Better beauty buying: Mature make-up and the importance of trying before you buy

22 January 2024
By Fashion Quarterly

Experimenting with beauty isn't just for the young. Expert Hannah Wiles spends countless hours making Wellington women look and feel their most beautiful. Here's what she's gleaned from her career in the industry...

Hannah Wiles, Iris Store + Studio. Image: Supplied.

Versed in luxury make-up artistry, skincare and fragrance, Hannah Wiles recently opened Iris Store + Studio in Wellington, delivering an experience that simply cannot be replicated online.

Mature beauty and the “invisible woman”

I’d been noticing the “invisible woman” effect since graduating into my forties, seeing myself and my Gen-X sisters less and less in media and advertising, and being seen (and served) less when I was out in stores. As an integral part of an eye, naming the store Iris is subtly telling our customers that we see them. They’ll always be seen and cared for when they come in to visit us. Extracting the scent of iris is the longest process in the fragrance world – it takes around six years – which speaks to my journey to get to opening Iris Store + Studio. Iris is also the goddess of colour, and which make-up artist wouldn’t respond to that?

How to get your glow back

Beauty is about connection and community, so building relationships with our customers and allowing them to be their fullest selves in store is important. Shopping for beauty is intimidating but when you shop at Iris you are not anonymous. You will be welcomed into the inner sanctum, whether that is being offered a cup of tea and a chat when you say you’re feeling like you’ve lost your glow, or us changing up our playlist and popping on a red lipstick for your night out.

Iris Store + Studio. Image: Supplied.

I wanted to give Wellingtonians access to some of the fantastic beauty brands we haven’t been able to experience before. The brands needed to have a clear sustainability strategy. I also prefer brands where the founder has industry experience and has an absolute passion for their customer.

Hannah Wiles, Iris Store + Studio, Wellington.

Trust the experts

You can apply a colour to a customer’s skin, eyes, lips and immediately see if it will give the effect you are after. If it’s not doing it, we say, “You know what, I think we can do better.” Shopping for beauty online is a gamble, both in finding colours and textures that suit you and that you love using, and because the onus is on the customer to be the expert. Everyone has a graveyard drawer of failed online beauty purchases, which are such a waste of money and resources.

Managing hormone fluctuations

There is a lot of talk about changes in skincare and make-up needs driven by hormonal fluctuations. Offering a simple routine that feeds the skin and doesn’t overwhelm the customer is key. Hair loss is a concern for many. We love the Chloe Zara Scalp Facial using the Hair & Body Perfume Oil with the Silk Hair Balm. We amplify it using a Lanshin Jade Scalp Stimulator and Sandra Lanshin Chiu’s scalp-massage tutorials.

You’re never too old to experiment with make-up

As a woman in her mid-forties, I’m happy to see other women having fun with make-up and not feeling constrained by what someone of their age is “supposed” to look like. Far too many women are telling us what they’ve been told they should or shouldn’t be doing with their make-up due to their age. Why shouldn’t a woman over 40 wear a shimmer on her eyes if it makes her happy? I think, I hope, that my generation will be the last to battle to have ageing accepted rather than fought against or tolerated.

Hannah's top four beauty picks:

Josh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator, $145
Josh Rosebrook Vital Balm Cream, $177
Medik8 Crystal Retinal, from $91
Medik8 H.E.O Mask, $120

This article originally appeared in Fashion Quarterly‘s Summer 2024 issue. 

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