It’s not something I tend to shout from the rooftops, being 40. It’s a whole decade further on from where I’d like to be I sometimes feel! But ‘age is just number’ rings stronger & truer these days as we learn how much can be achieved with a healthy and happy lifestyle…
But it goes in waves, succumbing to ice cream whims or falling into that easy glass of wine every night. And I find tiredness & fragility show up on my face like nobody’s business and generally my hair just ain’t as glossy looking as I would like. So since the late spring (July baby me!) I’ve been introducing some health and beauty tweaks to see me through the next few years in a feelgood, lookgood kinda way… So here goes!
You’re probably fully aware of my lo-fi approach to makeup – a mix of laziness and never properly bothered to find out what it was all about. The odd time I’ve had my makeup done, I’ve often been quite shocked with the results, admittedly though in the last two years I have had the pleasure of having my makeup done by artists who totally understand the ‘natural’ barely there look.
So I have tried, post those experiences, to become a little more au fait, but even recent attempts have ultimately fallen flat. A move to a foundation that gave more coverage was fine during the summer months when I was more tanned, but a tad too yellowy in the autumn when I was back to my normal pale self.
And however much foundation or concealer I used (never quite understood the whole Touche Eclat is a highlighter, and have always used it on top of a concealer under my eyes, for better or for worse!) I’ve had nightmare moments when I’ve seen how dreadfully shadowy and tired my undereyes can look. I’m one of those people for whom fatigue is written all over my face and eyes, going slightly skeletal and all hollowed out looking. Which often made me feel quite low, on top of being exhausted.
So. Long, short, is that after a fortuitous and positive encounter with a makeup compact by Cosmetics A La Carte – a good overview of what they are ‘free from’ here – I paid a visit to their Chelsea store (it’s been there since the 60s!) to have some bespoke foundation and concealer made up. I mean, yes please. I have zero idea what shade my skin is, and it was my burgeoning realisation that this may be the key to my makeup problem that propelled me from east to faraway west London. 😉
Once there, the lovely Laura spoke magic to me. Most importantly, she explained to me that my undereyes are bluish as the skin is so thin there on me. Which explains the bruised look I develop when tired. So she expertly mixed me up a bespoke concealer with colour corrected the blue there & then! Yes, I know. She also showed me how to put it on properly; all the way up to the lower lid edge, which I never did for some reason.
Before I share the makeup tricks, I just wanted to tell you about the new facecare I’ve had going on these last few months. Because around my eyes is my worry spot, I do do the indulgent for luxe eye creams and serums, which I apply morning and night first thing after cleansing. At the moment I’m using a new organic eye brightening roller serum which I’m loving – LilFox Miami, available at my fave A Beautiful World and I alo love Oskia’s excellent range of serums.
I’ve also finally got into face mists! Perhaps a sign of battiness with old age, ha! It is a bit like, “But my face is just wet now…” For a moment or two. 😉 But it’s so much more than that, I promise. I first felt the benefits with a Jurlique water essence product, which just felt so hydrating. Just the right thing pre moisturising. At the moment I’m using the very gorgeous, very luxe, very natural Panacea Elixer by Yuli, who also do the absolute queen of all luxe organic eye serums, the crazy expensive but oh-so good Ambrosia Serum.
And another thing I never used to do – although admittedly I have yet to reach peak on; baby steps, baby steps – is masks. I prefer the wet, cream kind. I adore the Dr Hauschka cream one and have been using this delicious pomegranate overnight mask by new vegan line from Dr Botanicals Apothecary Natural Collection – love being able to leave this on while sleeping! But every now and then, I’ll go a bit further and this LilFox Miami yes-it-can-get-messy charcoal powder one is great. I just mix with some water and rub it on while in the bath. I meant to use that nice looking brush, but well, my hands were fine!
So, the tips!
- Apply with small makeup brush a little cross of nude eyeshadow to the inner corner of your eye. For a brighter, fresher look.
- Rub in a little of the nude eyeshadow just under your brows above the eye, to follow on from the above.
- Only for the not faint of heart, or toughened contact lens users! Line your inner upper lid with dark liquid gel liner. This makes your lashes look fuller.
I know! So minor, right? But I promise you, they were transformational. At least when Laura did them, ha! I am practising. But feel so much more au fait with it as each day goes by…
And finally my last secret weapon, although I kick myself for always forgetting to do this… Is to apply a little organic face tan gel from Chocolate Sun at night. Makes all the difference!
So I’m really quite guilty of neglect when it comes to my hair. I have this terrible habit of cutting it at home, which I can just about get away with, until very suddenly I can’t. So then I go to the hairdresser. Where. typically, have a haircut I hate. Come home, try and fix it myself. Cry a little. Then remember it will probably look okay in a day or two.
Recently, not so much. There’s been a dryness and strawiness about my hair. Probably a lot to do with the way I hack at it, so the ends end up ragged. But I have found a way to solve that problem. And that is… high level conditioning – I shampoo and condition everyday, with added extras. So the Sachajuan Overnight Hair Repair I’ve mentioned before, I pop on at night.
You’re meant to just put on clean hair – which I sometimes do if I’ve had a bath! – but sometimes I just put it straight on in the hope at least some will penetrate through the day’s product & dirt. It has such a nice conditioning effect (and doesn’t stain pillows) that I often just rinse with water the following morning as my hair texture is just how I like it.
