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The product or person that changed my life

October 1st 2013 / Susannah Taylor / 1 comment


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In celebration of our birthday, GTG writers and columnists share their life-changing products and go-to-people

It's official, Get the Gloss has officially reached the tender age of one - hurrah! As the celebrations commence, we thought we'd mark our milestone by asking our glossy writers which one product, treatment or person has been life-changing. And since sharing is caring we thought we'd divulge all to our loyal readers….

Nadine Baggott


“In my over twenty years as a beauty editor there have only ever been a few, genuine 'OMG this is life changing’ moments and, for me, it was when IPL hair removal was developed. I am, thankfully, not hairy but I have naturally wavy hair which means that picking out ingrown hairs from my bikini line was as much of a holiday pastime in my twenties as drinking and snogging boys. But not any more. Salon IPL not only cleared my body of all unwanted hair, it shrank the pores too so no more plucked chicken skin. I now also DIY as the home gadgets, whilst weaker than the salon machines, still work well. I have a Phillips Lumea, £350- don't bend over anywhere near me or I shall zap you in a second. Seriously why anyone has not discovered IPL hair removal is beyond me; I am like a religious convert and will hammer home the message to anyone, anytime anywhere. It works, so throw out your razors, wax and, god forbid, your epilator and start zapping.'

Imogen Edwards-Jones


“So after a year of Glossing how much has my life, or indeed have I, changed? Before Gloss (BG), I was a plump, slacker with ginger eyebrows, cloven feet and a full bush that swam like seaweed in the bath. I went to the hairdresser twice a year, maybe three times if I was going to a wedding, I never had smart nails, shiny skin or a glossy flossy coat. I had my own teeth and my bathroom boasted a solitary tube of Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream, £25 (actually, that’s still there and something I simply can’t live without!) But Post Gloss (PG) my world is a dramatically different place. I have highlights, lowlights and eyebrows. I have shins as smooth as a snooker cue and a fannicure to knock the sequins off a vajazzle. My bathroom bulges with unctions, my bedroom heaves with fragrances and my husband steals anything that whiffs of eternal youth. But most shockingly of all I am nearly, completely, dare-I say it, thin. I’ve lost 2 stone, 28lbs, 12.7kg. And that’s down to Amelia Freer, nutritionist, carb-scarer and product of the year. Truly a life changer.”

Sarah Vine


“So many moments stand out from Get the Gloss's first year. The time I brought the dog into the office and he stole everyone's lunch out of their handbags; meeting Emma Bartley's gorgeous new baby; having my make-up done by Kay Montano in full view of all the tourists in Covent Garden at the wonderful party thrown for us by Chanel. It's been an amazing start.

Inevitably not everything has gone as I planned. I was supposed to eat less and exercise more, a plan that has not been entirely successful. Actually, not successful at all, if I'm honest. I was also supposed to make more space in my life for things like meditation and yoga, and that too doesn't seem to have worked out. Perhaps I'm just not destined to be a 9-stone, zen-like model of perfection. Next year, maybe. There is one thing, though, that I have stuck to. My Clarisonic, £125. And, in its own small way, it has rather changed my life. Seems ridiculous, I know. But since I've started using this simple gadget on a daily basis, my skin has never looked or felt better. No more blackheads or breakouts, no more dry patches. It's smoother and more even toned. It keeps my skin clean, exfoliated and improves the absorption of all the lotions and potions I use. I don't need quite so much cover-up or foundation. It's just one small gadget; but it's a brilliant one.”

Susannah Taylor


“Can I have two things? Thanks. First up is the Brazilian Blowdry. If you haven’t heard of it (also called the Keratin Blowdry or the permanent blowdry depending on the brand) it’s a hair smoothing treatment that’s applied by a hairdresser. You leave the keratin-infused treatment on for about 3-4 days (where your hair looks like it has risen from the dead - poker straight and greasy) before washing it out. The results for wire-wool frizz-heads like me who have spent about half their life sweating with a hairdryer and straightening irons, are nothing short of miraculous. In fact the first time I had it done I almost cried with happiness. It doesn’t leave hair poker straight (I wouldn’t like that), just much smoother, easier to cope with and drying time for me is cut down from 40 minutes to fifteen. Contrary to popular belief hair is also softer and the treatment lasts about 3 months (although mine seems to last until it grows out - I think because my hair is porous). Nearly every hairdresser I know does a Brazilian Blowdry now but by far the best that I’ve had is at Daniel Hersheson (020 7434 1747). Expensive yes, but I would pay the earth for this.

