Every now and then your body needs a bit of pampering, and you deserve it too. This is a mini beauty bible for:
The secret to having nice hands is to treat them like you would your face – don’t plunge them into hot water and detergent, wear rubber gloves etc,. That’s the theory, or perhaps you are like me – I never bother with rubber gloves when washing up, and hand cream is the last thing on my mind when grabbing a towel and dashing off to do something else.
Hands suffer the ravages of weather, regular immersion in hot water, detergents, gardening etc. on an unending cycle, which inevitably translates into dryness, age spots and wrinkles. Ideally you should probably go to bed wearing hand cream under cotton gloves, after of course always washing up in rubber gloves, but few of us are that organised, so here are some very effective hand creams for emergency treatment.
My current favourite is Hand Chemistry from Boots – its just oh so gorgeous and after a week even I noticed the difference. Welcome to the world of instantly softer hands!
Other favourites are:
- Kiehl’s Superlative Restorative Argan Skin Salve
- Estee Lauder 8 Hour Cream
- Neal’s Yard Citrus Hand Softener is a lovely thick non greasy cream and it smells great. You only need a tiny dab
- Jurlique Purely Age Defying Hand Treatment is more expensive but smells lovely, feels really rich and keeps your hands moisturised for hours after application
- This Works Perfect Hands Intense Moisturiser is good for older hands and reducing age spots (from Boots )
- Nivea Express Hydration Hand Fluid (Boots) gives excellent instant absorption
Give yourself a simple manicure with a good hand cream and a new nail varnish.
- Use a base coat & top coat for a long lasting finish. OPI, Nails Inc and Essie are good brands. Their colours cover the full light to dark spectrum, and they score well on quality and durability. Chanel’s “Le Vernis” range is the nail varnish of the moment and has lots of advertising hype, selling out as soon as it is released. However from personal experience it doesn’t last well and in hot weather the varnish wrinkles.
- When the enamel is completely dry apply a thick layer of hand cream & read the paper whilst it sinks in.
CND Vinylux nail polish (£9.95) is the new polish to look out for – its an ‘apply -at -home’ variation on gel nails. Apply the colour, taking it just over the nail edge, then apply the top coat, and the natural UV light in daylight will harden it. It is removed like normal polish, won’t damage your nails, and lasts ages.
Brittle nails in winter cold and central heating need some preventative treatment:
- Essie Trillionails strengthens your nails but keeps them flexible.
- Dior Creme Abricot is one of the best nail and cuticle balms on the market at the moment . Its very good for repairing brittle nails and dry cuticles, £16.
- Mavala Repairing Night Cream softens skin and makes nails much more supple. For best results use the cotton gloves that come with it to maximize absorption. Available in most chemists.
Always keep a small tube of hand cream in your handbag, as the chances are that if you apply some when you are out you won’t be sticking your hands in water so often, and your hands will get maximum benefit.
- Waging war against grey hair?
- Hair colourants and root re-growth.
- Fine and thinning hair
- Dry or damaged hair
Treat your hair like your skin. Over processed and over-coloured hair adds years, whilst supple, glossy hair takes years off.
For some tried and tested solutions to the frustrating problems of “middle aged hair” – going grey, or dealing with thinning or dry hair – read on.
Consider changing hairdressers to try out a new style – if you feel you get the same old haircut each time and want an updated relaxed look it will give you a boost. If you are going somewhere special and your hair is long why not have an up-do? Guaranteed to look stunning, glamorous and make you feel really special. Try moving your parting, as we often have fewer grey hairs on one side of the head, and a parting shift will give a lift to your hair. Most hair looks better a couple of weeks after it is cut, so ask your hairdresser for mini cuts too – a fringe trim etc.
Waging war against grey hair?
Highlights will only camouflage for so long. For those of us constantly waging war against greying hair it should be of some comfort to know that grey hair on middle aged models does seem to be having a minor resurgence in the fashion trends. There has been such a turnabout in the perception off grey hair that it is almost the new blond.
So should we be glad to be grey? Well, you’ve got to have a lot of confidence to carry it off, and going grey and looking good is very high maintenance – and almost as time consuming as having your roots regularly touched up.
Most women will go grey in patches, which looks much more ageing than all over grey, so if you are going to take the plunge and “come out” you really do need to wait until you are grey all over. In the meantime, as you go through the pepper and salt stage, colour is the ideal way to enhance your grey. Your hair will need masses of conditioner to avoid looking wiry and coarse, but the most important thing is to have a fantastic haircut, and to add in some highlights and lowlights to soften it. The secret to carrying off grey hair is to make sure it looks sleek, groomed and well cared for. It would be worthwhile getting some advice on make up too, as it will change your colouring – for example navy mascara looks better than black if you have grey hair.
