A Coffee With… Tess Daly
A Coffee With… Tess Daly

A Coffee With… Tess Daly

Tess Daly is a former model whose long run as a co-host of Strictly has made her a national treasure. Now 52, she sat down with us to chat all things wellness, beauty, parenting and more.
By Harriet Russell /

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Hi Tess! How are you – tea or coffee?

It’s a strong builder’s tea for me, please. I like getting up earlier than anyone else in my house to make sure I can squeeze in at least two cups before the day gets going. It gives me time to be calm and make some space in my head before anything kicks off.

How was your Christmas & New Year?

Lovely thank you – but can you believe it’s February already?! For me, Christmas is a real opportunity to switch off. I switch off my work phone and don’t look at any emails. It was great to have our extended family over, especially after the events of 2020. My girls were delighted to have their grandparents there and their uncle from Dubai. Since Vernon [Kay – Tess’s husband] and I got together 20 years ago, we’ve all spent Christmas together, so it was fantastic to be able to do so again after so much time apart. It made it extra special.

How are you getting through these cold, dark days – any tips for us? 

I admit I kind of dread January – even though I know I shouldn’t wish the days away. But I’m just not a fan of the cold. I always picture doing the school run at dawn and chipping ice off the car windscreen. I don’t tend to make resolutions anymore, but I do find it helpful to focus on a few goals to get through January and February. For example, I've committed to two gym sessions with a personal trainer every week – that feels realistic for me nowadays – and I’ve also committed to carving out more time for relaxation as I get older. It’s so important to give ourselves some time out at the beginning and end of each day. Even if it’s just ten minutes with a book. Focusing your mind on something else instead of mentally going through the to-do list for the next day is a sure-fire way to relax.


Are you planning to travel this year at all?

Definitely – in fact, I’m busy trying to plan a holiday at the moment. Like everyone else, we haven’t been away to enjoy the sun together as a family since early 2020. It’s made us realise that those are the times and the memories that colour our lives. When that gets taken away, it really leaves a void. I love being able to be with Vernon and the girls discovering new places and cultures.

The girls are teenagers now – how has parenting changed as you and they have gotten older?

In many ways they’re more self-sufficient. I don’t have to lay their uniforms out anymore! But then, I’ve found that as children get older, they need you in different ways. My eldest, Phoebe, is learning to drive (she passed her theory test last week!) and my younger daughter is about to turn 13. All she wants is to get her ears pierced like her big sister did. Teens are a minefield, so it’s about navigating that period sensitively and tactfully. You don’t want to interfere too much – but you’re still omnipresent. It’s about giving them the advice they need – and I’ve found they’ve tended to ask for it more as they get older – without getting too involved. I’m very lucky, really; they’re great, kind girls.

But being a good mum means looking after yourself too, yes?

Couldn’t agree more. By nature, as a mother and as a woman, it doesn’t always feel natural to put yourself first. But I've learnt over the years you can’t look after everyone else by ignoring your own needs. That way leads to burnout. I’m a big believer in nurturing yourself through food – you’ll also be able to encourage your children to develop good habits by providing nutritional meals – but my supplements are also really important to me. For example, I need my Vitabiotics Wellwoman gummies, and the energy drink every day. All those B vitamins… it’s about nurturing yourself form the inside out. What you’re putting in will inevitably show up on the outside – whether it’s lacklustre skin or tired eyes. 

I’m a big believer in nurturing yourself through food – you’ll also be able to encourage your children to develop good habits by providing nutritional meals – but my supplements are also really important to me.

Speaking of skin – are there any beauty products all women should know about?

As you get older, it's all about moisturiser. I have such dry skin (made worse in the winter months) and I really like using those overnight sleeping masks. I’ve tried everything from Sisley’s cult, luxurious Black Rose mask to Simple’s version. It’s super affordable – I think I picked it up in the supermarket during the last weekly shop! It’s brilliant. Another classic you’ll always find in my beauty bag is the Clarin’s Beauty Flash Balm. If you ask me, it’s unbeatable. You can sleep in it overnight, use it as a primer before make-up, use it on the plane… it’s dewy, healthy-looking skin in a tube and I can’t live without it. 

Years spent in the make-up chair for fashion and TV must have taught you a trick or two?

I’m very lucky to have worked with so many top make-up artists throughout my career. Whether it’s warming the eyelash curler to make your lashes stay in place all day or putting some iridescent eyeshadow in the centre of your lid to make your eyes pop, I’ve pretty much seen – and tried – it all. As you age, it’s all about creating the illusion of lit-from-within, healthy-looking skin. That’s why moisturiser is so important. Hair is important too – you’ve got to replenish the lost moisture at this time of year, especially if you heat style it as much as I do. I’m obsessed with Coco & Eve’s Like A Virgin Hair Masque.

Let’s talk TV – are you watching anything good right now?

I love the Sex & The City girls, so I’m watching the And Just Like That reboot. I’m enjoying it because they’re all in their 50s now and we so rarely see women on television having these kinds of conversations. Also, The Tourist – I’m only on episode two but it’s edge-of-your-seat stuff. Vernon and I are really into Ozark as well. We watched the first episode of the new series the other day – it’s brilliant. 



What about books – did you read anything good recently? 

I’m really into non-fiction and I’m reading Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nester. In the past, I’ve tried to meditate but find it very hard. I know that breathwork is the basis of meditation, so I thought best to start there. How we breathe has an impact on our overall health – it can even affect the state of your internal tissues, your energy levels, your concentration. That’s why athletes are taught to breathe a certain way – to maximise performance. It’s a very eye-opening read.

So, finally, what’s on the slate for you this year?

Well of course, there’s another series of Strictly on the horizon. That’ll run from September to December, although the producers start assembling the cast really from about March or April. As presenters, we’ll be called back in August. I’m also pouring a lot of time and energy into my swimwear line, NAIA. We’re planning to release two collections this year. I’ve really enjoyed learning about business and launching something that feels so personal to me. I love the creative process – and everything is about creating the most flattering pieces so you can feel confident and happy.
Tess Daly is a Vitabiotics Wellwoman ambassador. Visit Vitabiotics.com for more information and follow @Vitabiotics and @TessDaly on Instagram.

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