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Canada is known for polite interactions which perhaps can skirt the truth — Trinny Woodall isn’t shy about sharing her thoughts on fashion and beauty — from outdated makeup to perhaps an unflattering skirt.
Woodall is likely best known for co-hosting the BBC’s What Not to Wear and launching a beauty line, Trinny London. Woodall also made frequent appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the closer-to-home The Marilyn Denis Show.
Even though Woodall is well known across the globe, including in Canada, I think we have a lot to learn from the fashion and beauty expert (she has a wonderfully entertaining and educational YouTube channel). Not only learning about how to rock a frock but also listening to ourselves and taking risks — Woodall started her beauty company at 50 years old and as the only provider to her daughter.
I filled out the Trinny London makeup and skincare quizzes and love the product I tried — particularly the Better Off cleanser and BFF De-Stress. With a clean and fresh face, I connected with Woodall to get to know her a bit better and get some of her sought-after advice.
Q & A with Trinny Woodall
Q: In a few sentences, share your journey from your early career to skincare and makeup mogul.
A: I started my career in finance and in my 30s, I realized I wanted to makeover women and take them on a journey of evolution. So I started that part of my career as a journalist and I wrote for many years for the Daily Telegraph. I did a column called Ready to Wear, which turned into a TV show for the BBC called What Not to Wear — I did that for 10 years.
Then I was no longer flavour of the month in the U.K., so we did a show abroad in about 10 countries from Israel to India to Australia. Wherever I was in the world, I noticed that women sometimes had this paradox of choice when they were looking at makeup. We can also just get stuck — from our routine as a teenager and then going to our first job; from becoming a mom and then losing a bit of our identity as a woman; from leaving a marriage or going into menopause — there are all these stages where we need to rethink our routine.
I’ve met so many women that gave me the inspiration to start a makeup brand that would make life really easy to make yourself look good. I wanted it to be beautiful formulations, really easy to use and easy to carry around — now we’re a global brand and we sell to 200 countries around the world and we have a million customers. I started Trinny London at age 50 and I think it’s never ever too late to have that journey of being an entrepreneur. You just have to have it inside your spirit.
Q: What’s one hurdle you overcame that seemed unsurpassable?
A: When I had the idea of Trinny London and hadn’t quite got all the things lined up. I got a tiny bit of money that I’d used to get the formulations going and knew the audience I wanted to appeal to, but hadn’t yet raised the money to actually get the company off the ground. Then some personal things happened in my life, which made friends and family around me say that maybe I should just go and get a job. My daughter’s father died and it was a time when the logic would be to be a responsible mother in a traditional way.
But if you try to be the best person you can be, that will inspire your child more than compromising what you want to do in your life and feeling somewhere in you great sadness around it, which will affect how you are as a person, which will therefore affect your child. So I took the leap.
Q: If you could change one thing about the fashion and beauty industry, what would it be?
A: That people wouldn’t be able to filter photographs.
The industry I grew up in presents really processed photographs to the point that you could not recognize the model from the final image. In order to be acceptable or to feel good about myself, that’s what I have to aspire to — which is impossible, to aspire to images that have been digitally changed.
We should try to get to a place where we don’t need to compare ourselves to others, but rather stay in our own lane.
Q: What are the biggest differences between the U.K. and Canadian (or American) markets, when discussing fashion and beauty?
A: One is the influence of mothers on their daughters in those three countries. British girls generally challenge their mothers or dress identically to them. In America, you might pick up some stuff from your mom, but it’s more from the environment in which you grow up — like a countryside versus an urban environment, where there might be more uniform dressing. Canada is sort of in between those two because it does have the influence of the U.S. and the U.K.
Whenever I go shopping in Canada, it’s perhaps later to the market of high fashion. Though I remember Club Monaco was one of the first brands that paired down dressing — there wasn’t a print in sight. It was very clean and it was not stepping too much out of a comfort zone, but it was all about nice quality fabric. It’s really a beautiful Canadian brand. I also really like the Canadian brand Smythe.
Q: I feel like your reputation is a bold, business-savvy, outgoing authority in the beauty space — what’s one thing we may not know about you?
A: I find the first moments of going to an event to be quite difficult. I arrive at the event, go to the powder room, and then come out. I’m not super comfortable with big groups, but like to overcome my fear, so I just go out there and become super friendly.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes people make with their skincare routine?
A: There are so many potential pitfalls, and yet it can be so easy when you get it right. The biggest mistake people probably make is they don’t clean their face properly. Then they buy a cream or serum, which won’t work because it won’t go through the skin.
I also get people coming up to me, perhaps someone who is perimenopausal, and say my skin’s really dry, which moisturizer should I use? It’s not actually a moisturizer that they need, it’s exfoliation. Skin can seem dry because there could be dead skin cells sitting on top of dead skin cells. First, use a PHA or an AHA exfoliant and then even if you put on the lightest moisturizer, you’ll feel so much more hydrated.
The 101 is, don’t sleep in your makeup.
Q: How should skin care evolve from teenage years and beyond?
A: Girls in their teens can damage their skin because of a trend they see on TikTok. Though generally, skin becomes less oily over time, skin care needs to be personalized. That’s true for all ages — what’s important for you is not necessarily what’s important to me.
A few of Woodall’s favourites
Favourite Trinny London skin care item: Plump Up — I put it on and it literally pumps up my skin. It’s like my go-to when my skin feels [not good].
Favourite Trinny London makeup item: Lip2Cheek — because I will put it on my lips, cheeks and eyes, so it’s a three-in-one.
Favourite non-Trinny London skin care item: An LED mask — I’ll wear one on a plane like I’m Freddy from A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Favourite non-Trinny London makeup items: I don’t wear any makeup that’s not Trinny London.
Favourite book: Glucose Revolution and High Time.
Favourite pair of trainers/running shoes: Stella McCartney’s and I’m also interested in trying out On shoes (I love Cloudmonsters because they’re so comfortable and cushioned).
Favourite denim brand: Paige
Favourite perfume: Blenheim Bouquet
Favourite fashion rule: If black doesn’t work for you, don’t wear it.
Favourite thing about Canada: The Canadian Trinny Tribe and maple syrup.
My must-haves: A few of Howie Mandel’s favourite things
My must-haves: A few of Eva Longoria’s favourite things
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