39 beauty products

Now this post’s a bit ‘magazine-y’, but there we are. I asked a few of my girlfriends which products they wouldn’t like to live without and here’s the lowdown, straight from the horses’ mouths as it were. I’m not going to make ‘beauty’ a regular thing on Nomad Thief (I wouldn’t have much to say) but hey, we all need a bit of help with advancing age. Sorry guys, I haven’t included any male-specific products here, but will try to remember to do that another time as even you wonderful beings aren’t immune to age or the elements. Some of the following you will have heard of – some are a bit more gratifying:

#1 Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream. The original (and probably still best) has a pretty strange smell (like creosote) and not only that but a pretty strange texture too (sticky) but if you’re having a desperate time with dry skin, this will work wonders. Slather it on before sleeping (yup – 8 hours, ideally) on your back. Alone. Also good as a lipsalve and brilliant to heal sunburn. And for littles ones’ chapped noses, apparently

#2 Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment. One of my friends swears by this. She says that her hands get horribly dry from washing them all the time and this is one of the few creams that seems to help. She doesn’t suffer from OCD by the way

#3 Clarins Flash Balm – mixed reports on this one. Use as a mask (in fact I don’t bother to wash it off) or apply just before (literally) make up. I’m quite a fan and think it does give you a ‘glow’. You have to put your make up / tinted moisturiser on straight after though, before it’s sunk in

#4 St Tropez Instant Glow Face Lotion. A lifesaver in the winter if you (like me) look terrible without a tan and need a quick fix. The texture’s a bit funny and it seems a bit like teabag staining your face (apply after moisturising and before any make up) but the effect is great. You can use without make up too, if your skin’s particularly amazing

#5 Superdrug Vitamin E body scrub – cheap and very good

#6 Dove soap – good for travelling light as you can also cut out taking moisturiser and face wash

#7 Head + Shoulders shampoo. Not just for those with dandruff. Has a slightly ‘medical’ smell but gives ultra clean, shiny results. They also now do it for coloured hair

#8 M+S Floral Collection Magnolia soaps. Gorgeous smell, creamy yet lathery at the same time. More interesting than ‘normal’ soap and more ecologically sound than shower gels

#9 Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel. Great for frequent washing (lather with water) – doesn’t dry yet leaves your skin squeaky clean

#10 Boots own brand eye make up remover pads. In a wee, light, plastic perfect-for-travelling-or-your-handbag pot

#11 ‘That funny foaming shower gel stuff’. Or in other words, Imperial Leather Foamburst. I second this one, it’s lovely stuff. Try the blue one if you, like me, don’t like ‘sweet’ smells

#12 Sanctuary – Therapist’s Secret Facial Oil. Use at night, after cleansing and before moisturising. (Gosh, so people DO do 3 step facial care…) Allegedly it ‘seems to actually plump up the skin and doesn’t make combination skin greasy’. Sounds great

#13 Benefit’s Pore fessional. To be put on 
after moisturiser (in the morning only) and before foundation. You rub it on any large/open (don’t you just love them) pores and my mate seems to be convinced it’s working – I’ll examine her when I see her. Her other (possibly somewhat inflammatory) facial beauty tip is ‘to get monstrously fat’ (she’s a bit scrawny)

#14 Liz Earle hot cloth cleanse and polish. ‘Leaves skin very soft and clean and is the best thing for taking make up off. Literally transforms dull dry skin’. Reading that last sentence, I think this particular mate of mine is in the wrong job

#15 Eve Lom facial cleanser – a classic. And the best. Competition for #14 it seems. Has a whole ritual thing going on involving a muslin cloth… what’s not to like?

#16 Bobbi Brown Vitamin E cream. ‘A lovely light moisturiser / primer’. Primer? I’ve got a lot to learn…

#17 L’Occitane shower oil. Also good for shaving legs apparently

#18 Sudocrem – ‘a miracle product. Non drying and you put it on a spot or redness overnight and next day is a million times better’. Result

#19 Laura Mercier tinted moisturiser – instead of foundation

#20 Nars liquid foundation sheer glow

#21 Bare Minerals make up – again, mixed reports. I can’t get on with it, but a couple of my mates are huge fans… One says: ‘you can put it on and it looks like you are not wearing a scrap of make up and your skin is perfect. But I find it a bit drying long term and perversely I think it makes me break out. Plus you need to be careful not to use too much or to get cakey. Best for occasional use – apparently wedding make up people like it’

#22 Creme de la Mer fluid tint – this one’s expensive, but excellent. I have it on good authority (thanks Sabrina & Charmaine) that it’s a make up artist favourite. Lovely consistency (if you’re not into foundation but want more coverage than most tinted moisturisers give) and a really lovely (delicate and expensive, I’d call it) smell. The only snag is that it only comes in 3 colours. But if one of those works for you – great

