Here’s the skincare routine I’ve been following for most of the season and I have to say that it has kept my face looking quite spectacularly fresh and bouncy, considering the stress levels and overarching sense of fatigue that has dominated the past few months. (And the fact that I’ve been gorging on Mint Magnums with ever-increasing frequency.)
So the tweaks I’ve made seem to have seen me through spring without any significant dramas – though I think it’s also pertinent to note that I’ve been taking my Vitamin D every day, which always makes a huge difference to my skin, hair and nails. (To be more accurate, I took Vitamin D tablets for the first few weeks of lockdown, but when the weather turned glorious and stayed that way, I ended up spending most of my time outdoors and so I haven’t been quite so diligent at taking the supplement. Regardless, I always find the difference remarkable. My default state, in terms of vitamin D levels, seems to be “chronically deficient”.)
Anyway, no more blathering on: here’s my current routine. There’s a product list as long as my arm for this particular update (below the video pane), but not because it’s complex; I just wanted to give a few options for each step – something spendy, something sensible. Favourites old and favourites new.
My Current Skincare Routine: Spring 2020
In a nutshell:
Morning: Cleanse + Antioxidant + Moisturiser/SPF
Evening Night 1: Cleanse + Retinol
Evening Night 2: Cleanse + Hydrating Serum + Rich Moisturiser
My morning routine remains relatively unchanged. In fact I never really do anything funky or different in the morning, mainly because I don’t have the time to spare. Or even the time to think things through properly. As such, it’s usually a cleanser-serum-moisturise situation, although I’ve been outdoors a lot and so you can tag “sunscreen” onto the end of that list.
The cleanser tends to be light and splash-off and I love the Curel Foaming Wash* at the moment. The antioxidant du jour is Paula’s Choice Triple Algae Pollution Shield* and you can find out about my current most-used sunscreens here.
My evening routine alternates between two versions, neither of them very difficult or lengthy. After a thorough cleanse with a balm, usually twice, I’ll either apply my retinol product (see list beneath the video pane) or I’ll go in for the hydration marathon. Well, not really a marathon – just two steps. More of a hydration sprint. In the Dads’ race at school sports day.
The sprint consists of a hydrating serum and then a rich moisturiser, just to get things juicy and plumptious.
That’s it. The odd glycolic peel pad, but not so much at the moment because I’m outside for most of the day, and now and then a face mask, mainly because I’ve started drinking a herbal sleepy tea in the bath before bed and a face mask just feels right.
There’s a lot more in the way of explanation for everything in the video, so you should absolutely watch that. I don’t even waffle, which is nothing short of a miracle, especially as being locked in with two small children has completely melted my mind. Locked in? Locked down!
You can find all my cleanser reviews here
Sunscreen reviews are here
Link to Vitamin C Products featured here
My children (three and a bit years old and almost five) have been learning to ride their bikes and it is at once a massively rewarding experience and a very new, very fresh hell. On the one hand, seeing them learn a new skill and become fully-functioning mini-people makes me brim with joy and pride; on the other, my nerves are shot to hell and I have more scratches on my lower legs than an intern at the Big Cat Sanctuary.
You have to wonder at the wisdom of putting very small humans in charge of what amounts to a welded-together collection of metal bars, sharp spikes and hard rivets. If you deconstructed a kid’s bike and threw all the pieces into a sack, it would be the sort of thing you’d have found being passed around the tavern before a medieval uprising. So you have to ask yourself whether it’s sensible to let a three year-old, who likes bashing pan lids into walls, sit astride this scaled-down weapon of destruction.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m happy that they’re racing along without a care in the world. Any milestone the kids reach makes me brim with joy and pride and seeing my only-just-stopped-being-babies careering away down a cycle path is somehow ridiculously liberating.
