Handy scents for your changing bag

Screenshot 2016-07-19 10.40.03In my latest video I reveal the contents of my carry-around-with-me makeup bag – the little pouch I had in the changing bag and now have tucked in my handbag for touch-ups. A very edited version of what I took around with me pre-baby, but who has the upper arm strength for that shit when you’ve also got another human to carry and potentially a buggy/toys/water/ton of nappies. Nowadays it’s the essentials only, thank you very much.

And for me that includes a miniature scent, preferably roll-on. With all the sweat, sick and other unfortunate STANK that comes with being a mum, I like to freshen up with a handy-sized scent now and again. It’s an easy way to lift your mood a wee bit and waft nicely around people, and you can do it one-handedly. Hurrah.

My favourite is Francis Kurkdijan Extrait Apom pour Femme, which at £95 for a set of 4 5ml vials might seem a bit pricy but those little things have lasted me 5 years at last count. A roll on scent tends to last longer than something you’d spritz, and who wants to douse your surroundings (or god forbid, baby) in your precious scent?! I also love the roll-oils from Lola’s Apothecary – as pictured above. Slightly less spendy at £25 for 3x 10ml bottles, you can switch it up depending on your mood, from the relaxing lavender to the downright sexy rose. Or next time you’re stocking up on your signature scent, ask if they do roll-ons. Chanel does, Estee Lauder does, L’Occitane does, even Diptyque does. I’m telling you – it’s all about the roll-on.

 

 

 

 

 

The Perfect MUM-MANI

Screenshot 2016-04-20 20.05.47I have NAILED it – sorry – and discovered the perfect manicure for mums. If you don’t have time to squeeze in the brilliantly long-lasting CND Shellac treatment, how about a spot of glitter?! I’ll tell you why HERE but rest assured, there are many highly convincing reasons.

And the products I swear  by:

  1. Intensae Nail Lacquer in MUSE – £14.95
  2. Essence The Gel Polish in ON AIR 44 – £1.60 wilkos.com (seriously – £1.60?!)
  3. Little Ondine in COPPER SPARK LO25 – £11 (non-toxic and peels off so your kid can wear it too)
  4. Nails Inc Boho Luxe in NOTTING HILL – £15

JOIN THE GLITTERATI! Sorry.

WIDE AWAKE EYES: My column in Sunday Times Style Magazine

I recently chatted to Style’s Sarah Jossel about my own cheat sheet for covering up the fact I’ve had bugger all sleep, something that’s been the standard since I got pregnant 4 and a half years ago. And she put some of my tips into today’s Back to Beauty School segment! So for anyone who’s come this way thanks to her, here’s the link to my WIDE AWAKE EYES video and here’s the MUMFACE IN 10 video too, which also has some wow-I-look-fresher-than-my-baby / I-had-18-hours-sleep cheats. G’MORNING!

In other news, my JUNE LAUNCHES video went live yesterday, where I review the very best products launching next month, featuring some mega brow pencils which I also swear by for looking a bit more perky of a morning.

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REVIEW: MILK BEAUTY MANI-PEDI by Nicola Eyre