No.2 (although no less important than No.1) has to be those exercise and health nuts over at Freedom2train. Steve Mellor who is head of personal training became my very own personal trainer last March when I was reluctantly dragged out for a session with him. Although I nearly called an ambulance at the time (I thought I was going to die roughly 5 minutes into the session but managed to crawl away after one whole HOUR), I literally haven’t stopped exercising since. I swiftly learnt that exercise doesn’t have to be boring, and also that for exercise to be truly effective you have to push yourself way beyond what you think you can do. (I often tell Steve I think I’m going to throw up, thankfully it hasn’t happened yet.) Freedom2train also helped me change my diet and Steve’s advice on cutting back on carbs was a total revelation - not only has my body shape really changed as a result without getting bulky (I now have faint stomach lines, defined arms and way less of a love handle) but some days post sessions (and I apologise to my team for this) I literally feel like I’m on some crazy, endorphin-fuelled mega-high. I’m now well and truly hooked and can exercise 4-5 times a week without batting an eyelid whether its training with freedom2train, swimming, spinning or going to the gym. Hell, I even find myself in the weights area with a load of meat-heads and actually look like I know what I’m doing. Twice in physio (and believe me I nearly fainted both times) I’ve been asked what sort of athlete I am. Next year I’m hoping to do a triathlon (yep you heard me). Steve Mellor I salute you. www.freedom2train.com

Santa Montefiore


“If my hair looks good, I can wear a pair of jeans and a t-shirt and feel great. It’s all about the hair, you see. So, the two people I cannot live without are David Viner and Robert Gibbs at Richard Ward (020 7730 1222). David is a Premier Technician and colours me beautiful, while Robert is a Creative Director who cuts and blow-dries to perfection. Not only are they good at their jobs but I love them as people and my day is lifted just by being in their space.

With the change of seasons comes my desire to change my look. Most of the time they oblige, but sometimes they tell me I’m mad and refuse, for which, when I’ve come to my senses, I’m eternally grateful. It’s always ‘no’ to going back to my dark roots. It’s ‘no’ to boyish short hair. So, I will die a blonde, and, if I’m able to grow my hair long for the first time in my life, I might die happy with swishy hair. If I do, it will be thanks to David and Robert. God bless them both!”

Emma Bartley


“The product that changed my life. It was actually Chris Moyles who introduced me to the product that changed my life, the Shock Absorber bra. The then Radio One Breakfast Show presenter, who was obsessed with “top-heavy lovelies” discovered the company’s website, which had a video of a woman running wearing first a generic sports bra and then a Shock Absorber.

Let me tell you, he enjoyed the first part of that video a lot more than the second – when you are wearing a Shock Absorber, there is nothing to see. I can run for miles and my 32F boobs are going nowhere.

Before I found it, I used to feel self-conscious and uncomfortable on even a cross-trainer in the gym; afterwards, I could get fit without fear of knocking myself out (or of Moyles-style pervs enjoying the view). I actually laugh when I see other women’s so-called sports bras, little crop tops in jersey fabric. This thing is stiff. Thick. It has reinforced seams. It’s basically a scaffold. And boy does it work.”

Ahmed Zambarakji


“No material object - with the obvious exception of a life support machine - has the power to change one's life (though if Apple ever decide to crack the beauty or health market - iParfum? iPluck? - I may have to revise that statement). There are, however, some products that certainly make the days and nights considerably more manageable. One such innovation is the Shakti mat, £45, a strange device that doesn't appear to have left my bedside in the last 3 years or so, consistently eliciting looks of horror from anyone who happens to find themselves in the proximity of my mattress.

The foam acupressure mat is not a million miles away from the bed of nails used by Vedics thousands of years ago, though in place of metal spikes are 6000 tiny plastic teeth that are unlikely to pierce your skin or cause any pain. If anything, I find lying down on the mat deeply relaxing. This, perhaps, isn't so surprising coming from a lifelong devotee of acupuncture.

I've found the mat to be a quick remedy for those nights when my mind is racing and I can't seem to nod off. Rather than pop a diazepam, I reach for my trusty Shakti Mat, stick it on top of the bed and slowly lie my back flat down on it. Once the initial discomfort subsides - about 10 seconds - my back is flooded with fresh blood, creating a warm fuzzy sensation that gradually lulls me to sleep. The trick is to move the mat out of the way just before you drift off - if you toss and turn in the night with the thing beneath you, you're likely to wake up looking like you've been given deep tissue by Edward Scissorhands.”

