In the mornings I don’t have time to slather myself with moisturiser in ‘circular, upward strokes’, then hop about naked whilst it dries. As a great woman once said: ‘ain’t nobody got time for that.’ Especially mothers being harassed by a toddler demanding ‘WEEETTAAABIXXXX’ and a 5yo quizzing them on ‘pyroclastic flow’ as they shower (just me?).
It’s not a sexy, glamorous beauty find, but I was immediately sold on this ‘quick fix’ from Aveeno on my weekly Boots sweep. Call me a lazy beauty junkie, but I like easy, quick, hard-working, effective products. If they’re a faff, chances are I won’t use them, no matter how effective they are.
This fine, light-weight formula comes out in a wide aerosol mist and works upside down, making it swift and a doddle to use – I jump out the shower, roughly towel myself dry but while my skin is still damp I hosed myself down, head to toe (well not face, neck to toe). Then rub it in. Done. No dry time, not tacky or greasy.
The oat extract means it’s really softening and soothing, without any overpowering fragrance (great if you want something that doesn’t compete with your perfume).
I’ve used it post shaving without irritation, and it’s a great prep step before applying fake tan, too.
I think I’ve reached the age, and stage in my marriage, where lingerie is not all about push-up bras, chaffing undercarriages and bells and whistles (was it ever?!). Whilst I’m not ready to give in to the sensible belly button warmers quite yet, I now yearn for comfy, everyday staples offering enough support for my post-baby bazookers, with just a hint of sexy mama.
Especially for summer, I like soft, sheer fabrics in pastel shades from the likes of…
Intimissimi When in Italy, I can’t resist buying Intimissimi lingerie. I love their lacy bralettes, peeping out from a linen or chambray shirt. I think this set from their ‘Summer in Sicily’ collection (above) is so, so pretty. Their swimwear is fab, too. Floral embroidery triangle bra, £47, Intimissimi
I’ve been writing about Bodas for over a decade – in fact my first ever shopping feature was for Grove magazine, a luxury lifestyle magazine for Notting Hill, home to Bodas’ flagship store. I extolled the virtues of their cashmere soft, comfy, pretty lingerie then – and my opinion hasn’t changed. I love this blush pink for summer. I know it doesn’t look that ‘wow’, but trust me – it has underwiring but no padding, giving a really flattering, natural shape. It’s beautifully made and oh-so soft. A proper underwear staple that still feels special. Smooth Tactel Underwire Bra, £45, Bodas
La Perla Okay, how beautiful is La Perla lingerie? Sigh. It’s like candyfloss, frothy and sweet… shame it’s ruinously expensive. Maybe I need to find a Parisian lover who will keep me in luxury lingerie…. Or, perhaps more practically….
Instead of moaning on Twitter about the intolerable heat, I have spent the last few days letting my body relax in the warmth and soak up some Vitamin D.
I’ve been: watching the wild flowers in the meadow by our house; listening to the crickets that remind me of childhood holidays in France; eating every meal outside; watering the garden each evening and noticing new things flowering and fruit setting; catching the waft of warm herbs through the kitchen window; drinking in the sweet smell of the back of my toddler neck as he flops on me in the shade, a mixture of suncream and warm skin… It’s amazing when you stop for a while and actually switch on, what happiness you can find in the little things.
Like making an evening dip in the sea part of your everyday routine:
In the past four days I have left my hair full of sea-salt, not worn a scrap of make-up, lived permanently in some kind of swimwear and swam in the sea everyday. I can safely say ‘it has made me happy’, but then moving back to Devon was all about days like these…
Normal service will resume shortly, just get me wallow in the surf a little longer…
I don’t know about you, but I’m melting. Just as I turn to facial oils in the winter to boost my skin, in these temperatures I tweak my skincare routine to incorporate super light-weight and hydrating formulas – these are some of my favourites.
Bioderma Sebium micellar water – full review post here. This is great when I’m sweaty, hot and my t-zone is in over-drive. It helps regulate sebum production long-term but also gives an immediate, refreshing, thorough cleanse. While I love a cleansing balm in winter, right now this is just the ticket to remove sunscreen and any waterproof mascara, without drying my skin. Tip: I’ve been keeping it in the fridge and taking my makeup off as soon as I come in off the beach.
This Works No Wrinkles Wonder Essence – full review here. I’ve been using this now for a couple of months and I can really see a change in the texture of my skin. Although it does add another step to my skincare routine (post cleanse, pre serum), I have found the gentle enzyme exfoliation really suits my summer-time skin and the hyaluronic acid helps hydrate again.
Astalift Jelly Aquarysta rejuvenating concentrate – full review here. I first reviewed this last summer and have been repurchasing it ever since. It is still up there in my Top 3 Beauty must-haves. The consistency is rather weirdly, that of a Rowntrees orange jelly but the formula is perfect when it’s super hot. It is immediately cooling and melts into my skin without leaving a sticky, suffocating layer. In fact, it leaves my face feeling plumped, softened and dewy. Love, love, love it.
For day cream (under my Clarins SPF 30 facial sunscreen) I have been using Caudalie’s VinoSource moisturising mattifying fluid which is super light-weight and as it leaves my skin velvety and matte, it is a great base for make-up. Then at night, for some targeted wrinkle busting, Yves Rocher’s instant anti-wrinkle moisturiser. Another great French skincare brand which is offering this natural-yet-efficient, creme-formula at 50% off at the moment.