#23 Cornsilk loose powder in translucent. Cheap. And you can wear it by itself or as a powder over other stuff. As used by K Mid, apparently

#24 MAC powder. Stops the gloss for greasy/combination skin types

#25 Dr Organic facial serum from Holland and Barrett. ‘AMAZING’. Says it all really

#26 Blisteze. A godsend for chapped lips. (You don’t need to have coldsores)

#27 Vaseline. For defining your eyebrows. Or for lips and little ones’ chapped noses (cheap version of #1)

#28 Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge – for cheeks and lips. Good if you don’t want your blusher to be powdery, or if you don’t do ‘proper’ lipstick but fancy a bit of colour

#29 Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega Mushroom Skin Relief Advanced Face Serum – has a kind of funny smell but really feels like it’s doing your skin good

#30 Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum – very calming (not at all rich or heavy) and effective, this is a serious product – you don’t buy it for any posey packaging

#31 Kiehl’s Facial Fuel Healthy Bronze – this is technically ‘for men’ (so there was one in there) but I use it – smells weird and lovely (kind of minty) with no hint of that awful self tan smell. It ‘tans’ much more gradually than say, the Johnsons one, but it smells a whole lot better

#32 Dermalogica Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque – very, very rich

#33 Lancome mascaras – best I’ve found to date, and there’s a lot of rogues out there. Happily I have a constant stream of samples thanks to my mum’s serious Lancome habit. Try Hypnose or Defencils.

#34 Nars mascara. A friend says that this is one of the only ones which doesn’t make her look like she has bags under her eyes.

#35 #36 #37 Dr Hauschka – cleansing cream / quince cream / rose hand cream. Strange, wonderful smells and textures and worthy, serious packaging and ingredients

#38 Benefit Eye Bright pencil – apply on the inner corner areas of eyes – makes you look all wide awake and bushy tailed and just a little bit Icelandic / wood nymph-y

#39 Eyebrow threading (re)shaping (and tinting) by Blink – the importance of this can’t be stressed enough. Try to grow your eyebrow hairs as much as you can bear to before you go, for max results. You can also get a quick lip / face wax (sorry, ‘thread’) if you’re a bit hairy

On that note, that’s it for now. A big up to my secret skincare consultants – thank you!

If you want further hair & make up product ideas, it’s worth checking out this blog spot: Florabundance. Lydia (my brother-in-law’s niece) is a recent graduate (ie young) but (not that being young is a bad thing – I’m just jealous) is really passionate about hair and beauty (hence the blogging). She does both brilliantly and knows more than I ever will on the subject.

Tuiles aux amandes effilées

Well, not crafts, but another little ‘thing to do on a rainy day’. These are simple, effective, and completely moreish. I’m not in the habit of posting recipes on my site (basically ‘cos I’m not the most accomplished cook) but I like the idea of taking a little package of these to a dinner party along with wine (they can be served with ice-cream / dessert or coffee), or just making them for any old time.

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tuiles 3tuiles

Makes 40 small or 25 large
(NB: the raw dough will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge, and the tuiles can be stored for 2 days in an airtight box)

125g flaked almonds
125g caster sugaar
2 drops of vanilla extract
Drop of almond extract
2 egg whites
25g unsalted butter
20g plain white flour

Using a spatula, mix together the flaked almonds, sugar, vanilla extract, almond extract and egg whites in a shallow bowl.

Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. While it is still hot, pour it onto the egg white mixture. Mix thoroughly. Cover with cling film and chill overnight.

The next day, preheat the oven to 150′c / fan 130′c / gas mark 2. Sift the flour into the bowl with the mixture and mix well. Place teaspoonfuls of dough on 2 baking trays lined with baking paper, spaced well apart.

Flatten each biscuit with the back of a tablespoon dipped in cold water and bake for 15-18mins. The tuiles should be an even golden colour with no white in the centre. Leave the tuiles to cool on the trays, then carefully peel off.


I have happy memories of making these when I was little and quite fancy making ‘grown up’ ones now, perhaps more intricate and embellished and being more creative with materials. Pictures to follow once I get down to that (it’s a tough old life this being a blogger) but in the meantime, here’s the basic instuctions – one to keep offspring / small relatives busy on a rainy / schools-closed-cos-it’s-a-tiny-bit-snowy day:
* Cut out bird shape from card (use your imagination)
* Decorate both sides, either just by colouring in or sticking things on (foil, feathers, coloured paper, sequins, glitter etc)
* Take a piece of tissue paper, fold to make wings
* Make a cut in body, push through
* Fan wings together and stick
* Attach string and hang

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bird greenbird pinkbirdies

Deep in conversation

These 2 guys were deep in conversation and didn’t bat an eyelid between them when I approached them and asked to take their photo. When I said ‘just carry on with your conversation’ (I didn’t mean it to come out the way it did) they said ‘oh we will’. Ha ha, I felt quite small. The leathers guy said he didn’t think he was very ‘street’, but it was actually his boots that I was most attracted to. Super cool. And I love the incongruous (there’s that word again) juxtaposition of their clothing styles.

