yes. My husband, twin daughters and I moved to the UK in 1989 and I worked with John on new product innovations until 2002, when we sold the John Frieda company.

Launching Time Bomb

I’m a big believer that necessity is the mother of invention. In the 90s, my own frizzy hair gave me the determination to find a solution, hence the creation of John Frieda’s legendary Frizz Ease Original 6 Effects Serum (£6.29). In much the same way, the impetus for making my age-delaying skincare line Time Bomb and my hair colour-correcting range Color Wow both grew out of my own needs.

Fortunately, I have access to the best resources. The chemist and research team behind the hair products that John and I launched have an equally strong background in skincare and I work with them on both projects.

Skincare in our 50s

For me, it’s more important to have a healthy complexion and take good care of your skin than worrying about lines. There are four cornerstones in my approach to effective skincare: exfoliate, replace lost oils, moisturise and boost collagen.

I religiously use the Time Bomb Take Off Time Cleansing Cream (£15), which comes with polishing pads, followed by the Complexion Cocktail With a Shot of B12 (£24). After a late night or lack of sleep, skin can look as if it’s aged ten years. Vitamin B12 energises cells and reboots tired-looking skin; I never seem to get enough of it!

I also use the Glory Days Day Cream (£28) because it’s a four-in-one product that moisturises, primes, brightens and evens out skin tone. I like to get the most impact for the least amount of effort!

Like most women in their 50s, the skin on my body is particularly dry so I always use Fresh Brown Sugar Body Polish (£25.73) in my morning shower and follow up with Time Bomb Show-Off Body Lotion (£16.50). This combination is the only thing that’s ever really worked for me.

My best beauty tip for women in their 50s

Keep your make-up shades soft, especially when it comes to your lips. As you age, your lips lose their fullness. Use a matte lip pencil as close to your natural colour as possible to outline slightly outside your lip line, and fill in your lips before applying lipstick in the same shade. This gives the illusion of naturally plump lips and the waxes will hold your lipstick for longer and prevent the colour travelling into the fine lines around your mouth.

My hair care secrets

Most people don’t realise how critical it is to choose the right shampoo for your hair type. You can’t achieve a good finish without a good beginning. I always use Color Wow Colour Security Shampoo and Conditioner (£16.50 each) for normal to thick hair.

I learnt a lot about hair colour at John Frieda, especially when we created the Sheer Blonde range. It was in response to women saying that styling products and even tap water often darkened their hair and they’d like something that kept their hair looking really blonde. I was able to bring that background knowledge to the table when we were coming up with idea for the Color Wow Brass Banned Mousse (£16.50).

I call it the “smart foam” because it makes your hair much easier to style, gives it perfect bounce and doesn’t contain alcohol or sticky resins. Best of all, it automatically colour corrects your hair. There are two formulas: lavender, to make blondes their brightest, and teal, to give brunettes the richest, most luxurious tone.

My current stand-out haircare product for 50-something women

Color Wow Root Cover Up (£28.50), which comes in six different shades. Most women in their 50s colour their hair but up until now there has been nothing available for that period between your root regrowth coming through and getting it dyed. This is a professional mineral powder that covers roots quickly and easily with no mess.

The real bonus is that it not only covers grey roots, but also dark roots in colour-treated and highlighted hair. So that means, if you have blonde highlights in your hair, for example, and dark regrowth, our blonde Root Cover Up shade will camouflage it so it looks like you have fresh highlights. And it stays in place until the next time you wash your hair.

The next big thing in beauty is:

We’re working on it! I don’t believe in basing our products on the latest ‘must-have’ ingredient. I look at the problems real women have and try to find an innovative way to solve them.