New Year’s Beauty Resolutions

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We love a New Year. A completely clean sheet of paper – even more so, with a new decade ahead of us. (Sarah never drinks, but that’s why you also won’t find Jo indulging in more than a sip of Champagne on New Year’s Eve. Why would you want to start a new year, or a new ten-year phase, feeling rubbish…? We’d rather get up and at ‘em, Hoovering under the bed and heading outdoors for lungfuls of fresh, cleansing air.)

New Year is famously a time of re-evaluation – casting off the old, embracing the new. A time of good intentions – but also, of realistic goals, because otherwise it’s just too easy to ‘break’resolutions and write off the next 363 days. Instead, we think resolutions should be like horse-riding: you fall off (which Sarah has done spectacularly on at least one occasion), and you get back on again.

Our beauty philosophy, though, hasn’t changed fundamentally from when we started writing books together back in 1996. Powered by common sense and insights into the beauty industry – and, through our Beauty Bible Awards, into what works and what doesn’t – we’ve seen fads come and go, over our years in the business. As we proudly proclaim on our own website, we’re about ‘real beauty and wellbeing for grown-ups’. So here’s what we resolve to do, at the start of a year – make it ten – so full of possibilities.

We resolve to re-evaluate our skincare regimes regularly.

Skincare needs change, over time. For instance, Jo always described herself as having ‘dry, sensitive skin’. And then one day, not long ago, she woke up and realised: actually, her skin’s not so dry and not so sensitive anymore, either. Fact: over time, our skins’ needs shift, especially at times of hormonal upheaval – but it’s incredibly easy to get into a rut.

Really think about the products you use every day, and question whether they’re delivering. Are you over 35? Time to add in an anti-ageing cream. (Though eye creams can be introduced from late 20s onwards, since signs of ageing first show up there.) Skin feel tight? Sign of dryness. Ask yourself every single time you finish a jar or bottle: is this delivering what I want? If not, make a switch and go for something new. But don’t just chop and change for the sake of it; that’s what we used to do, in the early days, and it definitely triggered years of touchy skins for both of us.

We resolve to make a date night every week. With ourselves…

When you’re having to give everyone around you plenty of TLC, nobody need feel guilty about being kind to themselves. In fact, if you don’t, you’ll soon be running on empty. Stock up on products which deliver real TLC, such as Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil, or their Inner Strength. Place a soothing Space Mask over your eyes. Slather on a body oil afterwards (we love the neroli, lavender, rose and mandarin scent of Aurelia Firm & Revitalise Dry Body Oil), smooth the fantastically nourishing Ameliorate Intensive Foot Treatment into feet – and for a really kind-to-yourself feeling, slip them inside a pair of luxurious cashmere socks, warmed by a hot water bottle.

We will try a ‘beauty dare’, once a month.

Don’t let yourself become one of those people who can say ‘I’ve been using exactly the same products for years…’ Introduce one item into your regime that you don’t already use; ‘date night’ is the perfect opportunity, as you’ve already set aside the time to pamper yourself, and can ‘play’ with a different styling product, a ‘root touch-up’ product, a scrub mitt, really giving a bit of thought to what you like about the texture, the effect, perhaps (where relevant) the fragrance. Then get in the habit of using it…

We resolve to be even more sleep-obsessive.

Having recently listened to a fascinating Desert Island Discs with circadian rhythm expert Professor Russell Foster, we’re more obsessed with sleep hygiene than ever before. He actually believes that before long, we’ll regard lack of sleep as something akin to smoking, in terms of the health damage it inflicts. You might have thought that while you snuggle down beneath your crisp white sheets at night, relaxing and restoring energy was all you were doing. But scientists have now pinpointed that at around 1 am, the body is at its most resourceful – helping to repair and renew skin, as well as other body cells, while we slumber sweetly. So beauty sleep really is that – which is why it’s so vital to make sure we get your zzzzs, and slather on creams that take advantage of your natural circadian rhythms.

Our mantra is going to be ‘skin-plification’, in 2020.

We’re totally over ‘K-Beauty’, a.k.a. Korean beauty, a trend imported from South Korea, which proposes the idea that you need at least seven or eight different products each morning and evening. You don’t. You really don’t. You don’t need to spend the money, OR the time on an over-complicated regime; what you need is products that really, really work. (That’s what our Beauty Bible Awards have always been about.) We expect to see a lot more multi-tasking products like LixirSkin Universal Emulsion, which can basically be used as cleanser/moisturiser/body cream. And hallelujah for that.

