An award-winning journalist with over 25 years experience in the industry (including six years as Beauty Director at Vogue) Anna-Marie Solowij is a serious guru when it comes to make-up and skincare. Together with esteemed make-up artist Millie Kendall, Anna-Marie founded BeautyMART a one-stop shop of pampering gorgeousness selling an edited selection of what Anna-Marie and Millie think are the best products out there. As an expert who has tried if not all, then a helluva lot of lotions and potions, we wanted to find out which ones she uses on herself…
“I’d like to think that I update my look – a slightly different topknot, a stronger eye…but the changes are so slight that anyone who knows me would probably say that I always work the same look – hair up, minimal make-up. When it comes to trends, I’m more ‘trend aware’ rather than trend led. With hair and make-up, most of the looks are on their umpteenth revival – 60s eye, nude make-up, pony tail, etc – so I’m very familiar with them, but am interested in how they’ve been updated and made relevant by the creative teams of designer, hair stylist and make-up artist, either for a new generation of consumers who haven’t experienced those looks before, or how different a ‘retro’ beauty look can appear in the context of more contemporary fashion. I think that with skincare, I’m always very keen to try out new things as unlike with fashion related style ie hair and make-up, the scientific side of skincare is always new.
- Number 1 for me is a good cleanser as I think they make the biggest difference to the skin. I particularly like balm and oil cleansers mainly for the aroma – I love essential oils, but also as they force you to massage the skin and then buff with a hot cloth which is a very good start. I constantly swap between products and have currently on heavy rotation the following: de Mamiel Botaniques Restorative Cleansing Balm, Ren Rosa Centifolia No 1 Purity Cleansing Balm, Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, Balance Me Cleanse and Smooth Face Balm and Elemental Herbology Purify & Soothe Facial Cleansing Balm. And yes, weird as it seems, I do use them all, at different times, because they’re all slightly different.
- I also love floral waters as I think they boost the effects of any moisturiser. Caudalie Beauty Elixir, Sisley Eau Florale and Melvita Organic Rose Beauty Mist are favourites.
- For moisture, I prefer face oils and serums – I’m not so good with heavy creams and lotions as my skin doesn’t really get on with them. My regulars include: Decleor Aromessences Angelique and Clarins Huile Santal, Chanel Le Weekend and Elemental Herbology Cell Food Facial Serum, which is brilliant mixed with foundation as it really does give skin a glow.
- For eye creams, I’m always looking for something new but am very happy at the moment with Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum as it’s light and refreshing. This list doesn’t begin to address what’s in my bathroom cabinet – all the odd things that I need but don’t necessarily use every day, such as Homeoplasmine, for when my skin is dry or stressed; Embryolisse, which I use as a moisturising mask, SKII Eye Masks.
I used to have facials, but rarely have time for them regularly enough now. It’s feast or famine – I’ll have them for research purposes if I’m writing an article, but in between times, I have to rely on a DIY treat at home. I do miss them and I do believe they make a difference to the skin. My favourite therapists are Amanda Lacey, Anastasia Achilleos and Sarah Chapman. They all have a totally different approach but each makes your skin look wonderful.
Skin is probably the most important part of my look as it’s the basis on which everything else depends. I’m lucky in that my skin’s pretty ok – I’m not troubled by spots, not too much pigmentation, yes, it’s lined but I’m 52, it would be weird if it wasn’t. I like its colour tone, texture and radiance and I don’t do a lot to cover it up, instead I tend to work on enhancing it.
- I’m a big fan of mixing something up rather than squeezing it straight out of a tube onto my skin so I’ll mix foundation or BB with a serum or drop of oil. Current favourites are Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Cream, Burberry Fresh Glow BB Cream, Olay Total Effects CC, Embryolisse BB Cream Illuminating Veil. I also have Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser on hand for a light wash of radiance.
- I always use Estee Lauder Doublewear Concealer and I’m a late convert to YSL Touche Eclat as finally, I’ve found a colour that works for me. For under eyes, Smashbox Photo Op Under Eye Brightener is great as it’s light and doesn’t sit in creases.
- For blemishes, I use Estee Lauder Doublewear Concealer just lightly tapped on top of all other foundation with a fingertip, and for dark circles, Smashbox Photo Op, lightly applied under the eyes.
I often just wear bronzer and/or blusher and no foundation, and have always got several blushers on the go…
- Currently I’m using Burberry Fresh Glow Blush – a gel stick that gives a really sheer finish; Daniel Sandler Watercolour Blush, which I’ve used since it launched aeons ago; Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge, which is creamy and good for lips too and Bourjois Little Round Pot blush – it’s the original and still the best.