Here are some products we recommend:
Rahua Oil Shampoo is organic and a perfect conditioner
Myrsol Azul Hair Tonic revitalises grey hair
Josh Wood Radiant Shine hair Treatment will nourish and soften grey hair
Philip Kingsley Pure Silver Conditioner with brighten grey hair
Hair colourants and root re-growth.
For most of us hair dye is one of the great things that has changed women’s lives, keeping us looking and feeling much younger.
Grey hair cannot be got rid of by anything other than camouflage – regular dying if you have a lot of grey, or a combination of subtle high and lowlights if you have odd wisps. Don’t just highlight though, as lighter colours will not hide the grey bits and can make the first signs of grey even more obvious. Good highlights will help to disguise regrowth at the roots too.
Home colourants can however offer unpredictable results, from choosing the right colour to judging how long to leave it on for your hair type. As a result many women rely on hairdressers to do the job for them, but this is an expensive and time consuming option, and whatever you do root re-growth is a real pain.
So, for a new secret weapon in the war against root re-growth, L’Oreal have brought out a new, hair colouring product Preference Mousse Absolue £10.99 from Boots. The beauty of it is that it is easy to use, and because it is a mousse you don’t have to mix it up, so you don’t waste any of it. Just squidge out the mousse (wearing the gloves provided), swish the mousse through your grey bits, wait,and then rinse out – voila!
Need an emergency repair? For an instant quick grey fix I recommend Color Wow Root Cover Up( £28.50) . Its a powder that comes in 6 shades which you apply to the roots of dry hair using a special brush (and it won’t come off on clothes or pillows). Afterwards it will just wash out, and because it is a powder it gives your hair a bit more body too.
John Frieda comes to the rescue with his excellent Precision Foam Colour. The foam virtually ensures there are no drips and it even smells ok. If your hair is already coloured and porous you may want to keep it on for slightly less time than recommended, especially for the first use, as the pigments are rich. Highlights and lowlights will still show through. Even if you would never forsake your hairdresser this is perfect for emergency or holiday treatments when you are desperate to cover those grey roots.
Other options are:
Bumble & Bumble root hair powders, which come in five shades and also absorb excess oil
Roux Tween Time Temporary Haircolour Touch-Up Stick on wet hair – it’s a sort of hair lipstick. It will stay in all day, and washes out. Available from Amazon.
If you want to treat the odd wispy bits try using hair mascara like Cover Your Gray’s Brush Your Hair Colour In to touch up wispy grey bits. Again its available from Amazon.
A hairline touch-up is an affordable way to disguise the bits that everyone sees. Balayage is a method of highlighting without using foils – the colour is applied freehand so you don’t get blocks of colour. Also because less colour is applied at the roots and more to the ends, re-growth is not as obvious, so it requires less maintenance. The effect is more subtle than normal highlights, and gives a sun-kissed look, so it’s definitely worth trying in the summer to camouflage grey hairs.
Fine and thinning hair
Thinning hair can be caused by hormonal changes around the menopause. You may find a more cropped or layered/chopped cut will help. Finding hair products that really do improve fine, thinning and flyaway hair is difficult, but there are some very effective products out there, though they aren’t cheap.
Try any of the following:
- Bumble and Bumble Thickening Shampoo actually does improve volume with regular use
- Pureology Pure Volume shampoo is brilliant, but expensive although a little goes a long way
- Phyto’s “PhytoDensium” or “PhytoVolume” shampoos
- Aveda’s Pure Abundance Volumising shampoo and “Phomollient” which is a foamy conditioner that you can use on wet or dry hair ( best with a blast from a hairdryer) to give lift.
- L’Oreal Everpure Colour Care & Volume wins hands down on price and results.
- L’Oreal’s Fibreceutic Treatment is one of the latest salon products, which definitely delivers what it promises. It’s a filler serum that plumps up your hair and really does make it feel thicker and softer. Application is in two stages, targeted at the areas that need it most, and takes about 10 minutes. The cost is around £15 and it does actually last for the 10 washes it promises.
- The True Volume range of shampoos and conditioners are aimed at volumising and conditioning dry hair.
Whilst hair spray will give volume, its hard to get it in to the roots, so a better way to add body and give your hair a lift from the crown is to rub in a little dry shampoo to the roots. Label M Resurrection Style Dust works really well. Or try Trevor Sorbie Beautiul Volume Dry Shampoo.