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Green hat, fur coat

This lovely girl had the most charming accent (Austrian, at a guess) and was quite entertained that I asked her to pose for me, and not her boyfriend / friend. He wasn’t at all offended, despite her goading – am sure he was just proud of her, and they both had a good vibe. She told me that she collects hats, that this one was from a shop called Hunky Dory (on Brick Lane), and that it was from the 60s. The coat and belt combo could have been a total miss, but she somehow just totally pulled them off. She’s not too smiley here but don’t be fooled, she was a very smiley type of person.

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green 1

Fossil man

This man selling fossils, gems and so on (I suspect they were very worth checking out but I was too busy staring at him to do them justice) on Brick Lane last Sunday was quite a character. He kindly posed for me and am really glad he did as I think he’s got great style. There was something strange (in a good way) about him (see the piercing eyes) – I can’t quite put my finger on it but I bet he has some interesting hobbies…

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fossil man


This delicately boned girl reminded me of some kind of arctic bird – her great haircut and features were really complemented by the snug fit of the hat. It was beautifully crafted and got me thinking how things really used to be made to last. A hat for life! She told me she’d got it in a second hand shop in Poland and confirmed that yes, it was made of rabbits. Now I’m not a big advocate of wearing fur, but, to be fair, there’s nothing warmer, and the day was very, very very cold.

rabbit 2rabbit 1

Style on the slopes

snowboardersskiiersc&a 2skiierprettiesmehorsehats

There seem to be 6 major style tribes gracing the slopes these days:

Pretty Pretties  
Female. An as-fitted-as-possible jumpsuit – or, if separates, the jacket will usually be belted at the waist. A fur edged hood and some sort of nondescript snowflake/snowscene design. Colours: brown, cream, pink (urgh), white, or orange. Headgear: wide headband and big wraparound (expensive / flashy) sunglasses. Or a neat helmet in matching colours and discreet ski googles.

C&A Brigade
Predominantly male but not exclusively. Usually tricolor, often all-in-ones. Usually some horrible combination of green / turquoise / pink / white / purple / yellow. Generally ill-fitting (either borrowed from someone or they’ve had it for 15+ years). Sometimes worn ironically (presumably) with a bright aerobics type headband and / or often some sort of old fashioned moustache. Drink: beer. As cheap as possible. Always.

Baggy. Cool. Different. Faux ‘other materials’ (textile which looks like graffiti, bark, brick, denim), neon, garish patterns. Highly reflective and oversized ski visors / goggles, usually with a multicoloured or flashy gold tint. Some sort of ‘crazy’ hat. Or retro bobble. Eat: self made sandwiches, off piste. Also now more ‘tidy’ snowboarders out there. Usually small, neat, a little-bit-wacky couples. They probably work in media.

Brands: Helly Hanson, North Face, that sort of thing. Colours: black, navy, red, green, royal blue. Nothing garish, nothing daring. Relatively affluent, mostly over 30 and not desperately interested in fashion. People who probably spend a lot of time hiking when they’re not skiing.

Onesies (girls and boys) or farmyard animal / cartoon character outfits. Sometimes complete with animal heads / tails / capes. Very likely to be from public school, in the army and / or part of a rugby (or other) club. Drink: beer (boys) or champagne (boys and girls).

Proper Skiiers
Skin tight ski gear in club colours, or all-the-same-colour separates – smart, sleek and good quality but not at all shiny or flashy. Sometimes with ski resort / ski school logo.

In making all these sweeping and disparaging remarks (by the end of the year I’ll probably have managed to alienate or offend most of the people on the planet) I was thinking about my own transgression through the style tribes of the slopes… First, it was pure C&A, at the tender age of 14. Turquoise, white and pink. Zero points for originality, but I loved it and was very proud. Second, early university days, and a new jacket – pale blue, with a large, very cool (I thought) iguana on the back. “Isn’t it a bit big darling?” said my mum. And of course she was right. By about 6 sizes… I was learning to value extremes in dressing. Third, in the long interim and up til this season, a non descript grey/black/white ‘functional’ number. Nice, but a bit, well.. yawn. Fourthly, my current this-season-bought love: a bright blue, snug, down-filled one with lots of pointless but appealing logos and a fur hood. See picture.
I asked my husband after writing this which category I now fall into and he said; “Pretty pretty, of course!”.
I’m distraught.

All this aside… the best thing about skiing / snowboarding? It’s a great leveller and it doesn’t matter what the hell you wear, as long as you have fun and don’t cut people up or drop your gloves off the chair lift.