We resolve to make this the year that we give your hands the TLC they deserve.

Hands work so hard for us: chopping vegetables, dancing across keyboards of all kinds – and communicating love and affection. Isn’t it time to return the favour? For silky, smooth hands, lavish care really has to become a many-times-a-day habit – rather than a quick squirt of cream in a posh restaurant loo! (Sound familiar…?) Always worth repeating, the best tip we ever heard is to keep a hand cream next to every set of taps in your life – and in our handbag. (Favourites, to be found here on VH: Lanolips Rose Gold Hand Cream Intense, and Margaret Dabbs Intensive Hand Hydrating Lotion.)

We will be completely ignoring ‘influencers’, and turning to trusted sources for info.

OK, a little New Year rant here. We’ve been in this business a l-o-n-g time, and met a huge number of experts. We’ve always believed in scratching deep beneath the surface and not taking things at face value, and that’s the foundation on which we’ve built our reputation. But today, there’s a huge buzz around ‘influencers’, who are often paid to take pretty pictures of themselves, supposedly as a result of using this product or that product. Fact: many of them don’t know their AHAs from their elbows and wouldn’t know what to say to a dermatologist, trichologist or psychologist if they met one.

As trends go, the ‘influencer’ is a bubble poised to burst, and we’re already hearing that there’s a swing back towards knowledgeable writers and experts who really know about skincare, or nutrition, or yoga, or cosmetic ‘tweaks’ – people like Alice Hart-Davis, Fighting Fifty’s Tracey McAlpine, Lucia Ferrari, Ingeborg van Lotringen (who just left Cosmo, but expect her to pop up somewhere soon…) Want real beauty advice for real life? Look to a grown-up.

We’ll always be here for you – and it only remains to say: don’t just have a gorgeous year – have a gorgeous, healthy decade…

Beauty Confessions Of A 56 Year Old

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Hello 56, who the hell let you in?

One minute you’re a dimple-cheeked forty something who could get away with being several years younger and the next you mistakenly press FaceTime and this scary apparition is peering down at you – all folded neck and chin and hooded eyes.

What can you do?  Few have the time, money or inclination to spend the next  20 years sealed inside a medi-spa or to be stretched and stitched by some weird-looking dude in Harley Street.  Here’s all I know about looking as good as you can, without being ridiculous.

Most expensive beauty unctions are a waste of money

Gill would agree, which is why she spends so much time weeding out the over-packaged rubbish. Only this week my husband brought me back a “collagen molecular spray” from Milan – he knows of my love for foreign pharmacies – which promised, as ever,  to be ‘anti-ageing’. Of course I’ll spray it around and am grateful for the thought, but it will not make one iota of difference to my skin.

A pot of coconut oil is mostly all you need

It’s the perfect cleanser and make-up remover and costs next-to-nothing.  Massage it into your face while in the bath, then thoroughly wipe off with a wet muslin cloth.  Naturally antibacterial,   it’s also a breath freshener,  body moisturiser,  scrub (just add salt or sugar) and an overnight hair treatment.  NB: Remember to seal the jar well and use a wooden spoon to extract the oil or it could go rancid. PS Do not eat. This stuff is 92% saturated fat.

A half decent moisturiser will do

All moisturisers fundamentally form a barrier on the skin to prevent moisture loss when exposed  to dry air or wind.  Which is why I often prefer more moisturising facial oils, my current companion  being an organic Argan oil for which I was recently royally fleeced in Marrakesh’s medina. In my VIP days,  Sisley moisturisers were a requirement, but nowadays I’ll reach for anything that’s affordable and begins with ‘organic’ or ‘bio’.

Serums can be seriously good

They’re the magic weapon in your beauty armoury.  GOW’s Niacinamide Serum is great for regulating sebum and costs the price of two fancy coffees (£9).  Change it up with  GOW’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum which seems to plump everything. Squirt on after toning (use pure rose water which costs about a fiver from your local chemist) and before moisturising.

Sun = wrinkles

Those with beautiful skin never, ever roast it.  I’ve been a hat and factor 50 wearer ever since a friend got skin cancer in her early 20s. Desist now and ensure your foundation/base/whatevs includes a high SPF.

