my summer staples

my summer staples.

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Store cupboard staples…

I’ve lost track of the different products and brands I must have tried over the years but there are definitely a core group of favourites that I find myself coming back to.

My skin is very different now to the skin I my twenties and I’ve found that often some items that I swore by just don’t make the grade anymore. Likewise, some supposed miracle workers, back then, did nothing for me: there was a time when I had such an abundant supply of Creme De La Mer cream ( too rich and greasy for my complexion at the time ) I was using it to moisturise my feet. I suspect it would suit my needs much better now I’m in the 35 years plus age bracket.

These days I wouldn’t turn down any product from any of the brands below and you can guarantee to find these names in my beauty cabinet and bathroom store:

Clarins – have always loved this brand, even back in my teens when it summed up everything that was glamourous and pampering in beauty. I always find myself returning to the Foaming Face Cleanser with Cottonseed to use in the shower and the Handcream in my bag. I never got the fuss over the Beauty Flash balm, but it never did any harm. I much prefer their Tinted moisturiser to get my glow.
Current favourites are the Body Scrub and Foot Cream.

Dr Hauschka – The Rose Day Cream is worthy of the fuss and I love the lighter version and couldn’t live without it in the summer months. The Rhythmic Night Conditioner has, at various points, help my skin to balance out ( it allowed me to break the cycle of tightness after cleansing at night and the need to slap on heavy creams, resulting in congested skin the next morning). The Cleansing Lotion is a great phase one to my double cleanse routine; it gently lifts make-up and grime before my wash off cleanser. I’ve used and loved the foundation, eye cream, body lotions ( Blackthorn body lotion helped stave off stretch marks during pregnancy ), hand and foot creams over recent years. You will always find the lip balm pot in my bag.

Dermalogica – When I was a beauty editor, I used to be a regular at the Dermal Institute off Kensington Church Street for facials and massages. It might not have been the height of glamour (it’s quite the understated brand) but boy did my skin look good! I’ve consistently used the products ever since. Recommendations are the sheer skin tint and treatment foundation (a fabulous light base for summer when mixed together). The overnight treatment gel is one of the best spot blasters I’ve tried. I love that the multivitamin masque makes my skin glow ( and just lately the thermal exfoliant polishes). The suncare products are lovely to use too.

Chantecaille – I remember when this brand launched and meeting Sylvie and Olivia Chantecaille, as elegant and refined as their products. There was such a buzz at the time about the no look makeup cover ‘Real Skin’, however my bolt of lightening was the discovery of the Future Skin foundation; my complexion improved with every application ( it contains seaweed charged water I believe ) and I have always had admiring comments about how good my skin looked when wearing it. I found that mixing a little of Future Skin with a moisturiser gave a sheerer cover and extended the usage so one pot lasted well over six months (more than justifying the £50 price tag). The Jasmine and Lily Healing Mask is another gem. I slather it on and leave overnight to wake with a real bloom (I’ve just discovered Sisley’s Black Rose Mask has a similar outcome ). The Rice and Geranium Cleanser is on a par with the Clsrins wash off cleanser – a real treat. I would happy use any of the brand’s skin and makeup products – it’s no surprise that many Hollywood beauties count the range as one of their bathroom staples.

Make-up make sense

When choosing make-up products, it’s worth considering the company you are buying from as much as the product. Most brands are owned by a multinational company with many famous names under their wing. Lancôme is owned by the same company that produces Loreal Paris make-up; Chanel is owned by the same company that produces Bourjois; Dior, Guerlian and Benefit are under the same mother company. The research and technology that goes into anyone the products filters through to each brand eventually: it’s probable that six months after a Lancôme launch, Loreal will release a similar version – therefore if budgets are tight, its worth waiting for the formulations to filter through.

Trust taking tips from beauty editor and industry expert best buy lists, after all reputations are at stake and no one wants to recommend a dud product. It is for good reason that you will find Lancome mascara, Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge blush and Chanel foundation scoring big on must-haves from beauty know how’s.

However, a word of caution: beauty writers are held to ransom by the big beauty advertisers in the magazines they write for; advertising in magazines pays the editorial wages and employees are obliged to hail the latest releases by key clients as part of an unspoken arrangement; never bite the hand that feeds you, as they say. I remember having to put together a five page special on Chanel No.5 to keep the equilibrium, (and my then editor in a coveted Chanel suit).

There are dozens of fabulous products out there that rarely get airtime all because they aren’t big advertisers. Often produced by industry professionals and experts – they are high performance and superb quality. I recommend Becca, Chantecialle, Stila, Dr Hauschka, MAC, Bobbi Brown, and Laura Mercier as fabulous purchases and have products from all these nestled, well used, in my makeup cabinet.

