Don’t cancel your wedding yet: follow the new coronavirus rules

The venue is booked. The invites are sent. You’ve found The Dress. And then the pandemic happened.

The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have left many couples unsure what lies in store for their 2020 weddings.

Weddings have been able to restart since July 4, with up to 30 people able to attend under social distancing rules. However, only two households will be permitted to attend a reception held at an indoor hospitality venue.

With these conditions in place, some couples might be uncertain about going through with their wedding this year.

We have spoken to wedding industry experts to find out what a socially distanced celebration might look like, and whether you should postpone your wedding for the foreseeable future.

Are weddings back on in Nigeria?

Yes – but not as you know them. The Government announced that there will be gathering of not more than 20 people – this is including the couple, guests, suppliers (such as the photographer), and registrar or celebrant. This is provided they comply with social distancing rules. Guests will have to stand or sit at least one metre apart, as well as take other safety precautions – such as wearing a face mask. 

For those who were originally planning a big bash, this means seriously downsizing if your venue is still able to accommodate you safely; although the measures may come as a blessing for couples already grappling with a spiralling guestlist.

What are the new safety measures?

Wedding ceremonies in England should be kept “as short as reasonably possible” and limited to just what is legally binding, according to the new guidelines for gathering. Religious ceremonies which would usually take a number of hours or days will need to adapt to a very short and limited number of people. 

As mentioned above, no more than 20 people should be in attendance and only two households should be present. 

Wedding receptions which typically follow the ceremony are “strongly advised not to take place at this time”. If you do want a wedding reception, government guidelines state only two households can attend an indoor venue or six guests from different households can attend an outdoor celebration. 

Should I postpone my summer wedding?

If you have a wedding booked for this year, should you postpone it? It depends on whether you are comfortable with having a socially-distanced celebration of only 20 people, with only two households allowed in an indoor reception venue.

Wedding planner Katrina Otter has had a lot of her weddings postponed to 2021.

“All my couples up until October have postponed because they want the weddings that they dreamed of, and have spent months, if not years, planning,” she says. “These days, weddings involve so much more than just a legally binding ceremony; they’re a celebration of friendship and families, and this is something that the current guidelines don’t allow.” While many of her clients remain “optimistic” about their weddings next year, she said that whether future ceremonies will be able to operate at full capacity remains uncertain – particularly if there’s a second wave. 

Another popular option is to press on with a small ceremony with a handful of guests this year, and postpone the big celebration until we can party properly again

Some might opt to have a small ceremony in the summer, with a handful of guests, and postpone the big party to next year. “I can see an increase in couples having a simple ceremony this year when allowed for just them, the registrar and witnesses,” says Chapman. “And in 2021 they will plan a larger wedding for all their guests but opting for a celebrant ceremony.”

Will my wedding next year be OK?

It’s all a matter of “speculation”, Otter says, and the situation could change so rapidly. “At this present time, no, I do not see 2021 being an issue,” she explains, “but have this conversation with me in two weeks’ time and I might be saying something totally different.”

If you do postpone your wedding to next year, you might face another challenge: finding an available date. Given that most weddings this year will be postponed to 2021, on top of the weddings that were already planned to go ahead next year, suppliers and venues might have limited dates available. As such, a lot of couple are having mid-week weddings, according to Otter, “so they can keep their suppliers”.

She tells me that one couple wanted to move their wedding, which was supposed to take place this September, to any Saturday between the beginning of April and end of October 2021. There was only one date that the suppliers could do.

When restrictions are lifted, what might the weddings look like?

Wedding planner Matthew Oliver, who specialises in international weddings, says weddings will “absolutely” have to adapt in the future.

“I feel like we will need have to look at bigger venue options,” he says. “For instance, if you’re working with a couple that are inviting 150 guests, instead of looking for venues that hold exactly 150 people, we’re going to have to look for venue options that are larger.”

This would be to allow guests to socially distance – which, he thinks, will still be our mentality after lockdown is over. “After this whole situation is finished, people are still going to have that in their way of life – of ‘I don’t want to be close to you,’” he says, adding that venues and suppliers might be more “protective” about their contact with guests.

Other wedding venues have also found creative solutions. Bijou Wedding Venues, which specialises in country house weddings, will use “airport quality” temperature reading cameras to test all staff and guest temperatures on arrival, and will live-stream the ceremony to different areas of the venue, so the mandatory witnesses can be present at the ceremony and the other guests can view it from a safe distance. 

The wedding venues company also plans to replace buffet queues with table service, install marquees and gazebos to maximise time outdoors, and hold ceremonies outdoors where possible.

Otter does not see the need for such changes. “I think when we are allowed to get back to weddings as they used to be, weddings will go back to how they used to be,” she says, adding that “if social distancing rules are relaxed, things will very quickly get back to normal”.

Some couples might opt for “alternative” ceremonies on Zoom, even when the restrictions are lifted, but this won’t work for everyone. “It’s going to work for some couples,” Otter says. “It’s definitely not going to work for the majority.”

What about international weddings?

Whilst travel restrictions are slowly starting to lift, Oliver does not imagine there will be any international weddings this year because “people are scared”.

If weddings are able to go ahead in the coming months, he says they “might be smaller weddings, they might just be elopements”.

Most of his clients have postponed to next year, or cancelled altogether. Usually, he takes on between 15 to 20 weddings this year, but says next year he will have double the number due to the postponed weddings from this year.  

He’s still getting new bookings for 2021, as “people are looking past this whole situation,” he says. 

Have you postponed your summer wedding? Share your experience in the comments section below.

Three ‘holiday’ fragrances to cheer you up

On the hunt for a new men’s grooming essential?  Every week, grooming expert, Lee Kynaston, will be rounding up the best grooming products that have earned his seal of approval. 

This week, he talks all things scents and the four fragrances that will whisk you away…

A fragrant world tour 

Places have long provided perfumers with inspiration for their creations, with fragrance the perfect medium for transporting us to exotic locations and far-off destinations. After all, when a perfumer uses a note of French lavender they’re effectively dropping a pin in Provence.

So if your holiday plans have become a casualty of coronavirus, as mine just have, how about taking an olfactory adventure instead, courtesy of Creed’s Green Irish Tweed (an evocation of Ireland that’s only missing the Guinness); Heinrich Barth’s delicious fig and sage body wash (a personal fave that’ll have you longing for the Aegean); The Library of Fragrance’s Caribbean Sea; or 4160 Tuesdays’ excellent Dark Heart of Old Havana, all coffee, tobacco, and overripe fruit?

OK, so I might not be able to go to New Mexico as planned, but Ireland, Greece, Cuba and the Caribbean? Thanks to fragrance, they’re all still on the menu. 

Scent from afar

 Green Irish Tweed, £165 for 50ml edp, Creed 

Green Irish Tweed, £165 for 50ml edp, Creed 

N. 07 Mykonos Skin Softening Body Cleanser, £22, Heinrich Barth 

N. 07 Mykonos Skin Softening Body Cleanser, £22, Heinrich Barth 

The Dark Heart of Old Havana, £55 for 30ml edp, 4160 Tuesdays

The Dark Heart of Old Havana, £55 for 30ml edp, 4160 Tuesdays  

Paper dolls for your crafting pleasure

A few weeks ago, T asked a handful of illustrators, artists and designers to dream up paper-doll outfits of their own — for figures created by Ilya Milstein — and the results feel anything but predictable. Some of the looks would be at home at an avant-garde runway presentation (and you may find that some of the pieces, especially the more conceptual ones, require a bit of tape).

The designer Katie Stout, for instance, was drawn to the bulbous shapes of produce, like carrots and Ugli fruit. Other participants offered casual pieces, like patterned separates or a floral dress, for sunny spring days. Having spent much of his period of self-isolation watching old Hollywood movies, the tattoo artist Mars Hobrecker went for full glamour, fashioning a gown with ruffles inspired by the costumes of Edith Head.

Paulina Olowska, an artist based in Rabka, Poland, nodded to a more immediate past, drawing on human-size clothing items she and her partner have picked up on their various travels: a straw hat from Lamu, Kenya; a black linen vest from Fez, Morocco.

The fashion designer Aurora James, meanwhile, looked closer to home — and to our current moment: “I’ve been swaddling myself in sheets and blankets and walking around like that,” she said. The architects Adam Charlap Hyman and Andre Herrero of Charlap Hyman & Herrero also created outfits that resonate with today’s world: Their reflective chrome suits are complete with plant headpieces that seem to assert, hopefully, that life goes on.

How to manage your loneliness

Shelter-in-place orders have hit those who live alone particularly hard.

Afia Ofori-Mensa, 39, has lived alone for 16 years. For nine of those years she taught at Oberlin College in rural Ohio, where she had a limited social network. Last August, she moved to New Jersey to become director of Princeton University’s presidential scholars program — which provides resources to help undergraduates, including those from populations underrepresented in academia, pursue Ph.D.s. She said she was finally hitting her social stride, reconnecting with Oberlin alumni and family members in the area and routinely hopping on the train to attend events in neighboring cities. But then the coronavirus hit and it brought her feelings of isolation into sharp focus.

“The moments that are most difficult are when I think about not knowing when I’ll be able to touch another human being again,” she said. As someone with no pets, no partner — not even a plant — she said she felt profoundly lonely. “Sometimes I feel like I’m disappearing,” she said.

Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University who has studied loneliness extensively, says social connection is something we biologically crave. “We’re social beings and our bodies respond when we lack the proximity to others,” she said. So the new normal prompted by Covid-19 “is a difficult kind of situation where we need to try to still remain socially connected while being physically distant,” she said.

Dr. Holt-Lunstad has found that loneliness can lead to serious consequences. One of her studies found that lacking any social connection may be comparable to smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day as a risk factor for mortality. Another study found that loneliness increases the risk of an earlier death by 26 percent. She also found that social isolation, loneliness and living alone exceed the risks of death associated with obesity, physical activity and air pollution.

Susan Pinker, a psychologist and author of “The Village Effect,” said that loneliness is a subjective feeling of being alone against your will. She said that you can be alone and not be lonely or you can be lonely even if you’re surrounded by people. It’s “a feeling of being excluded and of existential angst,” she said.

Afia Ofori-Mensa is learning how to cope with the feelings of loneliness caused by living alone under the coronavirus lockdown.
Afia Ofori-Mensa is learning how to cope with the feelings of loneliness caused by living alone under the coronavirus lockdown.Credit…Afia Ofori-Mensa

The situation is particularly serious, given that many Americans had been lonely even before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

According to a January 2020 survey of 10,000 Americans ages 18 and over conducted by Cigna, 61 percent of adults — three in five — reported they are lonely. That number is up seven percentage points from 2018. With Americans more physically isolated now because of coronavirus stay-at-home orders, the sense of loneliness is even greater, said Dr. Doug Nemecek, Cigna’s chief medical officer for behavioral health. Cigna’s study indicated that major factors corresponding with loneliness were a lack of social support and too few meaningful social interactions; it also found those who telecommute are more lonely than those who work in an office.

“Because of Covid, this is impacting many more of us. We’re socially distanced. We can’t interact with friends or neighbors. We can’t visit elderly parents who are in nursing homes,” he said. “All of this has the potential of impacting how we feel from social connection and loneliness.”

The Cigna study indicated that 79 percent of those aged 18 to 22 considered themselves lonely. Among this group, heavy social media users were more likely to say they’re feeling lonely, Dr. Nemecek said, “so leveraging social media in the right way to make and maintain meaningful connections with someone else is very important.” For example, he said it’s likely to be more beneficial to have a video chat instead of just reading the news on social media or scrolling through Twitter posts.

There can be a greater risk of depression among those who have no social contact or social support, said Lisa Cox, a licensed clinical social worker and professor of social work and gerontology at Stockton University. But she says if those individuals exercise self-care, they can fare well. This includes participating in online support groups, yoga and stretching, keeping a gratitude journal, practicing mindfulness and immersing yourself in creative endeavors like drawing and listening to music.

Dr. Cox acknowledged that it can be difficult to exert the energy to try new things when you’re lonely, but said it’s worth giving it a try. Dr. Pinker said video chats are the next best thing to being there — anything that mimics the reciprocity of real interactions, or where you’re all “paying attention to the same thing at the same time.”

It’s an ideal time to pick up the phone and check in with friends and family with whom you’ve lost contact, she said. And just getting out and taking a walk around the block can help replicate the routine of your day as you once headed to work or a coffee shop, creating the opportunity to “see people in a casual way,” Dr. Pinker said. Both she and Dr. Cox say apps like Houseparty, which allows you to participate virtually in activities like games with friends or Netflix Party, where you can watch movies with friends who aren’t with you, can provide a means of social connection.

This time can be particularly challenging for older adults. A 2020 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that nearly half of adults ages 60 and older report feeling lonely. Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation, cites AARP findings that over 42 million Americans — a third of the population age 45 and older — were lonely before coronavirus hit and says those numbers are on the rise in the current situation. She suggests that older adults prepare a “Friendventory,” a list that begins with an inner circle of friends and neighbors and expands to include former work colleagues and classmates. “It’s hard for people to take the first step, but it’s important to reach out,” she said.

She also suggests that everyone else call at least one older adult each day who may be at risk for loneliness to ask how they’re doing and listen to their response. Perhaps you can also help by offering to talk them through setting up virtual chats with their friends and family.

Dr. Ofori-Mensa has started pushing herself to address her feelings of loneliness during this challenging time by connecting more to her surroundings. She’s begun to actively listen to her downstairs neighbor’s recordings of classical and jazz piano music that he plays in the evenings. Another neighbor has been cooking with garlic more often. “And I like to pause in the hallway and take a deep breath every time I go out for a walk.”

Daily walks allow her to share space with other people, even if only from a distance. “In the absence of being able to touch anyone, I’ve become so much more aware of other sensory details that remind me that I’m not alone.”

Need a Haircut?

A few weeks ago, Samuel Logan, a fashion executive, put on a protective mask and took a short subway ride to Greenwich Village for a highly anticipated, clandestine tryst. In the middle of a sunny afternoon, he covertly met his barber on a deserted street to get a haircut and beard trim.

The appointment had little in common with a typical trim. They walked silently up an empty flight of stairs, through a darkened hallway and into the vacant barbershop, its window shades drawn to conceal the activity inside. Mr. Logan brought along two items that seemed essential: disinfectant spray, in case the barber’s chair needed a germ-busting spritz, and a baseball cap to hide the evidence of newly shorn locks when he left.

“It felt like I had just made a deal to buy a case of bathtub gin,” Mr. Logan said.

He was understandably furtive. Salons in New York have been closed by government order since late March, as they have across much of the country. (In a few states, including Georgia, they’ve recently been allowed to reopen.) Since then, a longing for professional grooming has become a leitmotif on social media, with a deluge of images of scraggly, overgrown hair and sad attempts at self-administered haircuts, along with instructional videos on how to do a trim at home.

Inevitably, some hairstylists and their regular clients have, like Mr. Logan, been skirting governmental restrictions.


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“In terms of barbers getting out there to cut hair, they’re going to do that,” said Damon Dorsey, president of the American Barber Association, a nonprofit organization with several thousand members across the country. “There are going to be some people who are just going to say, ‘I’ll take my chances’ and some barbers that are saying that, too.”

Getting a haircut at the moment tends to be focused more on efficiency than on pleasure. Recently a loyal client of a salon in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles — let’s call her Michelle since she asked for anonymity because she was dodging government regulations — met her stylist for an overdue trim in his shuttered space.

Michelle had washed her hair at home to speed up the process; their usual relaxed banter was curtailed, in no small part because their faces were covered by masks.

“I was anxious to get it done,” she said. “I didn’t want to lean into that moment. I wanted to be in and out.” She left the same way she arrived: sneaking through an alleyway to her discreetly parked car for a drive down a traffic-free highway.

Some hairstylists are seeing regular clients on house calls, often in a client’s yard or garden. Joey Silvestera, the owner of the Blackstones salons in downtown Manhattan, did his first such appointment a few days ago. His barbershop was the backyard of a client’s home, a 15-minute drive from East Hampton, where Mr. Silvestera has been staying with his family since both Blackstones locations closed in mid-March.


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Instead of his usual work wear of a black T-shirt and leather jacket, he dressed in a de facto hazmat suit: a Dickies cotton jumpsuit he described in a phone interview as “a onesie.” The appointment was a test run for a weekly cut he plans to schedule with a faithful client, vetted through a list of health-related questions that, in calmer times, would be reserved for a doctor’s office.

“I’m not playing around,” Mr. Silvestera said. “If I don’t feel that they’re on the same page, I’m not going.”

Julien Howard, a barber who lives in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, is planning to cut hair quietly on the roof of his apartment building, or on clients’ terraces. He has done one such haircut already, upstairs from his top-floor apartment, wearing a makeshift version of personal protective equipment that included black nitrile gloves and a pair of round Saint Laurent sunglasses.

“I feel like in the open air there’s less chance of getting a germ than if I’m in a closed environment like someone’s bathroom,” Mr. Howard said.

For the rooftop service, he brought an array of equipment, including a hot towel machine and a glass bottle of disinfecting Barbicide. “I had the whole experience of the barbershop but outdoors, in the open air,” he said.

