Queen of Creams Santa Montefiore shares her top tips on how to get a glow like a pro

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It’s at this time of the year, when our summer tans have faded and the grey pallor has settled in with the short days and drizzle, that we need to give our skin a radiance boost.  It’s not all about the clothes; it’s all about the layer beneath.  If your skin is beautiful, you can just about wear anything.

So, how to bring on the glow without the beach air and sunshine?  Well, before I even think about products, I brush my skin.  I always have and I swear by it.  Buy a good body brush with natural bristles from Elemis or Neal’s Yard, for example, and brush your body from your toes to your fingertips, always towards the heart, before you step into your bath or shower.  It detoxes, smoothes and stimulates your skin – it’s even said to help shed pounds.  After as little as a few days you will feel the difference, especially on the backs of your arms and bottom.

Some women have beautiful ivory skin which looks silky and flawless in the middle of winter; I don’t.  My skin has a yellowy tone that takes the sun well, but can look a little sallow come Christmas. So, after brushing I exfoliate. I like a heavy duty exfoliant. I want to feel it working. I don’t want a body wash with a few grains of salt that I barely notice. I want a body wash tough enough to slough off the skin I don’t need.

I love Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish by Ren, £32 ( www.renskincare.com ); it smells delicious and has a thick and buttery texture with heaps of grainy sugar, which really delivers. I massage it onto dry skin, but if you find that too rough, you can massage it onto damp skin and it’s less abrasive.

I am not the Queen of Creams for nothing. I adore body oils and lotions. I slathered my first bottle of Nivea into my body aged about 13 and have never looked back. I still like Nivea, I also like Aveeno, but my new obsession is IOMA, Cocoon Voluptuous Body Cream, £62.50 ( www.saksfifthavenue.com ). I use much too much (perhaps because I’m so tall, there’s an awful lot of me!) or perhaps the bottle just isn’t big enough, but I’ve been using it for a fortnight, morning and night, and I’ve nearly finished it.  It’s delicious. It has a faint, comforting smell and a velvety texture, and my skin soaks it up and feels very soft afterwards.  It sinks in nicely, too, so that I can put on my clothes straight away without feeling sticky.

Now, I’m not one for fake tans. I hate the smell. I hate the mess and I hate the often orangey or streaky effect afterwards, especially around the knees and knuckles. It’s very hard to get right; the only time it really works for me is when I’m already suntanned and I just need to top it up.  But, all in the name of research, I tried two types of artificial tanning lotions for this article.

The first is a temporary bronzing lotion which you apply with cotton wool or your fingertips, but wash off at the end of the day: Terracotta Jambes de Gazelle by Guerlain, £32.40 ( www.houseoffraser.co.uk ).  Now, this is messy. It also gets onto your clothes, so don’t wear white, and it gets onto your sheets, so don’t sleep in it.  

It’s a brown liquid which squirts onto your skin, and yes, it does give you a suntan, but I’d rather look like an uncooked chicken than put that all over my body after a nice bath. It’s just too mucky for me and my bathroom. The only time I might use it is if I’m wearing a dress that bears only my arms; I could handle a small part of me.  But more than that and I know the idea of mess will put me off.  

So, the only way to get a winter glow in terms of warming the skin tone, is to fake tan.  I was pleasantly surprised by L’Oreal’s Sublime Bronze Self-Tanning Dry Mist, £8.61 ( www.feelunique.com ).  It’s very easy to apply because of the ‘ultra-wide micro diffusion spray’, which means you don’t have to rub it in, and it doesn’t have that horrible biscuit smell most self-tanners have.  I went for the lightest option for fair skin and it gave me a very mild tan, more of a radiance, with which I was very happy.

If I want a darker tan, I can just build it up over a few days, and because it’s light there’s no streaking and no orange colour.  It’s not so much a tan as it is a glow, which at this time of year is exactly what I’m looking for. A tip, though, for fake tanners: wipe the lotion off the underside of your arms after applying because that part of your body does not usually see the sun.  It’ll look much more natural that way.

I’m very excited by Guerlain’s Terracotta Sheer Bronzing Powder, £33.50 ( www.feelunique.com) .  I have the ‘Light’ one, being fair.  The brush is fat and firm, just the sort of brush you can spend a lifetime searching for and never find. It gives me a rush of pleasure every time I use it.  The powder itself is a kaleidoscope of browns, beiges, shimmering bronze and pinks, just enough colour to perk me up and give me a healthy, outdoor sort of glow, as if I’ve been for a walk in the park and caught some winter sun.  I apply it to my cheekbones and a little on my forehead and chin and feel immediately uplifted.

Speaking of uplifting, try and wear a little colour. Why is it that we walk about in dark, gloomy colours all winter, and then, as soon as the crocuses and daffodils come out, we glow resplendent in a pretty palette of vibrant shades? Greys and blacks make us feel dead inside, just like winter, and do nothing to enhance our complexions.  In summer we skip about merrily like happy rainbows and everyone tells us how well we look.  Try wearing colour in winter and you’ll not only look healthier, you’ll feel better too.