Hello you beauties.
I’ve got so much to talk to you about but I’m going to keep this snappy in order to arm you with as many of my pandemic picks (now that’s a terrible phrase) as possible. Whether we feel low, stuck, agitated, bored or helpless, it’s been hard, these last isolated months, to find ways to propel ourselves out of negativity or ennui. But I’ve looked into how I might reach for those positive feelings when the world is such trouble and my brain is so badly behaved. Seeking peace, seeking productivity and even seeking a sense of personal glamour have helped to raise me from my bleakness and, frankly, remind me who the f*** I am.
While violently agreeing that we should be wearing masks, I find them dystopian and depressing. Slip mulberry silk Face Coverings are the evening dress of mask life: gorgeously sleek, they are most definitely what Elizabeth Taylor would have worn. She would probably also have smouldered over the top with lashes dressed in Charlotte Tilbury’s new Push Up Lashes! Mascara. Charlotte is the queen of accessible glamour — this curls, fattens and really loads ’em up.
If you’re zooming all day, try RMS’s Luminizer X Quad Palette to look as though you have your own resident director of photography. Also, for this reason, I will never not love Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Powders. I always find that even looking at a bottle of Chanel nail varnish makes me feel a bit more French, a bit richer. Its Longwear Nail Colour in Rouge Essentiel is an irreproachably true red and, painted on a short, square nail produces a classic, capable glamour. Lastly, get your hands on a Babyliss Big Hair Care, which never ceases to amaze me for a quick idiot-proof, at-home blow-dry. No one would ever know that three minutes ago you were sitting on the bed, in a towel, staring at the wall and doubting your own existence.
Oy! I’ll start with a new friend: Maya Njie’s Vanilj Eau de Parfum is the naughtiest vanilla I’ve encountered and yet so harmonious: a mellifluous blend of vanilla, cardamom and cedarwood make for a lightly boozy, slightly spicy, powdery fragrance to bliss out on. And now to the mountains: my best lockdown friend was Olverum Bath Oil. You need hardly any for a total immersion in restorative alpine herbs, so it works out affordable and removes the stress of using either half the bottle in a panic or an amount invisible to the naked eye to try to make it last. I used this every night of lockdown and it gave me a little snap of joy and might have helped me sleep.
Sleep is the big one. Always, but particularly now. So I’ve chucked a few things at it, most notably Nahid de Belgeonne’s Human Method — a soothing and compassionate way to reset your natural rhythm and calm your nervous system. Her Zoom sessions (thehumanmethod.co.uk) are about breath and small, slow movements to help you self-regulate and release habitually contracted muscles. Fantastic for anxious and hyper-vigilant, speedy minds: I felt actually happy. This followed by a cup of Lizzie Loves Be Sleepy drink (formulated for children, effective for adults) has made sleep less of a worry than it once was. There is peaceful power to be found in putting sleep in its place as something that… just happens.
Often you need to start with the inside and Symprove (12-week programme, £158; symprove.com) will nurture the baffling Amazon jungle of your gut to clean everything up. Since glugging this every morning I’ve lost weight, had better concentration and, most significantly, cheered the hell up. The gut-brain connection is not nothing and might well be everything. It’s the first thing I do in the morning before rubbing Aromatherapy Associates Revive Bath and Shower Oil over my skin and rinsing it off in the shower. It softens skin so you needn’t bother with lotion, but also peps you up. It’s the first shower oil I’ve tried that delivers a bath-like therapeutic boost.
Then, of course, there’s coffee. Mushroom coffee. The new superfood. Four Sigmatic’s Mushroom Coffee (£12.99, at cultbeauty.co.uk) contains about 50 per cent of the caffeine found in a regular cup of Joe, with added mushroom, lion’s mane and chaga extracts. It clears my head without any jitters. I’ve always adored the exultant zing of Miller Harris’s Citron Citron (so lemony, they named it twice) but never more so than when feeling isolated. A sparkling citrus scent, it dies down to a radiant floral. Everyone always comments. And where a scented candle used to take me from day to evening, I’ve been using Byredo’s peerless Bibliothèque candle to take me from morning potter to desk-time focus. Deeply stylish to behold, it smells of velvety libraries and makes me feel like a person who works hard, earns a fortune and owns many leather-bound books. The new and classy Diptyque scented plug-in (in amber for work days) has a similarly smart, woody effect.
Seeking the feeling that you might be helping people and the planet
Want to be part of beauty with a purpose? Get to know Beauty Banks, which rightly believes that being clean is a basic human right. We are all aware that this winter even more people in the UK will have to choose between being fed and being clean, so go to beautybanks.org.uk to donate money, products or get hold of a kit to start your own, local Beauty Banks campaign. This is important.
Allow me to introduce you to Nursem, founded by a paediatric nurse called Antonia who always came home from work with cracked and bleeding hands. She developed these natural, scented, cool-looking hand washes and creams and, crucially, for every one you buy, the company donates one month’s supply to a nurse or midwife. Space NK is matching the Nursem promise, so if you buy it there you’re doubling the impact.
I tend to have a bad hair life but Larry King’s Social Life For Your Hair Shampoo gives my lankness the guts and grip it sorely needs. Charmingly, embedded in the packaging are wildflower seeds, so should it end up blowing around the planet, something beautiful will grow. Plus, for every bottle sold a percentage of the profits will be donated to plant trees and create the jobs that flourishing forests demand. More trees, more jobs, more life…
Lastly and randomly, I love elephants. Elephants and pandas, since you ask. So if you need an excuse to buy in to the expensive gorgeousness that is Chantecaille, look to its Walk For Giants Safari Collection Eye Trio, which is a triptych of beautifully warm and useable metallic shadows. I used its last eye palette right down to the metal (rare) because it’s a pleasure in every way; a pleasure intensified by the knowledge that Chantecaille works in partnership with Space For Giants to combat poaching and help ensure that elephants can continue their ancient migratory patterns, roaming wild and free. Some day soon, my beauties, I hope that we will be roaming wild and free again. In the meantime I send you love and I’ll see you next week.
To shop Annabel’s picks, head to our new mobile platform at esmag.co.uk.