In lieu of cash or a Venmo transaction, he was paid with a handful of N-95 masks, along with a protective contraption that a graffiti artist might wear to keep spray-paint fumes at bay.

Mr. Howard is accustomed to cutting hair outside of a salon. Before the lockdown, he was making house calls through the Vélo Barber, a business he founded. Those appointments have been suspended since salons, including Blind Barber in the East Village where he also worked a few days a week, closed.

Other businesses that usually facilitate at-home haircuts — like the on-demand app and website Glamsquad and Paul Molé, the venerable barbershop on the Upper East Side, which normally send stylists to people’s homes — have similarly halted house calls for the time being.

While most salons are following government orders strictly, the temptation for both stylists and their customers remains.

“Until there is enough testing, we can’t in good conscience break with the social distancing protocols,” said Steve Marks, the owner of Persons of Interest, a chain of three barbershops in Brooklyn. “That said, people can’t wait till July to get a haircut, so they’ll find a way.”

He has heard, he said, that one of the barbers from his Williamsburg salon is planning to see clients in his backyard nearby. He’s not standing in his way.

How to spice up your sex life in lockdown

Getty Images/iStockphoto

xperts predict baby boom next year,”the headlines screeched at the end of March. We were just one week into lockdown, and the assumption was that couples stuck at home with each other would be at it like rabbits. After all, what else was there to do? But to many, it soon became clear that life under the shadow of a global pandemic was not actually the aphrodisiac they were promised.

Almost half of couples isolating together said they were having less sexsince lockdown began, according to a research conducted by OnBuy. The survey of 1,360 18 to 45-year-olds also found that 41 per cent of women were currently unhappy with their sex life, while 60 per cent believed it needed spicing up.

Meanwhile, condom sales have dropped dramatically due to fewer people having sex during lockdown, according to Durex. Social distancing is negatively affecting “intimate occasions”, said Laxman Narasimhan, chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser, the company that owns the condom brand. Narasimhan claimed that people in the UK were having “significantly” less sex than before lockdown, adding that the number of people having intercourse in Italy had also “gone down a lot”.

Narasimhan added that even established couples seemed to be having less sex due to “increased anxiety”.

It’s a theory that holds up, according to psychosexual therapist Janice Hiller. “It’s a neurochemical thing,” she tells The Independent. “When we feel fear and anxiety, our nervous system prepares us for a fight, flight or freeze response – we go into protection mode. We need a different part of the nervous system to engage for us to feel aroused and want to have sex.”


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Then there’s the familiarity aspect – the fact that couples isolating together have no space or time apart in which to miss and desire one another. “There’s not enough distance,” says Hiller, “and on top of that, we’re missing out on the feel-good aspects of going out and seeing friends. We feel happier and more motivated, and then we bring that feeling back and want to share it with our partner. Feeling sexual has a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves as well as our relationships – and we don’t feel as good when we haven’t had those experiences.”

Sex expert Alix Fox, a writer and broadcaster who acts as a script consultant for Netflix series Sex Education, agrees that many have found their sex drives taking a nosedive during quarantine due to stress. “Worrying about the health and wellbeing of loved ones, financial instability, job insecurity, and… well, total global upheaval and pandemic panic is not exactly an aphrodisiac,” she says.

Contraceptive concerns could well be having an impact, too. “Women have reported to me that they’re worried about not being able to get supplies of their usual contraceptive pill, or are concerned that their implant or coil is coming to the end of its recommended lifespan but they’re struggling to get an appointment to replace it – so they’re either using condoms as back-up, or avoiding penetrative sex altogether because they don’t want to risk pregnancy,” says Fox.

The good news is that many sexual health clinics and GPs are still offering online, telephone and postal pill renewal services to avoid people having to visit clinics, while some pharmacy chains, for exampleSuperdrug, are offering several common pill brands for direct delivery.

But contraception issues aside, how can we jumpstart our love-lives under lockdown?

Don’t stop making an effort

It may sound obvious, but completely giving up on your personal appearance is not exactly a turn on. And yet it can be very tempting when we’re not leaving the house for days at a time. “Stop hanging around in pyjamas or exercise clothes all day,” advises Hiller.

“Don’t get into a habit of not bothering. It can be quite unappealing if you stop making any effort at all. Grooming, appearance, hygiene – it may sound superficial but these things do matter, and you want to reduce the number of turnoffs as much as possible.

“It’s also about you – the better we feel about ourselves, the more likely we are to feel good about sex.”

Start talking

If you’re not in a good place with your partner emotionally, that’s likely to be reflected in your sex life. Fox advises starting with a compassionate conversation to get things back into more positive, connected and comfortable territory. “Excellent sex therapist Sarah Berry taught me how useful it can be for couples to separate different emotions into ‘jugs’, to help them ‘pour out’ their feelings in a calm, structured way that’s less likely to end in tears or yet another blazing row,” she says. “First, discuss the things you respectively feel scared about. Next, ‘empty the jug’ of all the stuff that’s making you mad; then sad; and finally, glad.

The better we feel about ourselves, the more likely we are to feel good about sex

“Pragmatically categorising your feelings, and the reasons behind them, like this can help you get your head straight, and make it easier to avoid accidentally taking out your fear about lack of vaccines or ventilators, for example, on your partner.”

Fox recommends always finishing with a discussion of things you’re glad about to finish on a high and leave both parties feeling soothed and hopeful.

Forget penetration

Well, you don’t have to forget it completely. But it’s important to remember that there’s far more to sex than genitals, according to Fox. “Exchanging massages can be relaxing, sensual and bonding, but for a playful twist, try a ‘texture tour’. Blindfold your partner, then gently stroke, roll, tap and press the skin all over their body with items you’ve gathered from around the house that have different textures: a chilly metal fork; a velvet cushion; the tie from a silky robe; a leather glove; a spiked tumble drier ball; one of those frothy shower puffs…”https://cdn.jwplayer.com/players/9yyOtuqL-9ygSIn9G.htmlSex Education star says she thought masturbation ‘was only a boy thing’

The blindfold heightens the other senses and creates an element of anticipation, plus takes the pressure off you to “perform”. “This is a cost-free way to bring an element of curious exploration back to your love life, and to have a much-needed tension-breaking giggle,” adds Ms Fox. “It’s OK to laugh during sex! It’s OK not to actually have sex, but to enjoy some other physical fun instead!”

Surprise each other

It’s easier than ever to get stuck in a rut under lockdown. Days blur into weeks, which blur into months. According to Hiller, injecting some surprise into your relationship with curated date nights can help reignite the magic.

“One of the couples I see for therapy has decided to take it in turns to surprise each other with a meal. They cook it, set the scene and even officially invite their partner,” she says.

Get playful

Sales of sex toys have gone through the roof according to Fox: “For example, German brand Womanizer – famous for inventing a type of clitoral stimulator that uses pulses of air rather than traditional vibration to create sensation – tell me they’ve seen an 88 per cent surge in UK trade compared to their projections.”

In particular, toys that can be controlled remotely via an app, which could appeal to couples who are separated from one another during quarantine, have seen a sales boost. Items connected to role play and BDSM, “which speak to bored couples looking for something fresh or couples finally crossing off adventures that have long been on their ‘F*** it bucket list’”, have also experienced a popularity spike. Sales of a 10-piece beginners’ bondage set from online sex shop Bondara, for example, have skyrocketed by 4,541 per cent.

It’s never too late to invest in your own accessories to help get things going.

How to make your own face mask – that’s both fashionable and protective

Face masks are becoming an increasingly frequent sight across the country, with more and more people using them in an effort to protect themselves and others from the spread of Covid-19.

And while medical-grade masks remain hard to get hold of, plenty of fashion brands have started to manufacture trend-led versions that adequately protect the wearer without eating into the critical supply of PPE materials needed for exposed key workers. Most benefit charities too, supporting those left most vulnerable by the coronavirus crisis.

That said, there’s nothing to stop you from making your own, even if you don’t have any sewing skills to speak of. In fact, a face mask is one of the easiest crafting projects there is, and it won’t take long to whip up something that looks good.

Is it safe though? “No home-made mask is as safe as a medically certified mask, but it is better than not wearing one at all,” says British fashion designer Isabel Manns, who is now selling face masks made from surplus fabric (£10, isabelmanns.com) alongside her printed dresses, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the NHS. “My masks have a gap at the back where you can place a piece of filter fabric which will make it more protective,” she adds.

Your fabric can be anything, from an old scarf to a shirt that no longer fits – as long as you can cut a 21.5cm x 40.5cm piece from itCREDIT: Isabel Manns

Manns also has a video tutorial on her Instagram Stories for anyone who wants to make their own. With her help, plus a little trial and error on my part, this fool-proof guide contains everything you need to know to make a fashion-friendly face mask…

You will need:

  • A piece of fabric that is at least 21.5cm x 40.5cm
  • 2 pieces of elastic, each 17.5cm long
  • A few pins
  • A sewing machine
Fold the fabric in half, with the inside facing out and use pins to mark a 5cm gap. Sew along that open edge, but leave the 5cm gap between the pins unstitched CREDIT: Isabel Manns

First, choose your fabric. It can be anything, from an old scarf to a shirt that no longer fits – as long as you can cut a 21.5cm x 40.5cm piece from it. “Cotton is good as it’s easier to sew and wash,” says Manns. “I am using some silk fabrics which are lovely and soft, but it can be a bit slippery to sew if you are not experienced.” Bright prints look spectacular, while others prefer slogans or designer logos (consider repurposing a logo-emblazoned shoe dust bag). 

Sew the seam allowance flat – this isn’t essential but it will look neater and prevent that seam from fraying CREDIT: Isabel Manns

Fold the fabric in half, with the undecorated or reverse of the fabric facing outwards (inside-out, effectively). Use a couple of pins to mark out a 5cm gap in the middle of the side parallel to the fold.

Sew along that open edge, but leave the 5cm gap between the pins unstitched.

Pin the ends of your elastic ear hooks into place, with one fixed between the two layers of fabric at the top and bottom corners on the left, and the other mirroring it on the right. Stitch those two side seams closed, then turn the mask the right way out by pulling the fabric through the filter hole CREDIT: Isabel Manns

Turn your mask the right way out, so that you can see the colourful side of the fabric. Now sew each side of the seam allowance flat – this is the 0.5cm or so of excess fabric created by your seam – it isn’t essential but it will look neater and prevent that seam from fraying.

Turn your mask inside-out again and arrange the fabric so that the filter slot is in the middle and the open seams are at the side. 

Use three pins on each vertical side to mark four equal sections, then, one by one, create 1cm folds and use the pins to secure them. Now stitch along those side seams to fix the pleats in place CREDIT: Isabel Manns

Now you can pin the ends of your elastic ear hooks into place, with one fixed between the two layers of fabric at the top and bottom corners on the left, and the other mirroring it on the right.

Stitch those two side seams closed, then turn the mask the right way out by pulling the fabric through the filter hole.

Finally you’re ready to make your pleats, which will make the mask more comfortable and flexible to wear. Use three pins on each vertical side to mark four equal sections – this is where your pleats will be. 

Manns is also selling her face masks online for £10 each, with all proceeds going to the NHS CREDIT: Isabel Manns

Then, one by one, create 1cm folds (all facing the same way), and use the pins to fix the pleats in place at either end. Manns suggests ironing to help keep the pleats in place: “It makes it easier to sew,” she says.

Now stitch along those side seams to fix the pleats in place. And that’s it – your mask is ready to use.

What I learnt from a bra-fitting video call

Nudea’s bra fitting service is now available via video call

I’m nearly five months pregnant, so nothing I own fits me right now, and that includes my bras. This situation would be fine if I had a smaller cup size – I’d embrace the opportunity to go braless – but I’m normally a 32D, and as anyone with a larger chest size will understand, a well-fitting bra can transform the way your clothes look, as well as delay the inevitable pull of gravity.

Of course with lockdown in effect, I can’t go and get a fitting at Selfridges or M&S as I normally would, so I was thrilled to discover that chic lingerie brand Nudea is offering virtual fittings to anyone who buys one of its tape measures (£1 including postage at Nudea).

I was paired with pro bra fitter Carlotta, who talked me through the process, which can be done with or without a top on, though it’s a little easier without. We began with my back size: using her own tape to demonstrate, she told me to take the end with the gold hoop, and put the side that says ‘start’ against my body, under the bust. I threaded the other end through the gold hoop and pulled until tight. Carlotta said I should go as tight as possible, as bras are stretchy and the tape measure is not, so a snug fit won’t feel uncomfortable with an actual bra. This revealed that I’d gone up from a 32 to 34. c

Tamara on Zoom with Nudea pro bra fitter Carlotta

I was paired with pro bra fitter Carlotta, who talked me through the process, which can be done with or without a top on, though it’s a little easier without. We began with my back size: using her own tape to demonstrate, she told me to take the end with the gold hoop, and put the side that says ‘start’ against my body, under the bust. I threaded the other end through the gold hoop and pulled until tight. Carlotta said I should go as tight as possible, as bras are stretchy and the tape measure is not, so a snug fit won’t feel uncomfortable with an actual bra. This revealed that I’d gone up from a 32 to 34. 

Nudea’s bra fitting service is now available via video call

If you don’t have the time or inclination for a Zoom call, there are also easy instructions and a video guide to measuring yourself on the Nudea website, but my 15-minute conversation with Carlotta gave me a much better understanding of what I need, giving me more confidence when it comes to choosing between different styles. 

My ‘The Boss’ Full Cover bra in a pretty sheer black jacquard (£45) arrived within two days and fits like a dream – I’m already tempted to order an Easy Does It bralette too (£35). 

It’s proof that even something as nuanced and intimate as bra-fitting can be effortless in this Zoomy new world. All you need is a tape measure.

Photos from Teleola and Edidem’s beautiful wedding

We are smiling today because of the beautiful #TELDEM2020 couple. Teleola and her forever love, Edidem had such an amazing wedding. We love everything about love and seeing two people come together, these two brought so much delight to our eyes through the pictures of their day.

If you love a rich display of beauty and culture, then you will enjoy every bit of their traditional wedding. The Yoruba bride and her Efik groom were an absolute delight to see. The ceremony started off with the tradition according to the Yoruba culture and then later, they were fully dressed in the Efik wedding attire. The couple totally slayed all their wedding looks. The bride, Teleola was a complete dream in her two gorgeous outfits for the day and we bet you’d like to see all her gorgeous looks.

If you haven’t seen their beautiful pre-wedding shoot or read their love story, then read all about it here on www.bellanaijaweddings.com.

BellaNaija Weddings wishes the couple a lifetime of love, joy and happiness together.

SOURCE: Bella Naija

Are you washing your hair properly? The secret to getting it right

There’s no doubt lockdown has altered our daily lives, and with that our regular routines. But while some of us may have ditched the razor or let our roots grow out, there’s one aspect of our routine that is soaring amid quarantine: hair washing. 

Despite being confined to our homes with little excuse to spruce up besides weekly Zoom and Houseparty catch ups, it seems we are washing more than ever. According to L’Oréal, hair washing is up by 76 per cent on account of more leisure time, the closure of hair salons and the need to feel clean, as we continue to practice necessary self-care. 

Now, while it may seem a simple task and one that you might have paid little attention to before today, believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to wash hair. Hairdresser, Michael Van Clarke, says “from my professional experience of over 25 years, I can say consumers do not know how to use products properly to get the best results.”

From aggressive washing to picking the wrong ingredients for your hair type, there are a host of things that can contribute to damaging your tresses in the shower. With that said, this is everything you need to know before your next wash day…

The basics

Know your hair type

Michael notes that most people are unsatisfied with hair care products because they’re unaware of their hair type. To avoid disappointment, first get to know your locks, analyse whether it’s coarse, oily, thick or thin and consider if it has been chemically treated. 

“Think about whether your hair is a different type at the roots and at the ends,” says Michael. “It is generally best to select a shampoo that will benefit your scalp and root area, and then select a conditioner that will work for the middle and ends of your hair.”

Once you’ve determined your hair type, picking the right shampoo gets a whole lot easier. For fine to medium hair, opt for a product that offers volume and is free of weighty silicones (more on this later). If you have dry or coarse hair, look for a moisturising shampoo which will nourish and protect against further damage. And for coloured hair, use a product that offers UV protection as this will help to prevent any loss of hue.

Wash the right way

When it comes to washing, it’s not just your hair you should be paying attention to. “I wish the term ‘hair washing’ was changed to ‘scalp cleansing’,” says Anabel Kingsley, Trichologist at Philip Kingsley. “It’s not so much your hair you should be focusing on when you shampoo, it’s your scalp – which is a living, sweating, oil and skin-cell producing tissue.”

Begin washing by thoroughly wetting your hair first, then apply a small amount (the size of a 10p) of shampoo to the root area and the underside of your scalp, near the nape of your neck, apply more product if your hair is longer or thicker. Then, gently, but firmly, massage your scalp for approximately one minute, after which you should begin squishing the suds through the lengths of your strands a few times, which will be enough to cleanse them without the need to apply more shampoo. 

As much as you may feel inclined, “there’s no need to scrub your hair, as this can damage it. Also, don’t pile your hair on top of your head when you shampoo as this can tangle your strands and cause breakage. Instead, let your hair fall behind you and rinse well until the water runs clear,” says Anabel. 

