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DO Elevate The Basics
I’m a big fan of making the mundane feel more special – especially after living through lockdown when simple things like a new bath oil made all the difference to my mood. These days, a nice hand wash does it for me – after all, we wash our hands more than ever now, so we may as well make it an enjoyable experience. Plus, who doesn’t love the smug satisfaction of a friend cooing over the scent of your posh soap? Some of my favourites are Aesop’s Resurrection Hand Wash and Byredo’s Suede duo, but I’m newly obsessed with KANKAN and their clever can system, and Forgo, environmental pioneers who have reinvented refills. Simply buy one of their Swedish designed glass bottles with a pack of plastic-free paper sachets of soap powder and just add water.
DO Treat Your Hair Like Your Skin
The hair industry has come a long way since the days of two-in-one washes – in short, your shampoo matters. With so many sophisticated formulas out there to treat all manner of follicular dilemmas, there’s no excuse not to treat your hair as well as your skin and opt for something really tailored. Living Proof consistently comes up with the goods, whether it’s a targeted, MIT-researched range for curls or endless options for kicking frizz for good. If you’re looking for more budget-friendly options, then the L’Oreal Paris Elvive More Than Shampoo collection is among the best I’ve tried recently. The Elvive Extraordinary Oil not only comes with an addictive holiday scent, but it made such light work of my parched lockdown hair that I’ve continued to repurchase it every month since.
DON’T Forget About Blusher
It might have old-fashioned connotations, but blusher is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated beauty products out there. Maybe it’s because bronzer has always felt a bit of a sexier buy and we’d all probably rather pretend our faux glow comes from a tropical beach than a windswept walk, but blusher is game changing. Whether you need perking up after a sleepless night or it’s just a bit of a ‘bleurgh’ day, blusher has the power to make you look fresher and generally just a bit more alive.
I love the ease of a cream blusher as it requires nothing more than the swipe of a finger to apply it. Westman Atelier’s Baby Cheeks Blush Stick is brilliant and portable, while Glossier’s Cloud Paint comes in a beautiful spectrum of skin-sympathetic colours. When it comes to placement, the apples of your cheeks will give you a pretty, feminine flush while lower down will add a more athletic, ruddy sort of glow. Oh, and don’t forget to tap a little on the bridge of your nose too. Somehow that little hit of colour makes all the difference.
DON’T Think You Can Ever Have Enough Scented Candles
Although my husband might disagree, I stand firm on this opinion. If you ask me, there’s nothing that can’t be made better by a beautifully scented candle. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you they’re an impersonal or unimaginative gift either; I don’t know anyone who isn’t grateful to receive one, especially when most of us are forced to spend our hard-earned cash on boring things like car tax and school uniforms.
My own current addictions include Evermore’s heavenly Venus Candle as well as their latest launch Smoke, which comes out in October – after having a sneak peek, I can’t work out which is chicer, the stylish black vessel or the cossetting blend of vetiver, cardamom and nutmeg. Heloise O’Hagan’s celestial No.4 Frankincense is another firm favourite, as is Diptyque’s Paris Scented Candle, which ties in with the brand’s Grand Tour four-week pop-up currently running at Selfridges.
DON’T Worry If You Don’t Have A Signature Scent
Some people are fastidious about the idea of having one fragrance that’s forever associated with them, but I’ve never liked the idea of having a single, recognisably ‘me’ scent. I’m totally fine with the idea of wearing something to death for as long as it suits me, before moving on and finding another obsession. My wedding perfume, for instance, I loved at the time but no longer wear; I don’t feel precious about it, it’s just that my collection has evolved with my tastes. Current favourites include Byredo’s whimsical and watery Young Rose, Le Labo’s dirty, earthy Another 13 and Loewe’s sun-soaked Paula’s Ibiza – the notes of mandarin, frangipani and narcissus are the closest thing I’ll get to a beach holiday this year.
DO Go Bespoke With Skincare
It may be the norm in the US, but having a dermatologist on speed dial isn’t a luxury we can all access in the UK. Thank goodness then for the next best thing – AKA Skin + Me, a clever direct-to-consumer customised prescription-strength skincare brand designed by dermatologists. The format is simple and once you’ve inputted all your concerns and desires, a bespoke cream that dispenses a precise daily dose of actives is whipped up by experts and shipped to you in the post.
Each recyclable aluminium tube lasts a month, costs a mere £19.99 and offers you the chance to send feedback to the online team should you wish to tweak or touch base about your prescription. As the months progress, concentrations of the active ingredients increase, helping you get your skin to where you want it to be in a safe and steady manner. I subscribed after being fed up with a combination of pigmentation, dullness and flakiness and was amazed by the transformation three months later.
DON’T Underestimate Beauty Sleep
Sleep really is a cure-all, not to mention the route to glowing skin, and sparkling eyes, so if you’re struggling to get enough, it’s time to make it a priority. I suffer periodically from stress-related insomnia and when it hits, I throw everything I’ve got at the problem. Some of the best things I’ve tried include Apothem’s Lights Out drops (the subtle caramel flavour makes it by far the best tasting pure CBD I’ve tried) and Aurelia London’s Perfect Sleep Pillow Mist, which contains an anxiety-zapping blend of chamomile, geranium, lavender and neroli. I also really rate my new Mela Weighted Blanket, which moulds to your body and uses deep pressure therapy to calm the nervous system and induce heavy eyelids. A special mention goes to Spacemasks heated eye masks for helping lull me to sleep when racing thoughts threaten to overwhelm at 3am.
DO Remember How Important Cleansing Is
The most expensive foundation in the world won’t give you amazing skin if you don’t look after it. That means proper cleansing. Most people I know are shocked when I tell them they ought to be cleansing for around two minutes every night (morning too ideally) to really take everything off, and even better, if you can, double cleanse. If you think about how much our pores have to contend with every day, whether it’s UV, microscopic pollution particles, SPF, general grime, sweat and make-up (usually all of the above), it’s no wonder a quick swipe with a face wipe won’t cut it. Side note: if you’re still using wipes, we need to talk.
Expensive serums and creams are also money down the drain if your skin isn’t actually clean. The texture is up to you, but I like to use a balm cleanser first to dissolves everything, followed by a lighter, non-drying foam cleanser to really clean my skin. I’m a huge fan of the no-nonsense Perfect Canvas Clean Oil Jelly Cleanser from Ren, the iconic Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm and the newly launched Biome One Cleansing Balm from Cultured – the honey textured formula is designed to support the skin’s bacterial ecosystem.
DON’T Save Best For Special Occasions
I learnt this the hard way after hoarding the most beautiful pot of bath salts for almost a decade (yes really). When I finally deemed the occasion special enough, they’d caked and shrivelled to the point where they were no longer usable, let alone scented. On that note, light that special candle, slather yourself in that expensive body cream and use your best bath salts, even on a drab Monday night. Actually, especially on a drab Monday night. This bath oil from new wellbeing brand Kalmar is just the thing.
DO Wear What Makes You Happy
I’m a big believer in the power of beauty products to make you feel great. My kids frequently laugh at me for wearing what they call my ‘red eyes’ – which is actually a very chic shade of russet eyeliner – but I don’t care because I love it and frankly, that’s all that matters. Just remember make-up is temporary, so if you do step outside your comfort zone and try that red lipstick and hate it, you can just wipe it off and start again. The important thing is to experiment, find what makes you happy and wear it with pride.
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