Consider this: it’s not the product but now you apply it and the complementary tones and colours you choose that matters. The most fabulous, luxurious product in the world can look gaudy and wrong if the shade doesn’t suit – so take your time selecting and remember money can’t buy taste and subtle technique; that’s for you to master.

I have become used to studying the details – after years of accessing backstage at fashion shows and numerous shoots with makeup artists conducting their magic in the corner of the studio – I notice what they use: study the pictures in magazines of backstage or in the studio – what’s on the shelf, poking out of a cosmetic bag – that’s what you want to know cause these will be the real deal?

Something else to ponder: after a certain point, when makeup becomes more about replicating youthfulness and concealing signs of ageing, it is a wise move to consider choosing makeup products produced by skincare companies renowned for quality care, rather than solely make up brands: Clarins, Chantecialle, Dr Hauschka, Dermalogica all feature products with skincare benefits as well as great colour and coverage.

Skin savvy

I had this conversation with a friend today: after a certain age ( we could both be described as the wrong side of forty) it doesn’t matter what you slap onto your skin, the only way to keep your skin looking good is from the inside out. To be honest this is true at any age but just more so as we get older.

I’m no expert on any miracle working solution, but I do know, from personal trial and error and specialist advice over the years, that when I have done any of the following my skin has noticeably improved: glowed, cleared and seemingly de-aged. No surprises – this is beautiful skin without the price tag, just willpower and self control. Take you pick – whatever works for you:

Lay off the sugar – definitely avoid Haribo
Get lots of sleep – starting at least two hours before midnight
Start the day with a generous mug of freshly squeezed lemon juice in warm water
Eat an apple everyday
Take a probiotic ( gut friendly bacteria ) supplement
Limit alcohol to a small glass of red wine ( avoid spirits )
Exercise so you sweat lots
Fresh air and sunshine; always use a factor 15 sunscreen (make sure it offers maximum protection against UVA – the ageing ray)
Leave your skin alone – don’t pick, pull, over exfoliate, cleanse or moisturise
Avoid slapping on heavy night creams or oils if under thirty but always use a skin treatment overnight if over thirty
Make and take green juice shots
Double cleanse to take off makeup – massage a cream cleanser, then follow with a wash off cleanser
Take a multivitamin and mineral – preferably a skin supplement containing skin friendly oils
Eat more vegetables than fruit (steam, stew or bake the fruit you eat)
Eat Greek live yogurt, nuts and avocados in abundance
Drink Goats milk
Massage a vitamin E capsule into skin
Drink water – but not too much
Mix foundation with skincare cream for extra nourishment

The Devil was right

If you are reading this, you are probably wondering primarily why I left the glamourous world of magazines to teach ( epecially if you believe the horror stories in the news about education and schools ).

This blog is about my life after being a beauty editor but still discovering wonderful pampering finds – however I suspect I could end up discussing a lot of my life working in the hub of a fashion magazine. I see it in people’s faces when I tell them – they are dying to ask why I would leave such a job.

Watching ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ tells you everything about why I left my job as a beauty editor. Not everything that happens in the film happened to me but I can remember going to the cinema and sitting in the darkness barely able to breathe at some points, such was the excruciating empathy I had for Anne Hathaway’s character during some scenes. When my friend and I left the low lit warmth of the Odeon, into the dark blue iciness of the evening I could hardly speak about it; it felt weird to watch. I’ve seen the film many times and now throughly enjoy it – and think maybe again, just for a day…

Lots to say…?

Whenever anyone finds out I used to be a beauty editor, with hundreds of skincare products and makeup at my disposal, the first thing they want to know is what I found to be the best, most effective, worth the money….the next thing, if they get the opportunity, is to rummage through my bathroom cupboards.

I left behind the glossy magazine glamour of London nine years ago to become a teacher and a mum of two – but I’ve never lost my fascination and love of gorgeous beauty products.

I don’t get the privilege of free samples to try now, and, since I have to fork out for my indulgences, I have to make my choices wisely. I still have a few firm favourites from years ago and have discovered some new, surprising gems since.

I’m still constantly on the look out for the next great finds that will give me that glow ( after baby induced sleepless nights ), keep me flawless ( whilst teaching teenagers by day) and produce fast results ( in the short few hours of free ‘me’ time I have spare).

I thought I’d share what I discover is worth the money and what works – I’m hoping there will be busy, time and money strapped, working mothers out there that would enjoy the insider knowledge…