IMG_6007Nicola Eyre is the inimitably cool powerhouse behind the family concept store, Cissy Wears – from two stores in South East London and the drool-worthy website, and as of Thursday night, a mum-of-four! She also gives me serious tattoo-envy, and is hilarious. While she was still pregnant, Nicola – a savvy beauty aficionado – agreed to review the new offering from MILK Beauty, an at-home pampering service in London. Perfect for MUMFACE – a therapist turns up at your door so you don’t need a babysitter / pregnant-waddle into town. I’m dying for them to set up shop in Sussex. She went for a Shellac Manicure and Pedicure (£80), and THIS is what happened… GT
“Oh the joys of those early days with a new baby. When you’re so tired your bags have bags, your hair is unwashed for a week, and you haven’t showered in days, half the time your skin is dehydrated and the rest of the time you’re soaked in constant hormonal sweat, and that lovely pre-birth manicure your treated yourself to on maternity leave is now ragged, half chewed, and peeling off.  Just another thing that makes you feel bad about yourself. Coupled with the fact your hands take such a bashing from the repeated washing and can end up sore and dry, you just can’t keep up with nice nails. But how do you even get out for a manicure now the baby is here?
When I was told about MILK Beauty it sounded perfect. Relaxing beauty treatments in the comfort of your own home. Exactly what I need as a working mother of three (and very soon to be four). My lovely therapist turned up promptly at 7.30pm. I’d wrestled the youngest into bed early with success – hmm, might try that every night – and bribed the other two with Netflix on the iPad upstairs (“Mummy is doing some very important work downstairs so don’t come down and don’t start squabbling”).
By the time I’d got downstairs from my popcorn and warm milk bribery she had set up everything on the lounge floor in front of my sofa. All I had to do was sit back and relax.
First child appears at the door.
“What are you doing?”
“I’m doing a review for a blog”
“No you’re not, you’re getting your nails done”
“Go away, I’m supposed to be relaxing”
Back to concentrating on relaxing and not accidentally kicking my therapist in the face.
Second child appears at the door to have a nosy at what is going on and promptly bursts into tears.
“I want my nails dooooonnneee!”
I manage to stem the flow by letting her pick the colour (or rather just showing her a colour I think she’ll like) and promising that I will do her nails tomorrow.
Back to concentrating on relaxing.
First child appears at the door again. The argument over what to watch cannot be resolved. He throws himself down on the sofa and switches the TV on. Try to concentrate on relaxing over “Night At The Museum 3”.
Husband finally gets home from work. Feel guilty for sitting there having my nails done. Sigh.
All over, my therapist packs away promptly and leaves everything sparkling clean, and me with glossy fingers and toes. She even gives me a removal kit with special acetone nail varnish remover, which I wasn’t expecting, and will be perfect for when I need to remove the Shellac in a few weeks. And let’s be honest, when am I ever going to get the chance to go for a mani/pedi outside of my own home any time soon?”
Shellac Manicure and Pedicure £80 MILK Beauty 020 8525 8991 – for those in the London area only.

Haute Mama: Steph Douglas, Don’t Buy Her Flowers

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Steph Douglas, founder of Don’t Buy Her Flowers and writer of The Sisterhood (And All That) blog, photographed in Central London.

Steph is one of those brilliant women who wants to make motherhood – and indeed, womanhood – a nicer hood in which to find yourself. Rather than the wilting flowers that give you one more job to fit into the nappy-feed-rock-clean-soothe cycle of the newborn days, Steph suggests you send your most loved new mothers a kit of things she’ll actually LOVE – magazines, sweet treats, Cook vouchers and beauty products galore. Since launching focused on gifts for new mums, they’ve organically grown for other occasions – thank you, birthday, anytime someone needs a bit of a pick up. Have a browse at Don’t Buy Her FlowersI’ve already bought several of these boxes and the general response is a tearful ‘ohmygodireallyneededthat-sob-sob-sob’. But yesterday she launched my new fav – the Time Out Box (£91-£201, for London residents only) is for new mums but really, anyone you think deserves or needs a treat, including a voucher for a MILK Beauty treatment. A review for their manicure will be up soon, courtesy of pregnant lady, Nicola of Cissy Wears – suffice it to say, this is something a mum is sure to love. Someone comes to you AT HOME to pamper you in the comfort of your own home, while you feed / eat / snore. 

Steph is also a bloody nice woman. If I ever have another kid, I’d like someone to send her round, please. With one of each of her mega boxes. So now, here’s what the woman who is curating the best post-birth gifts uses on that smashing MUMFACE of hers. GT 

Seche Vite £11 – I am TERRIBLE at painting my nails. It’s not so much the actual painting, but having the time or patience to dry them properly. I inevitably do them before bed and then fall asleep and they get all smeary. Then Clemmie Hooper told me about Seche Vite. Chuck it on after you’ve painted and they dry super quickly, it smoothes the finish and the colour lasts longer. You can even fix chips with a top up of polish and this. I don’t want to say life-changing, but…

Clarins Instant Concealer £22 – When you have baby-induced eye bags, you need the good shit, and it turns out YSL Touche Eclat is actually a highlighter, so I read about this in Glamour and haven’t looked back.