- I apply blusher on my cheek apples, a bit across the browbones and on the temples. I don’t think it makes sense just to put the colour on the cheeks as that’s not entirely natural, so I put it where it feels and looks right.
- My favourite bronzers include Chanel’s Les Beiges, which isn’t really a bronzer but I use the darker shade to contour and bronze. I prefer it because it’s not sparkly – I love that matte, cocoa powder looking tan that Mert and Marcus show so well in their photography. I also love Diorskin Nude Tan bronzer as it’s a really good peachy tan shade and again, not sparkly.
- I don’t really use highlighter as I think they can look too much. I prefer a more subtle effect so if I want to highlight something I’l sweep over some Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturiser or Diorskin Glow Maximiser, but I only use a tiny amount, just on the fingertips, swept over cheekbones, down the nose, on the cupid’s bow, across the brow bones.
As I’ve got older, I find that I can’t get away without eye make-up – my eyes just disappear without it – so my routine is quite detailed now.
- I begin with brows – brushed upwards, enhanced lightly with Eyeko Brow Liner, a great felt tipped pen that you can use to draw in individual hairs that look really natural. I then brush through with L’Oreal Paris Brow Artist Plumper, a ‘mascara’ for brows which really does thicken them up without looking heavy.
- Next is eyeliner – usually a dark brown shade from Estee Lauder Doublewear and sometimes I’ll do the wet line, sometimes the upper lash lines, slightly winged out, and sometimes just the outer third of the upper and lower lash lines. I have no idea why I swap around so much, but I do, and I feel it makes a difference to the way I look, so that’s all that matters. I always blend it otherwise it looks too hard.
- Then its eyeshadow – usually a neutral shade such as M.A.C. Pro Longwear Paint Pot in Groundwork, then I might add some colour on top, or a bit of shimmer, just on the lids or lash lines. I really rate Charlotte Tilbury’ s Colour Chameleon colour morphing eye pencils for really ‘popping’ the eyes.
- Lastly, it’s mascara. Favourites include: Fairydrops and Lancome Hynose in black and Estee Lauder Doublewear in cobalt blue, sadly a colour they no longer make, so I’m ekeing out my supply.
I don’t really do gloss – it feels too young. I love lipstick, especially the long-lasting ones like Bourjois Lip Velvet, Rimmel London Provocalips and YSL Lip Lacquer. Once they’re on they don’t move and they don’t bleed into the lip line. They’re also very opaque so you can really cheat a lip line and enhance the size of the lips.
I tend to go for bright colours, no matter what the season – I love orangey, coral and cherry shades, although I’m not entirely sure they suit me. However, my truly favourite shades are purplish – but it’s a hard colour to find. MDM Flow named a lipstick after me and it’s an amazing deep plummy purple – however, I think I look a bit too goth in it so its not one for every day.
I wash it probably 3 times a week using Purely Perfect, a ‘no poo’ product created by Michael Gordon of Bumble &bumble fame. I don’t blow dry it, just leave to dry naturally, then it usually ends up in a top knot on day 2. It’s quite thin and falls out a lot, so I guess I attempt to disguise that by putting it up.
I stopped colouring my hair over a year ago, so I’m happily grey now but every now and then I’ll got and see Josh Wood and ask him to brighten up the grey a bit with some primrose or wheaten lights. I trim it myself and then ask whoever might be occasionally blow-drying it to trim the ends. BTW, I had the best blow dry at Hershesons in Harvey Nichols the other week. It was exactly what I asked for which doesn’t happen as often as it should.
I hate grainy exfoliators as they’re just too scratchy but I do love Bliss Hot Salt Scrub which is grainy but not scratchy as the salt melts on the skin. It has a great head-clearing, eucalyptus aroma. I’m a big fan of mitts to exfoliate and have always used a hammam mitt, but my current favourite is a Korean Magic Peeling Mitt which does the same job. You rub it over damp skin and the dead cells just roll away. I always use body oils rather than moisturiser. Favourites include Aromatherapy Associates Relax Body Oil, Aesop Breathless Body Oil and This Works Dry Leg Oil.
I tend to have a bath laced with Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath Oil every day. I often put Ina Crystals Himalayan Gold Bath Salts in too as they’re brilliant for drawing lactic acid out of the muscles post exercise.
- I tend to add a bit more sparkle for the eyes and generally go darker and more dramatic. I think that at this time of the year you can get away with a bolder look.
- I also like some of the temporary tattoos that look like jewellery – Divine Ink do some great bracelets and cuffs which look brilliant with any party look.
- Everyone should try Glitter Lips – as the name implies, it’s glitter, for lips and it is totally transforming and the perfect standout party accessory. You get people stopping you to ask where you bought it (tell them BeautyMART!).