What a flabby, pimply, listless mess I’ve become these past few months. So laborious is the prospect of writing, that my muscles have deteriorated into rolls of useless wobbly flesh. When will this treacle-filled trouser sensation wear off so that I might become the spritely vessel of productive exuberance I so long for? But it’s not just my writing muscles that have fallen into a boneless fatty puddle on the floor; it seems my face is heading the same way. I have always been pretty slapdash with my appearance. I wear make-up—sure. I cleanse, I moisturise, I do the odd sit up or yoga stretch while watching Pawn Stars. I drink inordinate amounts of water—that’s not a beauty thing, but more a pathological fear of becoming dry-mouthed. I’ve always eaten relatively healthily, living by my two cardinal rules of never eating a meal without green on the plate and avoiding anything that has absolutely no nutritional content (let me just caveat that by saying cake falls into a different category; it’s not strictly nutritious in the literal sense, but rather in the emotional and is thus, allowed). This lackadaisical approach has gotten me to this point okay, but now, as a recent sales assistant in Space NK told me, it’s time to pay attention.
Following from this, the first thing on my 2015 ‘wish list’ is a new face. But with the cost of decent cosmetic surgery being slightly beyond my below minimum wage pay grade, what methods are available to me to obtain a youthful ‘dewy glow’, as make-up folk are so fond of saying? Having trawled the internet, uncovering swathes of information, from the sensible and credible to the utterly dubious, I have attempted to extract the tips that will be most applicable to my situation, as well as the most manageable in terms of both time and money. Below are eight areas I will be focusing on—call them general ‘resolutions’ if you will, though I’m reticent to use that term (guilt and failure are so often concomitants). Whether or not they make any discernible difference will be the subject of a subsequent blog, no doubt.
A Good Base
What did we do pre YouTube? Thanks to this democratisation of information, the whole arena of make-up application has been demystified and as such, I am now beginning to appreciate the value of good coverage. Having spent most of my life unencumbered by problem skin, I never really learnt to do anything beyond concealer dabbing and smoky eyes. Foundation, highlighters, bronzers and anything of that ilk was unchartered territory for me. Given the tired, blotchy state of things now however, I’ve certainly had to familiarise myself with such products and am subsequently finding it all rather fun; a brave new world of cosmetics, as it were. Ex-Made in Chelsea star Millie Mackintosh is surprisingly informative, deadpan delivery and ridiculously posh voice aside; her tip of putting concealer all over the eye has been a revelation. There’s still some way to go before cosmetic nirvana is reached, however; my coverage remains a bit dry and craggy. The ability to apply symmetrical eyeliner also still eludes me. Trial and error + practice may be the mantra to invoke here.
Good Sleep Hygiene
Sleep has always been an issue for me, even pre-child. Desperation sometimes sends me running to the arms of a prescription of zopicline, but generally I do my utmost to achieve good, natural sleep. Andrew Johnson apps are rather helpful, and avoiding shiny screens by opting for a nice boring book instead is advisable (I don’t mean that books are boring, but a hard-going read will aid sleep). Socks are also essential bed attire in my case as my feet tend to be a good 60 degrees colder than the rest of my body, and it’s damn near impossible to fall asleep with cold feet. A few strategic yoga exercises can be very useful as well. I rather like this one, mainly because of her indoor allotment in the background. Clearly, I’ve not yet properly addressed the huge sleep deficit having two small children has generated, as those dark circles remain firmly in place, cantankerous black holes of despair that they are. But I’m trying. Sort of. 11pm is my target bedtime. 1am is my habitual bed time…
A Few Exercises
Let me be clear: I am atrociously ill-disciplined when it comes to exercise. I often look at my bottom when undressed and think ‘well that could definitely look better’ but remain unstartled enough to stop eating cake and start running. Having said that, I whole-heartedly recognise the importance of exercise for the benefit of overall wellbeing. Walking has been a form of natural prozac for me when experiencing dark times. On the odd occasions I decide to do more than just walk, there are a few exercise regimes I’ve found very helpful (by helpful I mean gruelling, but I can do them in front of the TV at home where no one can see me): this one for a serious bout of squats and this one if you have a death wish. Like most people on this planet, I feel better when I’ve done something as physical and virtuous as a burst of ‘burpees’; not only does it chip away at the hardened cynicism that has encrusted itself upon me like the barnacled bottom of a ship, it helps the blood circulate around my body and stops me from frowning so much, which is one of the primary bugbears I have with my ageing face. If only I did these more frequently…
Cod Liver and Vitamin E Oil
Since my local fish monger closed down, the ability to find decent fish for dinner has become considerably undermined. Thus, I have resorted to ingesting it in capsule form. As for the vitamin E oil, I take that in capsule form too. I also impale one on a safety pin nightly and apply the oil directly onto the dark circles under my eyes. Apparently it helps. We shall see. At the moment, the only affects I can discern from all this additional oil are a lot of gas—at both ends [insert horrified emoticon here].