But at the same time I’m proudly watching them power away on their own steam, I’m usually pondering the new depths of pain and discomfort that I’ve managed to plunge myself into. It’s almost as though, as a parent, you have to give yourself something to make life more awkward. Sleeping through the night? Tick! Nobody biting on your nipple? Tick! Stopped having to wipe poo off the carpet? TICK!
What can we introduce now, I wonder?
I’ll tell you what: bike riding. The fear of them falling off and smashing something or other on the path, the fear that they will wobblingly meander into the path of a proper cyclist, like a drunken badger staggering into a dual carriageway. And then there’s the worry for your own wellbeing – the worry that you’ll trip over their back wheels as you jog along behind them, or get your shoelaces caught in their spokes, or have a nasty run-in with the stabilisers.
Oh, stabilisers. Stabilisers are terrifying, with their jagged metal hinges and their fast-moving wheels of certain laceration. Pushing along a child using stabilisers (this is the four year old, actually – the three year old has a balance bike) means taking the survival of your ankle bones into your own hands. You thought you were going for a pleasant Sunday jaunt to breathe in the scent of meadow flowers and look at the freshly mown fields, but really you’ve agreed to sacrifice the flesh on your shins, ankles and possible knees. But once you’re out there, with an enthusiastic cycle maniac, there’s no turning back. There’s no escape. It’s like finding yourself inside the Colosseum with one of those chariots that had the spikes sticking out of the wheels – if you’re taking a kid for a bike ride with stabilisers then you’re basically Gladiator.
And that’s not the only physical torture involved. Remember Quasimodo? That’s biking-expedition me, pushing a four year old up a hill when she’s too tired to pedal the bike. Bent double, shoulders hunched, face twisted into a terrible expression of pain and humiliation, staggering sideways in great, ungainly leaps.
“Here she comes everyone! The troll of the tow path! The bells, the bells!”
The three year old on the balance bike presents less of a problem, physically. He just races off, his little legs working away as though he’s powered by clockwork. But then his batteries run out and he gets tired and Mr AMR ends up with child on shoulders, child’s bike in one hand, dog lead (with dog attached) in the other. Like some sort of circus act.
And I’ll be bringing up the rear, huffing and puffing along, near-prostrate in the wake of the Queen of Sheba who is oblivious, upright on her cupcake bicycle and singing songs about how wonderful the world is.
“And I wake up, yeah, and the birds are amazing, the birds are great, the birds know my so-ong and the birds love my dolly, oh yeah, oh yeahhhh.”
Not a care in the world, just comfortably watching the hedgerows whizz by as I expend approximately the same amount of energy as a small shire horse ploughing a field, pushing with a gentle hand on the small of her back. She obviously has no idea how tiring the pushing is – she had the audacity, the other day, to actually yawn as I was navigating a particularly steep slope.
I fear, though, as with all things child-related, this phase will be fleeting and before I know it we’ll be onto the next level, where they race off without us, and another tie will be painfully cut. Another phase will be just a beautiful memory. I’d take lacerated ankles in exchange for a slowing down of time. Any day of the week….
I’ve just been scrolling back through all of my previous What’s In My Makeup Bag posts and I stumbled across this particular beauty: the Summer 2018 edition. If you don’t want to click through and read it then here’s the gist of the matter, in image form:
Isn’t it nice? Such a lovely lipstick! So cheery and optimistic. I shall have to dig that particular lipstick out – I’ve been wearing my pink-tinged beiges for far too many months. Perhaps it’s time for a coral lipstick favourites video, to lead us into summer?
But for now, we’re still on neutrals and beiges with a hint of rosiness on the cheeks. Low-key springtime, nothing fancy, mainly because most of us are still on lockdown and those who aren’t probably don’t feel very celebratory or adventurous. The focus (for me, at least) is on good skin and trying to look as healthy and fresh as possible – bronzer that disappears into the base, a dusting of sunshine over the top and a dewy finish to lids and lips.
