I’m about to describe a post-Christmas scenario. I’ll be using the word "you" to make myself feel like I’m in good company and I’m not a revolting human being, but I really mean "I" or "me". So, let’s just say that Christmas has been and gone, and "you" have been wearing the same clothes for 48 hours. Santa might have brought new pyjamas and "you" started opening a chocolate coin, got distracted by one of those metre-long tubes of chocolate buttons and now "your" crotch is covered in chocolate. You might have applied a little bit of mascara and bronzer to be festive and take the edge of the general winter pallor, but "you" watched The Snowman and, even though it was the 26th time and you’d think you’d know what to expect by now, "you" cried all your make-up off and were too hammered on Baileys to wash "your" face, which is now grey with crusty salt Pringle patches, with the odd bit of glitter twinkling in stark and unwelcome contrast on the lower part of "your" chin. Ideally, it’s time to unzip your skin and start all over again.
I’m not planning to leave my flat between Christmas and New Year unless it falls down on top of me, so it’s the perfect time to plan a big beauty night in
Happily, nature has provided an opportunity to do just this. Personally, I’m not planning to leave my flat between Christmas and New Year unless it falls down on top of me, so it’s the perfect time to plan a big beauty night in. A posh solo sleepover filled with face masks and fun, only with slightly more grown-up products and no one wetting themselves because they miss their mum. Hopefully. Here’s how it’s done.
Have a bath
Baths are the best place to start a pamper night because you’re relaxing on your own naked terms. Things I have learnt about baths since I started running them are as follows: it’s best to half-fill them and get in, then you can do some bespoke hotting up. Keep a towel handy, so you can dry your hands in order to turn pages/change the radio station/make sure your wine doesn’t get too warm. It’s nice to have a candle on the go, but only if you can relax without worrying that you might be setting fire to your head.
To posh things up, try adding ESPA’s Restorative Bath Oil, which makes me feel like I’m lying in a marble tub in a fancy hotel. It’s scented with orange, rose, geranium and lavender "to quiet anxiety", like fragrant Valium. If you prefer bubbles, Molton Brown’s sweet, spicy Gingerlily is a winter classic, or you could try a squirt of Korres’ affordable and fabulous Vanilla Cinnamon.
Do a hair mask
I’m going to suggest something controversial and you just have to trust me. While you’re in the bath, get a comb (my preference would be a Tangle Teezer, but I have the hair of the naughty broom in the Disney version of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), run it under the tap and work some conditioner through your hair. Then, gather your hair up, stick a shower cap on it and leave it until morning. (If you really cannot bear to sleep in the goop, most masks work magic in 20 minutes. But stay with the programme.)
I like Davines’ Minu Hair Mask, which makes my coarse hair into the follicular version of someone who has nice table manners and a clean hanky in their pocket. Alternatively, this OGX Collagen Oil Treatment, plumps up finer hair like a grandmother who has just fed you 17 roast potatoes and given you two rounds of sandwiches for the train home.
Then put one on your face
I love masks more than Jim Carrey loved masks in 1994. I’ve written about my grand passion, the Elemis Pro Collagen Cleansing Balm, which can be left on, mask-style, and will suck more dirt out than a Dyson. As a fan of the brand, I was keen to try the Resurfacing Gel Mask, £49.50. It’s slightly alarmingly tingly (but, if you are cleverer than me, you’ll read the instructions first and know it’s supposed to be). Still, it left my face looking like I’d taken it to a posh laundry, smooth and clear and clean, without the weird red pigmentation I sometimes get by my jawline.
2016 has been the year of the sheet mask and, if you like beauty treatments on the wacky side, then use the excellent Oh K! Intense Hydration Mask, which contains snail and seaweed extract.
Go nuts on handcream
I suspect that if you paint your own nails, you don’t need advice on how to look after them. You probably also have an understanding of the finer features of your current account, more clean pants left than there are days in the month and children who can be left alone in a room without burning it down. I am addicted to gel manicures because I am lazy and shiftless and I’m going to forget how to boil eggs when someone creates a magical boiled-egg app. Which they will. I like to soak off my gels by putting my hands in a tub of supermarket coconut oil for five minutes at a time, sometimes putting gloves on so the oil can work its magic. Regardless of the state of your nails, an oily soak gives them a great MOT – it works on your toes, too. You can also try Nails Inc Overnight Detox Mask, which is full of green tea and spirulina, and seems to be as effective as sending each individual cuticle off to Champneys for the night.
This is also a night for going nuts on the handcream. For lottery winners, I recommend Aesop Resurrection, – I’m addicted because it smells of oranges and lemons, deep woody forests and, mysteriously, white chocolate. For three-numbers-on-the-lottery winners, Neutrogena’s Norwegian Formula, does a grand job. Slather it all the way up to your elbows. If your feet need help, then Margaret Dabbs Foot Hygiene Cream, turns sweaty, scaly skin smooth and sweet.
Moisturise, then bed
You’ve got time for one last slathering before sleep. Now that you’re dry from the bath, moisturise everything – you need to get to maximum softness before you’re encased in wool and Lycra next week. Crystal Clear Velvet Skin Body Moisturiser, will make you so smooth that you won’t be able to stop stroking yourself, while Palmer’s Cocoa Butter, will make you smell so good that you won’t be able to stop licking yourself.
If, like me, you prefer a heavy-duty facial night cream, then try ESPA Overnight Hydration Therapy, which will make you feel like you’re nodding off in a botanical garden and you’ll wake up just as dewy. If you’re a bit over-lubricated, face-wise, a lighter oil will do the job. Massage Trilogy Rosehip Oil, into your cheeks and chin in order to boost circulation and shift any lingering chocolate stains.