As for how often you should be washing, this really depends on your hair type, but Anabel advises against going more than three days between washes as doing so could negatively impact your scalp. Of course, there is the exception of coarser or curlier and coily hair which usually benefits from fewer wash days.  

L-R: Grow Gorgeous Volume Bodifying Shampoo, £14, and Shea Moisture’s Extra Moisture Retention Shampoo, £10.99

The ingredients 

There are ingredients to look for in a shampoo and ones to avoid. Those which we definitely want to be using hinges on our hair texture; fine hair will need thickening aids like rice protein (try the Grow Gorgeous Volume Bodifying Shampoo, £14), while coarse, curly hair will benefit from formulas with moisturising agents like shea butter (Shea Moisture’s Extra Moisture Retention Shampoo, £10.99, is a treat).

Silicones

Silicones and some sulphates are the ingredients we want to steer clear of. Michael says, “silicone is not good for your hair and scalp, but unfortunately it’s in 99 per cent of shampoos and conditioners because it’s cheap and instantly cosmetically effective. Silicone will lubricate your hair but it will not nourish, rejuvenate, restore or hydrate it, which is why it is so important that you avoid any hair product that contains it.”

Quite like a cling film sheath, silicones might immediately make your hair seem shiny, silky and smooth, but as a hydrophobic it pushes water away and displaces moisture. The result? Our hair’s protein structure becomes more brittle, less flexible and breaks down, you might even see it as premature ageing of the hair. 

Sulphates

Not all sulphates are created equal and Michael points out that there is much misinformation about these cleansers, which can actually do a world of good. “Commonly used in shampoo, Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS) is a very effective surfactant (surface active agent) which helps the shampoo dissolve grease and dirt, but can then be easily rinsed out. This can be good or bad depending on hair type or skin sensitivity.”

There are various sulphates out there, and while SLS might be the harshest or most effective degreaser and foam producer (not ideal for dry hair or sensitive scalps), other sulphates like Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES) and Ammonium Lauryl Sulphate (ALS) are gentle enough to do their job without irritating sensitive skin or fading hair dye.

L-R:  Aveda’s Colour Conserve Shampoo, £20.50, Philip Kingsley Pure Blonde Booster Weekly Shampoo, £23, and Mask, £26, Michael Van Clarke LifeSaver Pre-Wash Treatment, £29, and LifeSaver UV Spray, £19.50

The secret tricks

If you’re washing your tresses more than usual at the moment, the fading of your hair colour is a given, but you can deter this by using colour-locking shampoos, like Aveda’s Colour Conserve Shampoo, £20.50, a gentle and organic plant infused product that extends colour life by resisting fading. 

If you have blonde hair, Anabel says, “use a weekly violet hued shampoo and mask, like ourPure Blonde Booster Weekly Shampoo, £23, and Mask, £26, which contain next generation pigments that brighten blonde hair and eradicate brassiness – while hydrating and moisturing strands.”

Michael also suggests using a treatment twice a week, like the LifeSaver Pre-Wash Treatment, £29, as the cashmere proteins it features will repair and recondition hair. Use this alongside the LifeSaver UV Spray, £19.50, especially when outdoors, as it styles, treats and works wonders for maintaining hair colour.

Before washing your hair, it’s also worth brushing through your strands to remove knots which can cause unnecessary pain, breakage and damage in the shower.

When is it okay for men to wear shorts?

By Alex Bilmes

Unless you’ve seen, as I’m afraid I have, more episodes of Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix docummercial, The Goop Lab, than could be good for your “wellness” – so that’ll be one episode, then – you may be unaware of the work of professional cold-water plunger Wim Hof. 

Hof, who is Dutch (clearly),  is the inventor of the Wim Hof Method, a series of deep-breathing exercises that, combined with his relentless promotion of the apparent health benefits of ice bathing, have brought him fame, of the online variety. More pertinently to this column, Hof is a Man in Shorts. I have trawled the outer reaches of Google Images and I can find no photo in which he is wearing trousers. 

Hof may be unaware that, among menswear aficionados, the Man in Shorts is a recognised type. Take the feted photographer Juergen Teller. Teller does wear trousers on occasion, though he always looks happier in shorts, most often of the tight satin variety one associates with mulleted footballers of the 1980s. Teller is an example of the subspecies Fashion Man in Shorts. Others include Pharrell Williams, the pop savant, who is widely considered a style icon even though – perhaps because? – he quite often looks like a plonker. Williams has been seen in public wearing shorts with a dinner jacket. It’s not a look I would necessarily endorse.

But as the days warm up, a chap might consider taking a page from the Hof/Teller/Williams playbook, and putting on a pair of shorts. And even though, in our current predicament, the only one likely to have to gaze upon his knobbly knees is the dog, I still urge caution.

There’s a scene in The Sopranos in which Carmine Lupertazzi, boss of the New York mob, is talking with his New Jersey counterpart, Tony Soprano. 

Carmine: “John said he went to a cook-out at your house?” Tony: “Yeah?”  Carmine: “A don doesn’t wear shorts.” The late AA Gill agreed. “It is impossible to be taken seriously in shorts,” he wrote. “Shorts are silly. Men in shorts are silly men.” 

Shorts are a bit silly. But on certain occasion – a “cook-out” in the sun, say – I’m with Tony: I think they’re fine. I have two pairs, from Orlebar Brown and Oliver Spencer. They are navy, tailored. They finish a couple of inches above the knee. I wear them on very hot days, with a long-sleeved shirt – otherwise the effect is scout leader, or professional cold-water plunger. And as Wim Hof could tell you, there’s only room for one of those.

Alex Bilmes is editor-in-chief at Esquire

The world’s most expensive bed: what do you get for N138 million?

Creating the ultimate sleep experience has always been something of a holy grail in terms of furniture design – and inspires a certain degree of one-upmanship among bed brands. Right now, during lockdown, the perfect bed is more important than ever, as the interior-design world’s focus turns to well-being in the home, and most of us are spending more time sleeping in our own beds, rather than hotels.  

Enter Swedish bed brand Hästens, a favourite with luxury hotels and the super rich, which has just launched the Grand Vividus, now the world’s most expensive bed, with a price tag starting at £310,000 and rising to £780,000 for a massive 305 x 305cm version.  

The company, usually identified by its signature blue-and-white checked mattresses (reportedly more recognised in Sweden than the country’s own flag), isn’t short of celebrity and royal fans, and the musician Drake has already snapped up the first Grand Vividus to be made for his Toronto mansion. The dramatic look of the bed – all black, with metal studs and gold detailing – marks a new aesthetic direction for the brand, and a glamorous, edgy one at that.   

Ferris Rafauli, the bed’s designer

As for what makes it worth the eye-watering price, each bed will weigh a ton and take 350 man hours to make entirely by hand, by craftspeople who have trained with Hästens for a minimum of eight years.

The design process itself, which took two years, also involved an encylopaedic level of research, as the bed’s creator, Canadian architectural designer Ferris Rafauli, explains: “I spent countless hours searching the globe to source the right materials – touching and feeling different types of fabrics and materials that both look and feel luxurious – before even putting pen to paper.

“Once I had sourced these materials I took inspiration from their textures and the way they feel, and only then did I begin to draw.”   His final design, reached after “countless weeks, days and hours of sketching and resketching”, respects Hästens’ heritage, referencing the company’s beginnings as a master saddlery when it was established in 1852, but adds an ultra-contemporary twist.   

“I have integrated various layers of incredibly high-quality exotic leathers, suedes and precious metals accents,” says Rafauli. “These materials represent the brand’s saddle-making roots, married with my interior architecture and the cues I take from high fashion.”   

Each Grand Vividus mattress is hand-stitched at Hästens’ Swedish factory

The interior of the mattress is similarly a work of artistry – the combination of coils, spring height, and filling materials such as horsehair and wool, are precision-designed to make lying on the bed feel like floating on a cloud.   

As Rafauli puts it, “The Grand Vividus is more than just a bed. It is a statement of high design that will be made in each bedroom that it graces.” There’s already a waiting list, too: proof perhaps that you really can’t put a price on top-quality sleep.    

How to look younger in 60 minutes with a ‘virtual’ facial

A facial, over video chat? Surely not. But like many other service industries, the beauty world has had to adapt to working remotely with new, innovative ways to engage with their clients; you can have live-chats with your hairdresser now as they talk you through cutting your fringe, or follow an expert tutorial on removing your own gel nail polish. With a little help from the experts, during lockdown we’ve all had to skill-up in the beauty stakes. 

So a virtual facial? Why not. Especially when it’s with the leading facialist Beata Aleksandrowicz, who usually commands a long waiting list for her clients at her London clinic. Since lockdown began last month, she’s been offering one-hour video call sessions with clients old and new, for a virtual facial. 

But can you really give yourself a face-lifting, skin-smoothing facial only with the guidance over a laptop? I was doubtful but it really did work. The hour video call over Zoom begins with Aleksandrowicz identifying where you are holding tension in your face. Like any good therapist worth her salt, she’s brilliantly intuitive and can spot your ageing trigger points a mile off (well, several miles off, in this case). For me, it turns out I hold tension in my jaw and forehead – something she’s seen a lot of in clients since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“Tension doesn’t evaporate, so if we are stressed, it shows in our skin almost immediately,” she tells me. “But if done correctly, facial massage can take years from the face.”

As a beauty journalist it’s a pet peeve of mine when a ‘facial’ only consists of merely applying and removing three or four different cleansers and creams, without actually massaging the face or working the muscles. Sounds pretty basic, but facial massage really is the key to looking more youthful.

The beauty of this facial was I didn’t need to use any expensive oils or lotions, just any face oil I already had at home (I used the Almond Soothing Facial Oil by Weleda, £18.95) or even olive oil from the kitchen. Aleksandrowicz then guided me through a series of movements to help lift and brighten my skin combined with tailor-made face exercises. These are the three I found most useful, and the exercises I’ve been continuing to do in the evenings. 

Face de-puffer 

Apply a few drops of oil on your palms. Use a sweeping motion from under your ear, down your neck and across to the opposite collarbone. This stimulates lymphatic drainage, which helps to drain fluid in the lymphatic system that can cause the face to look puffy or bloated. Repeat this sweeping motion 10 times on each side. 

Cheekbone lifter

Using both index fingers, sweep up from the jawline to under the cheekbone in a repetitive motion, with one finger following the other in a quick motion. This made a big difference to my skin, making the muscles look more lifted, and it’s something I’ve done since my one-to-one with Beata. 

Forehead relaxer  

Take four fingers of both hands and meet them in the middle of your forehead in a vertical line. Using the tips of the fingers, sweep across to the temples and repeat ten times. This helps to relieve tension in the head as well as soften any tension lines on the forehead if repeated often enough. 

The best gel nail kits to try at home now

For years women who manicured had to become dexterous in the most inventive ways. A drying manicure meant everything had to be done with the heels of the hands, not those delicate, still tacky fingertips.

Thirty minutes to ‘touch dry’ on wait-dry formulas was a luxury too far after an hour having varnish painstakingly and perfectly applied. And yet, that first day when varnish is super shiny, perfect and chip-free was all worth it. However, traditional nail varnish formulas, no matter how well they are applied, can fall foul of a hard surface and chip easily while one too many hand washes dull that mirror-like gloss of freshly painted lacquer.

Gel nail polish was a game-changer in salons for the fact that once you were done, you were done. No risk of dinging or chipping your polish by reaching into your purse and that high-shine finish lasted as long as two weeks. Then along came the gel nail kit, complete with LED light, for the manicure fan with a steady enough hand to replicate a salon finish at home.

If you’re missing your regular trips to the salon while you currently practice social distancing, check out these at home gel nail kits…

Best Gel Nail Kit for The All-Inclusive 

Red Carpet Manicure Starter Kit with Pro LED Light, £89.99

A comprehensive kit complete with classic red to get you started.

Works in exactly the same way as a salon gel manicure and this kit contains all the necessary steps you need. A prep, base layer, colour and top coat that all cure under the LED light. Great plus points for this set is that the colour selection available is vast, we challenge you not to get lost on their website choosing your next must-have shade…

Buy now

Best Gel Nail Kit for Beginners

Elegant Touch Lux Gel Polish Starter Kit, £34.99

You’ll get lost in the rainbow of colours you can add into this handy starter collection.

We know this brand for its useful manicure tools and their extensive range of press-on nails, but this kit is something different and includes everything you’d expect to achieve a salon-quality finish in the comfort of your own home. Comes with two colours, a classic red and suits-everyone nude, so you have two looks to choose from.

Buy now

Best Gel Nail Kit For a Salon Finish

SensatioNail Starter Kit, £49.99

Comes with a classic shade, but when you’re ready to add colours there’s a whole rainbow of fashionable shades to choose from.

Here’s a kit that comes with a classic red – the kind of scarlet red you’d see on fingertips in the Mad Men typing pool – and is easily cured for a two-week wear with a prepare, polish and protect system. Plus there’s a rainbow of colours including fashion and trend shades to keep your nails on point.

Buy now

Should I be wearing SPF indoors?

I like to think of myself as a serial SPF wearer. Battling acne for most of my adult life taught me early on the importance of sun protection in the quest for healthy skin. For one, infrared heat from the sun can cause acne to flare up, and second – and by far a greater concern to me – sun exposure leads to darkening the pigmentation of acne scars. Having to deal with acne on top of the remnants it leaves behind is a feat no one wants to endure, and so in SPF, I found my first line of defence.  

Then there’s the all-important protection from premature and accelerated signs of ageing – fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, dark spots and textural changes – which are all at the mercy of religious SPF use (genetics and lifestyle choices aside). That said, sun protection, as we all probably know by now, is part and parcel of a healthy skincare routine. And, if you’re anything like me, lockdown – coupled with the abundant rays of sunshine that have been bouncing off my dining table (aka home office) of late – may have made you wonder one thing: should I be wearing SPF right now?

In a nutshell – absolutely. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone that says otherwise. Abi Cleeve, Ultrasun MD and founder of SkinSense, points out, while UVB (the burning rays) can’t reach us through a window, “UVA (ageing rays) penetrates unhindered through glass, so it’s still important to ensure that your daily skincare routine includes a broad spectrum protection product.

Sun safe | How much sunscreen do the doctors wear?

Nick Lowe, consultant dermatologist at the Cranley Clinic in London

“Every morning, after I’ve showered, I apply an SPF 30 sunscreen including UVA protection to my face and to the back of my hands, which are the areas where you’re going to get steady amounts of photodamage, such as benign brown sunspots, accelerated skin aging and possible skin cancers.

In addition, if I’m out on a sunny day I will wear specialised sun protective clothing, because regular T-shirts don’t protect very well. I still use my sunscreen in winter, and I take a 2,000 I.U. vitamin D3 supplement year-round.”

Klaus Witte, consultant cardiologist at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

“I burn when I go out in the sun, so I put sunscreen on. But I certainly don’t avoid the sun. In winter, I take a little vitamin D supplementation, and I do the same for my kids.

I think it’s all about being sensible: covering up and putting on some sunscreen when the sun is really bright or strong, and not staying out for too long. But it’s also nice to sit in the sun; it gives you a positive feeling and some vitamin D which may have a positive health benefit too in due course.”

Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic in London, and British Skin Foundation spokesperson

“Personally, I use a factor 15 to 30 sunscreen, but I am not absolutely religious about wearing it every single day on my face. We know that people with darker skin types have a lower risk of skin cancer and it also takes longer to produce vitamin D from the sun. So, while my fair-skinned best friends might need to use a factor 50, the chances are that I don’t.

I am much more mindful about my sun protection if I go off on a hot sunny holiday though. The only supplement I advocate is vitamin D. I try to remember to take it daily between October and March.”

Monty Lyman, dermatologist and author of The Remarkable Life of the Skin (Transworld)

“Like the ancients, we need to revere, but not fear, the sun. I don’t sunbathe, but do enjoy spending time in the sun. In the spring and summer I limit my unprotected sun exposure to roughly half the time it takes for me to burn – and with my fair skin, that’s about fifteen minutes – three times a week. That is enough to get my vitamin D levels topped up.

Outside of those times, I protect my skin from sunlight. If my head, arms and neck are exposed I slather on about two teaspoons of factor 30. If I’m at the beach, two tablespoons should be enough to cover my whole body. “

As one of the biggest contributing factors to skin ageing, UVA rays are present all year round, seeping through clouds and glass alike, which is why Abi says “UVA protection is essential for those who have set up a home office near a window.” 

When picking a sunscreen it’s therefore important to consider how well it can protect you from UVA rays, as well as UVB. Abi notes, “Ultrasun’s formula is lamellar, so it absorbs just below the skin’s surface for non-greasy protection that doesn’t rub off. It has a UVB and UVA filter of over 90 per cent (EU standard is 33 per cent), plus the face formulas contain additional skincare actives such as hexylresorcinol to tackle pigmentation”.

But it doesn’t stop there. While working from home, there’s also another potentially skin damaging light source to bear in mind.  High energy visible light (HEVL), also known as ‘blue light’ (emitted from electronic devices like tablets, computers and yes – even your smartphone) poses prospective skin harm via free radical generation that can contribute to skin ageing. “HEVL penetrates deeply into the epidermis and generates free radicals, which cause skin cells to produce enzymes that break down collagen and elastin in the skin. This process is known as oxidative stress and can lead to photoageing and hyperigmentation,” notes Abi. 