If it’s a real problem and your GP is not sympathetic you could try a trichologist. Philip Kingsley is well known, or take a look at the web site of Marion Gluck.
Dry or damaged hair
Hair loses its vitality over the years. If your hair is dry after a winter of central heating and air conditioning try Cherish Keratin-Infused Hair Mask. Its quite expensive but it is very effective. Philip Kingsley Elasticizer at £25 makes even the driest of hair feels soft and silky. Percy & Reed’s Totally TLC Hydrating Mask has a rich mix of coconut oil and marshmallow. Sit with this on under your (provided) shower hat, for fabulously soft hair. Morrocanoil is another supplier of argan oil. Again it is great for nourishing the skin and hair, and you just need to apply a little to your hair to make it look lush and moisturised. Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Reconstructor from Boots and and some supermarkets is excellent value. Ojon Restorative Hair Treatment is expensive but effective. Phyto Secret de Nuit Intense Hydration Creme is an overnight treatment. A little goes a long way. Kerastase Reflection range – Chroma Riche Luminous Softening Essence is brilliant for dry hair.
To breath new life into lacklustre highlights you can detox them in one wash with Louise Galvin’s “Sacred Locks Vitox” or Phyto’s “PhytoCitrus”. Phyto products are expensive but well worth the money. You need significantly less than a normal shampoo/conditioner, so they do last longer, and there is a product for every hair type. www.musthave.co.uk has multiple buy offers for their top 10 Phyto products, which can also be found in most departments stores, and in some private chemists.
To protect hair from sun, salt and chlorine try Phyto Plage Protective Sun Veil. To gently remove chlorine and product build-up try Aveda’s “After Sun Care Hair and Body Cleanser”.
Moroccanoil Hydrating Styling Cream is very nourishing, and if you just want the casual tousled holiday hair look then Fekkai’s Marine Summer Hair Beach Waves or Bumble & Bumble’s Texture Hair (un)dressing creme both work well.
Can’t shampoo because you are travelling?
Try Klorane or Batiste Coloured Dry Shampoo, both sold at Boots. Spray is better than powder to avoid any connotations of dandruff, and to transform greasy roots on non washing days. To avoid any tell tale residue, spray it onto a brush first, then spray with hairspray before brushing it through your hair.
Also try Label M Resurrection Style Dust on the roots for added volume if your hair is looking flat, or Trevor Sorbie Beautiful Volume Dry Shampoo.
And finally, for medical hair issues the Philip Kingsley Trichology Clinic is excellent. 020 7629 4004.
Well fitted and supporting bras are crucial to stop sagging. Half of us apparently wear the wrong size bra size, but its not surprising when you can go for a fitting in different shops and come away with completely different advice on what size fits. So for the ultimatefit session I would go to Rigby & Peller, where the ladies have spent a life time measuring boobs and really know their stuff.
To tone and plump your bust and décolleté area try the following, with apologies for some of the product names which are getting ridiculously long :
- Palmers Cocoa Butter Bust Firming Massage Cream is a bargain at under £7 but a very good plumper
- Liz Earle’s Superskin Bust and Neck Treatment
- Clarins Bust Beauty Firming Lotion and Extra-Firming Neck Crème
- Boots Beautifully Firmed Bust Cream
- This Works Perfect Cleavage from www.thisworks.com
- Dr Hauschka Regenerating Neck & Decollete Cream is a lovely rich oil based product
- Institut Esthederm Repair System Restructuring Neck & Neckline Cream works well if you have had a lot of sun exposure
To add a bit of umph to sagging breasts Curves Breast Enhancers put into your bra will give uplift, and as with most thngs you can buy them on Amazon.
Exercise will help too.
- Lie on the floor, knees bent , arms by your side, and with a weight in each hand. Bring arms up to the ceiling then lower them out wide to each side at chest level. Bring them back up to the ceiling, lower to your side and repeat. Do 3 sets of 15. The other exercise is
- The Plank, where you lie face down, and then raise yourself off the floor supported on elbows and forearms at the front, and toes at the back. Keep your back straight like a plank, and hold for as long as possible, then repeat several times. You should aim to hold it for 60 seconds.
Give your skin a boost
To make your skin glow and feel great nothing looks better than freshly exfoliated and moisturized skin. A daily routine of soaking and smoothing will work wonders to reenergise your skin. Try the Super Elixir Elemental Herbology Detox Bathing Infusion Oil combined with a detox salt scrub.
