With a university reunion beckoning and an ex to face, Anne Horner decided it was time to get the gloss

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When I first arrived to work at Get the Gloss my appearance was a bit Bagpuss (“an old, saggy cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams”) after years spent frowning at a computer screen in high-pressure newspaper offices.

That’s a great look for going to bed with Bagpuss’s affectionate owner, Emily, but not so hot for anything else.

So when an invitation to return for a college reunion nearly 30 years on arrived I felt fear. It wasn’t a good time.
I’d gone up two dress sizes since my twenties and it hadn’t been a great year: redundancy followed by the death of a close college friend. And that’s without the little matter of my 50th birthday seeming way too close (I’m 47). And then, and then... deep breath, the man who dumped me during my finals, my Mr Big in the Eighties, was bound to be there as he’d never miss a good party. He’d be there channelling smug and


I had two choices. Bottle it and refuse the invitation or take serious beauty action.

To not go just seemed too pathetic. I confessed all to GTG’s beauty generals Susannah Taylor and Sarah Vine and before I could regret a thing, the GTG team had launched total beauty war.

First came a consultation to plan the attack. The mission to transform someone in a week from scowling sub-editor to elegant, confident party guest. It was a big ask.

“Get a blow dry,” said Susannah, “it will really make you feel great and walk tall. And have your nails done.”

Sarah agreed and added (she’s known me a bit longer) “Get a really good bra.” I follow her advice and realise how right she was. Nuff said.

As I analyse their tips I realise they are both focusing on my posture. Of course they see me at my absolute worst, slumped at a laptop in scary sub-editor mode. No wonder I make shop assistants shudder.

It was time to change. I was ready to submit to the beauty campaign. Here’s how it was waged.

Monday: Bliss triple oxygen treatment facial ( blissworld.co.uk , 85 mins, £148.10). This feels like the science bit. They say that oxygen is needed for cell metabolism and that as you age oxygen levels decrease dramatically which is bad for collagen and elastin production. The products boost the levels to give you “more youthful, glowing skin”. My therapist talks of recontouring and retexturing the dermis and I’m not sure about this until I apply make-up the next day and find my skin incredibly smooth. It’s like putting paint on a wall that has been properly primed for once.

Tuesday: Blink Brow Bar eyebrow threading ( blinkbrowbar.com , £17) I’m a threading virgin but find having lines of stray brow hairs ripped away by a thread a pleasant, painless experience and I emerge feeling that my face looks much cleaner.

Wednesday: Day off to do some real work.

Thursday AM: Groom double digits deluxe manicure and pedicure ( groomlondon.com , £100). This is amazing value. I lie back on a white spotless couch while handmaidens (sorry, it’s the closest I’m ever going to come to feeling like Cleopatra bathing in asses’ milk) perfect my hands and feet for an hour.

PM: Clarins sun glow treatment (Clarins Skin Spa London at Selfridges, 020 7318 3772, £50, 70 mins). This for me is the biggie. I’ve got very pale skin and it doesn’t really tan, I’m terrified I’ll look orange and not so keen on having bust and bottom touched BY HAND (Oo, err) but the therapist is so discreet that I don’t blush once. Later, once my tan has taken effect, my husband raves that I’ve turned a gorgeous light toffee colour (he compares me to a Crunchie bar). I start visualising outings to exotic beaches where I can free the beach babe I’ve been hiding all this time. Going swimming hasn’t seemed this attractive for years.

Friday: Stylist blow dry, Richard Ward ( richardward.com , £48) Amazing. A scalp camera is used to analyse the
condition of my hair (not good, the ends are tacky and damaged) and yet I emerge with silky tresses. It is incredible how much better – calmer, more poised, willing to let the world come to me instead of anxious and needy – I feel with silken locks. I didn’t realise how much my usual bedraggled look was dragging me down.

And so on to the party. The sun comes out. My old college looks gorgeous. I don’t have to make any effort: my ex finds me and is utterly charming. His friend joins us and teases him about talking to his old girlfriend and joshes him that I look just the same.

The ex disagrees.

“No, she actually looks better.”

It isn’t going to get any better than that… but it continues to be a lovely evening.

The next day after I’ve shed my shimmering party look I head back to my real life in London in dress-down uniform of loose green cotton trousers and white T-shirt. While I liked the glamour puss I’m glad to be me again.

My husband looks up startled from the cooker where he is preparing lunch. “Gosh, you look lovely, so sparkly, so full of life.”

And that for me is the result.

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