If you’re currently working from home, and next to a window, here are four skin-protecting products to try now.

4 SPF skin saviours

Face SPF50+ Anti-Pigmentation, £32, Ultrasun

Face SPF50+ Anti-Pigmentation, £32, Ultrasun 

Moisturing, smart ageing and anti-pigmentation, this all rounder protects against UVB, UVA and infrared, while reducing the appearance of skin damage brought on by the sun. 

Anti-Age Volume-Filler Day Cream SPF 15 UVB + UVA Protection, £21, Eucerin

Anti-Age Volume-Filler Day Cream SPF 15 UVB + UVA Protection, £21, Eucerin

With magnolol, oligo peptides and hyaluronic acid, this indulgent anti-ageing cream plumps and redefines the face whilst protecting it from harmful sun rays.

Photoderm Max Mist SPF 50+, £17, Bioderma

Photoderm Max Mist SPF 50+, £17, Bioderma

Amazing for sensitive skin types, this is my go-to SPF for its high protective properties and easy-to-use spray on formula.

Anthelios Sun Intolerance SPF 50+, £20, La Roche-Posay

Anthelios Sun Intolerance SPF 50+, £20, La Roche-Posay

Formulated with an antioxidant complex of baicalin, vitamin E and calming neurosensine, this sunscreen prevents against sun induced discomfort, itching and redness.

5 ways to hypnotise yourself calm in lockdown

‘I don’t care if you look into my eyes, you can look where you want. I just want you to  listen to me.’ It’s this kind of  direct approach to hypnotherapy – or simply ‘a relaxed state of mind’, as she puts it – that’s made Malminder Gill so successful.

She’s been helping clients at her Harley Street practice for the past six years, and has a steady stream of people who come to her to manage everything from relationships to anxiety.  Well, she did have a steady stream – now people are accessing her help in a different way.

Her online courses in hypnotherapy (there’s even one specifically to deal with anxiety around the coronavirus) have been extremely popular. I have personally found them very useful. Here are some of Gill’s top tips for staying calm through these strange times.

 Malminder Gill

Follow a routine 

In a way, we are all mourning the loss of the routine of work. If you’re working from home, try your best to follow what you did while in the office. Get ready in the morning at the same time you would for work, don’t hang around in your dressing gown and, if you only have two coffees a day at work, there’s no reason to suddenly start drinking a lot more caffeine just because you’re at home. 

Breathe yourself calm

Yoga and meditation are excellent tools for managing stress, but they won’t make a big dent in your anxiety if you’ve never tried them before. You need to  figure out practical steps you can follow to reduce panic. The quick answer? Breathe in for seven, and out for 11. That will always calm down a panicked state in the body. 

Think back to childhood 

We’re all predicting the absolute worst. Our primal brain is doing that so we can prepare. But we need to channel this imagination elsewhere, so our mind can have  a break from anxiety. Panic is a childhood response, so think back to when you were younger. What did you find calming or relaxing? Painting, colouring in or drawing, perhaps? These homely exercises can be really comforting. 

Fill the void

Loneliness is grief over a loss of connection, but you don’t have  to be around people physically to feel connected. Do cook-alongs, listen to podcasts or connect with a character in a book. Whatever you do, just don’t have the news on all day or constantly check your phone for alerts. It’s not healthy. Fill that time with things that bring you joy. 

3 fast relaxers

Inner Strength Bath and Shower Oil, £49, Aromatherapy Associates 

Inner Strength Bath and Shower Oil,  £49, Aromatherapy Associates 

Great Day Body Scrub, £34, Neom Organics 

Great Day Body Scrub, £34, Neom Organics

Neroli candle, £42, Malin + Goetz 

Neroli candle, £42, Malin + Goetz 

30 places to visit, virtually

Travel and travel planning are being disrupted by the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. For the latest updates, read The New York Times’s Covid-19 coverage here.

When we published our list of 52 places to visit in 2020 three months ago, no one could have guessed how much our world would change. And now, given our stay-at-home circumstances, we’d like to invite you on a series of virtual journeys: You can wander into the belly of an Egyptian pyramid, explore the house where Mozart was born, or fly over the rocky peaks of Glacier National Park. Sure, you’ll be looking at a screen, but you’ll see new places, hear new languages and pick up some interesting tidbits about other cultures. Call it a warm-up for that moment when you’ll actually be packing your bags and heading out for your next adventure.

[Sebastian Modak, the 2019 52 Places Traveler contacted friends he met on his journey around the world to see how they were doing during the pandemic.]

Credit…Mandel Ngan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The U.S. capital makes for an engaging and varied virtual destination. Without leaving your sofa, you can commemorate the 100-year anniversary of American women winning the right to vote by visiting the Library of Congress’s online exhibition about the suffrage movement, then click through another informative exhibition from the National Archives. To explore the city further, tour the buildings around the Capitol, wander through the National Museum of Natural History, and explore the many online resources offered by the National Air and Space Museumthe National Gallery of Art and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival, which was due to run through April 12, has gone completely virtual. Visit the festival’s website to take a video tour of the tidal basin and watch highlights from previous years.Se

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Credit…Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Anyone dreaming of white sand beaches might enjoy browsing the views from this collection of webcams scattered around the British Virgin Islands. Admire the shifting light over Scrub Island Marina, or just watch the breeze wafting through the palms in front of Soggy Dollar Bar. You can also sail around the islands with a group of friends who visited last year.

Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times

The Amazon jungle is about as remote as you can get, but you can get a sense of the place from home by reading the remarkable story of the tourist who spent nine days lost in the region’s dense rainforest (he said that monkeys helped him survive). Or skim around the waterways and look out for birds, turtles, caimans and other wildlife.

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Credit…Kieran Dodds for The New York Times

Get a bird’s-eye view of Greenland’s stunning frozen scenery in this elegant nine-minute video from the Swiss filmmaker Stefan Forster. Without leaving your sofa, you can also watch the Northern Lights shimmer over the country’s snowy mountains, or even learn a few words of Greenlandic (Aluu!).

Credit…Asanka Brendon Ratnayake for The New York Times

Australia’s wild northwestern corner is another out-of-the-way region that offers a gorgeous natural escape. To visit from afar, start with Tourism Australia’s guide to the Kimberley, then dive into a vivid photo gallery of the otherworldly Bungle Bungle Range, and wrap up with a fun video tour of some of the region’s most popular spots.

“Field of Light at Sensorio” installation is closed, but can be viewed online.
“Field of Light at Sensorio” installation is closed, but can be viewed online.Credit…Beth Coller for The New York Times

Paso Robles is known for its wineries, and good news: You can now visit many of them online, while enjoying a glass of whatever you have on hand at home. The area’s vast and dreamy Field of Light at Sensorio installation is closed to visitors, but this collection of images and videos gives a vivid sense of the place.

Credit…Susan Wright for The New York Times

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Embark on your own Sicilian adventure by exploring this series of panoramic photographs and videos from around the Italian island. (Just click on “Sicilian tour map” to get started.) Gape at the ceiling of the Monreale Cathedral, admire the ruins at the Valley of the Temples, or take in the sweeping coastline at Cefalù. For a loftier perspective, spend a few minutes watching this impressive footage of a recent eruption of Sicily’s Mount Etna.

Credit…Andreas Meichsner for The New York Times

Get an online taste of Austrian tradition through some entertaining snippets offered up by the Salzburg Puppet Theatre. Start with 10 minutes or so of The Magic Flute — composed by Mozart, Salzburg’s famous native son, then skip over here to take a virtual tour of Mozart’s birthplace.

A view of Tokyo from the Skytree tower.
A view of Tokyo from the Skytree tower.Credit…Andrew Faulk for The New York Times

Tokyo’s MORI Building Digital Art Museum: teamLab Borderlessoffers a range of immersive videos that take you inside the museum’s trippy and wonderful exhibits. Start in the forest of resonating lamps, then move on to the universe of water particles, or the weightless forest of resonating life. Want to get “outside”? Head over here for a virtual rickshaw ride around the city.

Credit…Andreas Meichsner for The New York Times

The Roman ruins of Caesarea occupy a beautiful stretch of Israel’s Mediterranean coast. Enjoy the landscape, as well as a lofty view of Caesarea’s impressive amphitheater, in these sweeping aerial shots. Then head over to the Jewish Virtual Library to find more detailed images of the ruins and to read about the history of the site.

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Credit…Marcus Westberg

The world’s remaining giant panda population is set to get a helping hand from China’s proposed new Giant Panda National Park, which will spread over five mountain ranges and more than 10,000 square miles. You can read about the development of the park here and here. Or just get straight to the point and enjoy the highlights of these panda cams, which offer a glimpse into a panda center that lies within the proposed park.

Ploughing fields outside Maloti-Drakensberg Park in Lesotho.
Ploughing fields outside Maloti-Drakensberg Park in Lesotho.Credit…Joao Silva/The New York Times

One of the top sights of this tiny mountain kingdom is Maloti-Drakensberg Park, which straddles part of the country’s border with South Africa. The park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is home to the largest and most concentrated group of rock paintings in sub-Saharan Africa. Check out these images from around the park, then enjoy some drone shots of the country’s dramatic landscape.

Credit…Benjamin Rasmussen for The New York Times

There are a number of ways to get to the top of Pikes Peak, the 14,115-foot mountain that rises above Colorado Springs, without leaving your house. You can ride the cog railway (which — in real life — is scheduled to reopen next year after major renovations). You can hike. You can drive yourself up the Pikes Peak Highway. Or, if you’re maybe a little bit crazy, you can even try to run.

The Main Market Square in Krakow, Poland.
The Main Market Square in Krakow, Poland.Credit…Andreas Meichsner for The New York Times

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This ancient city in southern Poland can be fully explored through an extensive virtual walking tour. Go for a guided stroll through the Old Town, admire the ornate interior of the Juliusz Słowacki Theatre, or visit the peaceful grounds of the Old Jewish Cemetery. Then head over to the National Museum in Krakow to peruse its collection online.

A clothes presser in the old part of Jodhpur, India.
A clothes presser in the old part of Jodhpur, India.Credit…Poras Chaudhary for The New York Times

The 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort, which stands at the top of a cliff above the city of Jodhpur, can be visited online. Wander through the ornate rooms and admire the views down to “the blue city” spread out below, then visit the Mehrangarh Museum Trust to learn about the history and architecture of the site. You can also check out these highlights from the international folk festival that the fort hosts every year.

Credit…James Silverman for The New York Times

Good news, nature lovers: Without leaving home, you can spot a moose in the forest, go for an evening swim, or enjoy the views from the top of a spectacular waterfall. These 360 videos of the Swedish outdoors allow you to choose your own perspective as the scene unfolds. Enjoy.

Credit…Getty Images

Explore some of the great pyramids of Egypt with this panoramic video, or this clickable virtual tour. Then have a look inside the Pyramid of Giza with this 360 video from the BBC. You can also watch this video or read this story about the development of the Grand Egyptian Museum, an enormous complex that is nearing completion.

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Credit…Beth Coller for The New York Times

La Paz sits on the coast of the Sea of Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California), which has been described as “the world’s aquarium” because of its extraordinary biodiversity. The region’s islands and protected areas have been recognized by UNESCO, although the site was added to the organization’s “in danger” listlast year because of ongoing threats to the vaquita, an endemic porpoise. Learn more about the region, then check out UNESCO’s gallery of images. You can also get lost in this mesmerizing scuba-diving video.

Credit…Robert Rausch for The New York Times

Get to know this tiny barrier island off the coast of Louisiana with this short video, then read about how environmentalists are working to protect the island’s remaining maritime forest, which serves as a critical habitat for migratory birds. Finally, get a sense of the size of the place with these flyby shots along the coast.

The Chow Kit Market in Kuala Lumpur.
The Chow Kit Market in Kuala Lumpur.Credit…Lauryn Ishak for The New York Times

Kuala Lumpur’s Chow Kit neighborhood is home to one of the most popular markets in the city. Following along with an American family, you can wander among the stalls loaded with pineapples and plantains and plucked chickens. Then take a few minutes to learn some words of Malay, the native tongue of more than 33 million people.

Kistefos Museum in Jevnaker, Norway.
Kistefos Museum in Jevnaker, Norway.Credit…Laurian Ghinitoiu

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You can explore the many sculptures of Norway’s futuristic Kistefos Museum and Sculpture Park by clicking your way through this interactive map. You can also watch this video of the museum’s emblematic “Twist” structure taking shape (and get a taste of the Norwegian language at the same time).

Credit…Danita Delmont/Shutterstock.com

So brilliant is the sunshine on display in this panoramic tour of the Bahamas that you might be tempted to put on sunglasses (or at least dim the brightness of your screen). Gaze at the turquoise waters of Pipe Cay, stroll across the boardwalk through Lucayan National Park, then gape at the size of the ships in the cruise terminal in Nassau.

Credit…Poras Chaudhary for The New York Times

Ride along with two young travelers as they explore Cambodia’s riverside city of Kampot and tour a nearby pepper plantation. Or just enjoy some drone shots of the city and nearby Bokor Mountain, which is home to a waterfall, a Buddhist temple and a towering statue of Lok Yeay Mao, whom locals revere as the protector of the mountain and sea.

Credit…Lauryn Ishak for The New York Times

The largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, Christchurch offers a range of cultural attractions, some of which are available on the web. Start with a tour of the online exhibitions of the Canterbury Museum, including a look at the evolution of New Zealand’s tourism posters. Then head over to the website of the Christchurch Art Gallery, where you can browse the artwork and even create your own gallery.

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Credit…Emilio Parra Doiztua for The New York Times

The Asturias region in northwestern Spain is home to dramatic mountain scenerysacred sites and even an extensive network of ancient Roman gold mines. Asturian dairy farmers continue to produce the region’s celebrated products, including cheeses and various types of milk, cream and butter. You can browse a photo gallery of local farmers at work, and other lovely images from the region here.

Credit…Ema Peter for The New York Times

Get your first taste of this remote Canadian archipelago with this panoramic video from Parks Canada. You can also take a close-up look at some of the area’s bald eagles with this GoPro footage, or learn about the proud history of the Haida nation.52 Places to Go in 2020We picked destinations to inspire you, delight you and motivate you to explore the world.

The Jester King Brewery in Austin.
The Jester King Brewery in Austin.Credit…Stacy Sodolak for The New York Times

Austin, the capital of American cool, is packed with quirky landmarks, vibrant street art and sparkling green spaces. Dive into all of them thanks to YouVisit, an immersive virtual reality platform whose Austin tour will take you from the elegant grounds of the Texas Capitol to the summit of Mount Bonnell and even to the packed, smoky barbecue pit of Salt Lick BBQ. And for a taste of Austin’s celebrated live music scene, take a look back at last year’s Austin City Limits music festival.

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Credit…Marcus Westberg

Amid the volcanoes, dense rainforest and fluorescent blue water on this corner of Borneo, Sabah’s Mount Kinabalu, with its distinctive granite peaks, sits like an imposing crown. And now you can hike to its summit from home, thanks to Google Street View, whose trekkers captured sweeping panoramas all the way to the top. Want more thrills? Follow along on the world’s highest via ferrata (a mountain pathway of bridges and cables), which sits on Kinabalu.

Credit…Laurens van Engelen

Wildlife enthusiasts head to Churchill, Manitoba, the Polar Bear capital of the world, for a glimpse of these incredible white mammals. Get to know some special sea bears, then climb into a Tundra Buggy, an all-terrain vehicle that can handle snow drifts, via an on-dash webcam, whose stunning footage can be viewed from home.

Credit…Marcus Westberg

There is perhaps no better spot on earth to see gorillas than Uganda, home to the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest Park, a habitat for half of the world’s endangered mountain gorillas. And the virtual reality house VR Gorilla will take you right into the dense forest to meet them up close.

Mikel Obi & his adorable twin girls are really enjoying the lockdown

Mikel Obi’s adorable twin daughters are growing so fast!

The proud dad took to his Instagram to share cute photos of Mia and Ava and noted how fast they are growing, and their sharp sense of humor.

We are sure Mikel and his Russian partner, Olga Diyachenko, are super thrilled with their little sweethearts.

See the photos below:

I can’t be the only one who is enjoying the little things

Ifound a bottle of multipurpose antibacterial spray the other day. It was in the cupboard under the kitchen sink, hidden at the bottom of a box of random dishwasher tablets, J-cloths and Marigolds that I had been rummaging through in the hope of finding a pan scourer. When I saw it, I could barely believe it. I picked it up and I turned it again and again in my hands, as if to check it was actually real. When it dawned on me that it was, I leapt up and started to dance.

‘Harry!’ I shrieked up the stairs, bouncing as I did so. ‘Harry! Guess what? I’VE FOUND SOME MULTIPURPOSE ANTIBACTERIAL SPRAY!’

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Harry was as thrilled as I was. Even Edie got excited.

It was the 10th birthday of a neighbour last week. That day, at 11am, we all went into our back gardens and sang her Happy Birthday, a slight twist on the weekly applauding of the emergency services and key workers that we – like most of Europe – do every Thursday at 8pm. My daughter’s seventh birthday occurred a couple of days later. I sent out a note to the street WhatsApp group and everyone went into their gardens and did the same. I cried – obviously – big, splodgy tears of joy.

