Any one of, shall we say, “a certain age” will have tuned in religiously each week in the Noughties to watch Trinny Woodall share her no-nonsense approach to fashion. As part of the TV duo Trinny and Susannah, she rose to fame dishing out straight-talking advice on BBC’s What Not To Wear.
While it was her impeccable style sense that made her a household name, it’s her hugely successful move into the beauty industry with her Trinny London makeup and skincare that has captivated a whole new generation of women. We caught up with her as she arrived in Birmingham to launch her new pop-up counter in Bullring.
How did you make the move from fashion to beauty?
I did makeovers around all over the world with What Not To Wear and the thing that women always noticed first was their makeup. We are more confident about having a makeover with our makeup; we’re very protective of our hair and we have a different relationship with our bodies. But I saw how transformative makeup can be, to feel re-energised, so I wanted to help with that.
I started Trinny London when I was 48. The makeup came first and I’ve been working on it for ten years with the business now going for five years, and then skincare was launched about a year and half ago. I realised it’s never too late to run with an idea; I feel that there is a lot of age discrimination and women feel they reach a stage when they think “Should I be doing this and will anyone take me seriously?”.
Has you TV profile helped with Trinny London?
To an extent it helped because people knew the name, but that also means they may have an opinion about me. They might go, “I never liked her” or “I remember her on television”. Then there were women who had no idea I did television as they’d just seen me on social media.
When I started Trinny London I had about 120,000 followers (she now has more than 1.2million on Instagram alone) so I had an audience who were invested. What is amazing is we have the Trinny Tribe, which was started by a women called Kelly who just started following my advice and connected with anyone who was also following my advice, and so that then built online communities around the world. Every day they’ll post about what’s inspired them, how they are doing their hair and makeup, and their routines. They are phenomenal advocates of the brand.
Our skin changes and hormones play a big part, whether that’s pregnancy or polycystic ovaries, or menopause. We use an algorithm that really looks at what someone’s skin is like so we can diagnose and recommend personalised products. Every one of my team has knowledge of skincare and makeup; some may be makeup artists or come from a skin background, but I want them all to offer the Trinny London experience.
You’ve spoken openly about suffering from acne when you were younger. Was this a driver behind your skincare brand?
You learn from an early age about ingredients and you are more of a chemist. Susannah, who I worked with, always had amazing skin and didn’t care about skincare, then she’d call me up and go “Trinny, something’s happened to my skin, what do I use?”. So it is about how you can then educate people from the education you have learnt.
A subliminal moment for me was in 1978; going to New York and Lord & Taylor in Fifth Avenue and discovering Clinique at a time my mum was giving me Boots No7 for anything, she’d say “You’ve got spots, use Boots No7”. So I think having the knowledge of what worked for me made me my own healer. I had these skin issues that made me find out what does vitamin C do, how many types of vitamin C there are. That retinoids are the most misunderstood and very difficult to navigate as to how they work and what you should use. That percentages can be very confusing because some products are more diluted; whether it’s a marketing level or an active level. I want to help people understand what they need to use on their skin.”
You’ll find the Bullring Trinny London pop-up by Selfridges on Level 2, and it will be open until January next year. You can book an appointment with one of the pro makeup artists to discover a routine personalised to your skin goals and your unique combination of skin, hair and eyes (cost redeemable against products on the day of your appointment). To book, click here.