If I had to choose one favourite treatment, it would have to be a pedicure. I just can’t replicate what they can do in a salon and a bright toe massively lifts big, dry mum feet!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haute Mama: Dress Like A Mum

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Photo: Polly Geal http://www.littlekin.co.uk

Just as my aim is to redefine the term ‘Mumface’ into the fabulous thing it really is, Zoe de Pass is showing us that ‘dressing like a mum’ should be something to love and embrace, not avoid. She’s all about wearing your most loved pieces on a daily basis and not accepting that you should change your taste in clothes just because you’ve given birth – in her case, to two gorgeous kids. Zoe’s Instagram feed is a smorgasbord of bright colours, sequins, sexy ass jeans and breastfeeding-friendly dungas. She’s inspiring mums to enjoy clothes once more. She also likes a bright lip, and I was dying to hear what she uses…. GT

Since becoming a mother of two I have noticed my skin and face look tired, especially in the early days. I remember looking in the mirror and thinking I looked like a grey alien! So I try to take more care looking after my skin these days. I recently had a facial peel with Dr Mayoni – a mother I met through Mothers Meetings – which helped perk my skin up a lot and since then I have introduced Vitamin C to my routine which has helped with the greyness! I also use Liz Earle Eyebright™ Soothing Eye Lotion as my eyes are now permanently tired. Putting this on in the morning or after I’ve cleansed cools and de-puffs them.
I like Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet lipstick as it’s really easy and quick to put on and it lasts. I’m not very good/neat when I put on lipstick so this is great – its like lipstick for beginners! I heard a bright lip detracts from a tired eye, so I have been wearing lipstick ever since.
Charlotte Tilbury FILMSTAR BRONZE & GLOW LIGHT TO MEDIUM Face Sculpt & Highlight is amazing – it gives you cheekbones! I got it for Christmas the year before last and it’s still going.

HOW TO GLOW: Part II

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instagram/thevalgarland

How did becoming a mother result in dull, grey skin? Well, I’ve been sat here for an hour now charting what happens to your skin and all the factors that weigh in against the glow, AND I BORED MYSELF. So I’ve deleted it all and all you really need to know is this:

SLEEP DEPRIVATION = less time for cells to regenerate and churn out nice fresh new skin cells + possible excess oil to make up for dryness + shitty hormones spiking + all sort of other pants stuff. = dullness, congestion, grey complexion, i.e. buh-bye, glow.

But there is hope. Nothing that will make you appear 10 years younger or cheat the sleep, but several things that actually shock me everytime I do them. Products that I use and then feel I ought to contact the maker afterwards to ask, “DO PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THIS?” And I’m a fairly cynical / dried-up old bird. Basically, the answer is exfoliation, but the methods are various and so here’s a quick round-up of my favourites so you can find the one best suited to your skin, your budget and your window of opportunity.

  1. THE MASK – no scrubbing required but does take around 10 minutes. My favourite is the GLAM GLOW TINGLEXFOLIATE, which is the only one to illicit the yell, “OH MY GOD EVERYONE COME LOOK AT MY FACE!” The tingle can be quite intense so this is not for sensitive types – I have combination skin with a sensitive chin (i.e. it hates people saying how big it is) and I can still brave the world straight after a dose. It is £49.99 for a teeny 50g pot, so if that’s too much (understandably), try Caudalie’s Instant Detox Mask instead – £22 for 75ml, similar tingle just not quite as deep down, jaw-droppingly thorough.
  2. THE CHEMICAL EXFOLIANT – I have this generous 200ml tube of AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser £34 in the shower – there are tiny jojoba beads in here, so it’s almost a granular scrub, but they’re barely perceptible so I think of this more as a chemical alternative. Salicylic Acid hoovers pores, while Glycolic and Lactic Acids clear surface debris and clarify the skin. Good for congested skin.
  3. THE TONER – PIXI Beauty Glow Tonic £18 is the fastest of all. Simply douse a cotton pad, wipe over the face and you’re done. It too has Glycolic Acid but in a fairly low 5% dosage so it shouldn’t irritate. I still like to rinse afterwards, just because I’m a bit scared of Glycolic hanging around for too long, especially if I’m heading outside where the sun might show itself.

Always be sun aware when you’ve been using exfoliants, especially Glycolic Acid – keep that SPF high.