Christa D’Souza


“Gee Your Hair Smells Terrific conditioner. The one in the blue container. I'm not kidding, this now discontinued product by Jergens literally changed my life. Who KNEW a smell could make one feel so...American? Which is exactly what I wanted to be the summer of 1976, on holiday without parents in South Wellfleet, Cape Cod. That smell, I swear it, got me my first boyfriend and if you put it in front of my nose now I'd swoon. How to describe? Like Teen Spirit, that's the best I can do. Apparently there is a place in Vermont which still sells it, but it is not quite right. Can we start a lobby to revive the real thing? Jergens have no idea what a beauty goldmine they are sitting on.”

Rosie Green


“Annie might be an unlikely beauty icon, all dirt smudges and curly perms, but she showed her smarts when she sang “It’s what you wear from ear to ear, and not from head to toe that matters!” Unfortunately my own mouth has always been a zone of contention. My wonky bottom teeth over crowded and overlapping like neglected gravestones and my top set not that much better (I had neglected to wear my retainer as an obstreperous teenager). And as I got older, they were getting worse. And so I found myself in Wimpole St, in Dr Chatoo’s chair, promising to spend way more than I had on my first car on a set of train track braces. He said it would take a year to eighteen months (!) and that apples and nuts were pretty much out of the question. I had the lingual version (behind the teeth) and it was uncomfortable. And time consuming. Lisping and spitting was unjoyous. But when they came off. WOW. I had a wide, generous, happy-to-flash-it smile. I have slathered on every face cream and tried every known beauty trick, but this was better than them all. I looked younger, happier, prettier. Yes, sorting out my smile was a significant time and money investment, but I reap the rewards every single day.”

Dr Chatoo is at The London Lingual Clinic

Judy Johnson


“It's not glamorous by any means, but the beauty product that has made the biggest difference to my life has to be Ultrasun's suncream, £20.65. As my skin has become increasingly more sensitive since my teens, I got to a point where I just couldn't enjoy my summer holidays anymore because they were plagued with anxiety-inducing rashes which would appear all over, particularly on my legs and arms. For years I thought this was a mixture of my fair-skinned aversion to the sun, and a very bad case of relentless heat rash. Once I'd realised that it was the chemical and fragrance-filled sun creams that were to blame for what was actually an allergic reaction, I had my first ever holiday - in 30-degree heat - where I could sunbathe like everyone else and just enjoy it. I no longer have to pack a first aid kit of lotions and steroids to calm my skin down - now I just take Ultrasun and my favourite bikini.”

Kiran Branch


“For much of my youth I was as blind as the proverbial bat. Really, I couldn't see a darn thing. I heavily relied on some not-so-sexy specs for several years until, at sixteen, I developed an affinity for coloured contact lenses (in my defence, I thought they made me look like JLo - I was mistaken). Eventually the perpetual dry eyes and hassle of constantly wearing contact lenses led me to having laser eye surgery when I turned twenty-five and yes, it changed my life.

After a great deal of research and meeting various ophthalmic surgeons I decided that if any person would be given the task of cutting my corneas it would be the esteemed Dr Bruce Allan at Moorfields Eye Hospital (020 7253 7357). The only surgeon I had complete confidence in, Dr Allan was the perfect mix of being a consummate professional and having a faultless bedside manner, which made for one smooth operation. I had 20/20 vision from the day after surgery and I can honestly say that having perfect vision has dramatically improved my quality of life. I'm no longer restricted by limited vision or contact lenses that fall out or leave me with headaches at the best of times - and at the risk of sounding like a TENA lady advert, I finally feel free.”

Scarlett Campbell


Perricone MD Blue Plasma, £78, has revolutionised my life! My face anyway. Unfortunately at the age of seventy-one I know rather more about lines on my face than I expect a great many other people do. More years than I care to remember have been spent acquiring a suntan, which hasn’t exactly helped the matter. The first time I used this non-acidic daily peel I could see a difference. The fine lines on my cheeks almost disappeared. I couldn’t believe it and had to draw the attention of anyone who happened to be around at the time to agree with me. He did. The manufacturers say it is an exfoliant but I have not particularly noticed this. The delicate blue plasma is applied with a glass dropper and is light, easy to use and quickly absorbed. I now use this faithfully first thing every morning and my skin feels lovely, smooth and plumped up. I have recommended Perricone MD Blue Plasma to several friends in their sixties and seventies who like to look good and they also adore it.”

Marissa Montgomery


‘Eyes draw you to people. I naturally have quite fair eyelashes and eyebrows and from the very first time I started having them tinted I was hooked. It changes your whole face and works wonders for accentuating your eyes. I even suggested my grandmother did it the other day and she looked fabulous - it just gives you a wonderful but natural-looking lift. It also means when you’re working-out or running around in the day you don’t need to apply mascara, however a lick of it in the evening gives even more of a dramatic effect. I go to Blink brow bar at Harvey Nichols (020 7235 2406) where it’s a quick and relaxing experience - they also have one at Bendels in NYC that I go to (this shows how loyal I am to Blink - I barely ever go uptown for anything).”