Lids and lips. For some reason saying that makes me feel slightly queasy – I’m not sure whether it’s the lazy, tabloid-style alliteration or the gynaecological implications. Although what would “lids” be, in the lady department? A lash-fringed flap of skin. Hmm. I’ll have to think carefully about that one.
GOD! Can someone please keep me on the straight and narrow? Perhaps I need an editor. To check my behaviour and act as the filter I don’t seem to possess.
“Hello darling. Ok, I’ve just read your latest piece…and…how can I put this? It’s rather crude. I mean, darling, is it quite sensible to talk about the time you slipped in the shower and narrowly missed being penetrated by the mixer tap?”
I like to think that the editor would be called Nigel. No particular reason. But he must chain-smoke French cigarettes and have an office on the Tottenham Court Road and wear a silk kimono. I have it all planned out.
But back to spring makeup. There’s a video and really it’s mandatory you watch it, this time, because I’ve used up all of my word count on pointless drivel so there’s no space to talk about lipstick shades. It’s all covered on film and if you want a cheat’s spoiler list then just scroll down the page a bit.
Take particular note of the double-bronzing manoeuvre; as a first step the cream bronze buffs effortlessly into the foundation, creating a sort of warm, duo-toned base, and then the powder bronzer sits lightly on top looking all dusty and beautiful. I’m doing this a lot at the moment and I like the effect.
I’m wearing the Emanuelle Dress, bought from Hush here*
Here I am, wafting about underneath a canopy of wisteria. It all looks very serene and idyllic, but don’t let appearances fool you! Just out of shot: a cockapoo eating the remains of a small dead bird, a three year-old trying to touch the remains of the aforementioned small dead bird, Mr AMR shouting at both the dog and the three year-old in an attempt to get them to leave the dead bird alone and a four year-old crying because her empty blackbird eggshell has broken again.
(The egg is called Layla. Everything seems to be called Layla in this house, from dinosaur torches to “precious” stones that have been unearthed from the flower bed. But now we also have the remains of a tiny egg, called Layla – it’s the smallest slither of impossibly delicate, pale blue shell. It started off as roughly two-thirds of an empty shell, but four year-olds have no concept of the word “fragile” and so within two seconds it became half of an empty egg and half a day later the majority of that had disintegrated too.)
Anyway. I read an article at the weekend that discussed something called “cottagecore” which apparently is a sort of romanticised vision of what people think their lives would be like if they lived in the country. Possibly in a tiny, wisteria-hung, seventeenth-century thatch cottage, making pots of jam on the AGA and securing little squares of red and white gingham over the tops of the jars with bits of old string.
Now I’m not one to shatter people’s dreams (I also don’t live in a cottage, so perhaps I don’t even count) but if you’re living in the city and tinkering with the idea of finding a remote abode somewhere and replacing your daily London commute with Zoom meetings plus a weekly office trip then note that:
a) you will never make jam, or if you do then you will make it only once
b) you will want to take a sledgehammer to your AGA within a matter of weeks
c) your thatch will have a bazillion insects and small, crawling animals living in it – think of it like Mr Twit’s beard, but with more activity
Oh, it’s easy to see country life as one big romp around the haystacks in a smocked white dress, but the reality is is that you’ll spend 90% of the time wearing your oldest tracksuit bottoms and mud-caked wellies, standing on the roof of your car in an attempt to find some mobile phone signal. And if you’re doing that then you’re probably trying to phone the oil people to come and fill your oil tank or the sewerage people to come and empty your septic tank or a roofer to come and repair your ancient roof.
I jest, of course. I am the most susceptible person ever to romanticised visions of pastoral life – how do you think I ended up here? And country life has much going for it – a slower, less frenetic pace, clean air, lots of space and greenery and wildlife, gorgeous old stone houses and picturesque #cottages – but dear God don’t think that you’ll suddenly turn into the sort of person who has time to make jam. Unless, that is, you’ve already got the time to make jam.