The Sanctuary range from Boots or Balance Me’s Skin Brightening Spearmint Polish are effective and reasonably priced exfoliators. To give your body a pre holiday boost, try a firming body wrap in a salon– you really do lose inches and feel firmer, and body creams do seem much more effective having been given a head start.
If that isn’t for you, then do some regular body brushing in the shower to improve blood and lymph circulation, or use an exfoliating towel.
- Muji two way body massager at £11 is an excellent body brush and has a good bristle pressure
- Soap & Glory Scrub Gloves are particularly effective
- Clarins Tonic Body Polisher is my current favourite body buffer to smooth skin. It’s full of crunchy sea salt and sugar grains mixed with rosemary and mint, and is the perfect body energiser. Finish with a nourishing body oil or cream, and pre holiday consider getting a light St Tropez style tan – a brown bottom looks much better than a white one!
If you tend to suffer from a bloated tummy, colonic irrigation is a great way to flush out your system. If you are not so keen on the idea of colonic irrigation, then a body scrub combined with an abdominal and circulatory massage will get things moving and help slim down your tummy. You can have a go yourself, by body brushing and massaging in a detoxifying oil like Clarins Anti Eau Oil which helps eliminate toxins and is effective at alieviating water retention. Or treat yourself to a (fully external!) firm abdominal massage treatment at a Guinot or Elemis salon. Both of these have noticeable results and rate high for a feel good factor:
- Guinot TechniSPA Double Slimming Effect to kickstart your body’s lymph drainage system and eliminate toxins- it does seem to de-bloat and flatten your tummy as well. Tel 0800 590094 for your nearest salon
- Elemis Body Sculpting Cellulite and Colon Therapy to cleanse your digestive system and eliminate toxins, incorporating a body scrub, and circulation boosting abdominal massages. Tel 01278 727830
If you don’t feel confident enough to strip off in summer into sleeveless dresses and shorts, you can win in the elegance stakes by wearing loose linen trousers and floaty tops.
The best way to get a good self tan is to have it applied by a professional, certainly if you have never done it before. But self tanners have improved hugely over the years and if you use a good product it is easy to avoid streaks and unpleasant smells. St Tropez Self Tanning Mousse remains one of the most effective home use self tanners. Newer products are also free of parabens, which have had a bad press. The golden rule is to get your skin sun ready. Shave or wax the day before, exfoliate well, moisture tough skin areas like heels, elbows and knees, wear dark clothes and wash your hands and nails well afterwards – toothpaste helps clean stains off hands.
Well, again there are so many on the market, but if you have dry skin and want to treat yourself to a rich cream then any of these highly effective lotions will give you a head start:
- Kiel’s classic “Crème de Corps” which has a lovely texture. It takes a few minutes to fully sink in but its emollient texture will make your skin feel soft and nourished
- All For Eve Body Butter £9 from Boots leaves your skin feeling super smooth
- Nivea SOS Body Lotion £6 is an excellent all round cream
- Boots No7 Protect & Prefect Intense Body Lotion is a rich moisturising cream
- Prtty Peaushun Skin Tight Body Lotion costs £38 ( pronounced Pretty Potion) from Beauty Workswest New to the UK, it has a natural emollient base and gives your skin an impressively flattering smoother glow, whilst its natural plant extracts condition your skin. It is available in four shades to suit your colouring, and also claims to” lift firm and tighten” so definitely an added plus!
- Waitrose Baby Bottom Butter £8 is a best seller for grown ups. Scented with camomile and vanilla, it is very rich and creamy
- Soap & Glory The Righteous Butter conditions skin well and costs about £6.50 from Boots
- Trilogy’s Everything Balm is a great nourisher for dry patches on face or body
- Champney’s Miracle Balm £5 from Boots is an effective multipurpose balm for all dry areas from elbows to knees and heels.
Contrary to what you might think body oils are not greasy, and a good oil will be absorbed into your skin quickly, without leaving any oily residue. For older skin they can be more effective moisturises than body lotions. Argan Oil is one of the purist.
Here are some of the best to try:
- Trilogy Aromatic Body Oil Treatment from Boots is a nourishing blend of pure plant oils with a pleasant summery scent which rubs in easily and makes your skin feel smooth.
- Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil has a light consistency, absorbs well and has stood the test of time as a regular favourite
- African Botanics Neroli Infused Body Oil is part of a beautiful range of rich natural ingredients from South Africa. This oil is a great reconditioning treatment for all skin types.
- Neutrogena Sesame Seed Body Oil is a great value non-greasy oil available from Boots, for use after a bath or shower, with a pleasant smell.
