, , ,


  • A lot of cosmetics which you see advertised are great for photos and not much else. Anything with ‘radiance’ in the name is likely to be stuffed with glitter, or weirdly shiny, under normal lighting. Unless you are actually walking the red carpet, I would steer clear. I’m lucky enough to work near Leicester Square, and have actually seen a few celebrities in the flesh. They looked tacky, overtanned and odd. In the photos however, they look great, because the blast of light and flash bulbs, added to the photographic process, tones all that down.
  • Similarly, shading to change your face shape (slim a nose, create cheekbones, etc) only ever works for photos, which are taken from a single angle. Try it in real life, and you end up with zebra stripes and a lot of pitying looks.
  • If you touch your face a lot (as I do) you are better off avoiding all sparkly things, including eye shadow. It will be all over your face by the end of the morning, and people will just be secretly wondering why a middle aged woman is wearing glitter on her cheek in an important meeting.
  • Matte and satin finishes in eyeshadow are really your best friend.
  • Knowing your skin tone is vital, so you can avoid foundation that makes you look strange. I am blonde with warm skin tone, therefore I look for colours and shades which work with this. It means peach, not pink, for blusher, foundations in shades usually named warm/golden, and lipstick with an orange rather than a blue base. I once sat opposite a girl on the train with the most PERFECT pink and white (ie cool toned) complexion, and watched her apply foundation in a warm shade. She looked completely grey by the end, and it was a travesty.
  • You don’t need to ‘match’ your make-up to your outfit, but do bear in mind the effect that wearing certain colours can have on skin tone. My colouring puts me in the Spring palette (warm and bright colours), so if I wear black, I adjust my make-up accordingly (a touch more blush, a stronger lip) to avoid looking washed out.
  • Mascara on the bottom lashes rarely looks good, unless you use a brown one (not black) and a tiny brush.
  • No-one is born knowing how to do perfect eyeliner flicks, those of us who can do it only know cos we learnt it. And there are still days when it goes wrong and we have to swear, cotton bud it off, and start again.
  • The difference between expensive and cheap make-up is usually in the pigmentation. Eye shadows from MAC will transfer to your skin in pretty much exactly the same hue as in the pot. Cheaper brands have less pigment, so the colour is not so dense.
  • True red lipstick is a quick way to look great, but it is hard to get right. I’m reminded of Dr Reid in Scrubs turning to Dr Cox and asking “Does this shade of lipstick make me look like a clown?” His reply, “No, it makes you look like a hooker who caters exclusively to clowns,” was a bit harsh. See a previous post on the difficulties of finding a red lipstick for warm skin tones.
  • Brows are an easy (if not painless) way to subtly change the proportions of your face.  If you have a long face (like me), avoid high arches and groom your brows into a flatter shape if you can.
  • Primers are NOT just another wizard wheeze to separate women from their money. Try the Garnier 5sec Perfect Blur for a not-to-expensive but still effective addition to your routine.



  • The best conditioner BAR NONE is coconut oil. Melt it in your hands, apply it to dry hair (avoid the roots), stick on a plastic shower cap and sleep in it. Wash it out the next day and enjoy stronger, shinier, better hair. There is actual science behind this, as coconut oil is the only oil which has molecules small enough the penetrate the hair shaft. Other conditioners coat the outside (which is also effective, but can lead to build-up), but coconut oil actually affects the condition of the shaft. Only downside is that it can ‘lift’ colour out of your hair quite quickly, so you might need to colour it a bit more often.
  • I bought a perfectly nice hair conditioning product the other day, and the top three ingredients after water were perfume, paraffin and petroleum. It’s no wonder some people prefer less chemically ‘dense’ ranges, and I salute them. More and more high street ranges are include low/no silicone or sulphate products, and these are certainly worth trying out. I have the Tresemme Naturals shampoo and conditioner in my rotation (together with the L’Oreal Elvive Colour Protect and others).
  • Semi-permanent colour (sometimes in a formulation called demi-permanent) can actually improve the condition of your hair. It coats the hair shaft, and usually contains little/no ammonia, meaning you won’t go lighter, but the shine factor is through the roof. It’s worth trying a demi-permanent colour in your natural hair colour, as it can really make it super-shiny.
  • I made the compromise long ago to have great hair outside the house, which means most of the time at home, I am not fit to be seen. I sleep in a some kind of head wrap or treatment most nights – the best one is this one, as you heat it in the microwave, which makes a big difference to absorption of oils and conditioners. Scaring delivery men is a small price to pay.
  • As with make-up, hair colour really needs to work with your skin tone if you want an easy life. Some ranges now make it clear if a shade is cool or warm, but you basically want to go for anything with ‘ash’, ‘frost’ or ‘cool’ in the shade name if your skin tone is pink/blue based. If it is yellow based, go for ‘golden’ or ‘warm’ shades. Again, you don’t HAVE to stick to the rules, but be aware of the effect the alternate shade palette will have on your skin. Cool colours on warm-toned skin wash you out, warm colours on cool-toned skin will make you quite pink.
  • With modern tools and processes, the top priority for your hair cut should be its suitability for your face shape. Texture (waves, curls, straightness) and fullness can be created, but your hairdresser should be cutting it into a shape which creates balance and proportion. I went for YEARS with a long straight style which made me look like a horse. I now have a chin to shoulder length layered bob which I curl most days, and a soft side fringe. Long faces are actually very difficult to find good hairstyles for, not least because there are very few celebrities with this shape face. Our society’s mania for round, baby faces in women means most actresses and models have round or heart-shaped faces. The only celebrities whose hair I have ever successfully copied directly are Sarah Jessica Parker and Liv Tyler. Try something like thehairstyler.com, upload a photo of yourself, and gasp at the horrific options available to you.
  • I am bemused by the current fashion for massive bun rings on the top of the head. They remind me of strange artisan loaves.
  • Don’t cut your hair just because you are getting older. It doesn’t make it any quicker to style (I find the opposite is true), and you can easily colour away grey if you are self-conscious about it. Older women CAN look great with longer hair, we don’t need to embrace a Pat Butcher crop at fifty. A gentle bob, a sweeping fringe, a loose bun, all very age appropriate, and far more feminine than some butch layered buzz cut. Exceptions are women with perfect round faces, who can carry still carry off a silver pixie cut at sixty – Judi Dench, I’m looking at YOU.