One of the biggest things I’ve realised, since moving to the sticks, is that plopping yourself somewhere geographically different, especially somewhere more remote, will not in itself automatically change your life. We moved from the outskirts of London to the depths of Somerset with a two year-old and a six month-old baby and for some reason, perhaps because I was postpartum and slightly crazed, I thought that by escaping to the country we would also escape the overwhelming intensity of our everyday lives. But if anything it made life harder. People (the three that we knew in our new county!) were suddenly more spread out – there was no peering out of the window on the offchance that we’d get a friendly wave – and each trip to the shops or a cafe or a baby class involved an epic loading and offloading of small children into the car, so much so that eventually I just didn’t bother.
And you think you won’t miss the bright lights of the city (“I never use the theatres anyway! Why pay such a premium to live in a city when I don’t even use it?”) but once you’ve unpacked all of your boxes in your remote Herefordshire manor house/Devonshire bothy and you’ve knitted your hemp blanket to keep the vegetable patch warm, won’t you be itching for just a little bit of excitement?
Just playing devil’s advocate! Don’t shoot the messenger!
It has taken me the good part of three years to get used to living in the countryside. Granted, I did double-whammy and moved the whole way across the country as well as going remote (what can I say? The house sang to me like a wanton temptress) but still. There are things to consider – things that don’t seem important at the time of moving, but will gradually creep up on you after the three month Honeymoon period is over.
It starts with a general sense of unease – a niggling feeling of is this it? – and then it grows, daily, until winter sets in and you feel the full, bleak force of untempered weather. Because there are no distractions, really, if you’re out in the middle of nowhere; you wake up and look outside and it’s all about the weather. In winter that means rain, rain, wind and a lot of mud. In a town, or in the city, you notice the weather but I feel as though it’s more of an inconvenience if it’s bad – and a huge bonus if it’s good. Life still goes on, streets have Christmas lights and stalls have mulled wine; but if there are no buzzing cafes, bustling pavements and nice shops, and your immediate entertainment involves walking, tending to the garden and more walking then… It’s a different way of life.
I now feel at peace with it, but it’s taken a while and I’m not afraid to admit it. I’ll also come out and say: it can be lonely. There.
So, people lusting after the cottagecore life; if you’re feeling isolated now, in lockdown, then it’s a good time to consider how you would feel with the slightly different level of ongoing isolation that living remotely brings. True, outside of lockdown you are free to socialise and visit family and meet friends at the local organic (“all meat is raised and butchered on the estate!”) pub but everything is slightly more effort. You don’t just pop out for a donder to the shops if you live in a hamlet – you pop out to walk the dog and yes, you see the owls taking flight as the sun goes down and you get to appreciate the sound of absolute, definitive silence as you lay your head on your pillow at night, but you have to ask yourself, would you miss the sound of human life around you?
If the answer is no then go full steam ahead with your #cottagecore dream. Have chickens pecking at your doorstep and dry your boots on the top of the AGA and lomp down to the river with the dog instead of queuing to get into the tube station at Holborn at rush hour. For me, the benefits of living in lots of space and peacefulness vastly outweigh the perks of the city, but then I did live in London for over a decade, then a few more years within easy commuting reach, and I feel as though I got my fix.
So who am I to tell you what you want? If the #cottagecore life seduces you and you find yourself on Rightmove then the best of luck – maybe I should write a guide on what to consider! Just don’t expect to make jam…
I think I need a lawyer. Not because I’ve done anything illegal recently (unless plotting to kill the man who keeps strimming his bushes at night counts. Who the hell strims in the dark? Surely as an activity that presents so many dangers that it makes the whole endeavour entirely unfeasible? Decapitating badgers is one peril that comes immediately to mind. Slicing hedgehogs in two, like they’ve unwittingly volunteered themselves as participants in a magic trick with the world’s worst magician, is another. Then there’s obviously the danger to your own limbs. Although…the perfect murder seems to be developing in front of my very eyes!)