- Organic Pharmacy “Rose and Jasmine (or Neroli) Body Oil. Lovely fragrances, excellent for nourishing and rejuvenating the skin, and easily absorbed. Or try their De-tox Cellulite Body Oil for an invigorating treat
- Beauty Works West “Anti Ageing Body Treatment” is enriched with argan, cocnut and almond oils, plus other natural additions to boost circulation and tone the skin.
Indulge in a relaxing soak with bath oils to soften and nourish the skin. They are expensive but a little goes a long way:
- A few drops of Wildwood’s Argan Oil (see above) works a treat
- Mangu’s Organic Wild Rose Bath Soak is luxurious and refreshing
- Kate Logan’s Beauty Fennel Nourish Oil can be used in the bath or applied directly. She has a range of excellent body and face creams
And to wrap up:
A useful site, though not with the most attractive of names is Cheap Smells which offers some quite substantially discounted perfumes and beauty products.
For lovely presents of hard to find eco-friendly bath and body products ( for men and women) visit Content Beauty
Travelling Spongelle Duets are infused with body cleansers and skin conditioners of oil, kelp and bergamot, and produce creamy suds for up to 30 showers.
- Self tanning
- Body brushing
- Permanent hair removal
Its surprising how far you can walk just doing jobs around the house, so for easy leg toning you might want to try wearing a pair of FitFlops, which are engineered to tone and tighten leg and buttock muscles by giving them a mini work out as you walk – the ultimate multitasking gym exercise for time strapped women! They improve bad posture, back ache and swelling of the lower leg, and take the strain off painful feet. And for winter you can now get the FFSupertone Sneaker. John Lewis and major stores stock them.
The other “toning shoe” is the MBT trainer – its lightly curved sole makes you use more of your leg muscles whether standing or walking. Consistent wear does improve leg, thigh and buttock tone – just don’t wear them too much to start off with as they will make your muscles ache a bit as your legs get used to doing more work. Good shoe shops and John Lewis sell them.
As legs are released on parole from a winter imprisoned in jeans and dark tights, and thoughts turn to exposing them to the unsuspecting public a good pedicure and then a regular regime of skin scrub treatments is vital to remove old dry skin, and to make body lotions more effective.
Caudalie Crushed Cabernet and the Sanctuary Range, both from Boots, are very effective.
Liberate bare pale legs gently – cut offs, maxi-skirts, open toed shoes are a gentle introduction. If you wax, and have a “Strip” salon near you ( www.2strip.com) do try them for a fast, expert and virtually painless (really!) experience. They use the best Lycon wax which makes a big difference.
The skin is different on your legs – it lacks sebaceous glands and gets more papery with age so try a moisturiser aimed specifically at legs and flaky shins like:
- Dr Organic Aloe Vera Body Butter
- Clarins -Energizing Emulsion for Tired Legs -L’Occitane -Almond Milk Concentrate, which firms the skin on your legs too
- This Works – Skin Deep Dry Skin Leg Oil, full of rich cold pressed plant oils
- Decleor Aroma Sculpt Divine Rejuvenating Cream, gorgeously rich and creamy on flaky shins
- Prtty Peaushun – Skin Tight Body Lotion (see Body above) for some amazingly effective, smooth shimmering glamour
- Clinique Deep Comfort Body Butter is great on dry skin Doctor Organic Pomegranate Cream is a bargain option from Holland & Barratt
Definitely have a pedicure before you move into sandals, and take heart that most of us will be baring our legs, albeit gradually via cropped trousers, and in summer even if they are pale, legs generally look much better bare than covered in tights. If you then get brave enough to go bare, soften the blow with Agent Provocateur’s silky perfumed leg balm Maitresse Silk Stockings (£38) or Michael Kors Leg Shine(£22) which gives a subtle sheen. For a much cheaper alternative at £4.00 try Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula which leaves legs feeling soft and with a healthy looking but again very subtle sheen.
Emerging from the comfort and safety of black tights? Faced with the huge array of tights in M&S is never easy. When did stuffing your fist up a snagged and laddered sample ever help?
- If you are loath to leave your tights off, try Marks & Spencer’s Illusion Tights – at £4 for a box of three they are great everyday tights – sheer, and with a good texture.
- If you want to avoid the ubiquitous opaque tights and go for fashionable nude colours try John Lewis 7 Denier Barely There tights for a sheer look that has good coverage, or move up a notch to their 15 Denier Sleek
- Or for hardly there summer tights on chilly days try Aristoc Ultra Sheer 5 Denier tights – only 5 denier but they are strong and fit well.
