Winter puts beauty under assault. Central heating dries the skin, fatty treats do our waistlines in, and while we’re busy squashing ourselves into scratchy sweaters and control-top hose our hair frizzes in the cold air or simply hangs limp in abject sadness.
Paler, plumper and scalier than in any other season, it takes more than bronze blush to improve our look in winter. Yes, this time of year we must also watch our diet, exercise (sorry), care meticulously for our skin and add color at every opportunity. And when I say color, I mean COLOR. The tint of your hair, the shades of your make-up and the scarf you wrap round your neck all have the power to transform “blah” into “yeah, Yeah, YEAH!”
By way of experiment I took up residence at my local Sephora beauty boutique for one week, plastering my face with a different bronzer each day. I skipped rope. I drank more water, I interrogated my hairdresser and bought an ice blue cashmere scarf and a raspberry red lipgloss. My bathtub is now exfoliation central, with loofah and foot scrub at tub’s edge and vitamin E cream within lazy reach.
The results are quite palpable: Despite the Siberian frost outdoors, I no longer look abominable. Rather, my skin is less flaky and flaunts a rosier glow. My hair is tamer and, dare I say, my waist a bit tighter. Coming back from the brink of sludgy complacency and weary winter resignation takes concerted effort, but follow this seven-day plan and you, too, can be Queen of the Snowflakes…
Friday: Make a date with your skin
Remove dry, flaky skin on your face with a gentleexfoliator (try Clarin’s Gentle Exfoliating Refiner), then apply a natural mask of mashed avocado and settle into a warm, sudsy tub. Shave your legs and scrub the soles of your feet with a pumice stone. This will slough off dead skin cells and let moisture in. Follow your bath with a thick layer body moisturizer and, for your feet, Burt’s Bees coconut foot cream. Drink a liter of water, dab on a trusted eye cream, and make it an early night. You need extra beauty sleep in winter to counter the season’s harsh environment.
Saturday and Sunday: Go for the glow
If you spent all week sneaking nibbles of chocolate, spend the weekend revving your metabolism. My exercise of choice is 15 minutes skipping rope, but running up and down steps works just as well. And for goodness’ sake, always take the steps instead of the catching the elevator or escalator. You need to get your blood pumping in order for your face to glow.
A winter weekend is also the perfect time to road-test a new skin bronzer. King of the bronzers is Guerlain’s Terracotta Moisturizing Bronzing Powder. For darker complexions, MAC’s bronzing powder has a slightly orange hue more suitable for olive and dark skin tones. Esteé Lauder’s Bronze Goddess Soft Matte bronzer is flecked with tiny particles of gold, which reflect light with a touch more glamour than a basic bronzer. Try your new bronzer on Sunday to feel comfortable by Monday. You want to look natural at the office rather than strangely basted.
Monday: Plan the week’s diet
Plan what you will eat this week around the rejuvenating principles of nutrition and hydration. Snack on raw nuts at the office, and eat at least three servings of oily fish (salmon, sardines, red tuna) to get your skin more dewy and protect your hair and nails. Include plenty of water in your plan, plus a daily dose of Vitamin E.
Tuesday: Add color to your closet
Take a look at your winter basics. Your coat might be practical black, but your hat, scarf and gloves needn’t be. Rosebud pink, lilac and aqua make blondes and brunettes sparkle. Pistachio green, white and buttercup yellow glow on redheads. Permit yourself little flourishes of detail – embroidery, fringe or ribbon – on stockings, shoes or your handbag. Don’t let utility crush glamour; even your snow boots can look sexy with a glimpse of cherry red angora sock peeking over the top.
Wednesday: Adopt a new make-up rule
Apply a winter warm-up principle to your make-up by wearing less instead of more. Emily Harmon, stylist and make-up artists at the Oscar Bond salon in New York recommends a good moisturizer, mascara and blush rather than the whole make-up routine. “Pale skin benefits from blush to make [it] look rosier,” she says, “and darker complexions look less sallow with a slightly orange-toned blusher. Just straight mascara looks best on pale blondes and saves brunettes from looking washed out.” For every complexion, Harmon recommends red lipstick and a well-defined brow. “The less natural color we have, the more we need strong definition,” she says. “A pale face throws everything else into relief, so the brows and lips are key.”
Thursday: Get rid of the frizz
By now you are buffed, glossed and dressed; the final detail is maintaining lovely locks. Often obscured beneath a fuzzy hat or tied into a sensible ponytail, winter hair suffers from the static of overheated indoors and frizz from gusts of cold outside. To keep the fur-ball effect at bay, use less shampoo and spray on a hair gloss to damp hair. Smooth the ends of your hair with pomade to prevent wisps and fly-away strands. In a pinch, even a dab of hand lotion will help. Winter hair needs just a little weight and a little shine to look great.