Where was I? Lawyer. Yes, I’ve decided that I need a lawyer and I need him or her to follow me around 24/7. Not for legal advice, you understand: merely to get me quickly and efficiently out of conversations that I don’t want to have and/or prevent me from doing my usual “nervous rambling on for twenty minutes at the end of meetings to the point where everyone else on the call/in the room can’t wait to get away from me” trick.
I don’t know whether it’s because I spend a lot of time alone, but as soon as I’m thrown into an intense conversational situation – whether work or social – I go into meltdown towards the end. The part where I know that someone – everyone – is going to have to say goodbye in an elegant and gracious manner.
I just can’t do it! Either I feel bad, as though I’m snubbing the other person by wanting to go, and so compensate by being overly nice for five minutes too long, or I begin to panic that I’ll be trapped for hours and hours and so say something stupid.
Which is why I need one of those shit-hot lawyers – preferably an American one – to extricate me. Whether it’s a meeting in person (you know, in the future) or an informal phone call, I want them there, smelling of Tom Ford Private Blend and writing stuff in their Smythson notebook with a golden pen.
And if all of this is confusing and you haven’t got the faintest clue what I’m on about then you need to watch more American crime series on the telly. Because if there’s one thing that you can rely on in an American crime series (and many of the British ones too) it’s that the lawyer will always know when to cut a meeting short. There’s no situation too tricksy for a Netflix/Amazon Prime attorney – if they want their client out of the room then they just utter three words:
“We’re done here”.
We’re done here is lawyer speak for “I know my client’s rights and we don’t have to say any more so there, we’re off matey!” but in television, it’s also code for “the writers have trickled out all of the tantalising evidence they want the viewer to see but are now too lazy to think of a good way to get to the next scene whilst retaining that nail-biting sense of mystery and suspense”.
“I think we’re done here.”
Ugh, so sauve. So assured. The cops never argue with it – the lawyer is usually scraping back their metal-framed chair as they say the magic sentence, standing up beneath the unflattering interview strip-light and gesturing to their client to follow them. It’s so brilliant! Just a few words and it stops everything. It’s like when you’re little and you wouldn’t go to sleep so your Mum would call your Dad and you’d hear him coming up the stairs and he’d say “that’s enough now, get to sleep” and that would be that. Eyes closed, no arguing, asleep in sixty seconds.
Bad analogy, possibly, but you know what I mean. There’s a sense of authority and “don’t mess with me f*ckhead” when the lawyer on the telly says “we’re done here”. Sometimes they get called out – we get double-bluffed and the detective has more damning evidence on the criminal/murderer/trickster than they initially let on – but not often.
Anyway, I digress. I want one of these lawyers to follow me about, to sit and listen to what I have to say (God, how boring!) and then, when they can see that it’s time that I shut the actual fcuk up they could just put a steady hand on my shoulder, look directly at the person I’m babbling to and say, confidently,
“I think we’re done here.”
To be fair, one hundred percent of the time at the moment that person would be my husband, so I’ll allow them to be a bit softer – maybe “I think we’re done here?” with a question mark – but if I’m honest, in lockdown the lawyer is needed more than ever. The number of conversations about bins, painting, hedges and grocery orders that should have been pretty straightforward but that have turned into full-scale wars could have all been avoided if we’d both had a sharp-suited LA attorney next to us.
“Oh that’s right, you always do the bloody bins don’t you and let’s not forget it! Well let me tell you sonny-Jim, doing the bins isn’t all that, because back in 2005 I did the bins for a week so I could -“
Weighty hand on my shoulder. Stern nod. “Ruth, I think we’re done here.”
Could have saved me a dozen arguments, nearly all my fault. Although, thinking about it, maybe I’d have won them more often if I’d had a shit-hot Bosch-style lawyer in a ten thousand dollar Chanel suit! And imagine all of the awkward questions that could have been avoided – all of those ones that tell you you’ve lost before you’ve even begun:
“Erm, did you actually remember to order the dog food when I said because he has none left and it takes a week to be delivered.”