Time to retreat into opaque tights? The choice is huge, so it is simplest to stick to M&S, though even they offer a confusing choice of thicknesses, finishes and functions. 50 or 60 denier is the perfect thickness, as anything else is too thin.
- Everyday : 60 Denier Outstanding Value 3 Pack at £9.50
- Quality : 60 Denier Black Opaques, which are softer
- Functional: Ultimate Magic 60 Denier Secret Support Tights at £6
- Luxury : Autograph’s 60 Denier Velvet Touch at £8 ‘velvety soft and expensive – feeling’
For the ultimate in luxury tights Wolfords Velvet de Luxe 66 tights are soft and velvety , but expensive at £21, though they wash well and don’t go bobbly. Or try Falke’s Pure Matt 50 semi-opaque tights at £16.
Even if your legs are the least favourite part of your body, they will be vastly improved by banishing the winter’s pasty look with self- tanners or tints, but they will need a bit of TLC first, so exfoliate and moisturise well the day before. This will avoid fake tan concentrating in dry areas. Then you have two options – temporary tints or self tanners
- Vie’s Pin Perfection £11.50 for 150ml
- Sally Hansen ‘s Airbrush Legs £9.95 for 75ml
- Air Stocking’s Premier Silk £25
- Clarins Delectable Self Tanning Mousse £20
- Marks & Spencer Self Tan Lotion for Face & Body £7.50
- St Tropez Self Tanning Mouse
A lot of these products are available on discount sites like feelunique.com
And a tip if you find your hands are stained – wash them with some toothpaste!
This is essentially fat that has moved up from the deeper dermal layers and got tangled in the collagen and protein fibres that lie under the skin. It can be the scourge of the plump and thin alike and the reasons you get dimply thighs can be for a variety of reasons – a sedentary lifestyle, water retention or of course the old hormones. Lymphatic drainage massage can help, as will body brushing, a healthy diet and doing more exercise.
There are masses of body firming creams on the market, and whether or not they work is a very moot point. Creams that have consistently good reviews, at least for alleviating the problem, are:
- Cheap: Nivea My Effect Goodbye Cellulite 10 Day Serum £11
- Mid range: Lirac Morpho- Slim Anti-cellulite Concentrate £33
- Mid range: Biotherm D Code Anti Cellulite Care £37
Body brushing is very effective at promoting blood flow and stimulating the lymphatic system to expel toxins. Your main lymph nodes are in your groin and arm pits so that is where you are aiming for as you brush. Brushing also sloughs off old skin leaving your skin much smoother. Soap & Glory Scrub Gloves from Boots at £4 are good value. Always brush in the direction of your heart and, doing it gently to start with, begin at your feet and move up you legs over your buttocks and stomach. Then do the same thing on your arms, starting at your hands and moving up and over your shoulders. Its an excellent way of preparing your legs for general release and minimising cellulite.
Permanent hair removal
How boring and repetitive is this, and if you go to a salon for waxing it is expensive and time consuming too. If you factor in how much you pay over your lifetime then laser treatment is worth considering. It is very effective, but seriously expensive. Intense pulsed light (IPL) is methodically zapped onto your skin to destroy the hair follicle. It is virtually painless ( much less painful than waxing) and just feels like someone is lightly pricking your skin with something hot. After 3 to 6 treatments most people see an 80% reduction of hair. As you have to let the stubble grow a little before treatment, it is probably not something to start as summer approaches. More an autumn/winter treatment when you are not going to expose your skin to the sun. You will invariably need to have several subsequent sessions, as a few of the stronger hairs will grow back and need zapping again, but it is a very successful technique. For a much cheaper option try one of the new range of home depilatories:
- Philips now sell the “Lumea” which uses IPL so you can laser your legs, bikini area and underarms at home – they say 4-5 treatments should do it. At £399 it is expensive but nothing like the cost of going to a salon to be zapped.
- Boots Smooth Skin IPL System costs £299 and uses the same technique. Unfortunately neither system works well on red or blond hair.
Electronic Depilation is another alternative to waxing, if you can grit your teeth and cope with the pain. It takes quite a lot of getting used to and is not for the squeamishor but works well on inhibiting regrowth. It works by using rotating little teeth in a fast and furious tweezer action, so it will make you wince. Best to shave your legs, and then after 3 days start using the depilator daily so you don’t have too many hairs to cope with at one go. After a week your legs will be very smooth and you will have adjusted to the wince –factor. One of the latest is Panasonic’s ES-WD42 epilator (£79). It is very effective at removing even short hairs, and as it waterproof you can use it on wet or dry hairs and in the shower. You can also use it to remove hard skin on heels too. An alternative is Braun’s Silk-epil Xpressive, (£50) another wet/dry option. The No! No! is the latest hair removal system available at Boots. It uses gentle heat to zap unwanted hair in a quick and painless way. Worth the £200 compared to regular waxing.
