Beauty face savers

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I never used to care much about skin care, because there was always make-up to cover it up! Now that I’m older and definitely wiser, skin care is an important bridge to make-up: it’s fundamental. For the past few years or more, I’ve been a judge on the Annual STYLIST Skin Care Awards – although I’m not a skin care expert, I have lots of experience in using products practically. The fifth annual awards were held recently which prompted me to consider what are the products that I consistently reach for… what are my face savers? I’m very lucky that brands are generous and send quality products for me to try out, but that can sometimes be confusing (for the skin too!) I must admit that my favourites do change, sometimes on a whim and sometimes according to the season or specific skin needs, but here’s what I’m using in my kit and bathroom at the moment:

Clarisonic – this machine cleans skin six times more efficiently than manual cleansing and helps skin care products to be more efficient.
Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Cream – simple but effective, hydrating and glow giving. I love having these little mini pots in my travel kit.
Kiehl’s Skin Rescuer – I’m always reaching for this stress-minimizing daily hydrator, and so is my husband. Their Rosa Arctica Eye Cream’s great too.
Maybelline NY Baby Lips – I use this balm more than any other product during fashion week: not only to nourish lips, but to give freshness to skin, especially cheeks.
Embryollise – I never leave Paris without a few tubes. I find this moisturiser is the most useful in my kit because it seems to suit everyone.Good value for money.
Erborian BB Flash Essence – a serum from a new Korean range which I’ve only just started using, and I’m most impressed with the brightening effect.
NUXE 24HR Soothing and Rehydrating Fresh Mask – does exactly what it says! I use this at least once a week, and I especially enjoy applying it after a sauna and steam.
Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels – I like Skyn’s no-nonsense, straightforward approach and these eye gels have come in handy on a few occasions.
Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm – you only have to unscrew the lid to be transported into a spa! The oily base cleanses effectively, lifting make-up from skin.
CHANEL Gentle Biphase Eye Make-up Remover – it’s the best! The combined water and oil formula lift off the most stubborn, waterproof mascara. Reliable.
Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water – of course I’m a fan of Bio Derma, but this comes in a bigger bottle for half the price and does the same job in my opinion.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – this gentle exfoliant is a classic and has never been off my bathroom shelf. Just make sure you rinse properly!
L’Occitane Creme Divine – rich and creamy for when I feel like I need extra moisturising, either in the morning or at night. Luxury.
Liz Earle Superskin Concentrate – for a long time I avoided oil because I have oily skin, but this blend helps to balance it. I use it alone or with other night creams.
This Works No Wrinkle Midnight Moisture – created by beauty guru Kathy Philips who knows her stuff. Smells relaxing, sinks in easily and doesn’t make too many claims.

Refreshing makeup in tv-shows

I was very inspired by BBC2’s adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall on Wednesday night – a future classic, firing on all cylinders yet a slow burn drama, allowing time to relish the details and digest the complexities. Refreshing in our age of quick fixes and fast edits. It’s a treat to watch stage actor Mark Rylance (as Thomas Cromwell) on TV and I found the acting superb, particularly Claire Foy as a deliciously annoying Anne Boleyn. Hilary Mantel wrote a piece in today’s Sunday Times News Review, saying that our fascination with the Tudors endures because they are just like us (only bloodier!)
In fact, women ‘bled’ themselves to look paler, as this was a prerequisite for courtly beauty, signifying nobility, wealth and delicacy (not having to work outside in the sun). Make-up wasn’t fashionable during the reigns of early Tudors; it was Queen Elizabeth 1 who set the precedent, wearing lead white to cover up her smallpox scars and signs of ageing, along with vermilion to redden cheeks and lips. Make-up became heavy and was sadly often poisonous, but women have always been prepared to suffer for beauty!
What gave the actresses in Wolf Hall authenticity was their apparent lack of make-up, thanks to the work of award-winning make-up artist Morag Ross. Of course, we know that ‘no make-up’ often entails quite a few products, and can often be the hardest look to achieve. We all want pure, flawless, healthy looking skin, and the balance between a light touch yet still covering blemishes, is something most women want, and that hasn’t changed throughout history.

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Today we have so many products to choose from (fortunately non-poisonous in the main) and it’s fun to experiment, but also confusing. Make it easy for yourself by having a basic set of products and techniques to create your ‘best version of yourself’ face – your ‘no make-up’ make-up. You may use primer, foundation, concealer and powder or a tinted moisturiser/BB cream – depending on your skin type and the season. Include a blush and you’ve immediately portrayed health – I find cream blush to be the most natural looking, applied low on cheeks (like the flush in old oil painted portraits). Also add light – we’re always thinking about shading and not enough about brightening. You’ll be surprised at how refreshing a buff of pearlised powder on bones can be. Brows really do frame your face and a little definition with pencil or powder increases contrast, aiding a youthful appearance. Dot a brownish black eye pencil along the lash line to make them appear fuller and darker, curl lashes and tickle them with a light coat of mascara. Nourish lips with balm and boost shape with a natural lip colour pencil. If you don’t normally pay this much attention to your make-up, it sounds like a lot of products and effort, but you’re worth spending time on. The routine will become quicker and once you’ve got your base right, you can add whatever ornamentation you fancy on top, whether that’s a singular or signature statement – a crafted lip, slick eyeliner, smoky eye shadow or cheek contour – or a balanced make-up that includes all features. Or you could skip everything and just don a crown…