The dog days of January are always a challenge, even for eternal optimists like me. Everyone is ill or thinking about getting ill, and the combination of New Year diet/exercise regimes means that we’re all tired or hungry, or very possibly both.
So when an email from Ziggie Bergman , facial reflexologist, popped into my inbox inviting me to try a treatment, it felt like a little drop of early spring sunshine. I’ve always loved reflexology for its calming, uplifting effects - and I’ve always wanted to try facial reflexology, a sort of gentle cousin of facial acupuncture.
Ziggie, a diminutive, flame-haired woman with hands as soft and as dry as fine porcelain, works out of Triyoga in Camden. She has the calm self-possession of someone who has been practicing for over 20 years: I instantly feel like I’m in the safest of hands.
Ziggie doesn’t go a bundle on fancy products. She uses just a few simple oils, from Neal’s Yard, and her own techniques, learnt during her time in New Mexico.
What can I say: it was far and away the most enjoyable hour of life so far this year. Despite the lunchtime clatter of Camden’s chia seed-eating yoga bunnies, I was transported for 60 sublime minutes to somewhere altogether calmer and quieter as Ziggie worked her magic.
I could feel the circulation returning to my greyish complexion, the dark shadows subsiding, the winter pallor retreating as her touch re-awoke mysterious energies. Afterwards, my face seemed less bloated, my brow less furrowed, my eyes brighter, my cheekbones sharper.
This week my ancient hairdryer suddenly made a noise like an elephant sitting on a packet of crisps, emitted a puff of acrid smoke and then shuffled off its electric coil.
And so, for the first time in at least a decade, I was forced to buy a new one. And I now realise that, to use a motoring analogy, I have been pootling around in a Ford Model T all these years.
The new one - the Diva Dynamica 3400 Pro with Ion technology (and yes, that really is its name) - is a Ferrari of a dryer. Not only does it come in an array of outrageously showy colours (I went for the hot pink), it also dries my hair in a fraction of the time that the old one took. Also, it somehow manages to de-frizz it, leaving it all smooth and bouncy.
It’s ridiculous to say, but it’s changed my life. Not only does it make washing my hair less stultifyingly boring, it's also paid for itself several times over in money saved on when I just give up and get a blow-dry. Plus the dog loves it, which of course is the most important thing.
Since starting secondary school, my daughter has suddenly developed an interest in her appearance. The result has been a good deal of pilfering of my own makeup stocks and several ill-fated experiments. I had to call a plumber over Christmas to unblock the bathroom sink: it turned out that someone had stuffed a rubberised face mask down it.
Although eyeliner seems to be her favourite new toy, skincare also features. Despite still having the skin of a toddler, she’s irrationally anxious about getting spots. The other day she managed to scour her face raw with some Origins Ginger Body scrub she found in the shower. So in the interests of sanity (hers and mine), I decided to get her some proper skincare of her own.
After exploring various options, I’ve settled on a new range called Bryt (Bright Young Things) . And yes, since I’m paying, I’m choosing. Not the cheapest, but not the most expensive either (prices range from £10.50 to £20), it’s a plant-based range that’s all about nurturing young skin rather than scrubbing and squeezing it into submission.
It’s quite a compact range: a lovely foaming cleanser, a selection of serums (calming, nourishing, boosting, essential) and a day and night cream. The serums are gorgeous - in fact, I’ve found myself using the boosting one myself - and the day cream contains an SPF. The whole lot looks and smells wonderful - and no parabens, sulphates, petrochemicals, phthalates, silicone and GM ingredients.
Quick final one: if you’re in the market for a winter skin all-rounder - for lips, cuticles, red raw noses and the like, try Lanolips 101 Ointment . I’ve had a stinking cold all week, and it’s the only thing that’s kept my face from falling off.