The other one I’m using is The Great Hydrator (Evo are worth it for the brilliant product copywriting and names alone!). This one you leave in for a while and rinse out, but really effective. For shampoo and conditioner, there is such a good selection of vegan (Maria Nila, pictured) and free-from these days that actually lather up I feel spoilt for choice.
I switch between Evo, Sachajuan (basically in love with all the Sachajuan products!), Maria Nila and argan rich Rahua. For Gus, I used free from Boots brand Kind Natured for kids, and since this range is so well-priced, I use the bodywash too.
I have quite a few dry patch problem areas – my feet, my heels in particular, and my calves and hands in winter. Plus I get occasional rashes that seem to benefit from nice, soothing balms. So I like to have a good supply of thick, natural ones to hand. Pictured are the ones I’m using at the moment.
The Pai Buriti Balm is quite lovely – not the thickest, and so a really good hand one before bed. And I think I mentioned I’m rediscovering The Body Shop and the shea body balm and lip butter (sorry, can’t find this online!) smell so delicious!
As mentioned above, I’m really taken with the new vegan range Apothecary Natural Collection from Dr Botanicals, the Lemon Superfood Rescuing Balm is heavenly thick and smells delicious. I’ve also been using the Cocoa & Coconut Body Lotion too, gorgeous stuff! Lanolips Golden Ointment is a longterm favourite (as is the Green MOA balm!) for tackling cracked heels – although I finally (touch wood!) seem to have got on top of these; the answer being daily exfoliating and slathers of balm.
And for super luxe indulgence the Vital Balm from Josh Rosebrook has the most wonderful mousse consistency; it’s much lighter than the rest of these and my guilty confession is that I’ve been using it as a winter face moisturiser and it is truly divine!
A combination of sore neck muscles and a very important need to take some timeout during the day to wind down and warm up has led me to more regular evening baths. Basically I fit these in for 20 minutes when I’m not on stories duty with Gus. I’ve realised a lengthy soak just isn’t that realistic, but 20 mins can be quite transformational when you have all the right things to hand!
So I’ve been using a mix of oils and salts. And candle lit, always! Handful of magnesium flakes go in (I’ve now bought a mega 5kg tub!) or lavender or rose & cedarwood bath salts followed by a dollop of bath oil, usually the relaxing kind. My firm favourite is the lavender & chamomile one by Bramley.
Although vying for my attention too is the pricey but divine bath oil by Susanne Kaufmann. All such high quality natural products, the lovely essentials oils cutting through.
So I’ve always been a big believer in the benefits of what you eat on how you look and feel. I can definitely see it on my skin when I’m juicing everyday. And as I get run down quite easily, I do have to make the effort. Key at the moment, and quite a revelation since I started taking them with a glass of cold water instead of hot tea (thankyou Team Imagination PR for advising this!) is a good probiotic.
OptiBac seem particularly good and definitely have helped with an overall improvement in my gut and general wellbeing – healthy gut equalling less anxiety being the bottom line as I’ve been reading recently. And I sprinkle the kids powder version into Gus’s muesli, sshh, don’t tell him!
I’ve also got into the whole tumeric thing, with lovely afternoon tumeric lattes made with the brilliant Oatly Barista milk which froths up nicely. I use this for my coffee and muesli too. The Maca powder I make as a tea and add crushed ginger for another daily pick me up!
I’ve never been a fan of underwired or padded bras. I find them uncomfortable and not great on my shape. But it’s never been that easy to find good ones and I’ve had my fair share of wired bras I’d wear for special occasions, desperate to take off the minute I get back in the house. So recently I’ve decided to stop wearing them altogether and have weeded them out of my underwear drawer to make space for some lovely non-wired undies, with comfort at their core.
Organic Basics from Denmark (who also do brilliant plain black socks btw!) have a well-made range of organic and sustainably made pieces with a tailored bra design in three colours (black, nude and rose) and two knickers styles, which keeps things simple. The fabric is slightly thick but you feel like you are well contained in it, if that makes sense!
With a similar ethos is Kickstarter business Moons Junes, also from Denmark, who are taking a similar approach with a slighter lighter material with three different carefully constructed bra styles. I also love their imagery, featuring women of all ages. You can buy here and support the Kickstarter here.
And finally, denim. I feel like it’s been a long journey, but finally I’ve arrived! Having successfully transcended the skinny, the new comfort zone is a better looking high waist and a looser, straighter leg, which just seems so much more grown up and elegant. But, it’s taken a while to find the ones that double up as good enough to ‘go out’ in and still comfy enough to travel in.
Here are my three choices, tried and tested and to suit every budget. I think you probably now know I, to my wallet’s downfall, discovered just how good the Re/Done jeans are. At top price, circa £250, they are the ones the I wear most, which I feel good about; the high waist ankle crop. Next up for just under £100 is the new Levi’s altered skinny 501, which style and cut wise isn’t that much different to the Re/Done, just a little bit looser, so slightly less smart. And then of straighter leg but excellent waist is the Seattle style from Weekday for a totally stomachable £40. There you go, my holy trinity of jeans 2017!
All photography by myself on Olympus Pen F
Items with an asterisk* denote products sent for review.