By Sarah Fitzmaurice
Back to the beats: Madonna looked youthful but her eyes betrayed signs of ageing as she arrived in London earlier today
Less is more these days for Madonna.
The singer, who has built her career on an ever-changing image, seems to have settled on a new one: bare-faced woman in her fifties.
With almost no make-up, her hair scraped to one side and smiling broadly, she set off from New York on a flight to London.
And in contrast to many of her recent appearances, where she looked almost frighteningly youthful, this time Madonna looked a little closer to what she is – a well preserved 52-year-old mother of four.
The fine wrinkles around her eyes were more evident than usual, possibly due to the fact that she was wearing so little make-up.
And she was travelling with her two lively boys, David, six, and ten-year-old Rocco, which may have left her feeling frazzled before she even took off.
She maintains her lithe figure with a rigorous daily exercise routine, which lasts up to two hours, and a strict macrobiotic diet.
Growing up: Madonna arrived into London Heathrow with her son David, who appears to have grown a lot in recent months
No doubt keeping up with her brood of four children helps keep her trim as well.
There is 14-year-old Lourdes, from her relationship with personal trainer Carlos Leon and Rocco, from her eight-year marriage to British director Guy Ritchie.
Then there is David Banda, adopted from Malawi as a baby by the singer and Ritchie, followed by Mercy, the little girl she also adopted from the impoverished African country.
Young man: The five year old boy appears to have had a growth spurt in recent months. Also pictured in 2007 with Madonna in Milawi
Strapping boys: Madonna, who is set to return to the recording studio next month, was also joined by her 11-year-old son Rocco
After finishing work on her movie W.E., which reprises the story of Wallis Simpson and is due for release some time this year, Madonna is said to have gone into the studios to record what will be her 12th album.
Maybe she has had more time to concentrate on her career recently.
She is said to have ended her latest romance – with 24-year-old hip-hop dancer Brahim Zaibat.