Canadian Living's home and garden director shows off her curves in a body con dress.
Photography by Carlyle Routh. Hair by Jukka/Davines/Plutino Group. Makeup by Jodi Urichuk/Bite Beauty/Plutino Group.
Have you ever flirted with the idea of trying a daring style but weren't quite sure how to pull it off? We found six women who were intrigued by a trend they usually avoid, then we gave them the support and style advice to help them make it their own. Here, Canadian Living's home and garden director, Sarah Gunn, steps out in a body con dress.
Much like Sarah's decor esthetic, sunny hues and pretty pastels are her wardrobe mainstays, along with ladylike fit-and-flare frocks. But there's one item of clothing Sarah has always admired on other women yet hasn't slipped into herself: a body-conscious dress. "I have curves—some in the right places and some not—and I'm not sure how to enhance the good ones and hide the bad ones in a formfitting style," says Sarah.
Karl Lagerfeld dress, $189, thebay.com. Earrings, bracelets, ring and shoes, bananarepublic.ca. Clutch, coach.com.
The first step to feeling confident in a body-hugging dress is a good foundation, a.k.a. undergarments. Sarah donned a Shapeez Tankee slip ($125, shapeez.com), an all-in-one bra, slip and shaper that helps eliminate visible bra lines and back bulges while slimming the waist and the stomach. When it comes to choosing a fitted dress, keep it sophisticated; we selected a style with elbow length sleeves and a high neckline, allowing Sarah's silhouette and her legs to be highlighted. Finally, the dress features black panels on the sides, which ever so slightly cinch the waist, helping to create the illusion of a more defined midriff.
Shop the trend:
Floral dress, $80, express.com
Zippered dress, $420, marc-cain.com
Scuba dress, $100, reitmans.com
Aspen dress, $129, bebe.com
Body con dress, $140, lechateau.com
Felicity & Coco dress, $137, nordstrom.com
Dex dress, $79, thebay.com
Dress, $210, armaniexchange.com
Franca sweater dress, $178, guess.ca
Body con dress, $50, dynamiteclothing.com
The actress and activist chats with us from the Cannes Film Festival about beauty and aging.
Perhaps you were first introduced to Susan Sarandon as scene-stealing Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show or as half of one of the greatest on-screen female duos ever in Thelma & Louise. Or maybe you're most familiar with Sarandon's activism around issues of climate change, the death penalty and economic inequality. Whatever the reason you took notice, the megastar and brand ambassador for L'Oréal Paris is fascinating. She spoke with us about life as an actor, her beauty routine and how to age gracefully.
What are your favourite roles to take on?
I like to play characters who are reaching out in some way to another human—it's the bravest thing you can go. I'm interested in those stories, whether it's the relationship between a nun and a convict, a love story between two women or the connection between a woman and a child. I try to not repeat myself. Even if I've played other mothers, they're all different.
L'Oreal Age Perfect
How is the perception of women over the age of 50 changing?
Being 50, 60 or 70 doesn't mean the same thing as it did when I was 20. There are a lot of great gals who are working, who are fun, sassy and beautiful, and who happen to be over 60. They're great-looking and full of energy, and they're living longer—and there's a lot of us!
What made you want to work with L'Oréal Paris?
I love the ethnic and age diversity that L'Oréal has shown in its choice of brand ambassadors. And the idea—do it for yourself because you're worth it—was a huge breakthrough. I really respect that kind of thinking.
What beauty routine do you follow?
I don't smoke cigarettes, I drink lots of water, I exercise. Everything else, I do moderately. I don't really drink, I try to always take my makeup off at night and I use moisturizer, sunscreen and a little dab of lip balm. That's about it.
As you've gotten older, how have your views on beauty and aging changed?
I think you have to spend your time on, and worry about, more important things. Gravity exists; there's no way around it. As you get older, you have to look at aging differently because comparisons and criticisms are suddenly thrown in your face. There are a lot of people who are aging quire gracefully; I think it's about putting the emphasis on what's inside.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.
Combat uneven tone and texture with a small but mighty skin-saver: glycolic acid.
What is glycolic acid?
Glycolic acid is one of several alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), which are naturally occurring chemicals found in foods such as sour milk, sugarcane, apples and citrus fruits. The glycolic acid in skin care, however, is uaually the synthetic form, which is more stable, ensuring better delivery to the skin. (Naturally derived formulas often go rancid or lose their potency faster than synthetic ones.) Glycolic acid's molecules are the smallest and lightest of all AHAs, so they're able to penetrate the skin more easily. "You don't need a major concentration to have long-lasting efficacy," says Pascale Mora, the scientific communications director for Vichy International. Using even a small concentration (three percent or lower) can yield results. With continuous use, glycolic acid can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, improve uneven skin tone and lessen breakouts, leading to younger- and healthier-looking skin.
In the simplest terms, glycolic acid acts as an exfoliant, removing dead skin and stimulating skin-cell renewal. "It helps reduce skin dullness, unclog pores and reveal radiant skin by getting rid of older cells at the surface of the skin," says Eric Dupont, the founder of IDC, a Quebec-based skin-care brand. The results? Glycolic acid leaves skin soft and smooth; over time, it works at the cellular level, boosting collagen production.