The night before our daughter’s birthday, my husband and I stayed up late baking a cake. It was the worst cake that had ever been baked in the history of the entire world, but we laughed a lot doing it, and it tasted sugary and chocolatey, so she didn’t really care what it looked like.

We completed a 1,000-piece jigsaw recently. The euphoria was such that I actually felt high.

We appear to have trained the guinea pigs to dance to Dolly Parton. Don’t ask me to explain: just believe that it is true.


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Before this, before the world as we knew it changed – and my goodness, that was only three or four weeks ago – I sometimes had to run at least 13 miles to make myself feel joyous. I needed to be planning an exotic holiday, or asking myself what my next career goal was, to get the sense that I was achieving things.

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Now? Now, all it takes is a bottle of Dettol, or a neighbour being kind, and I can go to bed feeling like I have won the lottery. This crisis has recalibrated expectations; it has shown us that, really, the only thing that matters is our health, and the health of our loved ones. Everything else can wait. Everything else feels somehow woolly and unimportant.

It is the small things that make a difference, the tiny acts of kindness from neighbours and friends, the realisation that you will never again take for granted a phone call from your mum and dad. The bigger picture has changed, yes. But now, more than ever, the little things have the power to bring great joy, and for that I am eternally grateful.

Don’y cut your hair! here are some tweaks to try instead

Cut my own hair? You must be kidding. I know first hand how one slip of the wrist can result in hair suicide. While some experts are taking to social media to demonstrate how to wield a pair of scissors like a pro, all of the hairdressers I’ve spoken to advise against it. 

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“I would never recommend cutting your own hair. It can take years to correct and it’s much better to just pop it up if it’s getting on your nerves until salons reopen,” advises celebrity hair stylist and salon owner, Larry King. 

“Instead, it’s a great time to practice your blow drying skills or perfect how you use your hair tools. Why not try out different looks that you never get time to do when you’re rushing in the mornings?” 

Resist the temptation to cut your own hair (unless it’s to cull a few rogue split ends) and practice these five things instead.

Blow dry your hair each morning

” Keep up with washing and blow drying your hair, as somehow it just seems to make you feel better and we all need a bit of that right now,” adds King. While this sounds like an obvious direction, by making the effort to resume your normal work day pattern by having your early morning shower and blow drying your hair to a Zoom-ready finish will set you up for a productive day.


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Start with a nourishing shampoo and conditioner, then prep hair with a light styling product such as Living Proof Full Root Lift Spray – or for light nourishment, Drunk Elephant’s Wild Marula Tangle Spray – then rough dry your hair without a nozzle until it’s 80% dry, before finishing with a brush to smooth the cuticle, using your hair nozzle pointing downwards for less frizz. 

Break out your diffuser 

If you see the current lock-down as the perfect opportunity to enhance your natural texture then instead of letting it do it’s own thing (which, frankly, translates to just-woke-up-hair), dig out the diffuser attachment that came with your hairdryer. Diffusing will encourage your natural waves to form into a more considered style, and is less damaging than traditional blow drying, as your hair has less direct contact with the heat. 

Practice Tonging 

Using whatever heated appliance you have lying around, whether that’s a hair straightener, rollers or curling tongs, use this time to perfect the art of creating a salon worthy curls for your Friday night. Make sure to use a heat protective spray before using any heated appliance then get practicing.

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The general rule is to clip part of your hair up and tong in layers from the bottom up, concentrating most of your effort around the hair line to frame your face. If your hair is fine, a thickening spray will give it more grip and hold, making tonging easier and your style longer lasting. Try Redken’s Rootful 06 which won’t leave hair with that tacky feeling. 

Work on your up-do 

Take a scroll through Instagram and you’ll see more top knots and face masks than ever before. But rather than throwing your hair into a make-do knot, take a leaf out of J-Lo’s book and craft your hair into a slick face-lifting ponytail or bun.

Blow-dry first to smooth frizz, then using a good quality bristle brush (or whatever brush you have lying round) to scrape hair into a ponytail, placing the band at a 45 degree angle, from the top of your ears upwards, echoing your jawline which is most flattering.

Twist into a bun and spray with a light hairspray. Smooth any baby hairs with a conditioner or a styling cream such as Larry King’s A Social Life for Your Hair. A basic facial moisturiser will do the trick too. 

Hair mask

“Most of us have a hair mask in the back of their bathroom cabinet. Take it out and use it once a week – it will make all the difference to the quality of your hair,” suggests Zoe Irwin, Creative Director at John Frieda. Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer is a classic all-rounder. “A hair mask is one of the best things you can do for the condition of your hair as it penetrates the hair shaft in a deeper way than conditioner, which will boost hair radiance and give you a confidence boost in lieu of a glossy salon blow dry,” adds Irwin. 

How to make your own face masks to moisturise, hydrate and cleanse at home

For all of its merits, the poor face mask gets slapped with the label of being suitable only for those with loads of time on their hands, lounging about in fluffy white bathrobes. It’s just a luxury, isn’t it? 

Well, if there’s one thing I’m on a mission to tell you, it’s that the face mask should be part of your weekly beauty regime. Yes, it’s pampering to lie back and relax while a mask works its magic, but find a really good one and your skin will look tons better for its powerful, deep-absorbing ingredients. It also allows for a few moments of self-care and calm, which we could all probably benefit from at the moment. 

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For years, my go-to has been the Black Rose Cream Mask by Sisley, which is beyond brilliant at waking up the skin and making it look fresher, smoother and healthier (and keeping it that way for days). At £99, it’s very pricey, yes – but a once-weekly Sunday-night slathering means it lasts and lasts. 

Also, it’s not messy: just apply to freshly cleansed skin before bed, then leave it on overnight. The delicious ingredients absorb in five minutes so you don’t need to worry about any greasiness. And the fresh, bright skin you’re left with the next morning is the best start to the day I can think of.

One of my favourite French pharmacy brands, Vichy, has three mineral masks that tackle different skin concerns. The Double Glow Peel Mask is my pick: apply it for five minutes and the alpha-hydroxy acids remove dead skin better than any gritty exfoliator.

There’s also a super-hydrating Quenching Mineral Mask, plus a Clay Mask for congested skin. At £15 a pop, they’re good to use whenever the skin needs a bit of tailor-made TLC.

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I’ve also been loving the Rapid Morning Mask by Marks and Spencer, which is packed full of active vitamin C for just £12. It’s really impressive: apply it on in the mornings if your skin’s looking a little lacklustre or dull. 

Or you could go a step further and make your own mask, especially while at home. The facialist Abigail James suggests mixing one tablespoon of natural yogurt (which contains lactic acid to gently exfoliate the skin), one tablespoon of honey and a sprinkle of porridge oats. It’s a winning mix that helps skin to re-hydrate and soften.

My own pantry cupboard recipe lends itself well to a homemade brightening face mask: in a base of two tablespoons of natural yogurt, mix a tablespoon of chickpea flour with a teaspoon of turmeric. Not only is the turmeric naturally antibacterial, it also helps to brighten and soften the skin. 

The top five face masks

Votary Super Glow Face Mask Oil, £45

A lovely natural offering, this mask is great for sensitive skin. Slather on for 10 minutes and rinse off with the hot towel included. 

Vichy Double Glow Peel Mask, £15

The ultimate exfoliator, this helps to slough away dead skin cells and rejuvenate tired skin. 

Marks and Spencer Formula Glow Rapid Morning Mask, £12

A satisfying cream that helps to refine, brighten and balance the complexion – all in less than 10 minutes.

Fresh Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy Boosting Face Mask, £21

The ugly sides of skin bleaching

By Ezinne Success

No one falters the notion, that good looks – skin care giving, is a category of business, in and of itself. The craze to have an untainted, ageless and a possibly sun-kissed skin, fuels people to taking unthinkable measures towards its acquisition.

Contrariwise, there is a boundary, as it were, in such quest. The availability of a vast range of skin care products, which contain nocuous chemicals, constitute serious damage to the skin, and generally affect a balanced health.

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The search for a true and fine-toned skin, admirable by all, have driven people to procuring products, which transmogrifies the natural skin colour, with the unhealthy chemical substances therein. The products containing these substances, most times do not go through the required safety measures, before being let out to the market. Owing to this, the natural state of the skin’s complexion, is unguardedly altered, with regular application.

As much as there may be attempts to run off from the consequences of altering the skin’s colour, they are always bare, and cannot be dodged. The temporary seeming benefits of this act, breeds umpteenth and lasting side effects, not only to the exterior body parts, but also the internal organs, generally.


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These aftereffects, made realized by noxious chemicals are Hydroquinone, Tretinoin, Kojic Acid, Niacinamide USP, Mercury etc. They pave way for the unhindered susceptibility of the skin to somewhat irreversible consequences, further highlighted.

Premature Skin Aging: The protracted use of skin care products which are abundant in these harsh chemicals, have the chance of causing the skin to wear the face of an aged granny. It exposes the skin to quickly wearing away, at a point it’s meant to be sheen and alive. In a world where everyone seeks to have an appearance likened to that of a day old baby, it is only best abstaining from products with these substances.

Skin Cancer: With regular and prolonged application of these products, there is an increased possibility of contracting cancer of the skin. This however, is quickened due to the exposure of the skin to sunlight. The presence of hydroquinone which inhibits melanin production and removes the top layer of the skin, makes this possible. It has also been validated to cause leukaemia in mices and some animals. For this reason, certain countries have banned its use, due to the life-threatening health challenges.

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Kidney, Neurological and Psychological Problems: Most skin care products have Mercury as its active ingredient, and this poses deadly risks to the body. The chances of getting high blood pressure, excessive fatigue, numbness of a particular body area and sensitivity to sunlight, are as a result of this specific agent. This makes it commonly regarded as Mercury Poisoning.

Skin Infection: Certain skin products are composed of steroids which are harmful to the skin in diverse ways. These lightening chemicals cause skin disease, thinning, acne and poor wound healing. The steroids if applied in large portions of the skin, will be absorbed into the body, eventually leading to internal dysfunction of vital organs.

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Irritation from Allergies: Skin bleaching have adverse reaction on the outer skin layer. Asides the irritation it gives, rashes, burning sensation, flaky or dry skin leading to cracks and peeling, profuse redness, swollenness, are side effects. All these are realized, due to constancy of the application. Consequently, the skin opposes any slight atmospheric and environmental change, normal or strange, contrary to what it originally experienced.

Uneven Colouration: The use of bleaching products expose the skin to an ununiform colouration. A part of the skin tends to blend while another portion remains dormant or unyielding. This is one reason the knuckles, knees and elbows of people who apply lightening creams, get relatively darkened, without any hope of it conforming with other areas of the body. This skin discolouration, is most times untreatable.

How to look after yourself during lockdown

Navigating our beauty regimes for the next few weeks – while not the most important aspect of the current pandemic – is something we all might need a little help with. Here’s your guide to looking after yourself during lockdown.

What can I do about the dry skin on my hands?

With so much hand-washing and using hand sanitisers, the skin on our hands needs far more attention than usual. Kim Treacy, a celebrity nail technician, suggests applying a thick layer of the Norwegian Formula Hand Cream by Neutrogena, £3.99, and pop some cotton gloves on top. Either leave on overnight, or while you watch a film. “If you don’t have any hand cream and can’t get out to get any, try olive oil,” suggests Treacy.

What’s the best way to pluck my eyebrows?

“Pluck the stray hairs first before tackling the shape,” advises Vanita Parti, the founder of Blink Brow Bar. “Brush your brows up and across. You can then determine the core brow shape hair to remove. Just pluck one or two hairs at a time, step away and view your brows before you continue – step by step is key. You may also need to trim the longer brow hairs with nail scissors, so brush up with a brow brush and snip any hairs poking above the brow line.” Parti recommends slanted tweezers, as they are more precise, and “will give you the grip you need to grab each brow hair by the root and minimise hair breakage.”

How do I keep my brows in shape until I can see a professional again?

“A pencil is a great tool to define the shape of your brow,” says Parti. “Place the pencil at the edge of your nose and where it hits your eyebrow is where they should be. Then swivel it from your nose to your iris – this is where the arch should be positioned. Finally swivel again from your nose to the end of your eye and where the pencil hits the brow is where they end.”

How do I make nail varnish last longer now I’m doing it myself?

“Always apply a base coat, two thin layers of varnish and a top coat,” Treacy tells me. “On the third day, reapply a top coat and as long as you are not digging the garden your polish should last 8 to 10 days.” Treacy likes to use the Nailkale Superfood Base Coat by Nails Inc, £15, and Vinylux Top Coat by CND, £6.36.

(L-R): Nailkale Superfood Base Coat by Nails Inc, £15, and Vinylux Top Coat by CND, £6.36

Should I trim my hair at home?

“This will never end well,” says hair stylist Luke Hersheson, “so instead try to change your parting or take this as an opportunity to grow your hair a little. Unless you’ve got a really graphic hairstyle that requires maintenance, grow out your hair a little and stay away from hacking it up. Most hairstyles definitely don’t need to be maintained every 6-8 weeks.” The same goes for men. Hersherson suggests rather than trying to trim your hair, play around with styling it a bit more. His Almost Everything Cream, £10, helps the hair to look sleek without resorting to unforgiving gel and wax products.

What’s the best way to keep facial hair looking neat?

Hersheson says you should maintain the length of your beard with clippers, but to prevent in-grown hairs with a regular exfoliation. “Mix a spoonful of olive or sunflower oil with some rice flour or semolina to make a paste,” adds facialist Abigail James. “It’s cheap, simple and particularly effective on men’s skin as it’s not too scratchy.

Almost Everything Cream, £10, Hershesons

What’s the best way to remove shellac now I can’t get to a manicurist?

“Whatever you do, don’t peel it off,” says Treacy, as this will remove some of your nail layers. Instead, lightly file over the nail to take the shine. Then apply some acetone nail varnish remover on a cotton pad on each nail and wrap with a strip of kitchen foil. “Leave it on for ten minutes,” says Treacy, “and then gently remove the varnish with a cuticle pusher.”

How can I keep my skin soft now that I’m constantly indoors?

“Look for any intensive masks with ceramides or hyaluronic acid in to help repair the epidermal layer,” says Dr David Jack, a Harley Street aesthetic specialist. His Face Paint Blue, £139, is packed full of ceramides and also contains azelaic acid which can help to reduce redness and rosacea flare-ups. Men also neglect their skin so this is a good opportunity to work a regular mask into your routine. If you’re in the market for something a little more homemade, James suggests a mask made from an equal measure of yogurt and honey with a pinch of porridge oats. Leave it on the skin for 15 minutes for a boost of hydration.

Face Paint Blue, £139, Dr David Jack

hould I start using any peels or active ingredients?

“You can start using active ingredients on a daily basis, but don’t just buy anything too strong,” advises Dr Jack. “You don’t want to strip your epidermal barrier right back. It might be tempting to start using glycolic peels and retinol creams but you need to build up gradually, particularly if your skin is not used to it.” A good routine to start with is using a comfortable vitamin C serum in the morning, such as Vitamin C Repair Serum by Balance Me, £25.60, with something nourishing in the evening such as a face oil or hydrating serum.

Are there any gadgets I can use at home to help my skin?

Investing in a silicon LED face mask, which emits red light onto your skin, can really help the skin and stress levels for men and women. “LED has a balancing effect on our bodies, which can benefit us in more ways than one,” says Laura Ferguson, co-founder of The Light Salon. “The lights can help lower cortisol, our stress hormone, and trigger the release of nitric oxide within each cell, our de-stress hormone. Red light also boosts the production of serotonin and dopamine, our happy hormones.” As for your skin, expect a more hydrated, youthful glow with daily use. ( Try the Boost face mask by The Light Salon, £395).

How can I make my fillers or Botox last longer?

“Botox and fillers are injected deep into the skin to the muscle and deeper into the fat so it isn’t possible to use anything topically to prolong their life,” Dr Jack advises. “The only thing you can really do is to use good skincare at the moment and stay healthy. There will be time enough to sort out any issues when we are back to normal.”

Boost Face Mask by The Light Salon, £395

hat’s the quickest way to look presentable for a video meeting?

“Use a good quality moisturiser, a concealer and a good mascara,” the make-up artist Adam de Cruz tells me. Warm your moisturiser in your hands by rubbing them together and then properly massage it into the skin to help bring all the blood to the surface. A.D.C 01 High Performance Moisturiser, £55, is excellent for both men and women. Apply a natural-looking concealer such as the Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Concealer, £34.50, under your eyes and apply two coats of your favourite mascara. As for lipstick, “apply a balmy, creamy texture with a hint of colour, and look for a multi-purpose product you can use on your lips and cheeks,” says make-up artist Ruby Hammer. Meanwhile “side-parting your hair will look immediately professional,” according to Hersheson.  

How can I make my hair colour look fresher for longer?

“There are lots of root touch-up sprays and deep conditioners that will help you fix your colour in for longer,” Hersheson advises. Try the Color Wow Root Cover-Up, £28.50, and the Reflection Masque Chromatique by Kerastase, £34.20. There’s no need to leave a mask on for too long, he adds, as most of the benefits will be achieved in the first 10 minutes. 

