No sooner had my Easyjet flight touched down on the Gatwick tarmac, the pilot announcing it was 16 degrees with a chance of rain (meteorology speak for “welcome to London”), did I know that summer, much as we’d will it to go on forever, is over. And to be fair, I’d eked it out to the farthest boundaries of its definition, drawing an official line under it (for me, the ritualistic folding (or stuffing) away in a drawer of anything that could be described as “strappy”) finally on October 1st.
Luckily for me, I’ve always had a real love for autumn - cue romantic visions of sharp frosts on crystal-clear, deep-blue-sky days, crunching through golden leaves. Updating your wardrobe for autumn also seems more fun, I always think, than summer - it’s just common sense that you need more bits of clothing, to layer up for those frosty days, so clothes shopping has a functional justification (or, I can tell myself that). Perhaps my favourite autumn ritual, though, is one that began the September I was five years old: new stationery. It may be a clever ruse concocted by mothers and stationers to soften the back-to-school blow, but it always worked a treat for me. There are few greater pleasures in life than the first, crisp page of a shiny new notebook.
This autumn, to add to my shopping list of wintry accessories and Moleskines, I have the added fun of re-stocking my beauty bag. Top of the list of New Term Essentials, though, is a new entrant - I have to buy some cleanser for my makeup brushes. I’ve never bought makeup brush cleanser before - but then I didn’t own makeup brushes until six months ago. Don’t panic, I have been washing my brushes (there’s nothing like having acne to convince yourself that your makeup utensils must be harbouring a nuclear arsenal of germs), but have so far got by with the widely touted solution of using a small amount of very mild shampoo. This has worked ok, but I have been wanting to try this cleanser by MAC, recommended on GTG in August. Now ‘tis the season for stocking up and tidying up, I’m going to splash out (a mere £11! - less than my notebook...) and smarten up my make-up hygiene act.
Then there are the old faithfuls - the now-stalwarts of my beauty regime, whose ranks have been decimated over the summer - some squeezed to submission, some sand-encrusted, some missing in action. The essentials are La Roche Posay’s Physiological Cleansing Gel and their Toleraine Riche moisturiser (I have tried a lot of their moisturiser range now, and have liked all of them - but this one gives me the hydration I need for my skin whilst I’m going through my treatment), and my sunscreen of choice currently is the Bioderma Photoderm AKN Matifying Fluid I mentioned in my last column.
I’ll also be stocking up on Vichy’s Dermablend corrective stick and foundation , although a curious thing has happened over the summer - gradually, almost without my noticing - I stopped wearing foundation. On a practical note, whilst on holiday and popping in and out of the sea, rather than in and out of meetings, bare (well, makeup free) skin seemed to make the most sense. That means every holiday photo I have (bar a slick of mascara and lipstick for an evening out) shows me makeup free, and I’ve realised that I don’t mind them one bit. Quite possibly helped by the refreshing properties of my holiday, my skin has got to a better, clearer place than it’s been in ages. There are still plenty of visible marks on my face, but compared to the unmissable acne of six months ago, I’m aware it’s a monumental improvement. Now back under the harsh office strip lights and wrapped up in autumn garbs, I am likely to resort back to my full foundation routine, but it’s nice to have given my skin a chance to show how far it’s come.
On that subject, while I’m in my back-to-school mood, I’m going to aim for top grades this term with Dr Sam and try again with some of the treatments I didn’t quite manage over the summer. Having ditched Isotrex after my skin’s initial bad reaction, now that my skin’s post-holiday-relaxed, we’re going to give it another go. Just a small amount each evening, with lots of moisturiser to make sure it doesn’t dry my skin out, and see how we get on.
So, I’m shaking the sand out of my makeup bag, stocking up with plump, full-to-burst new tubes of my beauty essentials and graduating to the next stage of my skincare syllabus: buckling down, knowing that in eight weeks (terrifyingly) the Christmas party season will be almost on us again. The sun’s shining, though, for now, and my limbs still have a certain golden glow to them - might just pop out at lunch for some fake-tan-moisturiser to retain a little bit of summer in my life….