Eating the Rainbow
Yes, yes, we all get it. More raw carrots and less crisps. Since I became a ‘school-run’ mum, to use that loathsome phrase, I have become utterly disorganised in every sense. By and large, our household diet is pretty good but eating properly does require some planning—not a lot, but some. You need to ensure that certain ingredients are always to hand in your kitchen, otherwise you end up doing what I do which is eat about three different courses of toast. This is probably the worst thing I could possible do, given I should be eating as many hydrating foods as possible (if you swallow beauty magazine gumpf, that is; which I generally don’t, but I’m desperate), to replenish the moisture stocks in my haggard, cavernous face. Making dinners that are palatable to both the Doc and the kids also means that some of my preferred menu choices are replaced with fail-safe ones, like lasagne and curry, and often severely lacking in the culinary self-righteousness I’m longing to achieve. My favourite lunch time dish is this one though, as I’ve almost always got celery and eggs in my fridge. Plus, it’s bloody delicious and it lends itself to considerable additions and substitutions to suit what you have in the old crisper.
Less Sugar, Caffeine and Booze
This is an obvious one. However, I’ve no intention of giving up my daily intake of 2-3 cups of brutally strong builders tea, nor my 1-2 americanos, so I will have to opt for avoiding eating so much chocolate (I have to say I do notice a difference with this) and sugary things generally. I don’t actually drink that much (not enough to bother my face at any rate) so this box can also be responded to with a neat N/A.
Having a Routine
One of the things I’ve found most damaging since having children is the lack of routine. Which is kind of perverse if you think about it because routines and children are supposed to go hand-in-hand. Perhaps I should rephrase this then: the kids have a routine; I do not. When I refer to routine, I don’t mean the get up at 6.15am, check emails from 6.30-6.45am, etc. type routines that I used to write up on pieces of A4 and plaster all over my room as an anal-retentive teenager. I mean being organised, having some semblance of order to things so that I know when I can switch off from children and work and attend to things that are emotionally and cerebrally enriching. Of the latter there has been a tremendous lack. Which is of course bad news for my frowny face.
Much like a Tolkien narrative, my search for the best skincare trudges on: relentless and with only darkness in sight. The only glimmer of light is that after years of faffing about, I have finally settled on Kiehl’s Ultimate Facial Cleanser. It’s not too pricey, it’s absent of any irritating ingredients and it removes my make-up before bed, which is essentially what you want. It doesn’t make me smell nice, or spoon me in my sleep, but I can live with that; if my ventures into the skincare world have taught me anything, it’s to not expect miracles. I only recently began to immerse myself in the world of serums and toners and was decidedly underwhelmed by my Paula’s Choice Resist range. If anything, the skincare ingredient du jour, retinol, only served to annoy my skin rather than plump and smooth it. I’ve opted instead for using a witch hazel soaked cotton ball on my face every other day, which seems to be quite effective. My pores are smaller at any rate. Operating in tandem with a decent serum (when I actually find it), I’m expecting good things. As for moisturisers, well… I previously used Aesop and it was okay but not enough to justify the price. Currently I’m skint so I’m using Olay which you can pick up for a fiver at Superdrug. It’s certainly not the best drink for my ageing skin, but it’ll have to do for now. Apparently the Regenerist serum is very good… I’m determined to have a proper skincare regime in place by my next birthday (okay, maybe the birthday after that). Right, now that I’ve divided, it’s now time to begin conquering. I will report back in thirty days (or so). In the mean time, if anyone happens to be reading this (which, I suspect, no one is. I often imagine my blog as a kind of transcription of the conversations I have with myself in the shower), please do share your tips. As you can see, I need them.