You’d be forgiven for thinking that these TOWIE mums were actually the sisters of their famous offspring. So we got them to tell us their look-good secrets…
Carol Wright, 52, is married to Mark Senior, 53, and is mum to Jessica, 26, Mark, 25, Josh, 22, and Natalya, 11.
She’s given TOWIE two of its most body-beautiful stars. So it’s little wonder that Carol is pretty darned hot herself. Mark and Jessica’s good looks are clearly all in the genes.
“For me, if you feel good you look good. So I try to go to the gym four or five times a week,” says Carol.
“I love to swim and always try to have a steam and sauna afterwards, it keeps my skin looking fresh and youthful – that and a good moisturiser! At the moment I love the Lancôme Renergie Multi-Lift SPF15 Lifting Firming Anti-wrinkle Cream. It’s great.”
Carol says she didn’t learn any of her beauty tricks from her mother, the most famous grandma in Essex, aka Nanny Pat, 72. In fact, the younger generations have taught her everything she knows!
“My mum is totally different to me. She never wore make-up before the show, and the only treatment she’s ever had is a perm every few months and a set once a week. I’d beg her not to, but she wasn’t having any of it.
“I actually learnt most of my beauty tips from Jess and her friends coming round to the house.”
Although plastic surgery is the norm among the Essex crowd, Carol, who’s a size 10, has so far resisted going under the knife, unlike Jess who had a boob job last year.
“I’ve had my eyebrows tattooed, but that’s it. It’s made such a difference. People have commented too, asking me if I’ve had work done – it has totally transformed my face shape.
“And while I’d never have worn fake lashes before TOWIE, these days I’m addicted to stick-ons. I see how young girls don’t want to go out without them – they really open your eyes.
“I hope that by being on the programme I show other women that sometimes you’ve just got to be yourself and not take everything too seriously. If you want to wear or do something different – do it!”
Tracey Collins, 46, lives with her partner Paul Mecklenburgh, 49, and is mum to Hannah, 12, and Olivia, 16, and stepmum to Christie, 24, Lucy, 20, and Lydia, 16.
She may be stepmum to newly engaged TOWIE star Lucy Mecklenburgh, but Tracey prefers to stay out of the limelight and hasn’t appeared on the reality show.
She’s much happier away from the cameras and firmly behind the counter at stepdaughter Lucy’s Brentwood-based clothes shop, Lucy’s Boutique. But that doesn’t mean she’s ever anything less than camera ready.
“I love wearing make-up, I feel naked without it,” says Tracey. “I just love the glamour.
“My mum, Hilary Allen, 68, was a glamour model in her 20s – very risqué for her generation. So looking glamorous is normal to me.
“I go to work every day with a full face on, and was always the mum at the school gates fully made up. I can do my make-up in a couple of minutes – I’m a pro.”
And Tracey’s make-up bag staple? “Primer, because it makes your skin look flawless. And Laura Mercier foundation is the best.”
Tracey’s wrinkle-free skin is the result of years of TLC. She cleanses, tones and moisturises every day and is always careful to stay out of the sun.
“I coat my kids with a high-factor sunscreen, because looking after your skin now will benefit you later. I’ve also started taking skin perfection supplements and vitamins every day, as I think my size-10 figure needs a little boost.
“I tried Pure Gold Collagen 10 Day Programme Food Supplement recently and I’ve really noticed the difference. I feel like my skin is plumper.”
Like a true Essex gal, Tracey’s a regular down the salon for general maintenance and a gossip.
“I look after my hair and get it blow-dried once a week. I also have a manicure every week and have deep-cleansing facials all the time. “I’m lucky, I’ve never really had to exercise or worry about what I eat. I’m always on the go – from running to the shops to doing the school run.
“Housework is my exercise routine, and I never sit down!”
Debbie Douglas, 50, lives with her partner Dave Bright, 53, and is mum to Georgia, 22, Lydia, 21, Freddie, 11, and Roma, eight.
She’s got four kids of her own and has fostered more than 250 on top of that, so how does Debbie look so good?
“Before my early 20s I wasn’t into make-up – I hardly wore any,” says Debbie, who has a very non-Essex approach to looking good.
“I’m so anti-Botox and cosmetic surgery. Everyone should grow old gracefully. Your lines and wrinkles are part of your story – it’s your character and makes you who you are.”
If her daughter and TOWIE co-star Lydia announced she wanted a boob job, what would Debbie do? “I’d have a nervous breakdown, and then lock her in her room!
“The key to beauty is to smile. You never see an ugly smiling face. If you’re happy on the inside, you’ll be beautiful on the outside. Even the most attractive person can be ugly if they’re not happy.”
It’s pearls of wisdom like these that have made size-12 Debbie one of the most popular characters on TOWIE. She adores being on the show, but admits it can sometimes be a bit of a shock when she sees herself on the small screen.
“Watching yourself on TV can be horrendous!” she laughs. “You end up being so critical, spending the whole time saying: ‘Look at my eyes’, and: ‘Is my bum really that big?’ But vanity can consume you and that’s a dangerous thing. There’s more to life and when I remember that it doesn’t bother me.
“I do have one swear-by beauty secret though – aqueous cream. I buy it for my children as it’s hypoallergenic and we all have sensitive skin. We go through tub fulls. And for smooth hands I love The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector.”
Fans of the TV show will know Debbie for her gorgeous, wild hair and signature red lips.
“I’ve worn Maybelline Superstay 24 Color in Red Passion on my lips for years. It’s ‘Debbie’s look’ isn’t it?! Lydia loves it too. We have a saying in our house: ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, I’m turning into my mother after all!’. I warn Lydia about that all the time.”
Kim Falcone, 52, is divorced, and mum to Giorgina, 29, Giovanna, 27, and Mario, 24.
Perhaps unusually, considering where she lives, it’s only recently that Kim has started taking an interest in all things beauty. But it was actually the breakdown of her marriage which prompted an image overhaul.
“For me it changed when I separated from my husband Mario, 10 years ago,” she says.
“Growing up you answered to your dad, then I got married and I was someone’s wife, then a mum. Now that I’m on my own and my kids have flown the nest, it can be about me.”
Kim, who appeared on screen in TOWIE briefly at a Falcone family meal, was recently mother of the bride when daughter Giovanna married McFly’s Tom Fletcher, 26. And she’ll have to dust off her hat again soon, since son Mario has proposed to girlfriend Lucy Mecklenburgh on holiday in Marbella.
But she’s ruling out getting a nip and tuck ahead of the big day.
“I would be too scared,” she says. “But if it bothers you enough, then do it. Everyone does these days, don’t they?
“I’ve had non-surgical lipo treatments, where they get rid of fat cells using lasers and chemical injections, which I think have really made a difference to the shape of my legs. I’ll be able to wear a dress with no tights! As my confidence grows I hope it will lead to me meeting someone new.”
The best piece of advice Kim has is to make the most of what you’ve got – and never go to bed with make-up on!
“I remove my make-up and cleanse with Shiseido The Skincare Extra Gentle Cleansing Foam and then use Eau Thermale Avène Anti-Redness Rich Moisturising Cream. As you get older, your make-up changes, but I always stick to a pink shade and wear my favourite perfume, Chanel Chance.
“It’s a whole different generation now,” says Kim. “It’s OK to care about what you look like. That’s something I’m just getting used to.”
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