Common fears of living in Lagos

By Ezinne Success

Being one of the major hub of commercial activities in Nigeria, Lagos presents heightened opportunities to people of several tribes, which has contributed to the always increasing influx of individuals, overtime.

It is a state where the craze to succeed is at an all-time high, which contains virtually every ethnic group across the country, and deemed as everyone ‘s perfect choice.

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With the colossal spread of firms, industries, companies, institutions, vacation sites and every other gripping establishment, citizens from near and distant states get relatively attracted and consider the option of migration. Be it as it may, the greener pastures in Lagos is not without equivalent clogs.

There is a fixed phobia in the hearts of most indwellers in Lagos, which possibly stands as a deterrent to those who consider the thought of relocation. A host of these factors are carefully stated. 

1. Human Congestion: This is the dominating factor upon which others cling to. The presence of too many humans from several cultures of life, is a major fear that inhabits the minds of those who live in Lagos. This causes overpopulation and an instant upsurge and struggle for the essentials of life, thereby making opportunities limited to few individuals. The thought of either temporarily or indefinitely changing environment to Lagos, will be a nightmare for persons who have phobia for crowded places. Even though the chances of succeeding in an any enterprise is on a very high scale, one would always have to combat the issue of overpopulation. 


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2. Traffic Block: Here is nearly an unkillable fear, resident in the hearts of every single Lagosian. As a result of the ever booming population, there is direct influence on the movement of man and goods. This is the cause many who work in distant places wake and set out as early as the hour of 4, or about then, just to meet up with schedules and appointments, and ultimately defeat the daily traffic. So long as overcrowding remains unbeaten, the case of traffic, might always abound. 

3. Accommodation: The challenge of shelter will never cease being a reason for worry among Lagos residents. It varies from choosing a place of true comfort to being capable of footing the necessary bill, for such pick. This is because house owners find it a thing of delight fixing bizarre rent for their tenants, after all, living in Lagos equals being a relatively big man.

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It results in an unsettled state of mind for most occupants at the end or start of any year, as they are always left with the thought of how to garner and dole out ridiculous amounts to their landlords. So, people with the mindset of having a change in neighbourhood, are stuck with only two opposite variables – being well-off to pay the charge for a serene home or opting for a substandard apartment and having the risk of encountering sour ordeals.

4. Cost of Living: The daily expenditures of Lagos residents have not been on the very favourable side. The monies plunged into transportation, healthcare, food, clothing and other salient necessities for living, is outrageous. The effect chokes both the single and married, which is no fault of theirs.

The providers of these services take the advantage of the teeming population to boost their sales, and seeing that the services are essentials, the populace yield with no second thought.

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5. Security: The large population density in Lagos have given license to persons with heinous and nefarious intentions to thrive, thereby affecting the security percentage in the state. Be it at day or nighttime, a random dweller needs extra cautiousness to overcome the agony that accompanies boarding a vehicle controlled by kidnappers or the perils associated with meeting thugs.

This is a serious turn off for Lagosians and having no possible choice other than relocation, living with this fear, is their next door alternative. 

Hot to go digital with your dinner parties during coronavirus outbreak

I’ve been using technology to organise virtual drinks with friends for a few years now. But what started as an idea to drink with interstate mates is now becoming the norm for social interaction.

My friends and I have loved our virtual catch-ups as a way to check in with one another. There’s always an “Oh wow, I needed that” text message afterwards from someone in the group. When you’re together but separated, it facilitates honest conversations. There’s a different energy than you’d have talking on the phone one-on-one.

How else would I have learned that one of my friends used to spy on her classmates as a pre-schooler? How else would my friends know about my dislike for wearing pants at home (like Donald Duck), if I had not got up off the couch to pour more gin and accidentally flashed everyone?

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In these times of isolation, whether it is self-imposed quarantine or for other reasons, we need to try to stay as connected as possible. It takes a little bit of planning, but bringing a group dynamic back to your socialising is something that can provide a bit of levity and joy when the days stuck indoors stretch on longer than normal. All you need is a computer or phone, an internet connection and a comfy place to sit.

Through a bit of trial and error, here’s what I’ve learned about hosting a virtual dinner party.

Step 1: organise your guest list

Any good party planner will tell you that your guests can make or break your party, so create a group chat of all the friends you want to invite.

Four or five guests is large enough to get some good banter going (especially when the drinks start flowing) but small enough that no one feels left out of the conversation. Too many guests means people talking over one another, a big consideration when you’re not there face to face to read the room.

Samantha Payne and her friends having a virtual dinner party over Zoom Photograph: Samantha Payne

Step 2: familiarise yourself with the platform

FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype and web meeting tools like Zoom are handy platforms for hosting video conversations for multiple people. If it’s your first time, give your group a couple of days before you want to “meet up” to download any apps and familiarise their way around them.

It’s a real mood killer when most of your group are logged on and there’s one person frustrated and yelling because they can’t seem to work out how to get the video to show up – or can’t log in at all because they’re an Andriod user and you’ve decided to meet over FaceTime.

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For Saturday night’s drinks we trialled Zoom, which worked brilliantly but took a little setting up. We had to make sure everyone had an account, then create and schedule the “meeting room”, then send out an email or text so that everyone could access it. So if you’re trying to stay connected with your folks, stick to something simpler, that they’re already familiar with.


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Step 3: food and beverages

Set the tone just like you would for an adventure out in the world. Try having a dinner party where everyone cooks the same dish in their own home from the same recipe and laugh at how badly they mangled it, or see which one of your friends has been hiding the expert cooking skills.

You could also order delivery from different restaurants (they need your support now more than ever) and chat about them.

When choosing the drinks selection, many restaurants around Australia are opening their cellars to the public for takeaways. Plus, independent wine shops, such as P&VDrnksUpstairs Wine and Different Drop, have fantastic curated packs for different price points and taste preferences – and they deliver nationally.

Step 5: plan the next event

So you don’t lose momentum, plan the next event while you’ve still got everyone online. We lock in every Saturday night for drinks with the crew and agree on a host (and someone to organise the wine delivery to each of our homes). Then we schedule it like a meeting so we don’t lose touch, just like you would in the real world.

Samantha Payne and her friends having a virtual dinner party Photograph: Samantha Payne

Step 4: have fun

When things are difficult, it’s important to check in on everyone, to make sure they’re coping with the changes going on around them. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the doom and gloom of current events, which have a way of hijacking your uplifting drinks session.

A shared connection that gets everyone linked again and thinking of happier times should provide you with a bit of needed respite from the constant barrage of stress in uncertain times. Try not to feel guilty for having a couple of hours to laugh and forget the world for a moment – it will still be there when you hit the end-call button or turn off the laptop.

The 10 romantic destinations in Africa

There’s no doubt that romantic destinations in Africa are the best in the world. Africa is filled with some of the most beautiful and perfect places fit for a proposal.

If you plan on proposing to your partner, Africa has the most romantic destinations for combining love and travel. Here are the top 10 spots across the continent to make your proposal extra special:

Kirstenbosch Garden, Cape Town

Known as one of Africa’s most beautiful gardens, the Kirstenbosch Garden, which has the Table Mountains overlooking it, is an ideal spot to declare your wish to spend the rest of your life with your loved one. The garden was established in 1913 to promote, conserve and display the extraordinarily rich and diverse flora of southern Africa and was the first botanical gardens in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora. It has a variety of plant life, including fynbos and cycads. It lies in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004 thus making it one of the best romantic destinations in Africa.

Kirstenbosch is open to visitors every day from 08h00 to 19h00 in summer and from 08h00 to 18h00 in winter.

Pemba Island, Tanzania

Pemba Island, located 50 km from Zanzibar in Tanzania, is one of East Africa’s most idyllic and romantic gems. It remains largely untouched by mass tourism, which means that you’ll fully enjoy the warm crystal blues beaches, an abundance of mangroves and lagoons, great diving spots and the company of friendly locals.

You can propose to your loved while diving at calm and spacious diving sites and exploring untouched coral reefs and abundant marine life or while enjoying a delicious dinner at sunset of coconut curry with prawns at Pemba Misali Sunset Beach in Wesha.

A Desert Tour in Morocco

Enjoy the beautiful sand dunes of the Sahara Desert while on camel back on a desert tour in Morocco. You and your partner will get to explore Berber nomadic life while experiencing the beauty of the largest hot desert and the third largest desert in the world after Antarctica and the Arctic.

A customized desert tour will be ideal for proposing to your loved as you explore the valleys of the Sahara desert, namely Draa Valley, Ziz Valley and Dades Valley, or travel from Marrakech to Fes or to the Zagora dunes, Merzouga & Erg Chebbi. Trips vary from 2 to 4 days, depending on the trip you select.

Mount Kenya

If you and your partner are adventure lovers, then a romantic proposal on Mount Kenya is a must. This mountain is viewed by many as one of the most romantic destinations in Africa.

The awe-inspiring mountain is Africa’s second highest peak and is believed to be the home of Ngai, god of the local Kikuyu people. Its peaks are crowned with snow and its slopes are thick with forest, making it the ideal romantic destination. The mountain is best seen at dawn when the early morning light creates a beautiful silhouette high over the surrounding plains. The forests are ideal for game viewing, and if you’re in the mood for a challenge, mountain climbing is available.

Mauritius

The East African island nation of Mauritius is an ideal romantic getaway for proposals and honeymoons. Mauritius is definitely one of the best romantic destinations in Africa.

One of many beautiful destinations to choose from includes Cap Malheureux, which is located on the island’s northernmost tip. It’s most famous for the picturesque little church, the red-roofed Notre Dame Auxiliatrice. There’s a fishing village just north of Grand Baie which is the perfect place for a secluded stroll or a picnic for two. It has magnificent views over the offshore islands of Coin de Mire, Ile Plate, and Ile Ronde.

Riambel Beach is a must visit, where you and your partner can enjoy horse-riding at sunset and experience the stunning location while the sun goes down.

Manda Island in the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya

What better way to enjoy a romantic getaway than on a secluded island paradise. Manda Island, located in the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya is just that. You and your loved one will enjoy beautiful architecture, white sands, and crystal blue beaches as well as great food and friendly locals.

What makes this a great getaway is the island’s picturesque scenery, as is expected with East Africa’s islands.

Kakum National Park in Ghana

If you and your partner are nature lovers, then a romantic tour through Kakum National Park in Ghana is an ideal proposal location. The national park is a dense tropical rain forest in southern Ghana which is home to over 40 species of larger mammals including forest elephants, forest buffalo, Mona-meerkats, and civets. It’s also a bird watcher’s paradise as it is home to over 250 species.

The highlight of the park is a stroll on the Canopy Walkway that is built 30 meters above ground, crosses several bridges and is over 1000 feet (350 m) in length. You get a unique view of the forest on the walk with the assistance of trained guides. The park also has a basic campsite should you want to stay overnight.

La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort in Lagos, Nigeria

La Campagne Tropicana Beach Resort, located in Lekki in the city of Lagos is a beautiful beach resort situated on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean bordered by the freshwaters of Ikegun Lake. It is regarded as one of Nigeria’s best beach resorts, where couples can enjoy strolls on the beach, fishing or simply taking in nature. Couples also get to enjoy the best in Nigerian cuisine at the resort’s restaurant while overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Ibo Island in Mozambique

Ibo Island is a beautiful piece of paradise in Mozambique. No wonder it’s among the romantic destinations in Africa. It is only accessible by boat or plane and is known as the central island of Mozambique’s Quirimba islands.

The island is home to peaceful fishing villages and a wide variety of indigenous bird species. It is also home to one of the largest mangrove forests in Africa. It is the perfect remedy for wanderlust where couples can enjoy the warm Indian Ocean, great Mozambican cuisine and the beauty of nature. Ibo island is magnificent, no wonder it’s among the best romantic destinations in Africa.

Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains in Lesotho and South Africa

If you and your partner enjoy the beauty of mountains, the Big 5 and the warm Southern African weather, then a visit to the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park, which straddles the border between South Africa and Lesotho, is a must.

Attractions at the park include the majestic Maloti-Drakensberg Mountains and animal populations including blesbok, oribi, duiker and leopard. You can go hiking while exploring important palaeontological sites as well as sites of late Iron Age settlements that define Basotho origins.

Turn your eyes into a work of art

Painterly maquillage is all the rage. This is brilliant for everyone, from the cackhanded to those who are good at art, because its carte-blanche ethos makes it simpler than all that blending malarkey you were required to excel at with traditional eye shadows. While the inspiration behind this SS20 Salvatore Ferragamo look – Venetian meets abstract expressionism – sounds convoluted, the reality isn’t. Mix tanning drops into your moisturiser for a natural-looking glow, paint a myriad of colours over your eyes and finish with a light-reflecting clear gloss.

Pat McGrath Skin Fetish Sublime Perfection Concealer £25, patmcgrath.com
MAC Pro Palette Paintstick £60, maccosmetics.co.uk
MAC Lipglass in Clear £16, maccosmetics.co.uk
Isle of Paradise Tanning Drops £19.95, theisleofparadise.com
Glossier Skywash in Lawn £15, glossier.com

I can’t do without… The high-end lipstick to end all lipsticks

Velvety and long-lasting: Rouge Hermes lipstick

There was a period where liquid lipsticks landed on my desk so consistently I began to wonder whether the traditional bullet lipstick was becoming extinct. I loved the textures, the finish, the ease of application of the liquids. And so the ratio of lipstick to liquid lipstick you’d find in my numerous makeup bags was probably 1 to 25 (I know, ridiculous).

This launch, however, from Hermès, has made me reevaluate my choices. It is the brand’s first foray into cosmetics and to say the beauty world has gone gaga over this is an understatement. There are 24 shades – Orange Boîte, the perfect elegant orange, is set to be a classic – that have all been chosen from the brand’s colour archives.

The tri-coloured cases – created from the lacquered metal used on the hardware of its bags – are not only aesthetically desirable (they also come with that expensive click when you close them), they are refillable, too.

And the actual lipsticks? I’ll be honest, when I first received them, I wondered if they’d live up to the hype. Well, they did not disappoint. The textures – in satins and mattes – are mind-blowingly velvety. You can’t feel a thing on your lips as they are so lightweight and the pigment is magnificent. It went on my lips in a single swoop and stayed there all day. It’s worth every penny and will be giving my liquid lipsticks a run for their money.
Rouge Hermès lipstick, £58, hermes.com

On my radar… Smooth serum,beauty bargains and night magic

Time for a lift One bottle of this powerful serum – think of it as a plumping treatment sans needles – is sold every minute in the US. Finally, it’s available here, too. L’Oréal Revitalift Filler Hyaluronic Serum, £24.99, boots.com

L’Oreal Revitalift Filler Hyaluronic Acid Serum

Cheap and chic Anyone who is not familiar with Beauty Pie, the high-quality low-priced luxe brand, should head to its pop-up shop. You are bound to discover a few gems. Beauty Pie Pop Up at Harvey Nichols, beautypie.com

Seeing the light Battling with pigmentation issues, be it from sun damage or from acne scarring? Try this. It reduces the appearance of spots in seven days. REN Overnight Glow Dark Spot Sleeping Cream, £49, spacenk.com

Follow Funmi on Twitter @FunmiFetto

Self-isolation? I’ve perfected the art of ‘alonement’

As individuals all over the country are being advised to self-isolate, the news has been met with unexpected glee among one group of people: introverts. “I’ve been practising #selfisolation for the past 20 years,” tweeted BBC employee Toby Cox, while poet and performer Susan Richardson mused: “I’m finding the notion of #selfisolation so enticing.”

A year ago, this response would have baffled me. As an extrovert, I struggled to spend even an hour in my own company, so the prospect of 14 days alone would have seemed even more daunting than the coronavirus itself. That all changed in January 2019, when I made a new year resolution to learn to enjoy spending time alone.

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I was fresh out of a long-term relationship with someone just as extroverted as myself – a relationship where we made time for one another, and for our respective social lives, but neither of us carved out time to be alone. I was also living by myself for the first time in my life.

In many ways, this was my biggest fear realised. But I also recognised that it was now or never to learn to tackle my fear of solo time. So I leaned in to my situation – forgoing Tinder swiping for dates with myself and parties for nights in. I even took my first solo holiday to Paris, following wherever curiosity led me through the city of romance.

This journey hasn’t been without its setbacks. I can no longer visit my local café, after I was asked to leave by the owner, who took offence to my sitting there alone, reading the newspaper on my iPad. “Customers like to see people talking to each other,” she reasoned, refusing to hand me a menu and pointing to a newly erected “No iPads or laptops” sign.

But that’s small fodder compared with what I’ve gained. If it’s any consolation to those contemplating self-isolation right now, I can tell you this: learning to spend time alone has changed my life.

I now have greater self-esteem, more confidence and, in general, I feel happier, calmer and more satisfied than I did when I spent next to no time alone. Relationships with others have changed, too. For instance, looking after my own needs has allowed me to stop putting unrealistic demands on other people – and I also feel like I have more energy for my loved ones.

Inspired by my own journey, I started my blog – alonement.com – to inspire others to enjoy the benefits of time spent by themselves. Alonement is a word I coined myself. It fills a gap in the English language because it’s a positive word for spending time alone, a practice that has previously only been articulated in a negative light: “solitude”, “loneliness”, “recluse”. Even the phrase “I feel alone” has sour connotations.

