HIS boyish good looks in the 1986 movie Top Gun helped propel Tom Cruise to stardom but they seem to have finally deserted him at the age of 59, as new candid photos appear to show.

Both Cruise and 63-year-old pop idol Madonna have recently come under fire for losing the battle against ageing despite – or because of – an armoury of cosmetic ‘tweakments’.

Meanwhile Jamie Lee Curtis, who inspired Dawn French to let herself go grey, says she refuses to feel pressure to look like a 17-year-old, and instead wants to look her age at 62.

“I have been an advocate for natural beauty for a long time, mostly because I’ve had the trial and error of the other part. I did plastic surgery – it didn’t work. I hated it. It made me feel worse. The term, anti-ageing… what? What are you talking about? We’re all going to f**king age!” she told Lorraine Kelly earlier this month.

I’m not a fan of the overuse of fillers and Botox that can smooth out wrinkles but rob you of your natural looks and facial expressions. Renée Zellweger, 52, is unrecognisable as the cheerful Bridget Jones we’d come to love, and Nicole Kidman, 54, her face a beautiful but blank mask, had to do all her acting through her eyes in The Undoing.

However, in the real world of mortals inhabited by the likes of you and me, I think there’s nothing wrong with trying to look our best as we age.

After 18 months of lockdown when many of us have piled on a stone and got used to elasticated waist bands and padding about in a dishevelled state as we work from home, it’s time we turned our attention to looking groomed and professional once more.

A recent work trip to London made me realise how I’d let myself go despite returning to the gym and losing my lockdown weight. Some new clothes and make-up and a trip to my hugely talented hair stylist (John Paul – don’t ever retire) made me feel like my old self.

Making an effort with your appearance helps improve mental health and experts cite losing the will to wash and groom as one of the signs of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. It may sound trivial but looking good does make you feel better, so much so that there’s a cancer support charity named Look Good Feel Better that gives people living with cancer workshops on skincare, hair-loss, make-up, wigs, and nail care to help their physical and emotional wellbeing.

One of these sessions at the Maggie's Centre in Glasgow cheered me up after I was successfully treated for breast cancer seven years ago and helped draw a line under the whole unpleasant and frightening business.

An extreme example of the power of personal grooming was the ‘lipstick miracle’ of Bergen-Belsen. When they were liberated from the concentration camp at the end of World War Two, the starved and sick inmates carried on dying at rates of up to 500 a day despite being treated in hospital by the liberating allies because they found it difficult to digest food.

Then somebody sent a carton of lipsticks, enough for all the women in the camp. The British Army liberators were flummoxed – why would anybody send lipstick? But they soon saw its effect on the emaciated women survivors.

Writing in his diary, Lieutenant Colonel Mervin W Gonin, commander of the 11th Light Field Ambulance, said: “A very large quantity of lipstick arrived. This was not at all what we men wanted, we were screaming for hundreds and thousands of other things, and I don’t know who asked for lipstick. I wish so much that I could discover who did, it was the action of genius, sheer unadulterated brilliance. I believe nothing did more for these internees than the lipstick.

“Women lay in bed with no sheets and no nightie but with scarlet red lips, you saw them wandering around about with nothing but a blanket over their shoulders, but with scarlet red lips.

“At last, someone had done something to make them individuals again, they were someone, no longer merely the number tattooed on their arm. At last, they could take an interest in their appearance. That lipstick started to give them back their humanity.”

As a bare-faced teenager, I used to roll my eyes when my mum told me to put on some make-up, and I did so again when the headmistress of St Paul’s came to talk to my all-girls school on leavers’ day and advised us to wear red lipstick when public speaking.

But I realised as I embarked on my own career that looking well-groomed and put-together gives you confidence and makes you appear professional.

Celebrities have an army of nutritionists, personal trainers, stylists, and plastic surgeons at their disposal, but there’s no denying that some of them look amazing for their age and can be an inspiration for the rest of us.

I know breast cancer survivor Kylie Minogue was to me when she flounced onto the stage in showgirl outfits at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games closing ceremony, just as I was feeling sorry for myself. Now 53, the Australian pop diva looks as fabulous, if not more so, than she did in her twenties. So, while I’m steering clear of anything drastic, I’m following Kylie’s example – and my mum’s advice – and putting on a bit of lippy.