Casey Gerard


“Laser hair removal wasn’t something I thought would work for me. In all honesty I believed it was a tad gimmicky; the ‘next big thing’ that companies would create in order to make more money. Clearly, I was wrong as I have now dubbed it the product that changed my life.

The Soprano is the newest type of laser, the main difference to all the other lasers being that it doesn’t hurt (hooray!) in fact the sensation is rather pleasant. I had the treatment done under my arms only as it is very pricey however when you do all the calculations taking previous hair removal methods into consideration, it's worth it. You have around six treatments, once every six weeks and an evaluation to see if more are needed. The laser doesn’t completely stop all hair from growing but the hair that does grow back is so fine you can barely notice it. A definite thumbs up from me!”

Soprano Laser Hair Removal is available at Court House Clinics nationwide (0845 555 5050)

Kinvara Balfour


“My one hero product is Fulphyl by Phylia de M, £160. This 'elixir of life' has changed my health, and thus my life, for the better. If I could add one more can't-live-without product into the mix, it would be Phylia de M.'s Connect Spray, £45 which makes my hair grow (and grow and grow and grow), but if I must choose only one then it has to be Fulphyl which also contains the key ingredient, fulvic acid, which helps general cell regeneration and therefore supports overall health across the board. Since I started taking Fulphyl daily, my skin is clearer, my hair thicker, my energy levels higher and my sleep deeper. I just know it's doing me good. So much good has it done me that I agreed to be ambassador for the brand. I accepted because I truly believe in the brand and the founders behind it - the wonderful Kazu Namise and her godfather Dr. Dick Miyayama are very special souls for whom I have huge respect. Meet these two and you will see that the products they produce come from a truly kind and honest place. They're 100% good. And I am 100% sure about that.”

Hannah Rochell


“I only tried shapewear for the first time a few months ago, but I am now hooked on high waist briefs. They are a complete game-changer! Chantelle, Panache, Intimissimi and Freya all have gorgeous, sexy styles that are nothing like the ugly Spanx that spring to mind when we normally think of shapewear. I love the way they make my body look in and out of clothes, but mainly I love the confidence they have given me to wear the fitted clothes I loved wearing 10 years ago.”

Ayesha Muttucumaru


“For me, the one product that has changed my life is a roll of thread. Yes, thread. Once a month, this humble piece of haberdashery effectively transforms me from wookiee to woman again, and I am seriously indebted to its magical powers.

Before the days of threading, you would often see me sporting a unibrow worthy of Bert from Sesame Street, the moustache of Magnum PI and the sideburns of a jumpsuit-wielding Elvis impersonator. Luckily now, no one would be the wiser thanks to my monthly visits to my beautician’s chair (well until reading this of course).

My go-to hair removal haunt is the wonderfully groovy-sounding Herbal Lounge in Northwood, Middlesex (01923 828600). Recommended to me by a close school chum of mine, they have been tending to my excess hair needs since I was sixteen. They’re quick, efficient and extremely affordable and the reason why you can actually see my face on my GTG Writers page.”

Peta Bee


“It is fair to say that my 32Cs had been the bane of my active life. For years I had tried - and failed - to keep them from jiggling when I ran despite a variety of approaches, none of which seemed to tame them adequately. It’s not as if there’s a shortage of sports bras on the market. Stella McCartney designs a chic number for Adidas and a Lucas Hugh Liberty print sports bra sells for £110. Lululemon, the cult Canadian brand, has a range for every activity and body shape from “small busted hot yoga enthusiasts’ to the pace bra for speedy runners and Sweaty Betty is planning to “dramatically expand” its range in the next 12 months. Yet, none of these - or others that I tested - were up to the task. Some created Grand Canyon cleavage when exercised. Others bandaged the appendages so firmly that movement was restricted, but so was my breathing - hardly a long term solution. But all that changed when I slipped on the Shock Absorber Run £27, a bra that cups my boobs without compressing them, that supports without constricting and that allows me to run without cause to worry about the wobble.”

