My Beauty Story: Millie Kendall MBE

For beauty entrepreneur Millie, midlife beauty demands a wonder serum, a creamy eye tint and lots of SPF.

Meet a beauty legend. Millie Kendal is the CEO of the British Beauty Council, retail maven and brand creator. She has been instrumental in the success of cult brands including Shu Uemura, Aveda, Tweezerman, L’Occitane and our beloved and much-missed Ruby & Millie. She was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to the cosmetic industry.

Millie and makeup artist Ruby Hammer launched Ruby & Millie in 1998. It was sold first in Harvey Nichols, then Selfridges and Boots. Those of us who were fans still mourn its demise. 

In 2018, Millie co-founded the British Beauty Council, a non-profit organisation that aims to support a successful, innovative and inclusive British beauty industry.

In other words, there is nothing that Millie doesn’t know about beauty. She’s also a midlife woman herself, so you know that the products she chooses as her swear-bys are ones that the rest of us will love.

So Millie, over to you to tell us your beauty story.

Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath And Shower Oil, £49

Aromatherapy Associates

I was first introduced to Aromatherapy Associates by Anna-Marie Solowij, the former beauty director of British Vogue. She is my business partner at Brandstand Communications and one of the founders of the British Beauty Council.

Anna has long inspired me to look at more sustainable beauty products that offer more emotional benefits. I tend to pick products based on smell and texture and not always performance. I find the wellbeing benefits of beauty far outweigh the promises they make.

When I first smelled Deep Relax it did what it said on the tin, and since that day I am never without a bottle or rollerball. It is my go-to stress reliever and when I travel it comes with me.

I was once stopped at security at Heathrow airport and they removed my bottle of Deep Relax and I cried! The scent reminds me of friendship, love and laughter. And Anna of course.

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Yet another product Anna introduced me to. When we set up shop with BeautyMART at Harvey Nichols in 2012 (it has now closed), Anna wanted us to sell this product. I am a stickler for trying before I buy so she bought me a bottle. I used it once and was sold.

The difference in my skin, which tends to be dehydrated, was remarkable. I put it on at night and my face is literally like baby skin the following morning.

EGF is Epidermal Growth Factor, a protein found in the skin, which decreases as we age. BIOEFFECT, an Icelandic company, developed an EGF serum grown on barley in their own greenhouse in Iceland.

The serum has just seven ingredients in it, which is really special, and it means that the quantity of each ingredient is high. If you have too many ingredients in a product you tend to have smaller amounts of each and this makes the efficacy questionable in my opinion.

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READ MORE Meet Dr Dennis Gross, dermatologist and midlife skincare expert.

Votary Jasmine and Calendula Facial Oil, £65


I met Votary’s founder Arabella Preston through a makeup artist friend of mine Kay Montano. Arabella used to assist Kay many years ago and she went on to become a makeup artist in her own right.

Inspired by the use of cleansing oil in Japanese skincare routines and its effectiveness in removing makeup, Arabella set up Votary and developed her signature product, Super Seed Cleansing Oil.

I worked with Arabella and organised some press meetings in NYC about five years ago. That’s when I fell madly in love with her Jasmine and Calendula Facial Oil. It is so lightweight that it sits perfectly underneath my make up. I have adopted a simple skincare regime as I age and this lovely oil is both luxurious and almost naked. 

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Glossier Invisible Shield, £20


I grew up in LA, so I am well versed in what too much sun can do to your skin. I am also over 50 so I also know what the sun can do to you if you don’t wear sunscreen. Back when I was a kid it was either nothing or an oil to tan you and not protect you.

Now, I use a lightweight daily sunscreen and I like the texture of Glossier’s Invisible Shield. It seems to sit well over a face oil or cream. It doesn’t pill under make up, which I can’t stand. It smells great and it is a good all year round sunscreen.

I do use a higher SPF when in the sun directly, but for a city dweller and for normal London climate (rain, drizzle or cloud) this works well. 

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READ MORE This is why SPF is so important for midlife skin.

Jillian Dempsey Lid Tint in Ruby, £26.50

Jillian Dempsey

As my face ages and my eyelids droop a little, I want a shot of colour to push back the lid (visually) above the eye crease. I love a cream eye shadow. I know a lot of women say that a cream eye product creases but powder eyeshadows have oil in them too and I find them far less easy to re-blend and smooth out once they have embedded.

A simple stroke of Jillian Dempsey’s lid tint is much easier to work with. Also at this age, my eyelids are less greasy and more dry so they don’t crease that much, if at all. These tints are quite sheer so there isn’t any bulking of colour, and they are so easy to apply with a finger, brush or sponge.

I like Ruby as it makes the green in my eyes pop and I love the contrast. If you want more staying power, powder over it with a translucent face powder.

Jill and I worked together in the 1980s at Shu Uemura in LA. We have a friendship built on an intense love of colour and texture and make up is our medium. We have worked together on and off over the years and she is simply a brilliant friend, artist, wife, mother and environmentalist. She also makes a huge impact to the lives of the animals she rescues – you’ve gotta love a girl who owns a 150lb rescue tortoise.

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READ MORE Here’s what every midlifer needs in her makeup bag.

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