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We often read headlines about being in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. And while it’s undeniable that there are issues of social isolation that need tackling – a reality underlined when the UK appointed its first “loneliness minister” in 2018 – we also need to remember that “alone” and “lonely” don’t mean the same thing.

If loneliness is one end of the spectrum, alonement – taking joy in time alone – is the other. A University of California study in 2017 found that harnessing “solitude skills” – effectively, the skills that help us thrive in our alone time – could reap benefits for everyone, even extroverted individuals who are said to energise through time with other people. Study author Dr Virginia Thomas concluded that solitude serves exactly the same function for introverts and extroverts: “Introverts just need more of it.” Done well, alone time is something we could all benefit from – regardless of our age, life stage or relationship status.

I started recording my podcast, also called Alonement, late last year. The first series, out this month, features a range of guests, from philosopher Alain de Botton to body-positive model Jada Sezer, extolling the benefits of being alone. I hope it will begin a cultural shift in our attitudes towards solitude.

Francesca Specter has coined the term ‘alonement’

Although in its early stages, Alonement has received an overwhelmingly positive response from my followers, who tell me that my posts have given them the confidence to practise more self-care, or even book a solo adventure. I’m also so grateful to my wonderful podcast guests, all high-profile names who have agreed to be interviewed purely because they love the concept of alonement.

Some guests truly surprised me. BBC radio presenter Jo Good, for instance, is known for her bubbly, extrovert persona on air, but she confesses that her solo time means everything to her: “Being alone to me is such an attractive word.”


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Journalist Daisy Buchanan, who like me spent her twenties leaning in to her extroverted personality, says alone time has become increasingly important to her now she’s reached her thirties: “What I’ve realised now is the value of time alone. I’m finding out who I am – and I’m really excited about having this core of myself that I don’t have to share.”

Everyone has a different relationship with being alone – whether they find it challenging, as I once did, or constantly find themselves defending their need for alone time to loved ones. 

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Yet the one thing all my podcast guests have in common is that they have nurtured their relationship with themselves in order to help them get where they are today. And if they’re happy to spend time alone, I hope others will be inspired to follow suit. 

To quote de Botton on the podcast: “We need to make the state of being alone, in the best possible way, glamorous. You need to show people who’ve got options doing the thing that, unfairly, we’ve come to associate with people who have no options.” Alonement is restorative, emboldening and ultimately aspirational. 

I’ve discovered that first-hand – and now I want the rest of the world to know it, too.

Midnight in Paris’: the $10,000 Indie film that’s winning hearts and minds

irectors Roni Moore and James Blagden funded their first film Midnight in Paris, a documentary about a 2012 prom night in Flint, Michigan, entirely out of pocket. Without even the help of crowdfunding—now common amongst tiny upstart film projects—they pulled their savings together from day jobs to fly from Los Angeles to Flint, where they spent two weeks filming the thoughtful and elaborate preparations of Flint Northern High School seniors ready to mark their transitions into adulthood with one last hometown hurrah. From the school halls and family-filled living rooms, to specially hired and borrowed luxury cars and party busses, to the sparkling dance floor, the kaleidoscopic Midnight in Paris takes a playful yet urgent view of both being and becoming. 

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After a decade of production, including planning, filming, and editing, the doc premiered at the True/False film festival and played at BAMcinemaFest in 2019. It is now beloved in if-you-know-you-know film circles, but still yet to be distributed. When I saw Midnight in Paris late last year, I was struck by its mix of free form and groundedness; it’s a slice-of-life documentary that allows the varied and connected lives of young black people from Flint—who are usually pitied, demonized, or ignored by mainstream press because of their class and race—to loom energetically and spiritually large. With no grant funding and having expressly avoided the conventional documentary narratives that compel industry benefactors, will the film get the audience it deserves?

When I spoke to Moore and Blagden, they told me that they were in the midst of weighing options for distribution with their producer Laura Coxson, who, Blagden told me, so far hasn’t been paid. And they all have day jobs that pay the bills, which, particularly in the midst of a virus pandemic, will take precedence over any marketing efforts to get the film noticed. “[Laura] has been helping us for a year and a half now, and it’s definitely not her job,” Blagden explained. “If we get distribution or we get a deal, she’ll get her percentage, [but distribution is] not something that any one person is really working on full-time to figure out.”

But the nature of their efforts has changed after COVID-19 has confined many salaried workers to their homes and stretched hourly workers thin. Instead of a big streaming or production company payday, would it make sense to go gonzo? “There must be an avenue where we can get it out, put it out ourselves,” Blagden pondered, worried that it may comprise the ability for it to be seen by a “much wider” audience. “Could we be jeopardizing the life of the film?”

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In fact, a recent offer for distribution did come through, but with one major hitch: the filmmakers will have to secure and pay for music rights clearance before the distributor takes the film on. This could spell trouble for Moore and Blagden if they’re unable to invoke fair use laws, since the music is popular, and thus expensive. Midnight in Paris features a diegetic soundtrack (meaning it comes directly from the footage, and was not added in post) of songs of the era by 2Chainz, Kelly Rowland, Lil Boosie, Beyoncé, and more, as well as a marching band performance that they re-cut throughout the film “as a sort of score,” Moore told me. “The music was very key to what was happening in the present time when we shot the film. We just can’t come out with [it] being compromised, which is why sort of going rogue style might be something to think about because you don’t want to change the body of work.”Going rogue style might be something to think about because you don’t want to change the body of work.

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Still, the main reason for doing the festival circuit in the first place was to get traditional distribution, which would potentially allow their film to be seen by the wide audiences they were hoping for—even in theaters. Of course, now with most major theaters in the U.S. having shut down to avoid the spread of coronavirus, streaming seems like the best option. “You know, what I think was so funny was that Roni [Moore], before we ever got into the [True/False] festival, said, “We’ll get it on Black Twitter and then everything else will follow. Now I feel that’s more true than ever.”

They got a taste of the kind of response they are hoping to engender from the film while traveling the country with it last year, and so a distribution plan that’s able to cast a wide net while rallying the support of the very kinds of communities depicted in the film feels essential. “We were in Columbia, Missouri, and then Brooklyn, New York, and then we showed it at the MoMA. We got every kind of person from all walks of life being like, ‘Hell, I fucked with this film,’ or being like, ‘I don’t know what I really just watched, but I was intrigued by it,’” Moore told me. “There’s still those kinds of things that you want to hear as feedback.”

As the new rhythms and timelines of the pandemic are showing the industry and the world, in the end, it will take as long as it takes. “[Producer] Laura [Coxson’s] perspective is, ‘Don’t worry about it,’” Blagden said. “‘However long this takes, it ends up just being part of the story.’”

The moment I fell in love with my hair

As a six-year-old, I wanted Janet Jackson’s hair. It was straight. Mine was not. I  imagined hers to be beautifully soft. Mine looked stiff. I coveted the malleability of hers – hair that moved, hair that looked like it grew down as opposed to up and out.

One day I unravelled my freshly braided hair and doused it with half a bottle of Comfort. My theory was, it softens clothes, it will soften hair. I ended up with incredibly matted hair and very angry parents. But I smelt nice. One of the most intense and complicated relationships I’ve ever had is with my hair.

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Many of my childhood summers were spent in Nigeria, and seeing braidists creating intricate cornrowed styles fascinated me. So I learnt to braid. I practised on dolls, friends, family and pets with lots of fur. But mostly I practised on myself. Initially my handiwork either unravelled immediately or looked less like braids and more like knotted lumps.

Years later, on holiday in Sardinia, I braided a friend’s hair on the beach. Mid-session, some white women came over to ask how much I charged. On the one hand I found it embarrassing; on the other hand, it was evidence my skills were finally impressive.

 As a schoolgirl, I owned a plethora of hair paraphernalia – tongs, dryers, steamers, crimpers, grips, clips, creams, gels, sprays…   I told people I loved my hair, but I constantly tried to manipulate it into something it just wasn’t. How can you say you love something if you’re consistently trying to change it? 


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It was a hot comb, aged five, that had first erased my natural curl. This weighty instrument was placed on a stove and, once heated, combed through hair to straighten ‘kinks’. One wrong move and a burnt scalp, ear or forehead awaited. Terrifying but exciting. It only came out on special occasions and was an opportunity to have straight hair that swished.   It sounds crazy now, but that was the norm. Every black girl I knew had her hair hot-combed for special occasions. It was a chance to have hair you could run your fingers through, hair you could flick nonchalantly, hair that would blow in the wind. 

This desire for a texture that is so unlike anything I could grow has unsavoury roots. Black hair in its natural state has been stigmatised and marginalised throughout history. The hair texture of slaves (along with how fair their skin was) would dictate how highly prized they were.

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During South Africa’s apartheid era, a ‘pencil test’ was used to determine racial identity: if a pencil passed through your hair smoothly (only really possible with Caucasian hair), you were classified ‘white’. If the pencil got stuck, you were ‘coloured’ (and had fewer rights), and if a pencil stayed put when you shook your head, you were ‘black’ (even fewer rights). 

Discrimination based on hair texture is rife on both sides of the Atlantic (the states of New York and California have recently outlawed it). A recent report by De Montfort University in Leicester found a 66 per cent rise in negative policies against Afro hair in schools, while in New Jersey late last year, a black high-school wrestler was forced by a white referee to cut off his dreads.

‘For the longest time, people with Afro hair have felt compelled, pressured even, to straighten it in order to integrate into a wider, whiter culture,’ says Fetto CREDIT: ELLIOTT WILCOX

For the longest time, people with Afro hair have felt compelled, pressured even, to straighten it in order to integrate into a wider, whiter culture. I was no different. I didn’t see anything – magazines, TV, adverts – that celebrated my natural texture. Afro hair was unruly, unmanageable, rebellious, something that needed to be controlled. Alas, many products for Afro hair still use this derogatory language.

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By the time I hit my teens, going through the pain (literally)  of pressing my hair once in a blue moon, only for it to revert to my natural look a week later (or sooner if I got caught in  the rain) no longer touched the sides. I wanted more. In my mid-teens I began to relax it, a process in which creamy chemical formulas break down your curl pattern so you have bone-straight hair.

When the regrowth peeps up six or eight weeks later, you repeat the process on the roots. It proved even more painful. At best it would leave my scalp sensitive; at worst, with sores that later formed crusts. But I got the silky hair I wanted so I was addicted (this is why relaxers are known as ‘creamy crack’) and stayed that way for years. 

US hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa formed in 1985  CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES

Despite wanting Eurocentric hair, I wasn’t inspired by Caucasian women. When US hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa released Push It, I  became an unofficial fourth member. I began collecting tongs in a million different barrel sizes to nail those asymmetric styles. If emulating Salt-N-Pepa was a degree, I’d have got a first. But daily use took its toll – every time my aunt visited, she’d greet me with, ‘Still frying the hair?’

I began to relax it more often so it felt slicker and more ‘acceptable’ for longer. Once, I relaxed my hair myself, left the product on longer than the recommended 20 minutes, dyed it jet black straight afterwards, and screamed as clumps fell out into the bath.  I began experimenting with wigs, extensions and various hairstyles informed by 1990s R&B stars.

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I loved the finger waves I spotted on Missy Elliott. At the time I was dating a totally unsuitable guy, who told me he didn’t like ‘girls with finger waves and gold boots’ because they were ‘just a bit black’ and ‘too ghetto’. I got the hair, I got the boots and I got rid of him.  Some time after that I got a Toni Braxton- esque bowl cut. I’ve never invested as much money and time as I did with this. It was incredibly high-maintenance – I was at the salon twice a week – and unsustainable, so I began wearing my hair in braids, inspired by Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice.

For years, I alternated braids with relaxers.  What happened next was the turning point. Almost seven years ago, I gave birth to my son very prematurely. He spent months in hospital and I spent every waking hour I could with him. One day I decided to get back a sense of normality by going to the hairdresser’s for a relaxer.

‘It was incredibly high-maintenance – I was at the salon twice a week – and unsustainable, so I began wearing my hair in braids, inspired by Janet Jackson in Poetic Justice’

Throughout the process I just wanted to go back to my son. I felt so anxious that once my hair was straightened and washed, I left – with it still soaking wet – and sprinted back to the hospital. I began to question myself. I asked myself whether, when I finally got to take my son home, which happened three months later, I wanted to spend time with him or at the salon getting my scalp burnt? Why was I going to such lengths, torturing myself, destroying my scalp, in order to have straight hair?


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I realised I had treated my natural texture as a thing of shame. So shameful that even at my lowest, I still felt compelled to obliterate it. It was the wake-up call I needed. Just like that, the spell was broken. That was the last time I used a relaxer.  

My hair is now completely natural; coily, kinky, textured and yes, sometimes it has a mind of its own, but that’s fine. I love it, I’m proud of it and I accept it. It’s a journey many Afro-haired women have been on; the natural-hair movement is so huge, I can honestly say I hardly know anyone who still relaxes theirs. Which is a huge step change.

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But then there’s the industry’s ability to cater for Afro hair. I still buy the majority of my products from black hair and beauty stores in areas that are deemed ‘ethnic’ because I can’t find them in major retailers. And I still find most salons don’t know what to do with my hair. But I am happy that so many women now love their hair in its natural texture. Let’s hope the wider industry begins to, as well. 

COVER PHOTO: From braids to hot combs, daily tongs to chemical relaxers, author and beauty editor Funmi Fetto spent decades painfully trying to transform her hair. Here, she explains why she now embraces her natural look CREDIT: ELLIOTT WILCOX

Sugar is not the enemy

When my older daughter was 4, her favorite snack to bring to preschool was a chocolate chip granola bar. I tucked one into her backpack almost every day, until one afternoon I opened up her backpack and saw the granola bar still sitting there. “Are you getting sick of these?” I asked her. She wasn’t. But a new teacher had taken over the class and instituted a new rule: no sugar before lunch.

Dr. Katja Rowell, M.D., a family physician and childhood feeding specialist, has a similar story: “My daughter’s preschool celebrated ‘Sugar Day’ once a year,” she recalled. “And there was so much conversation from all the adults to the kids of, ‘You’re going to be crazy! It’s crazy sugar day!’ And the kids were kind of bonkers. But there was so much anticipation of their craziness, it was like we gave them permission.”

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Indeed, it has become the norm for both parents and educators to express their fear of the proverbial “sugar high” at parties, on birthdays and pretty much anytime treats are eaten, whether it’s chocolate chip granola bars or triple scoop ice cream sundaes.

“We encounter damaging messages around sugar intake from well-meaning dentists and doctors, as well as in the nutrition curriculum in early education,” said Crystal Karges, R.D.N., a registered dietitian nutritionist who focuses on mothers and families in San Diego. Yet the evidence has long shown that sugar doesn’t actually get kids high. So why does this myth persist?

“What many parents are really afraid of is the message they get from diet culture that any amount of sugar is bad for them and their kids,” said Anna Lutz, M.P.H., R.D., a dietitian in private practice in Raleigh, N.C., who writes a blog about family feeding challenges called Sunny Side Up Nutrition.

[Your kids don’t have to inherit your body-image issues.]


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The theory that sugar intake could lead to what was then called “the neurotic child” was first proposed in the medical literature in 1922 and later gained popularity during the 1970s, when researchers were first trying to understand and treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

“These studies were problematic because they didn’t control for so many outside factors,” Karges said. When it comes to A.D.H.D. symptoms, clinicians must consider every piece of the puzzle, she said: “We know now that the genetic make-up of a child, as well as her sleep schedule, stress level, meal structure and other environmental factors all play a role.”

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Meanwhile, the sugar high concept was decisively debunked by a double-blind, controlled study published in the New England Journal of Medicinein 1994. In that experiment, researchers recruited a mix of normal preschoolers and those whose parents described them as sensitive to sugar, then randomly assigned some kids to eat sugary food and others to eat foods sweetened with aspartame. (Nobody — including parents, kids and researchers — knew which child ate what.) No behavioral or cognitive differences were detected, and as Dr. Richard Klasco, M.D., reported recently in The New York Times’s “Ask Well” column, these results have been replicated in several subsequent studies.

But how to square this scientific reality with parents’ impressions of how sugar affects their children? “Our brains and bodies can feel a burst of energy after eating sugar, especially if it’s been awhile since we’ve eaten and we’re feeling low on energy,” Lutz explained. “That’s because table sugar is a simple carbohydrate that breaks down quickly in our digestive tract, to reach our bloodstream.” But that quick burst doesn’t translate into hyperactivity or tantrums.

When sugar is consumed by itself, the initial energy spike can be followed by a crash as the amount of glucose in our bloodstream dips down again a little while after eating. Again, this won’t necessarily result in bad behavior, but some kids may feel tired, hungry or moody at this stage. “Each person’s body reacts differently to food; some of us are more sensitive to blood sugar dropping than others,” Lutz said. “But these symptoms are really just an indication that it’s time to eat again.”

[Getting your kids to eat (or at least try) everything.]

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If kids are eating a mix of fat and protein alongside their sugar, as we find in yogurt, for example, or my daughter’s chocolate chip granola bar, any sugar-related energy bursts and subsequent dips should be barely perceptible. Serving a glass of milk alongside a plate of cookies can even things out, Dr. Rowell said, noting that many “treat foods,” like cake, offer built-in balance because they’re made with butter or another type of fat. “So if you offer milk but your child doesn’t drink it, this is not the end of the world,” Dr. Rowell explained.