Shit, shit shit.
“No….I think we’re done here.”
Ha. Wouldn’t it be great? I’d definitely my lawyer to sit in on all of my Zoom meetings, which seem to turn me even more random and rambling than usual, if that’s possible. I just can’t shut up! But sometimes it’s other people who can’t shut up, and in that case my attorney (I’m going to call her Barb Wire) would just raise an eyebrow and inch ever so slightly closer to the laptop camera:
“I think we’re done here.”
Bam! Goodbye. I’d never be the last one in the Zoom Room! I can never work out how to exit the bloody thing without looking like someone who has accidentally pressed the “change PIN” button on the cash machine. Fumble no more, my friends, Barb Wire Esq. is here to cut this meeting off at the knees! At the first inkling of anyone beginning to ask what everyone’s up to at the weekend,
“We’re done here.”
The entire group has started to talk about Love Island or I’m A Celebrity?
Oh! Here’s the best one. Barb can’t stand it when a pointless meeting is called – usually to “talk over” a presentation that has already been sent by email. She hates those meetings with lots of people on speakerphone, when one assigned representative reads out the presentation word. for. word. The presentation you’ve already read thoroughly the night before and now also see before you with your own eyes. This one calls for an early exit, if Barb is involved.
“Okay everyone, thanks for joining! I hope you all got the email with the PDF of the presentation attached – if you haven’t seen it then it’s on the email titled PRESENTATION ATTACHED. What we’re going to do over the course of this call is a) talk about what we’re going to talk about on the call and b) talk through the presentation word for painful word until your eyes and ears are bleeding and c) any questions? Yes, Barb, fire away!”
“We’re done here.”
Struggling to find a sunscreen that doesn’t make you want to claw your own face off with one of those plastic spaghetti spoons? My three current favourites might give you some inspiration. They’re all virtually undetectable on the skin with pleasant, lightweight formulas and broad spectrum protection.
And I’ll tell you something else about my favourite face SPFs: you can just about get away with skipping moisturiser underneath them. Unless my skin is very dry indeed, I find that a quick pat-in of hydrating serum is all I need before (liberally) applying my sunscreen.
(Actually, the Lumene serum from my April favourites would be gorgeous beneath sunscreen, if you’re all about trying to minimise your layers. I know I am, when the weather starts to turn warm; I can’t abide the feeling of eighteen different products on my skin and prefer to keep things as simple as possible.)
So here they are: my Holy Grail trilogy. It wasn’t difficult to narrow my favourites down to these, because I simply went along my bathroom shelf and swept off the three I’ve used the most. Because surely if I use them the most then there’s a reason for that? Otherwise I’d be an idiot.
Elizabeth Arden Great 8 SPF35
I’ve done a full review on this marvellous facial sunscreen here but as a recap: this is one of the lightest, freshest, coolest SPFs I’ve ever tried. It’s quick to sink in, there’s absolutely no residue whatsoever and it sits brilliantly beneath makeup.
The Body Shop Skin Defence Multi-Protection Lotion SPF50
This is a new one to me and a total gem. Much more hydrating than the Arden, but with that comes an extra bit of heft. It’s not nearly as weightless and fresh, but those with dry or very dry skin will appreciate the relative creaminess. If your skin is very dry you’ll want a standalone moisturiser under all of these favourites, so it’s almost by-the-by.
Multi-Protection Lotion has a silky feel and doesn’t leave anything much in the way of residue, at least not after a few minutes, but you definitely feel the effects of the moisturiser even hours later.
Find it at The Body Shop here* – it’s £18 for 40ml or £22 for 60ml.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra-Light Invisible Fluid
Or “Shaka Fluid” as I seem to be intent on calling it. Maybe because it now has “shaka” emblazoned on the packaging, but I can’t remember whether that’s a new thing or not. Whatever you want to call it, it’s excellent – absolutely light and sheer and without greasiness or chalkiness or any kind of annoying SPF side-effect.
