Hannah Betts's Better...not younger: Why now's the time to get an FGF*

Hannah Betts’s Better…not younger: Why now’s the time to get an FGF* *That’s a chic French Girl Fringe

  • Hannah Betts shares advice for embracing this season’s French Girl Fringe trend
  • UK-based columnist reveals a selection of the best calming candles 
  • Hardie’s Moringa Luxury Body Butter is this week’s cosmetic craving 
  • By mid-life, most of us have got over any longing for fashionable hair. But what you don’t want is unfashionable hair — something safe and sad and ageing.

    What’s in right now follicle-wise is the fringe, specifically the French Girl Fringe (FGF). Summer’s style was a grown-out, layered look with bangs on the sides that screamed post-lockdown languor. Autumn’s thing, naturally, is more back-to-school — that school being a French lycee full of ingenues.

    Despite the ‘Girl’ in its title, the FGF is not age-exclusive. Indeed, Vogue features an article entitled Bangs Over 50: The Transformative, Age-Transcending Power Of Forehead Fringe. Frankly, they had me at the picture of actress Monica Bellucci that accompanies it.

    Andreas Wild, senior stylist at West London’s Larry King salon (from £185, larryking.co.uk), sighs with hair lust when I mention Bellucci’s do.

    Hannah Betts shares advice for embracing this season's French Girl Fringe trend (file image)

    Hannah Betts shares advice for embracing this season’s French Girl Fringe trend (file image)

    Andreas, a wise and witty German, was crowned King of the Fringe when he gave client Gemma Arterton one at the end of July. But, then, he knows his way around the style, having tended Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Claudia Schiffer and Penelope Cruz in the past.

    ‘Fringes are so hyped up,’ he says. ‘I’m doing two or three a day. So many women who were doing beachy, wavy takes now want them cut more dramatically.

    ‘Fringes never really go away and older women should definitely open their minds to them. I tend to reference them in terms of their icons. I’m thinking Goldie Hawn and Jane Fonda. There’s Brigitte Bardot, of course, and my all-time favourite, Debbie Harry.’

    There are myriad fringe benefits to adopting one in mid-life. Just ask 49-year-old Claudia Winkleman, or 46-year-old French model Caroline de Maigret, who have both declared their brilliant bangs alternatives to Botox.

    ‘Fringes soften the face, while framing it in such a flattering way,’ continues Wild.

    ‘People talk about them being like Botox, but they’re no less like filler, plumping and lifting cheekbones so beautifully. The geometry they create can be amazing, emphasising the jawline and bringing focus to the eyes.

    ‘Mid-life hair can also start to look a little wimpy and wispy, but a fringe will make it appear fuller, taking the attention to where the hair is thickest and most abundant.

    ‘As for grey strands, you can either disguise them with Color Wow Root Cover Up (£29.50, colorwowhair.com) or leave them be. Grey in a fringe looks so much easier and more relaxed than that giveaway block at the parting.’

    What are the rules? ‘Rounder faces tend to suit a gentler, more open fringe so that you do not squash the face. Longer faces suit a heavier fringe as you can squash the face a bit.

    Hannah (pictured) said don¿t even think about using a round brush when styling your hair, unless you¿re going to a 1960s-themed party

    Hannah (pictured) said don’t even think about using a round brush when styling your hair, unless you’re going to a 1960s-themed party

    ‘If you have a square face shape, try a grown-out fringe, and oval faces work with everything.

    ‘But the main rule is: throw away the rule book. Curly fringes used to be the biggest no-no. Now, there’s nothing I love more. Things are far more bespoke.

    ‘Think outside the box and really talk to your stylist. The only thing you do need to do is work with the hair.’

    Andreas’s magic trick is to cut a fringe before his client gets shampooed because it allows him to see what the hair does naturally.

    He also prefers to see how things look before deciding on any colour, as a fringe can make the current shade look different (darker, say, once the straggly lengths have been removed).

    As for styling, don’t even think about using a round brush unless you’re going to a 1960s-themed party. Instead, using a flat brush to remove volume, blow dry it one way, then the other.

    In terms of product, avoid anything greasy. Andreas uses Larry King’s cult finishing cream, A Social Life For Your Hair (£23 for 80ml, larryking.co.uk) to add weight to curlier textures, and good old Batiste Dry Shampoo (from £2.17, boots.com) to freshen hair up between washes.

    And if — like me — you tried a fringe years ago and are still traumatised, why not give it another whirl? Your face will have evolved.

    Besides, as Andreas notes: ‘Take risks. Why not? It’s just hair. It’ll grow.’

    RACE YOU TO IT

     

     I defy you not to be instantly enamoured of Chanel Les 4 Ombres No. 5, a limited-edition eyeshadow palette. It features elegant amber, gold white, silver white and black shades embossed with perfume flacons and Chanel’s lucky number. The party season starts here, today, with this.

    chanel.com

    £49 Shop

    MY ICON OF THE WEEK

    JOANNA LUMLEY 

    Joanna Lumley, 75, (pictured) loves L¿Oreal Paris Elnett Strong Hold Hairspray and Vitapointe hair cream

    Joanna Lumley, 75, (pictured) loves L’Oreal Paris Elnett Strong Hold Hairspray and Vitapointe hair cream

    The 75-year-old icon is in the news thanks to her documentary on climate change. But she’s also a walking advertisement for using Astral Moisturiser (£3.99, superdrug.com) as a cleanser. She loves L’Oreal Paris Elnett Strong Hold Hairspray (£3.98, boots.com) — describing it as ‘like having an iron bedstead on your head’ — and Vitapointe hair cream (£20.63, amazon.co.uk) to boost shine. She exfoliates with an old toothbrush, too. 

    COSMETIC CRAVING 

     

    I’m usually a lazy cheapskate when it comes to body moisturisers, favouring Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Express Hydrating Spray (£5.49, boots.com) or stockpiled bottles of Nivea’s now extinct 4 In 1 Firming Body Oil.

    However facialist Emma Hardie’s Moringa Luxury Body Butter (£38 for 200ml, emmahardie.com) smells citrusy and herby rather than of cocoa butter (a dealbreaker for me).

    It genuinely feels like face cream for the body rather than some passing oil slick. Count me converted.

      Shop

    CALMING CANDLES

    Drowsy Sleep Candle 

    A blissful mix of bergamot, cedarwood, lavender, ylang ylang and vetiver.

    drowsysleepco.com

    £29.96 Shop

    Balance Me Beauty Sleep Candle 

    Frankincense is the heady USP of this candle, which serves to soothe away tension and anxiety.

    balanceme.com

    £25 Shop

    Apothecary Scented Candle Me Time 

    Bergamot, patchouli and amber will help you get a sublime night’s sleep.

    boots.com

    £8 Shop

    This Works Deep Sleep Heavenly Candle 

    A cocktail of lavender and Roman camomile so dreamy that it almost brings a tear to my eye.

    thisworks.com

    £26 Shop

    Neom Perfect Night’s Sleep Scented Candle 

    This boasts 19 calming essential oils including lavender, jasmine and sweet basil.

    neomorganics.com

    £32 Shop

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