#AskUsAnything: Belts, Bikinis, Varicose Veins & Celebrating Your Birthday

#AskUsAnything – quite literally, anything – and we’ll put your queries to the experts. This week, there’s beauty advice on hyaluronic acid vs. retinol and our very own Fashion Ed talks accessories and swimwear labels to know now. Plus where to book for a special birthday celebration…


Answered by Charlotte Collins, SL’s Fashion Editor

“I want a new tote bag for work – something that that holds everything but looks good. Any recommendations?”

“Of course, you can invest in a designer tote, but why not look to more under-the-radar brands for something smart and professional that others won’t have. Vegan label Matt & Nat, along with little-known hero Charles & Keith, provide affordable options with a stylish spin, whilst H&M’s selection is always surprisingly polished.”

Shop our top picks below...


“I’m after a really cool black leather belt. We all know about the Gucci style, but who else does great belts for jeans?”

“French labels are an untapped resource when it comes to great belts. Ba&sh and Sandro in particular have stand out offerings – everything from Western-inspired buckles to embellished designs for evening – there’s something for everyone and they’re a great entry point to those desirable Parisian names. On the high street, we rate Topshop for their wide selection of styles and durability.”

Shop our top picks below...

"I'm looking for new bikinis, can you recommend any cool brands for different budgets?"

“It’s no surprise Aussie labels are some of the best when it comes to swimwear. High on our radar for this summer is Peony, the brand putting femininity back into on-trend pieces; that means ditsy floral prints, vintage-inspired cupping and high-waisted fits – plus Fella is also well worth checking out for flattering separates in mix and match pastel shades. Finally, & Other Stories may not be new but if their swimwear isn’t already on your radar it should be – directional details, from broderie to bows, makes it an affordable go-to.”

& Other Stories


 Answered by Rebecca Hull, SL’s Health & Beauty Editor

“I want to introduce harder-working products in to my skincare routine. What do you recommend more, hyaluronic acid or retinol? Or both?”
“Both retinol and hyaluronic can and should be used together. Retinol (vitamin A) can be incredibly drying on the skin, since it causes the top layer of your skin to turn over faster. So, always use a retinol at night, and start slow, working your way up so you don’t cause any irritation. Try to find retinol that’s part of a cream, that way it’s a little more diluted. Then use your hyaluronic acid the next day post-cleanse to lock moisture back in to the skin. In addition, always use SPF during the day when using retinol.”
For more information on what face acids you need to know about, visit our guide here.

“Is there anything I can do to disguise and treat my varicose veins?”
Answered by Kristy Cimesa, founder of Botanico Vida.
“Aside from opting for vascular surgery, which can be both painful and expensive, there’s also a holistic approach you can take. Drinking apple cider vinegar diluted in water daily and regularly adding garlic, ginger, turmeric and cayenne pepper to your diet can all help to improve circulation and reduce the pain associated with varicose veins.  Walking regularly and resting with your feet slightly elevated is also very beneficial.” 

Answered by Kate Shapland, founder of Legology

“When improper blood flow causes swelling, varicose veins and/or oedema , it can make legs feel heavy, tired and sometimes make walking painful and sleep disturbed.  We developed our hero product, Legology Air-Lite, with a leading vascular surgeon because we wanted to be sure that it would relieve that heaviness alongside the fatigue.  The core approach was to use ingredients that would encourage deep drainage and stimulation of the lymph and blood flow.  It’s this special combination that makes Air-Lite unique in relieving the dragging symptoms associated with varicose veins. So, it’s well worth trying if you don’t want to commit to surgery just yet.”

“I suffer from eczema and am looking for make-up and skincare products that will suit my skin. Which do you recommend?”

Answered by Debbie Thomas, celebrity facialist & skincare expert

“For a cleanser, I really recommend those with sensitive or eczema-prone skin go super simple and opt for chemist brand Cetaphil. It won’t aggravate or dry out the skin. If you’re trying to combat redness, Medik8 Calmwise Soothing Cleanser is a great option as it is gentle but super effective. As for make-up, I recommend the Oxygenetix Oygenating Foundation as it’s aloe vera-rich base calms and heals the skin, while offering breathable coverage with SPF. Finally, BYONIK Pulse Triggered Laser is a super repairing and strengthening treatment without any risk of irritation. Another alternative is LED Red Light Therapy, but you would need several sessions to see results.”


Answered by Heather Steele, SL’s Lifestyle Editor

“I’m looking for a bar space for my 30th birthday drinks – any ideas?” 

“I recently had birthday drinks at Opium Cocktail & Dim Sum Parlour in Chinatown. Here, there are three cool spaces to book – from the pretty Peony Room to the Greenhouse in the Apothecary Bar, where you’ll be served spirits in potion bottles. Across town, Grade II-listed Victorian Bathhouse brims with character. Head down to By Appointment Only, a clandestine drinking den hidden beneath the City, which is open on Friday nights. Dripping in old-school glamour, seductive Shoreditch speakeasy Nightjar has a punchy cocktail list and a nightly schedule of vintage jazz, blues, ragtime and swing. Finally, celeb favourite Sketch offers a range of bars to choose from. The Parlour (Sketch’s tea room-turned-bar) has an air of early-90s decadence, while Glade is ultra-maximalist – put it this way, none of your guests will forget it. “

Victorian Bath House
Opium London

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