Sunday, 6 January 2008

#60 Helping Husband

I attended a wedding last month, where my friend's husband - extremely cute in a Mark Owen/Richard Hammond/James McAvoy sort of way - looked utterly dreadful. Bless him. Red eyes, dark circles, patchy skin and a little breakout on the chin. The couple spent several hours on the night regaling guests with stories of just how insomniac, anxious, busy and run down they'd become in the run up... she on the other hand looked flawless, because, as is a bride's right, she'd chosen to have a professional hair and make-up artist transform her from under-fed and hollow-eyed, to glistening cheekboned and ruby-lipped. She might have missed a few winks, but there were no missed opportunities amidst the menfolk, who flocked to her like moths to Greta Garbo's ember-tipped cigarette - she'd never looked better. A few weeks later, I quizzed her on the routine and it came as no surprise that on the morning of the wedding she'd used a cleanser, exfoliator, two masks, eye patches, a calming oil and massage technique (borrowed from her facialist) and then had several primers, highlighters and bases expertly blended and applied by her premier artist. As for her hubby - who's since bounced back to his charming ways - he rolled out of bed after a mere 25 minutes sleep, washed, shaved and patted on moisturiser - hoping for the best, but feeling somewhat hollow and harrowed by the puffy-eyed man looking back at him in the mirror.

This is where I become exasperated. Had he known just three or four simple tricks (his wife was in no position to help, sleeping as they did in separate parts of the country the night before) - he could have fixed his face with minimal fuss and spent the night with chest puffed out, rather than deflated in self-conscious apology.

Having chatted to several of my best-looking and well kempt colleagues, I feel the need to share the following...

1) If you have had no sleep the night before and need to look your best, be gentle with your skin. Overzealous cleansing, exfoliating and shaving will leave your complexion looking as you feel: irritable.

2) A few basics: if your skin is calm, but just looks dull and tired, invest in an enlivening, radiance-enhancing product, such as Nickel Morning After Rescue Gel, £24 ( - do not use immediately after shaving.

3) If your skin looks dry and patchy, after cleansing try a mask that will even out skintone such as Dermalogica Multi-Vitamin Power Recovery Mask, £21.35 (

4) If you have dark circles around your eyes, couple an eye gel or cream with light-reflective properties (my brother loves Lab Series Age Rescue Eye Therapy, £25 ( ) with a concealer. Many will know that I'm not a big fan of YSL's Touche Eclat - and on men in particular, it's very easily spotted (especially when looking back at photographs!). I therefore recommend Laura Mercier Secret Concealer, £18, because it comes in three SKIN-like colours and blends in seamlessly. For best results, apply eye cream and while skin is still the tiniest bit spongey with moisture, tap the concealer all along the orbital bone (the hollowest part of the undereye) with a little finger. When blended, stop.

5) There is no treatment on earth that will get rid of spots instantly. If you are well-off and well-connected, you can book in for an emergency spot shot from a reputable dermatologist(otherwise known as a cortisone injection), but for mere mortals, DIY methods must suffice. I don't rate toothpaste at all - I've seen girls with red rashes after regular zit attacks with the stuff.

If you have no time to spare, my best advice is to take a teeny bit of aspirin, grind it up and add a bit of water to make a paste and dab it directly onto the spot. Leave for a a couple of minutes then rinse away with ice cold water. This will take down some swelling and redness. Another great option is to pop eye whitening drops, which constrict blood vessels thereby reducing blood flow (and redness), directly onto the spot. My current favourite blemish cover-up is Avene Couvrance Concealer Brush, £11 ( It is a pen-style applicator and comes in a beige and a green shade. If you can afford both, I'd recommend using the green concealer on red areas first, before blending, and then brushing the beige colour over that. Faffy it may be, but the formula blends down to utter invisibility and has never once felt heavy on my cake-prone skin.

Poor guys. I may not be receptive to the ongoing male battle to keep tools in trousers, but I'm certainly more than sympathetic should they choose to whip the odd trick out of their sleeves.


Rollergirl said...

Good tips. Personally, tea tree oil and a nice lavender This Works rollerbally thingy work for me on the spot-zapping front...

Gervy said...

The most brilliant blemish concealer I have ever found is Clinique's Advanced Concealer. The colour I use (Matte Light) matches my skintone perfectly, but most important is the texture - it applies as a liquid and dries to a slightly powdery yet invisible finish. I am convinced it is the reason many people tell me I have perfect skin.

Inexplicably, it was discontinued several years ago in Australia and I think in the UK also - it's now only sold in the US I think. I'm half-way through my last tube and getting very, very anxious.

Miss Malcontent said...

I'm always fascinated by products that get discontinued - Kanebo did the same thing with their original creamy concealer. It was by far the best undereye formula that my mother or sister had ever used, and then out of the blue, they stopped making it. The new formula is still good - but not as great as the original. Re. Rollergirl - I like the This Works rollerball too - I pack it when I'm flying, just in case I start to feel a bump coming on, and also rub it between my palms and inhale to kill off any airborne germs that might be in the vicinity!