Catherine Turner


“Well, not quite changed, but enhanced my life...maybe even influenced the direction/career I took. In the hot summer of 1976, I was twelve years old, the disco era was in full swing and my pocket money went on Max Factor Lip Potions bought at Boots. These clear, shiny liquid roll-on lip glosses in sweet, sticky flavours (my favourite: strawberry) were a first foray into make-up which I thought made me more like the models on the pages of Honey magazine. Since then, I’ve been through sticks of cherry chapstick, tins of watermelon balm before things got a whole lot more exciting when I began working in magazines. Travelling to Miami for photo shoots meant stocking up on drug store favourites Carmex, £2.89 and Rosebud Salve, £8.50. Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey, £17, a dark berry stain still around now, became my concession to lipstick at the beginning of the grunge era, and I loved it when Poppy King, known as the Lipstick Queen launched big pots of Shine lip balm in a 70s influenced sheer cherry red. Now, I have several glosses on the go. For conditioning I like Melvita 3 Honeys Balm, £9, which has 100% natural ingredients - good considering we end up ‘eating’ what we put on our lips and for all out colour I love Guerlain’s Gloss D’Enfer long-lasting poppy red, which is super glam, £19.80. But my staple is Givenchy Hydra Sparkling Magic Lip & Cheek Balm, £16.40 a perfect hot pink glossy stain which takes me from yoga class to nights out - it’s a failsafe make-up fix, I’ve even put it on walking up an escalator and it’s done the trick.”

Anna Hunter


“For me the ‘Wear Blusher’ mantra is akin to ‘Wear Sunscreen’ so rouge in most shapes and forms would normally be my answer to a question like this but NO. I will break out of my blusher box and give you something fresh. Something small and green that has been my face aid since approximately 2007; Clinique Anti-Blemish Spot Treatment Gel, £14. This vial of goo fought valiantly against many an aggressive, hormone-induced acne attack, helped me ride smoothly through blemishville in my late teens and has been an invaluable zit-zapper and friend ever since. It’s always there, on the ball (...spot) and quick to act. When it’s out of stock my angry outbreaks flare up, both in the dermatological and emotional sense, and unfortunately I’ve gone and made this situation all the more likely as I’ve pushed it onto everyone I know and now they’re all hooked. Friends, family and boyfriend now travel everywhere with the little green precious. Maybe you will now too. Please save some for me. Otherwise I’ll come after you all looking and behaving like ghastly Gollum at his worst. Glossy bosses would be none too pleased.”

Emma Gunavardhana


“Maintenance; for me this is one of the biggest hurdles to jump especially in beauty. Hear me out on this… Leg waxing, it’s great for those few days of complete lower-body deforestation but then what? For a dark-haired woman like me it’s a short-term solution that only affords two weeks maximum of satisfactory results before I’m back in my tights/trousers/jeans, waiting for sufficient regrowth and having to re-book. For this reason the one product that changed my life is the Philips SatinSoft Epilator, £60. I can feel people flinch when I say this and yes epilators gone-by have been fairly barbaric things but once you get used to the sensation it’s a tickle, not a pain. It’s the convenience that I adore; I settle in front of the television on a Sunday night with a glass of Pinot and whizz away while I catch up on the latest from Downton. My legs are silky soft and smooth without having to venture out to a salon and, crucially, part with cash. Gone are wardrobe choices dictated by my hair growth cycle – the epilator has put me firmly in control. I’ve even ventured to under arms and most recently upper lip – you know what they say, ‘in for a penny…’”

Charlotte Sinclair


“The beauty product that changed my life is I’m afraid disappointingly unglamorous, but such is the way with essentials. So, here it is: a Rimmel eyebrow pencil in chocolate brown, £2.99. It is not special or remarkable - people will not be commemorating it in verse - except for the fact that it works. But this little pencil is a life changer (for me, at least). I use it every day, even on my 'no make-up' days (it’s a beauty fundamental, like moisturizer) and my dedication knows no bounds: while trekking in the Himalayas – three weeks without make-up or a mirror - I used the shiny surface of a teapot to apply it. The problem is my eyebrows, which are Cara Delevigne thick at the start and peter out into pathetically patchy lines, the result of over-plucking as a teenager. Thin eyebrows are just a misery - your face looks sad and wrong - hence the rescuing pencil, which I use to create thickness, filling in my brows with delicate flicks that are - I think - pretty convincing. That’s it really: the very functional, very boring, very brilliant Rimmel eyebrow pencil. Creating something out of nothing.”

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  • Sue Henderson
  • October 1st 2013

For Charlotte Sinclair , a little recommendation . I had the exact same problem with my brows and just assumed that was it. Then I tried Rapidbrow, the sister product to the lash version and within about six weeks I had hairs growing all the way to where the ends used to be. I now use it everyday , it's pretty economical as a tube lasts for a few months. I find the new hairs can be fine and sometimes white ( yikes) so I tint them about every ten days and I am always greeted by new hair growth that would otherwise be almost invisible. Do try it and stick with it.
Very best, Sue

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