Finding your formula
Products containing glycolic acid may cause itchy, tight or red blotches for some people (usually those with sensitive skin). According to Dr. Dennis Gross, a New York City-based dermatologist and the founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare, "Irritation is directly related to the concentration of the acid." But no matter your skin type, Dr. Gross recommends mixing a lower-concentration glycolic acid with other anti-aging ingredients, such as malic and lactic acids, instead of jumping to a higher concentration of glycolic acid on its own. Start with a more quickly absorbed glycolic formula, such as a peel, an exfoliant or a toner, with a concentration of 10 percent or less.
Glycolic acid is most effective when paired with other active ingredients. To fight acne and reduce shine look for a product containing both glycolic and salicylic acids, or brighten an uneven skin tone with a mix of vitamin C and glycolic acid. For an extra dose of anti-aging benefits, pair glycolic acid with either lactic acid, malic acid or lip hydroxy acid, which unblocks pores so that exfoliation is more effective. There's room to play. The two rules to follow? Moisturize your skin generously and apply sunscreen daily. (But you should already be doing that.)
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs): A group of water-soluable acids—including glycolic, citric, lactic, malic and tartaric acids—that are found in foods and can remove dead skin cells from the surface of the skin.
Glycolic acid: With the smallest and lightest molecules of any AHA, glycolic acid easily penetrates the dermis, making it the most effective AHA for skin-care purposes.
Lactic acid: An AHA derived from sour milk, lactic acid is best known for lightening and brightening the skin.
Malic acid: Found in fruit, particularly apples, this AHA helps minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Salicylic acid: A lipid-soluable beta hydroxy acid best known for its ability to fight acne.
Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C promotes collagen production in the skin and is a potent antioxidant.
This triple-action mask exfoliates with mechanical (physical exfoliation), enzymatic and chemical actions. Add it to your skin-care routine once per week for radiant, smooth skin.
Perfect for blemish-prone skin, this cleansing gel unclogs pores and promotes cell turnover with salicylic and glycolic acids.
Brighten dull skin with this mask that contains glycolic acid, rejuvenating papaya enzyme and brightening Viniferine for an instant touch of radiance.
Five-percent glycolic acid, this toner also has soothing aloe vera and skin-renewing ginseng for revitalized, glowing skin—at a seriously affordable price.
This overnight treatment contains glycolic and salicylic acids and niacinamide (an anti-inflammatory); the combo helps unclog pores and tackle blackheads while lifting away dead skin cells.
This two-step peel is ideal for sensitive skin and first-time glycolic-acid users. With a blend of alpha and beta hydroxy acids, it fights three signs of aging: fine lines, enlarged pores and uneven skin texture.
Is the anti-aging ingredient retinol worth all the hype? You better believe it!
One of the most potent anti-agers on the market was discovered by accident. Twenty-five years ago, dermatologists noticed that retinol, an acne treatment, also reduced fine lines, refined large pores and reversed sun damage. But there was a catch: The vitamin-A derivative also irritated skin, causing dryness and redness. As a result, many women were reluctant to add it to their skin-care regimens.
Today, however, retinol comes in a variety of formulations and strengths, so you can get the benefits without the irritation, says Dr. Paul Cohen, a dermatologist at Rosedale Dermatology Centre in Toronto. "The industry has come a long way," he says. Here's how you can take advantage of modern retinol.
Retinoid: A vitamin-A derivative available only by prescription.
Retinol: An over-the-counter derivative of vitamin A, found in concentrations of up to one percent.
Microencapsulation: This delayed-release delivery can help prevent skin irritation.
"Skin has its own natural renewal process, but as we age, skin renews itself less often," explains Dr. Cohen. "This results in the early signs of aging," including fine lines, wrinkles and sun damage. Vitamin A, either in an over-the-counter retinol or a a prescription retinoid, works by "stimulating cell turnover to help skin repair itself," says Dr. Cohen. The result: diminished fine lines and wrinkles, a more even skin tone and a finer texture.
Finding your formulation
Retinol is available in cream, gel and serum form. Whichever you choose, consider the overall strength of the product. For over-the-counter retinol, one percent is the highest strength allowed by Health Canada, but stronger isn't always better. "You don't necessarily have to go to that one-percent level in order to reach the results you want," says Kirk Brierley of RoC Skincare. If you're concerned about sensitivity, consider a lower strength that will deliver retinol to the skin in a more gentle manner. You can also try microencapsulated retinol, which is gradually released into the skin.
The perfect application
The best time to apply retinol will depend on the product. Serums should be applied immediately after cleansing, and creams after serum. Dr. Cohen recommends using a pea-size amount of retinol every other night to start, and eventually upping application to every night. "If your face gets red and itchy, or if it peels or burns, skip retinol for a day or two," he says. You can also apply a layer of moisturizer before your retinol; it will act as a barrier, keeping skin hydrated and reducing the risk of irritation. Finally, despite what you may have heard, retinol won't sensitize your skin to sun exposure. UV rays do, however, destabilize retinol, rendering it ineffective. So as long as you wear sunscreen every day (which you should in any case), retinol is your anti-aging friend.
Retinol, along with peptides and civitamin C, helps promote tissue regeneration around the delicate eye area.
This rich cream smooths lines and wrinkles while providing serious moisture.
Time-released technology gradually delivers retinol to the skin, minimizing fine lines and discolouration with less irritation.
Formulated with fast-working sustained-action retinol and moisture-rich hyaluronic acid, this serum is quickly absorbed.
Containing vitamins C and E and slow-release microencapsulated retinol, this serum encourages skin renewal.
A combination of retinol and Nia-114 (a form of vitamin B3) strengthens the skin's moisture barrier while combating fine lines and brightening skin tone.