Developed by the American bioscience company Genelink in 2004, this process uses a swab taken from the inside of the cheek to create a personal anti-ageing formula based on your DNA. The theory is that most cosmetic creams are not precision-tuned to your genetic make-up, so the skin can’t metabolise them. The company claims that over-the-counter products use anti-ageing ingredients, but that these don’t necessarily agree with your unique skin type. When you send a swab to the Dermagenetics lab, they test your genetic propensity for collagen breakdown, as well as checking wrinkling and tissue health, to create a bespoke formula just for you. The base cream contains lavender oil and citrus oil, while personalised ingredients vary from fennel extract to red algae extract and grape extract. Apparently, Goldie Hawn, Meg Ryan and Teri Hatcher all swear by the Dermagenetics approach.
DNA testing, £135; face cream, £125, from Divalicious; 01306 631700. www.dermagenetics.com. Results last 6-8 weeks
Foetal tissue from aborted babies is extremely rich in regenerative stem cells. When added to our bodies, these cells are said to act like building blocks, targeting organs that are not functioning properly. They encourage these organs to regenerate, thus alleviating medical conditions and boosting skin rejuvenation. The treatment has caused controversy in America: President Bush has called it “godless” and vetoed any public funding, but the governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has allocated $80m for research. In the UK, stem-cell research is strictly regulated, and this anti-ageing treatment is banned, but you can fly to Barbados and visit the Institute for Regenerative Medicine, or head for the Medra clinic, in the Dominican Republic, where, for £15,000, you can have stem cells injected into the veins on the back of your hand. The clinics claim that you will look and feel different after only a month, although they don’t go so far as to say that it reduces wrinkles. Results last up to a year before you need a top-up. Among the sceptics is Dr Stephen Minger, director of stem-cell biology at King’s College London, who says the treatment could potentially cause cancer, infection or tumours. He also fears that women are being driven to have abortions, purely to sell the foetuses to stem-cell clinics. The Edinburgh-based Institute for Stem Cell Research says that there have been no controlled clinical trials that back the claims of those providing stem-cell treatments.
Essentially, there is no hard evidence that it works.
LOOK, NO NEEDLE
Safetox is a contraption made of garish blue plastic that purports, rather ambitiously, to change your life. Worn on the forehead, it releases electronic impulses, via an adhesive patch, that relax the muscles you use to frown. To begin with, you wear it for two five-minute sessions daily — the older and more wrinkled you are, the longer you have to wear it, which can mean a few months. After this initial period, you need only a couple of five-minute top-up sessions a week. The manufacturers are promoting it as a safe and effective alternative to Botox and face-lifts. Does it stop you ageing? The jury’s out. But you’ll look like something out of Thunderbirds in it, which will at least add some hilarity to the proceedings.
Safetox, £245; www.safetox.com
Kombucha is the so-called mushroom of life. Fermented extract of mushroom may not seem the obvious thing to put on your face, but according to Dr Laurent Miralles, the founder of Global Beauty Anti-Ageing Concept, it has the power to multiply collagen cells, which plump up the skin and improve its appearance. He has developed a range of beauty products containing 3% kombucha. And you don’t need to limit it to your face. In Russia and eastern Europe, people drink kombucha tea in the belief that they will live a longer, healthier life. At Harvey Nichols, which stocks the range, they recommend using kombucha tea as a facial steam treatment, then drinking it, so you feel both the internal and external effects.
Global Beauty products, from £50, from Harvey Nichols; 020 7235 5000, www.kombuchatea.co.uk
A dip in Lake Siverskoe, north of Moscow, is one of the simplest beauty treatments of all. The lake is believed to have rejuvenating powers — apparently, you just have to splash its water on your face to stop the ageing process. A friend who went there last winter saw scores of women trying to make holes in the ice to get to the magical water. There is no clinical evidence that the water does any good at all, but legend has it that monks from a nearby monastery have been blessing it over the centuries with their constant praying and purity. As long ago as the early 16th century, Vasily III obviously believed in its magic; the Russian ruler came here to pray for an heir. Shortly afterwards, his wife, Elena, fell pregnant with his son, the future Ivan the Terrible. So be careful what you wish for.
HAIR WE GO
Here’s one for the fellas. The Teeter Hang Ups Inversion Table is for baldies. The good news? There is a cure for baldness that doesn’t involve stitches or skin grafts. The bad news?
You are strapped to a metal contraption, not dissimilar to a sophisticated torture instrument, and hung upside down. The Teeter Table is the latest in anti-ageing technology, the idea being that the blood flows to your scalp, stimulating hair follicles. Inversions are also thought to help maintain mental awareness and healthy organs, and to reduce varicose veins. According to a nurse at HB Health, a private clinic that does sessions, you need several visits to get the full effects. The clinic offers free treatments for existing clients.
HB Health; 020 7838 0765
Of course, if all of this strikes you as too out there, then you could always try the good old-fashioned tip of sleeping on your back at night. Diane de Poitiers, the French royal mistress extraordinaire, apparently slept sitting up to avoid wrinkles, which is taking it to extremes, but lying on your side creates creases on the face wherever it rests on the pillow. All you need now is a straitjacket of some sort to stop you rolling over in your sleep.
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi-based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor-in-chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group.
Helena contributes regularly to UK-based newspapers and magazines and holds a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. She is working on a thriller set in Sweden as well as a novel about the relationship between Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield called Sense of an Echo.
In 2022 her short story The Japanese Gardener came second in the Fish Publishing Short Story Prize. One of her stories was also shortlisted for the Bridport Short Story Prize. When she’s not writing, she works as a headhunter for the media and entertainment industry for the Sucherman Group.
Helena, who was educated at Durham University, lives in the Languedoc region of France with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019