La Roche-Posay are brilliant at formulating for sensitive skin and for spot-prone skin and for skin that is both at the same time – the Anthelios range has something for everyone, pretty much. But this particular version is fragrance free, very water resistant and won’t clog pores. You can’t really go far wrong. Just remember to shake! (Shaka shaka!)
It’s usually £17.50 but is currently £13.50 at LookFantastic here*.
Now, there are two little surprise “extra” sunscreens in this post – perfect for those who have to reapply their sunscreen throughout the day but need to do so over their makeup, without disturbing it.
I’m afraid I’m going to be incredibly irritating and tell you to watch the end of the video I’ve made to find out all about them – there will be a separate post on them quite soon, but I need to go and extract part of Spiderman’s Web Thrower from inside my dog’s mouth before he swallows it. I can’t even imagine what would come out of the other end if he digested that!
For those who absolutely, resolutely refuse to watch moving image, the SPF mists are linked below the video. The rest of you, enjoy the sounds of my springtime garden!
Kate Somerville Uncomplikated SPF50 Mist, £32 but new customers get 15% off and a free gift (see her home page)*: https://bit.ly/3b9x9BR
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Invisible SPF50 Mist – should be £14 but is currently £10.50 here*: https://bit.ly/3caZPfg
Oh, the dreaded PMT week has worked its way around again and I am trying to keep a lid on my symptoms, this month, rather than barking rabidly at members of my family and occasionally frothing at the mouth.
Last month’s PMT, at its peak intensity, saw me pacing up and down the driveway in the rain, inexplicably grasping a garden trowel and devising ways I could get revenge on my husband for something he had done but that I couldn’t quite remember. It could have been anything – the world is my disgruntlement oyster when I’m on the hormone highway to the Red Roof Inn.
At the moment he’s hiding from me, maybe watching Pointless, which in itself incenses me to an almost vessel-bursting degree. Because when I have PMT and I have to work I don’t like anyone to be a) having fun or b) relaxing. I prefer it if everyone sits in absolute silence, staring morosely into thin air and telepathically beaming me sympathy vibes.
Except that my three and four year-old couldn’t care less about my PMT or brain-strike (MUMMY LISTEN TO ME! MY (note: imaginary) FISH HAS A SLICE MISSING FROM HER TAIL! CALL THE DOCTOR!”
“It would be a vet,” I say, “and I don’t think vets do home visits for fish that they can’t see.”
Oh, all of my energies have to be ploughed into being civil. My head pounds, the blood races around my arms and legs and sends them at once buzzy and at the same time desperately fatigued, as though I have flu. I feel panicked, at this time of the month – out of control. It’s the same sensation I get as when I’m dreaming that I’m falling through space, free-falling, the feeling of weightlessness tainted with pure dread that happens just before I startle myself awake. I wouldn’t be great even without responsibilities, in PMT week, but now that I’m in a giant pressure cooker of continuous domestic duties and unceasing child-borne demands and –
“MUMMY! YOU HAVE TO GET THE VET FOR LAYLA THE FISH AND ALSO I NEED A POO. GET THE VET NOW, MUMMY, HERE’S YOUR PHONE.”
My nerves are jangled. My iPhone almost slips to the floor but is caught, ham-fisted, and passed to me covered in Nutella. All of my senses are heightened. I feel as though my skin has been thinned and that all of my nerve endings are more exposed. A door slam makes me jump, the sound of someone starting a hedge strimmer two fields away makes me want to pull on my wellies and march over and demand silence.
I’m surprised that the family haven’t crafted some sort of giant snake-holding stick, to keep me at arm’s length. With a loop at the end of a long pole so that that they could snare me and I could sit collared at the kitchen table, angrily sipping my camomile tea and darting my forked tongue at them.