That’s it, nothing remarkably new but some great light-weight, hydrating formulas to help your skin survive the heat!
How beautiful are these shots that landed in my inbox today from The Linen Works, of their new limited edition collection?
If you don’t know the brand they are firmly on my interiors holy grail, wish list. Effortless, timeless, crumpled natural linens for the bedroom, dining table and bathroom. They remind me of the linen closet at my husband’s family home on the Amalfi Coast. Some of the sheets are carefully monogrammed with his great grandparents’ initials. They have been washed and washed, then dried in the Southern Italian heat. In short, they are cashmere soft and contribute to the Best. Sleep. Ever.
If it turns out you don’t have access to a trousseau of antique linens – The Linen Works collection are the next best thing. Yes they are an expensive investment (keep an eye out for the sale though, bargains are there to be had), but these linens are true heirloom pieces in their own right, fit for my great grandchildren, I hope.
Whilst delving to the back of the shed last weekend (it’s all glamour here at Countryfille..), I came across two bulging carrier bags that I had completely forgotten were lurking there. Inside were these tiny tile fragments, worn into organic shapes by the sea at Furore on the Amalfi Coast.
With one handful I was back to that blistering hot July day, our anniversary, lying sleepily in the steep cove, drinking Lemon Soda and watching Benedict as he combed the pebbly beach for these colourful shards, running back to me like an excited puppy when he found a particular ‘gem’.
You see, before a little person arrived in our lives we spent a good chunk of our downtime on the Amalfi Coast, namely in Ravello, Benedict’s family home. We would decamp there as often as poss. for a week of sleeping, cooking, walking the dramatic coastline and general recovering from London’s frenetic pace.
What with all the stairs, lack of good sandy beaches and child-unfriendly first-floor apartment, we haven’t taken Country Bebe yet (although I can imagine his cheeks are going to get pinched something rotten when we take him), and this is the longest we have been away in 7 years.
So, as in interim measure, I am determined to put these tiles to good use. I’m thinking of perhaps a little coffee table for the garden? Something low and almost Moroccan? Or perhaps a simple geometric mural to hang on the 80ft brick wall that runs down the side of the garden? I like the idea of it peeping through the flowers come summer.
Any other suggestions or ideas? I’d love some inspiration!
When we decided to take the plunge and pack up our London lives and move back to my childhood home in Devon it was the vision of the picture above that kept me going through the 2am neurosis (Why would we throw away careers we love? Will I ever eat a Laduree macaroon again?).
Now we’re here it’s a classic case of, “there is always something better to do,” namely renovate a house, landscape a garden… oh, and occupy an 8-month old.
But, as the weather is slowly improving we are making the most of living in this very special place.
Even Country Bebe is starting to look like a proper Devonian!
There’s nothing better than popping in to the Fish Shack on the beach and seeing what today’s catch has brought in for our supper.
I’ve seen basking sharks, dolphins and seals from this very spot.
As a beauty editor, every spring would herald a deluge of new sunscreens to roadtest. Every time I headed off to exotic climes I would grab a couple from the stash and dutifully put them through their paces.
Over the years there are some that have impressed me so much I now have a carefully edited foursome that I buy, year on year.
NIA24 Sun Damage Prevention Sunscreen, £38
Last summer I was pregnant and wanted a 100% mineral sunscreen in a high-factor. This stuff ain’t cheap but it’s quick to absorb (no white marks which you often get with a physical sunscreen), it’s oil-free and lightweight, plus as I only use it on my face and the backs of my hands, a little goes a long way. The main reason I’m sticking with it is the added ‘Pro-Niacin’ ingredient that actually repairs past sun damage. I spent a significant chunk of my childhood baking in the south of France which equals age spots and dark spots waaaay before my time. I’m hoping with prolonged use these will improve. It’s currently in the SPACE NK sale for £23.
Now for the body. I won’t go abroad without a new tube of this stuff. Not only does it smell incredible, it is like slathering on a luxurious body cream. Super hydrating, it gives just the right level of gleam without any stickiness or cloying feeling. Unfortunately I have got the OH addicted too. The sunless tanner in the same range is also excellent.
When it comes to protecting your hair from the sun, prevention is definitely better than a cure. Especially when it comes to coloured tresses. A fine mist of this UV defense from Kerastase on damp hair before you hit the pool, then a top up every time you apply sunscreen, is enough to eschew straw-like ends, brassy highlights and generally frazzled locks. If I’m on a typical sun and sea holiday every couple of nights I’ll apply an overnight hair treatment like ESPA’s pink hair and scalp mud, to really keep my hair in tip-top condition.
Institut Esthederm Adaptasun sensitive skin tanning face cream for normal to strong sun, £35
As a fair skinned Celt, I am prone to heat rash on my face and as I am also a complete lizard and love basking in the sun rays, at some point on holiday it is inevitable that it will appear.
This sensitive sun screen from Institut Esthederm is fantastic, my irritated skin still gets a high level of protection but also a much-needed breather from heavier formulas. I have even managed to wean a few friends off their £100-a-go Sisley sunscreen habit this stuff is so good.