Willowberry Founder Jenni Retourné recently featured as a guest on Clemmie Telford’s But Why? Podcast, which attempts to answer tricky questions with honest conversation. Clemmie invited Jenni on to talk about ageing and its relationship with skincare and beauty, because of Willowberry’s work to champion Age Without Apology.
The conversation explored how our personal relationship with growing older can be complicated and conflicted and why the anti-ageing message should be ditched in favour of simply caring for our faces.
Enjoy some highlights of the conversation below, where you can also find out more about the woman behind Willowberry. To listen to the Podcast interview in full, click here.
Clemmie Telford (CT): We’re going to be talking about ageing, which is a really fascinating subject. What would you say your personal experience of ageing has been?
Jenni Retourné (JR): I’ve just turned 40. It’s a milestone and I’m grateful to be here! My Mum died when she was 45 and I was 15, so that’s always been there in the background for me. I have become more acutely aware of that as I get older and nearer towards 45. When my mum hit her 40th birthday she’d have had no idea that she only had 5 more years to live. I’ve also had friends in their 30s and 40s die. I don’t say this to sound morbid, but because it gives you a gratitude for life.
CT: My 40th birthday was in February. I can feel grateful for my health and for being here, but once in a while I look in the mirror and I’m still surprised by my reflection. I think that in my head I always picture my early 30s version of myself.
JR: Society has long taught us that we should be fighting the signs of ageing on our face and that we disappear into oblivion once we hit a certain age and that’s not true. 50-odd years is a long time to be fighting our reflections, especially as no pot of cream is going to get rid of our wrinkles anyway. It’s about being a bit kinder to your reflection, kinder to yourself and trying to view age and the signs of age on your face, in a different way.
CT: Would I like to keep my 30-year-old face, my 25-year-old face? Maybe, but would I sacrifice the wisdom that I’ve accumulated in those years, which shows on my face? No, and that’s so strange that we struggle to reconcile those two things together.
JR: It ties into the longer game of the work we are doing at Willowberry to change the age narrative in beauty; changing consumer mindset and encouraging the beauty industry to adopt a better language around age and how we talk about it and making sure that age is represented. Not having older women in beauty imagery is literally sending out a message of invisibility and irrelevance. I definitely think there are steps being taken, there’s a lot that’s been achieved, but there’s a lot more to be done.
CT: We’re not going to be sold that the best thing for you is a glass of water and an early night because nobody can charge you for that. There’s so much truth there. It’s actually infinitely achievable, not very exciting and doesn’t really make for a great headline does it: ‘Woman goes to bed an hour earlier every night for 6 months’ and she’s probably going to end up looking and feeling loads better?!
JR: I do think sleep is the key to everything. If you’ve had a good night’s sleep everything works better. But with regards to skincare, if you do nothing else in your skincare routine, consistent twice daily cleansing will change your skin. If you’re not cleaning the dirt, pollution, bacteria and make-up off each day, then it sits on your skin and it can cause so many skin issues: irritation, inflammation, sensitivity, redness, dryness, spots. All of this can be combatted by simply cleansing your face properly at the end of the day and giving your face a wash in the morning.
CT: For me it’s these ‘so obvious’ moments happening. Maybe that is the benefit of age, in that I have the wisdom to be able to know I can’t handle 3 coffees; I need to be in bed by 10 o’clock. That’s not about having a rigid life, but it’s about better understanding that makes you feel well.
JR: People say they feel young inside, maybe it’s not even that, maybe it’s just feeling ourselves inside.
CT: Maybe that’s what it is, because in our heads we’re the same person but as we’ve acknowledged, there’s so much that we will continue to learn in the ageing process and maybe that’s why old people really stop giving a s*&! They learn what’s important, they learn what works for their body and all the rest falls by the wayside.
JR: I really do think that fashion and beauty is much more ageless now, too. I saw an old lady walking down the street in a maxi summer dress, it was bright green, and white trainers and she looked amazing and I thought ‘wow, she looks brilliant’.
CT: Part of the reason she looks great is of course the thing she’s wearing, but part is the attitude that’s gone with that. It sounds a real cliché but she’s taking up space, she’s owning.
JR: I totally agree. The biggest beauty tip is confidence.
CT: Quit chasing ageing and start chasing self-love, self-acceptance and confidence. That is what we should be investing in: doing all those things that make us feel the best versions of ourselves.
CT: I always ask on this Podcast - if you could have an honest conversation with one person, who would it be and what would you say?
JR: Oh my word, That’s a hefty one! This will sound really mad but turning 40, in so many ways I’ve achieved what I want, but I feel I’m on an exploration of who I am personally. So having an honest conversation with myself and digging deeper, understanding more about who I am and what my faults are.
CT: I’ve never had anyone with that answer before and I absolutely love it. That was a fascinating conversation. It’s always useful to check in with myself, how many times I’ve bought a cream with the hope of achieving youthfulness or turning back the clock which now I say out loud is absolutely laughable. I’d rather have health and confidence than smooth skin and I need to remember that.
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