I always thought that the standard “brain fog, excruciating 24 hour headache and water retention” variety of PMT was bad enough, but lockdown PMT is like experiencing all of the aforementioned things whilst being chased by a swarm of angry bees around a shop selling expensive crockery. Wearing an itchy woollen suit that’s too tight around the torso.
Have you experienced Lockdown PMT yet? How was that for you? I am busy sketching out an Escape Cupboard for next time, seeing as though it’s quite likely we could still be in the same socio-domestic situation. I’m going to line it with all the empty egg boxes I’ve been collecting, but not filling because my chickens have decided they don’t like laying eggs this year, so that the walls are soundproofed. And then I’m going to put in one of those shitty little mini fridges that make more noise than a Boeing 747 jet engine and fill the mini fridge with cans of Coca Cola and bars of Dairy Milk. I’m then going to steal the family iPad, download every single episode of Friends and lock myself in the cupboard for six days.
When they open the door to retrieve me I shall be a spotty mess, gurning from the sugar overloads and subsequent lows, but at least nobody will have heard me scream…
My five beauty favourites for the month of April – I’ve gone back to them again and again, enjoyed using them all and will be sad when they finally run out. Although if they’re anything like my Medik-8 R-Retinoate I could be waiting a long time, because I just can’t seem to get to the bottom of the bottle!
Which is probably quite fortunate considering its price.
Anyway, here goes with the April Hit List:
L’Oreal Glow Cherie Glow Enhancer Lotion
I’ve compared this before to Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter (see my in-depth review here) but in actual fact it’s much more like her Wonder Glow. Lighter, sheerer, with less in the way of a tint. Regardless, the L’Oreal version is an absolute bargain and brilliant for adding low-key dewy glow before applying foundation or concealer.
You can find it online here* – it’s £9.99.
Anne Semonin Gel Mask
This is a very essential-oily mask with quite a tingle. It’s refreshing, reviving and makes you feel as though your face has had a brisk run along a seashore. Which is a weird concept. It’s forty-five quid but the tube is large. Lovely luxury buy for lacklustre, dull skin – I discovered it postpartum after having my first baby and I’ve recently returned to it after something of a hiatus!
Find it at Anne Semonin here.
Lumene Oleo Rich Serum
Well, this is a surprise favourite – I mentioned the rich cream from this Lumene range a few weeks ago and didn’t think that anything else would be as notably excellent, but the serum is just marvellous. It’s more of a light moisturiser than a serum, in a way, because as well as mega-moisturising glycerin it’s packed with nourishing oils.
In fact, if you’ve always wanted to try a face oil but worry about greasiness, this would be a beautiful way of dipping your proverbial toe. Just apply after cleansing and before moisturiser. It’s online here*.
Skinceuticals Discoloration Defense Serum
I’ve been doing lots of stuff out in the garden and (in the UK at least) the sun has been, at times, blazing. As well as a high factor sunscreen I’ve also been upping my antioxidants and pulling out the skintone-brightening big guns. Skinceuticals make quite a few of these “big guns” and the Discoloration Defense Serum is one of the latest launches, promising to dramatically help with dark spots and unevenness of tone. I’ll keep you updated on the results – I use a few drops morning and night before my usual serum.
You can find it (and more detailed info) online here*.
Drunk Elephant WaterFacial Mask
I’ve been using this on my non-retinol nights (current skincare routine seems to be: go in strong with retinol one night, pump face full of moisture the next) and it’s lovely – light and gel-like but not at all sticky. I feel the difference in the morning, let me tell you! I also quite often layer it on over the Lumene serum above for double-whammy effect.
Find the WaterFacial Mask online here*.
All of the above and more are included in this month’s favourite video. Yes, there’s a video! You might be wondering why an earth I’ve taken the time to write it all out as well as filming it: I only exist to serve. And to respond positively and proactively to feedback. So those of you who can’t abide my face/voice/mannerisms can just read my words instead…