In my beauty bag: Barbara Brinsley

16:00, Mar 13 2013
In My Beauty Bag: Barbara Brinsley
Barbara uses a dark grey Elizabeth Arden eyeshadow to fill out her "wild" eyebrows, and she's currently working her way through a Christian Dior foundation.
In My Beauty Bag: Barbara Brinsley
"I might experiment with fashion, but I very rarely have experimented with beauty, I tend to keep things simple," says Barbara Brinsley, 79.
In My Beauty Bag: Barbara Brinsley
Barbara has found that M.A.C. lipsticks last longer than any other brand.

Dunedin style icon and avid fashion collector Barbara Brinsley, 79, shares hear beauty secrets.

"My approach to skincare is natural, not contrived. What I eat and what I drink has a lot to do with how my skin appears. I was brought up in the country and things were natural there, and there certainly wasn't much makeup around when I was growing up.

I might experiment with fashion, but I very rarely have experimented with beauty, I tend to keep things simple. The only time I've worn very different makeup has been when I've been part of a fashion show and someone has done my face [Barbara walked for WORLD at New Zealand  Fashion Week in 2003] and I end up looking much better than usual!

Now that I've found what works for me, I tend not to stray too far from my favourite brands. Right now a lot of it is M.A.C. I've been using M.A.C for as long as it's been around in Dunedin. I love their lipstick, and in my view the brand is quality. I'm sure you can go to Woolworths and find something a little cheaper and it could do the job, but I find that their lipstick sticks on - I tend to eat my lipstick!

I have a very simple routine. I only wash my face with a cloth, no soap - I've never used a soap or cleanser, I find it all comes off on the facecloth quite satisfactorily. I'm a firm believer in lots of moisturiser, so after washing I apply it to the hands, face and body. I use L'Oreal's day and night creams every day for my face and Vaseline Intensive Care for my hands and body. I don't use an eye cream, and whether I really should use one or not I'm not sure. But I think the eyes themselves sparkle quite well and that's really all that matters!

I usually wear M.A.C foundation, but I ran out the other day and I decided to go into the bathroom cupboard and found some Christian Dior that needed to be used up. It's from 'the olden days', and they don't sell it anymore but I'll use it up and then go back to M.A.C.


I wear a green eyeshadow on my eyes, it flatters them.  At one point I went through a blue stage - there's still a blue pencil in the drawer - but I wear green now. It's a soft lichen green and I sponge it over my entire eyelid, and then underneath I do a green eyeliner in a matching shade. I then apply a mascara (M.A.C) and Ruby Woo lipstick also by M.A.C.  

I have wild eyebrows that stand up, and they need taming so I use old mascara brushes with nothing on them.  I don't pluck them, never have, but I fill them in with Elizabeth Arden eyeshadow, it's a chalky dark grey. I spotted someone in Farmers with lovely brows and I asked her what she used. She recommended Elizabeth Arden and I find it very satisfactory.

I began going grey in my late forties, around the time my husband died. It was a stressful time so that may have contributed to it. It was rather yellow, as though I had been sitting in a smoky bar, until my daughter Harriet recommended a silver shampoo. I use it once a week when I wash my hair - I only wash it once a week - and it has since gone a lovely snowy white. It's called Steiner Silver Bright - it's from the pharmacy and is rather hard to track down, but it's fantastic.

I don't get my hair cut; if I see it's a bit uneven I get my dressmaking scissors and 'chomp'! I mostly wear it twisted up at the back of my head, just one hair pin and it's fixed. If I'm wearing a hat I always have to bring the bun low into the nape of my neck though, otherwise the hat won't sit on properly.

I match my spectacles to what I'm wearing, and because my eyes haven't changed since I was about 16, I have a great many pairs of them. There are enough to fill up a museum - in fact it has been suggested I put them in a museum. If you happen to need spectacles, they become a feature on your face, so you may as well treat them as an accessory like any other. I store them all in their original cases because I can find them that way and know what I have. Today I'm wearing an old pair by Jean Paul Gaultier.

I think I was blessed with good skin, apart from the fact that I've been out in the sun a lot and you can see the freckles. I do take Imedeen supplements to help my skin, but I never think of doing anything surgical with my face because it's mine and I like it just how it is.

I don't think my attitude has changed at all over the years when it comes to beauty. I've never tried to make myself look younger, I just believe in eating well and that that will show in your face. It's quite evident to me that with some people who look very worried and not well that something's not right in their lives, and I don't think any amount of makeup can cover that. Beauty, it comes from within."

- As told to Bronwyn Williams