Facial horticulture is a weekly must

Buy decent tweezers and a magnifying mirror with suction pads.  No-one wants to be that woman with errant waving follicles.

Invest major money in your hair and teeth

Either go au natural grey and channel a fabulous sharp haircut, or find a colourist you love. Shiny, swingy, perfectly tinted hair from Josh Wood is worth forgoing any amount of seasonal fashion fripperies. Ditto get those snaggly teeth sorted – no-one wants Tony Blair’s smile. Also keep up with the hygienist appointments as there’s a halitosis epidemic out there, and nothing screams ‘old’ more than sour breath. Also lightly bleach if you can be bothered. There’s lots of kissing years left.

Hands and necks are a dead giveaway

Do yours now look like they’ve been vacuum sealed with a Hoover nozzle – every blood vessel and sinew on show?  Sadly, zero can be done. Don’t bother with half gloves, a la Madonna and Karl Lagerfeld, but do consider soft turtlenecks or distracting jewellery, a la Anna Wintour.

Parmesan feet suck

I once heard a well-known magazine editor ridiculed for having crusty “Parmesan” heels on the front row. The horror!  It was enough to send me scurrying for my Margaret Dabbs Professional Foot File, which is truly brilliant.

No eyebrow shades of grey

They frame your face, so keep them on fleek. Save yourself the cost and humiliation of sitting in one of those eyebrow bars in Selfridges (where you are bound to see an old boyfriend), and buy yourself a Julienne eyelash and brow tint from the internet. Easy peasy.

Forget Botox and plastic surgery

Do like Anna Murphy in this brilliant read and get over trying to completely change your face – everyone’s used to it by now.  If anything,  get those brown spots zapped off – an unmottled complexion is a younger-looking one.

These pills really do pop

Not a fan of gobbling handfuls of pills but I believe entirely in these four: Turmeric that targets inflammation,  Vitamin D for bones and immunity, Ionicell for great hair and nails and Hyaluronic Acid High Strength because it actually plumps skin from within and it’s Shabir’s favourite.

Try smiling more

Your resting face looks increasingly worse as gravity takes its toll. Just saying.

And finally…

Ask for facials instead of gifts. No-one needs more stuff and they have the added benefit of letting your lie down undisturbed for a least one whole hour.

My go-to are both celeb magnets for a reason. Anastasia Achilleos is a genius who will even massage inside your mouth to get results, and Amanda Lacey’s complexion is a perfect advert for her plant-based range. Anyway I’ve known her since we were both truly young in Sydney in the 1980s, and as author Gertrude Stein once wisely said: “We are always the same age inside”.

Natural Ways To Brighter Eyes

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You’ve probably noticed that D.I.Y beauty – whizzing up ingredients to make your own cosmetics – has become a bit of a trend. Well, with all respect to the millennials who are all over #Instagram with their home-made beauty treats, we’ve been doing it since we were teenagers ourselves. Here’s what we’ve always known: making your own beauty treats is fun. (Especially if you do it with a friend/child/goddaughter.) It’s easy. And because these little beauty treats are packed with lashings of botanical ingredients, they can  can be super-effective. Read More…

Something In The Air

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There are green shoots out there. The light’s shifted, suddenly. And I don’t know about you, but at this time of year I begin – just begin – to think about changing the fragrance I wear.

Now, perfume, as many of you know, is hugely important to me. Life-enriching, For most of us, our sense of smell is akin to a seven-stone weakling; we drift through our days, barely using what Helen Keller referred to as ‘the fallen angel of our senses’, when there’s much, much more we can get out of our sense of smell. It was for that reason that almost three years ago, my friend and colleague Lorna McKay and I set up The Perfume Society (perfumesociety.org): an actual organisation whose mission is to help people improve their sense of smell via the medium of perfume. Read More…

Our Favourite Beauty Tips

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We consider ourselves blessed to have many of the world’s greatest hair, make-up and health experts in our Little Black Books. (Even if our ‘Little Black Books’ have now morphed into ‘Little White iPhones’…!) Every day on www.beautybible.com, we share a little nugget of wisdom that we’ve come across in our research. Here are some of our favourites…

  1. To instantly de-puff eyes, using your middle and ring fingers press and glide a bit of eye cream around the bones of the eyes, moving towards the temples of the eyes. Repeat three times on the bones above the eyes, and then below. It will help drain fluids and reduce puffiness. Read More…