These can be painful if they are varicose, and just unsightly if you have lots of thread veins – sadly almost unavoidable as one gets older. Not that long ago varicose veins were “stripped” and then you had to wear bindings on your legs 24 hours a day which was really uncomfortable, and be off work for 1-2 weeks.
Nowadays there are two main procedures.
- micro-sclerotherapy, which is generally used for thread veins, when the veins are injected with a special solution to close them up.
- endovenous lasering, which heats the walls of the vein until they disintegrate is an alternative but more painful procedure and it can be less effective
Both procedures aim to cause the vein walls to fuse together and prevent blood flow. Once the vein is nonfunctional, the body simply dissolves and absorbs it. The treatment does not take long, but will usually need to be repeated to achieve the best results. It will take a few weeks following the procedure for the absorption to take place, and any swelling and discolouration to go, so it is best undertaken in the winter.
For larger varicose veins “ablation” is a treatment performed in hospital under local or general anaesthetic. A fine catheter is inserted into the main surface vein through a needle, and the vein is then heated to destroy it. Afterwards any varicose veins are removed through small incisions made in the leg, in the same way as would be done during surgical treatment. There is a little bruising but far less than after surgery.
One of the best from personal experience is The Lister Hospital in London where all the latest techniques are offered. Their website is very helpful and has clear explanations of the procedures. The Mark Whiteley Clinic in Guildford and Harley Street now offers a pioneering new keyhole technique to treat varicose veins which are often the underlying cause of thread veins and, if dealt with early,are easily treated. Nick Lowe at the Cranley Clinic is another excellent practitioner.
To give your feet a head start, particularly as your feet emerge from winter hibernation into open toed shoes and sandals, a professional pedicure will make it much easier to continue with effective home maintainance afterwards. DIY footcare is made easy nowadays by all the unguents and hard skin treatments that make the pumice stone a thing of the past.
- Bad cracks in your heels? Use Flexitol Heel Balm – an Australian product available from Boots – it’s brilliant.
- Hard skin on your heels and feet? Try a thing called Boots’ Ped Egg that costs about £10. It’s a bit like a mini cheese grater is extremely effective, and collects all the dry skin in its own holder so it doesn’t go everywhere. Alternatively use Tweezerman’s Callus Smoother £19
- Foot scrubs do two things – buffing away dead skin and nourishing at the same time. Try Neal’s Yard Pumice Foot Scrub which has a refreshing ginger zing to it, or Liz Earle’s Foot Scrub or for a cheaper one try Umi’s Peach & Macadamia Nut Sugar Scrub
- Foot creams to try are Soap & Glory’s Heel Genius, Aveda’s Foot Relief, Liz Earle’s Foot Repair Moisturiser or Bliss Foot Patrol
For instantly softer feet (well in 30 minutes) pop on a pair of Bliss Softening Socks £36 and let the moisture infused gel lining transform your feet. If you haven’t seen your feet in months and are worried about exposing them on holiday, they work a mini miracle. Lined with gel they are a bit odd to put on at first, but they work wonders on hard skin and are also effective as an in-flight boost to swollen feet. You get about 50 treatments from a pair. For a cheaper option apply foot cream and slip on Marks & Spencer’s £3.99 pedicure socks, to help the cream soak into your feet rather than your carpet! Adding a drop of cuticle oil to your nails each day will keep your pedicure looking good for longer.
Bunions are extremely painful swelling of the toe joints, usually the joint that joins the big toe to the foot, where extra bone grows. They are caused by bad footwear, which crushes toes together, arthritis and unfortunately they can be hereditary. They can make wearing shoes excrutiating. Relief is available through a short operation to remove the boney bulge. Recovery is painful for a couple of weeks, so you can’t drive for a while. If they are really bad the toe bone is cut and repined, so recovery will be longer A podiatrist will give you special shoe inserts to support your feet and ease the pressure. You won’t be condemned to a life of wearing flat shoes, but killer high heels should be for special occasions only, or the bunions might come back.
Nail Varnish needs a clear base coat, two coats of colour and then a clear top coat.