PREGNANT or SENSITIVE – If you’re pregnant your skin will likely be more sensitive than usual, and more prone to redness, in which case I’d recommend the REN Skincare Clear Calm range – they tackle imbalance within the skin is a cool, soothing way, and their clay cleanser will still work on congestion without stripping skin of all it needs. It’s also ideal for sensitive skin. During pregnancy certain ingredients such as retinol and salicylic acid are best avoided according to dermatologist, Dr Ariel Haus – check her full list on an older post here – it’s probably worth observing this ban if your skin is super sensitive the other side of pregnancy, too. There are some more useful products here  for you, especially the Avene masks. Finally, you can’t beat Emma Hardie’s Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm for a gentler deep-clean sensation, and it’s entirely safe to use during pregnancy I am assured. Massage off with a flannel or her own microfibre cloth = gentle exfoliation.

HOW TO GLOW: Part I

IMG_0086When I threw the topic for my next video out to the floor (well, Instagram) this is something that came up repeatedly in different guises. The truth is sleep deprivation + hormones + dehydration + not having time to take special care of your skin = lack of glow. It’s that grey dullness you get, sometimes accompanied by congestion and blocked pores, sometimes even spots. But while sleep, water and good facials are the number one prescription there is hope: with some skincare gems and the old smoke-and-mirrors routine you can find your own personal MUMFACE glow.

So firstly, what is the glow to you? Because I am sensing we are all seeking different versions of this slightly misleading word.

  1. SKIN – the fresh skin you have when you’re 18, that ‘glows’ with natural, youthful radiance. Absence of congestion, a really taut, plumped-up look. This is where the right skincare can get you at least halfway there.
  2. SHINE – an extension of the fresh-faced appeal above, but with more light-reflecting properties and lots of dewy finishes. Literally glowing like a little light bulb.
  3. COLOUR – a nice healthy glow, AKA a tan. I don’t put any store by sunbathing or sunbeds, but a spot of fake tan or even just a bronzer-blush combo does restore colour to the greyest of skin. And in darker skin, a beautiful pink or rose blush will really pep up your cheeks nicely.

SO, I will now post 2 separate posts tackling these different concerns, and if you combine all 3? Your MUMFACE will be like a beacon of light and gorgeousness. Or at least the total lack of sleep will be a bit less obvious…

LET’S GLOW. (sorry).

 

 

 

 

MY TOP MULTI-TASKERS

MULTI-TASKING MAKEUP2For me it’s no longer enough that a product does one thing quite well – I am 100% more interested in splashing the cash if it can do several things very well. So these are my top 3 ‘SWISS-ARMY-KNIFE-OF-MAKEUP’ kind of multi-tasking makeup products, as seen in my latest video on that YouTube, showing you HOW to multi-task them for super quick makeup tweaks. They’re universally flattering types, too so you can’t go wrong.

BOBBI BROWN LONGWEAR SHADOW STICK IN GOLDEN BRONZE £21 

OULI’S OINTMENT £13

STILA CONVERTIBLE COLOUR IN PETUNA £16 

 

Waking Up Your Eyes: The Products

THUMBNAIL3This video was a ‘most requested’, but I have to pre-empt with this: do not expect a miraclulous, eye-lift worthy result. Makeup can only do so much! These old school brightening tricks will perk you up when you haven’t had enough sleep. And conveniently enough, I had just got up from an incredibly bad night’s sleep thanks to my daughter’s cough, so you can judge for yourself whether they work or not… Watch the video here, and shop the products below!

  1. STILA EYE SHADOW IN KITTEN £12
  2. RMS LIVING LUMINIZER £30 
  3. COLLECTION SPEEDY HIGHLIGHTER £3.99
  4. STILA CONVERTIBLE COLOUR IN PETUNIA £16
  5. BOURGOIS LITTLE ROUND POT NUDE EDITION EYESHADOW IN GENEROSE £6.99
  6. NARS SOFT TOUCH SHADOW PENCIL IN HOLLYWOODLAND £18.50 
  7. SMASHBOX BROW TECH MATTE PENCIL £16.50
  8. DIORSHOW COLOUR & CONTOUR IN IRIS £25.50 
  9. TOO FACED BETTER THAN SEX MASCARA £19