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Queen of Creams: Buff, buff and away

March 26th 2012 / Santa Montefiore

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A one-woman quest to find the finest skincare money can buy. This week: body brushing, body oils and face cream

I have been addicted to lotions and potions since I was 13 years old - barely old enough, you would think, to know how to use them. Well, it all began when I shared a dorm with the wonderfully glamorous and exotic Athena MacAlpine at boarding school in Dorset. She had a glossy beauty bible full of tips, and ritually slathered moisturising cream all over her body after every bath. In fact, she was appalled that I didn’t (perhaps it’s a Greek thing, we Brits weren’t very into that kind of indulgence then). A few pages into the book and a generous dollop of Athena’s body lotion and I was hooked.

I’m not averse to cosmetic surgery per se; I just haven’t got there yet. Perhaps I never will. There are so many easier ways to give yourself a boost.

Take body brushing. Yes, it’s boring to have to do it before you bathe but it’s worth making the effort. It really does smoothe skin on the backs of the arms and bum, especially in winter. Exfoliating works, too. You can either mix granulated sugar with your foaming body wash – strange, but it’s cheap and does the job beautifully, or my favourite at the moment is Bliss Hot Salt Scrub (£28.60). It warms on your skin as you apply it, preferably to dry skin, and goes from sticky to oily as you rub it in. I find a lot of scrubs aren’t tough enough for me and dissolve too quickly, but this is hardcore - the boot camp of scrubs, but boy does it do the trick. You step out of the shower as soft as a down!

Scrub or no scrub, I apply body oil generously after every bath. At the moment my favourite oil is L’Occitane’s Almond Supple Skin Oil (£28), and my favourite cream is Kiehl's Superbly Restorative Argan Body Lotion (£29.50). (Tip: If you have a little water retention, add a few drops of juniper essential oil to your moisturiser and there will be a lot less of you in the morning, I promise!)

For the face I love Darphin. I use Predermine densifying anti-wrinkle fluid and cream (both £78). Don’t shy away from facial oils, though. I use both cream and oil, but my skin is dry and often needs more moisture in the middle of the night, which I happily apply, trotting gamely into my bathroom to rummage through the shelves of choices while my husband sleeps soundly, unaware of my midnight binge! The best oil was a gift from a gay friend whose skin is like silk and he’s fifty! It’s called Melvita Huile d’Argan (Approx £16 Whole Foods) and since using it I have not only noticed the improvement in my skin, but of my nails, too. So, you see, it’s multi-purpose oil. Having had troublesome nails since I can remember, I have at last found something that stops them peeling and breaking! I’m beyond happy.

Now it’s all very well looking after yourself on the outside, but the inside needs help, too. We all know about drinking loads of water, but do eat fruit too. Girls who eat a lot of fruit glow. I did a high protein diet for a week a few summers ago and ate only meat - after a week I didn’t just feel terrible, I looked old! I don’t know the science; I only know my own experience. I look better when I eat a lot of fruit and veg and little meat. I take Imedeen tablets. I’m not sure what I’d look like if I didn’t take them, but I’m sure they’re helping me fight the ageing process.

I’m not exhausted, but by now you might be, so I’ll pull on the reins of my inner steed and take a deep breath. After all, this is going to be a weekly blog so I must conserve my energy. I have plenty more to share. I haven’t touched on face scrubs and masks, hand creams and foot creams, and some fantastic make-up discoveries, which I’m really chomping at the bit to gallop on and tell you. This week's message, as the sun comes out is emphatically to brush, scrub, moisturise and glow glow glow!

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