Pampering and Day Spas
For a special occasion or as a real treat it is worth going to a spa to feel truly pampered and invigorated in a relaxing environment. But beware the hype and over pricing of overlong treatments that cost a lot and give dubious results. The best treatments are often the simplest, but given by good therapists who know their stuff and don’t just take a standard approach. Personal recommendations are best if you can get them and don’t get taken in by the flowery ritual/exotic/holoistic style language.
Go to the The Good Spa Guide or Britain’s Finest for a spa beauty salon or spa near you. Here are some suggestions if you get a chance for some special pampering:
- In London The Dorchester Spa offers a truly pampered experience with an invigorating detoxifying treatment of an exfoliating scrub and body massage.
- Selfridges offer a “Groom Hour” where two therapists sort out your hands, face and feet.
- Spa @ the Berkeley, Knightsbridge An expensive treat for a special celebration
- So Spa @ Sofitel, St James. Five minutes from Trafalgar Square, with a beautiful spa offering 30 minute ‘starters’, 60 minute ‘mains’, and 30 minute ‘desserts’. there is a hammam too and spa butlers on hand, with a Brasserie Roux to tempt you afterwards
- Beauty Works West, Notting Hill, W1 A small spa offering super treatments
- Balance the Clinic just off the Kings Road – fantastic mud wraps and massages in calm surroundings– and good shopping afterwards too.
Out of London
- The Bath House Spa in the New Forest, Hampshire offers relaxing and soothing spa days in beautiful countryside. You can book the ‘Lemon Detox Retreat’ for fast weight loss.
- Lucknam Park, Chippenham , Wiltshire Award winning spa with excellent treatments. beware undoing all your hard work in their restaurant
- Lime Wood also in the New Forest offers a spa, sauna , steam room and hamam.
- Littleton Mill, Wiltshire is a stylish wellness retreat that offers a Detox and Rejuvenate yoga weekend to “rebalance and energise” after the Christmas excesses. You can B&B at Newhouse Farm.
- New Park Manor Hotel, Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire Excellent treatments in a lovely New Forest setting – try the relaxing Herb &Hay full body massage to detox. Use of spa facilities is about £35/day.
- Penninghame House, Dumfries and Galloway, offers the macrobiotic diet together withexercise classes, yoga and oriental self massage classes to stimulate the metabolism. A calmimg and rather more of a spiritual spa experience.
- Ragdale Hall, Melton Mowbray has an emphasis on exercise as well as diet to burn off fat, so offers lots of ‘fun’ exercises to break the monotony.
- Retallack Resort & Spa Cornwall. A stylish collection of 5 star self catering houses, in a great location, within minutes of Padstow and Wadebridge. Retallack Resort has a Five Star Gold Self Catering Award by Visit Britain; with smart bedrooms and bathrooms and extremely well equipped kitchens. Accomodation includes large private terraces fully equipped with seating and private BBQ. Many have hot tubs and enjoy outstanding countryside views.
- Seaham Hall, Seaham, Co. Durham Their Serenity Spa has won masses of awards – very chic and swanky with a huge pool. The 5*hotel is on a windswept cliff top with lovely views, rooms are modern and service is excellent. You might want to avoid Sundays as there is a large local boot sale nearby.
- At Searle & Taylor House, Ropley, Hampshire you can also book in for a dedicated detox session.
- St Moritz, Trebetherick, Wadebridge Cornwall A leisure club, large pool, hamman and Cowshed Spa from £100 B&B
- The Titanic Spa near Huddersfield is bright, modern and has friendly staff. Apart from the usual range of treatments it also has a hamman and a soothing post treatment relaxation room. Winner of several awards, and if you want to really indulge you can stay overnight.
- Yeotown, Devon is a chic spa in an18th century farmhouse, offering a mix of hiking, riding , yoga and workouts with ex marines, plus well designed meals to consolidate weight loss, and a charming boutique hotel for relaxation afterwards. They also offer a 4 day ‘Yeotox’ programme.
- Wellington Centre near Hastings Owned by Jo Fairley, the co creator of Green & Black’s chocolate.
- If you can find a spa that offers a hamam, like Lime Wood above, they are fantastic for rejuvenating your skin. As you sit or lie in a steam room your skin is cleansed of its dead layers. Dead Sea mud is massaged all over your body to cleanse and smooth it, whilst stimulating circulation and easing muscle tension
- Vigilius Mountain Resort, Tyrol, Italy. A cable car takes you to this cool mountain retreat with fabulous views. Indoor pools and excellent treatments
- Aquapura, Portugal. Once a farmhouse, this is now a fabulous spa in gorgeous countryside. It offers anti -aging and weight loss programmes and a wide range of treatments. Food is good too.