How you talk about food matters, too. “If you tell your child that sugar will make them act crazy, that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Dr. Rowell said. This can also happen if your child eats sugar only at birthday parties or other high-excitement events. If emotions are already running high about piñatas and presents, a mid-party meltdown may be inevitable, but it doesn’t mean the sugar was to blame.

Children will also pick up on your sugar anxiety if you regularly describe cookies and other treats as “bad,” or try to police how much they eat in one sitting. “The psychological effect of food restriction cannot be overstated,” Karges said. “When we restrict children’s access to sugar, they are naturally going to become more preoccupied with and drawn to these foods and overreact and have erratic behavior when they do get them.” You can neutralize this by making sugar a regular and structured part of your family’s food life.

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If you serve dessert every night with dinner, Lutz said, it’s reasonable to limit that to one child-size serving to ensure the treat doesn’t steal too much focus from other foods on the table. But it’s also important to pick times (like a regular weekend trip to the ice cream store, a cookie baking project or candy-heavy holidays) where we let children be in charge of how many treats they eat. When kids don’t feel restricted around a food, it’s much easier for them to tap into how much of it they really want to eat — and their response may surprise you.

Dr. Rowell encourages parents to give kids the option of saving a treat for later: “Let’s say you have dessert with dinner and you can see your child getting full. One of the most powerful things you can say is, ‘Do you want to save that brownie to have with breakfast tomorrow?’” she suggested. “Then follow through. This sends home the message that she has access to these foods and doesn’t have to eat it just because it’s there.” (Don’t stress if your child’s response is to immediately eat the brownie, though! Remember that kids are a better judge of their hunger than you.)

[Your baby doesn’t need to go Paleo.]

When you do go to birthday parties and other spaces where “sugar high” talk is likely to be rampant, avoid falling into traps like “eat three bites of pizza before you have the cupcake.” Instead, let your child choose from the food that’s offered, and if he wants seconds or thirds, say something like, “Yes, as long as there are enough for everyone to have more.”

“Kids need experiences like parties, where sugar options are readily available, in order to learn how to self-regulate the sugar intake that feels best in their bodies,” Karges said. “And they are capable of doing this if we trust them and allow them to do so.”

Cutting hidden wedding Costs

Creating and sticking to a budget can be a challenge for couples planning a wedding. The national average cost currently stands at $33,931, according to wedding website the Knot.

Unforeseen expenditures on things like postage, certain rentals or delivery charges can easily drive up costs. Event planners urge couples and their families to keep a close watch on some of these hidden or lesser-known expenses.

If your wedding invitations (or save-the-date notices) are printed on heavy paper or on paper that has an usual shape, be prepared to pay extra to mail them, said Jodi Raphael, a wedding and events planner in Boston. For instance, standard-size, rectangular envelopes start at 55 cents apiece from the United States Postal Service, but square or oversize envelopes start at 70 cents apiece. You can view a full list of prices on the Postal Service’s website.

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Most venues give couples a set time frame for how long they can use their space, typically four to eight hours, depending on the contract. But, “if you’re setting up an elaborate event and your vendors need to access the venue early, your venue will likely require you to pay an extra hourly fee,” Ms. Raphael said.

Plan on taking photographs or videos at a landmark or public park before your ceremony? You may have to obtain permits beforehand. Typically permits are day passes that cost a flat fee — in Washington, for example, a still photography permit to take photos at the Washington Monument, the National Mall and other select landmarks is $50 per day for one to 10 people. Larger groups, such as couples with big wedding parties, would need to buy a $150 permit that allows for photos of 11 to 30 people.

Caterers will usually provide plain white linens, white plates and basic table arrangements for you at no additional charge. But you will likely have to pay extra if you want to upgrade your settings.

“Most caterers will put a ‘rentals’ or ‘linens’ line item in their proposal, but it is almost always grossly underestimated,” said Allison Barnes, a wedding planner based in Washington. Special table-setting fees are charged per guest, and they can vary significantly depending on the kind of tableware you choose (gold-rimmed china can be expensive) and whether your caterer owns the products or has to rent them from a third party.


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Many couples provide goody bags with essentials — bottles of water, snacks, mini-hangover kits — for out-of-town guests. Most hotel concierges will graciously hand out bags at no charge to guests when they check in. Some hotels, though, will offer to deliver bags to guests’ rooms before they arrive, Ms. Barnes said. You can expect to pay an extra $3 to $6 per bag for that service, he said.

Ms. Barnes also noted that some hotels may charge a fee to have their staff hand out bags at the front desk. “Those hotels tend to be part of a resort or higher-end, more luxury hotels,” she said.

Some venues have strict policies about what caterer a couple is allowed to use. Hotels that have their own in-house catering may charge a heavy fee — potentially thousands of dollars — for you to bring in an outside vendor.

Venues that don’t provide their own catering may require you to work with one of their “preferred” caterers, or you’ll get hit with a fee — usually up to an extra $1,000, Ms. Barnes said. These place charge this fee because they “want to trust the caterer with their property, as the catering staff would be doing the majority of the setup and breakdown,” she explained.

Florists generally include delivery and setup in their standard agreements at no additional charge, but some may charge a floral pickup fee, Ms. Barnes said. “Most florists will rent or own the vessels in which the florals are displayed — the arbor, the centerpieces, the votives, etc. — then in fine print, or sometimes not at all, their contract will say the client is responsible for returning said items or has to pay a fee for the florist to come back and pick them up,” she said.

Florists may have a flat pickup fee, typically from $150 to $500, Ms. Barnes said, or they may charge a percentage of the bill, typically about 15 percent.

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“If you are having hair and makeup come to the hotel in the morning, you will most likely need to pay for their parking accommodations,” said Nicole Fauls Maitland, the owner of Urban Allure Events in Chicago. “This can run anywhere from $25 to $60 a vehicle in a big downtown area like Chicago.”

In addition, you may have to pay for parking for your band or D.J., photographer or other vendors.

Many vendors, such as bands and photographers, will require a meal if they’re going to be present when dinner is served. Ms. Maitland said vendor meals typically cost from $55 to $125 per person. “If you are having a 12-piece band, two photographers, a videographer, and a planner, that could be up to a $2,000 difference on your catering bill,” she said.

One way to curb costs is to have your caterer make cold meals for vendors, which tend to be less expensive. But check your vendors’ contracts first, since some may require hot meals.

Do you have a favorite bakery? You may have to pay a fee to serve its cake at your wedding. “If the venue has in-house catering, couples will sometimes see a fee for the venue staff to cut a wedding cake brought in from an outside vendor,” said Leah Weinberg, the founder of Color Pop Events, a wedding planning company in New York. Cake-cutting fees are typically $1 to $2 per slice, according to Ms. Raphael.

Providing your own alcohol for the reception can lower your catering bill significantly. But Ms. Maitland noted that couples may still incur a fee from their caterer to serve the alcohol. Caterers usually charge a flat corkage fee based on how many guests are attending the wedding, though some will charge per bottle. “The cost in Chicago is typically $7 to $10 per person,” Ms. Maitland said.

Make sure the total price for your band or D.J. includes the sound equipment and setup. “I’ve been in a situation before where the sound equipment was not included in the initial contract for the band — when the couple had already booked the band by the time they brought me on board — and it ended up being thousands of dollars to add it on later,” Ms. Weinberg said.

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Be prepared to pay a number of expenses after your wedding day. Customized thank-you notes from websites like Minted or Zola can typically cost 50 cents to $3 per card, depending on the card stock, size, and color (black-and-white cards tend to be less expensive), plus postage.

Dry cleaning or preserving wedding outfits can also add to your overall bill. According to the website WeddingStats, the average cost to preserve a wedding dress is $240 to $285, though prices can vary widely depending on the material. (Elaborate silk gowns with lace trim or beading are often more expensive to preserve than traditional satin gowns.)

Many photographers include a wedding album and photo prints with their packages, but some charge extra for them. And your album could cost more money depending on how many pages, page size, page thickness, and materials you select.

Also, don’t overlook gratuities. Make a list of what vendors to tip in advance and calculate how much you want to give them. (Note: some vendor’s contracts have minimum tipping requirements.)

Continue following our fashion and lifestyle coverage on Facebook (Styles and Bloomgist TV), Twitter – StylesFashion

Step-by-step guide to perfecting eye make-up

By  Emma Gunavardhana

Eye make-up can weave quite the spell over anyone’s look. A few well chosen shades and a clever application can make even tiny eyes look huge and can give a real ‘wow’ factor to the wearer.

Gone are the days of one shade of shadow roughly swept over lids, now the techniques are many and varied, involve colours specifically for the crease and clever pops of shimmer under the brow arch to make everything look bigger and more pronounced.

Turn over most eyeshadow palettes these days and there’ll be a little graphic giving you some guidance on where to apply what colours. It’s rules that hold fast; a matte base colour, satin crease shade and a shimmer shadow for eyelids.

Why you should use an eye primer

If it’s a long-lasting look you’re after then before you start with the shadow prep lids with a primer. Benefit Air Patrol BB Cream Eyelid Primer, £24, knocks out those thin veins and discoloration on the eyelid to create a uniform canvas and it provides a grip to your shadow.

Benefit’s eyeshadow primer knocks out discoloration while giving eyeshadow ‘grip’ for make-up that lasts all day

How to create a clean canvas

Any eye look starts with a clean, even canvas whether you’re creating something simple or working your way up to a look that’s a little more smoky. Choose a matte shadow first, you can begin to build shimmer and dimension in later, as this will anchor whatever textures you put on top of it. Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Bone, £20, is a best-selling, one-shade-suits-all, that will wear best if pressed and pushed into the eye using a brush as opposed to swept on.

Bobbi Brown Eyeshadow in Bone gives a muted, clean canvas for simple or dramatic eye make-up looks

How to sculpt your eyes with eyeshadow

If you want to make your eyes look bigger it all starts in the crease. Blend a warm shadow into the crease and draw the shape slightly beyond the eye for an immediately larger looking eye. For even greater impact draw shadow under the eye and up to meet the extended crease line. MAC’s Eye Shadow in Cork, £15, makes a great sculpting shade. You can be quite bold with the application then go in with a fluffier brush to blend and soften the line.

A warm-toned shadow in the crease adds depth and definition

How to apply shimmery eyeshadow

Now you’ve created a canvas, sculpted and emphasised the eye, a wash of shimmer shade lifts and adds dimension. Charlotte Tilbury’s Starry Eyes To Hypnotise Eye Shadow Palette, £60, contains 12 versatile shades comprising of matts and shimmers, which can be used to create four different looks. Press shadow into the centre of the lid and blend out for a 3D finish. 

Play with light and shade on the lid to draw even more attention to the eye

How to give yourself an eye lift with make-up

To lift the eye and exaggerate the arch of your brow blend shimmer under the highest point of your brow. Becca’s Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter, £16, imparts a perfect pop of highlight which is not too heavy on the shimmer, meaning it won’t look brassy. 

A little shimmer shadow can heighten the arch of your brow

How to apply metallic eyeshadow

A little metallic shimmer on the inner corner of your eye is a make-up artists’ trick for making an eye look really stand out. Don’t be heavy handed, the look is meant to be subtle so use a pencil so you have more control over how much you apply. Rimmel’s ScandalEyes Waterproof Coloured Brow & Liner Kohl Kajal in Hypnotic Gold, £4.99, gives that metallic edge without overpowering the rest if your look.

A little ‘dot’ of metallic shimmer on the inner eye draws the eye

From red carpet to the main event, here are your best looks at the #AMVCA7

The Africa Magic Viewers’ Choice Awards is known for showcasing some of the most daring looks of the season, and this year’s show at the Eko Hotels in Lagos was no different.

In celebration of groundbreaking achievements in TV and Film, the stars dared to make an impact with fashion on the red carpet, it seemed everyone got the go hard or go home memo. Ghanaian actress Nana Akua Addo cemented herself early on as one of the best-dressed stars of the night, after arriving on the red carpet in a stunning sculptural organza Gaurav Gupta dress that emphasized her curves.

Also among this year’s best-dressed was Adesua Etomi-Wellington, who opted for a custom nude Tope FnR embroidered gown and nude heels, Ebuka Obi Uchendu, who wore a classic white suit with a ’70s style ruffled tuxedo shirt before changing to a grey three-piece suit, and Sola Sobowale who brought the drama in Anjy Lumunee Couture.

Here, see the best jewel embellished, sequin-adorned, floor-length and downright chicest ensembles from the AMVCA7.

Nana Akua Addo

Dress @gauravguptaofficial
Styling @x.o.d.u.z
Shoes @louboutinworld
Makeup @make_upbykilo
Photography @ovia_reflex

Adesua Etomi-Wellington

Dress @topefnr
Makeup @t.alamodebeauty
Mr Banke’s outfit @ugomonye.official
Hair : Felix @fjesam
Styled by @stylepundit

Ebuka Obi-Uchendu

Suit: @atafo.official
Shoes: Louboutin

Cee-C Nwadiora

Outfit: @sheyeoladejo
Makeup: @dom_krasota
Hair: @vaavavoom

Sola Sobowale

Dress @ceolumineeofficial
Make up by @cattysglam_mua
Hair by @tobbiestouch
Photographer @trans4mazfotography
Videography @oluvistas
Jewellery @Oniyeti_jewellrystore

Mercy Eke

Gown @donamatoshiofficial
Stylist @swankyjerry
Makeup: @cattysglam_mua
Hairstyling @ceezysstyling
Photographer @trans4mazfotography

Dénola Grey

Suit: @mazelle.studio x Dénola

Lilian Afegbai

Dress: @2207bytbally
Makeup: @marcxpro
Hair: @luciousvirginhair
Hair styled: @ivys_place_

Toni Tones

Dress: @lanredasilvaajayi
Hair @thebeautyboxlagos
Makeup @anitabrows
Accessories @wowaccessories

Funke Akindele Bello

Styled by @medlinboss
Hair @hairbyehis
Makeyp @jideofstola

Ini Dima-Okojie

Wearing custom @mazelle.studio
Makeup @riseandglambeauty
Hair @bernardsmiless

@thebeverlynaya

Beverly Naya

Dress- @weizdhurmfranklyn
Makeup- @flawlessfacesbyjane
Hair- @queens_mane

@thebeverlynaya

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How the one per cent are dealing with coronavirus

Various members of the world’s wealthiest one per cent have shown they’re just as concerned by Covid-19 as the rest of us

If there is one lesson we can take from news that Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, are self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19, it’s that coronavirus is even less discriminate than we thought.

Nobody would be so naïve to assume that Hanks’ two Academy Awards, nor his mammoth reserves of karma points – he is, after all, a man so beloved and warm that a magazine named him “America’s Dad” – would inoculate him against a global pandemic. But some may have believed his net worth, which is in excess of £250m, might render him safer than most, not least because he simply has more survival options available to him.

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Alas, early on Thursday morning, Hanks updated his 7.2m Instagram followers to say that he and Wilson, who are in Australia while Hanks films Baz Luhrmann’s upcoming Elvis Presley biopic, are two of the more than 100,000 coronavirus cases around the world. “Well, now. What to do next?” he wrote, captioning an image of some surgical gloves and a hospital bin. “We Hanks’ [sic] will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no?”

Hanks and Wilson are the virus’s most high-profile positive cases yet, but throughout this week, various members of the world’s wealthiest one per cent have shown they’re just as concerned by Covid-19 as the rest of us.

On Sunday, 86-year-old Dame Joan Collins posted a photograph showing her wearing a black face mask. As a general rule in life, you know things are serious when Dame Joan is wearing accessories worth less than a house deposit. Somewhat surreally, she had a response from David Furnish, who told her masks “won’t protect you”, but advised: “don’t touch your face”.

Teenage music phenomenon Billie Eilish was another to be seen in a protective mask. Kim Kardashian-West shared advice on how to greet somebody using only your feet (thanks, Kim). And celebrated germaphobe Naomi Campbell – never one to underdress, let alone underreact – appeared at Los Angeles airport wearing a full hazmat suit, goggles and salmon pink latex gloves. “Safety first NEXT LEVEL,” she wrote.

Dame Joan Collins, masked this week CREDIT: Instagram

Clearly, Covid-19 really doesn’t care for somebody’s income, influence, assets or access to medical provisions. But that doesn’t mean the super-rich aren’t doing their best to spend their way out of harm’s way.

Some are simply wearing better masks than the rest of us. Earlier this week, Gwyneth Paltrow modelled an “urban air mask”, made by Swedish company Airinum, that sells for over £70. Luxury brand Byredo, meanwhile, offers £27 “Suede” alcohol hand sanitiser, which “gently unfurls with nuances of lily of the valley and violet before settling on a bed of soft musks”. Both products are sold out.


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Private doctors on Harley Street are said to be inundated by calls for the best care, quick access to coronavirus tests, and even enquiries about inoculation. They may be able to cut queues to care, but not tests – the Department of Health and Social Care has insisted that all tests must be carried out by the NHS and Public Health England – and certainly not a vaccine, which is still some way off existing. It doesn’t stop people trying.

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Of course, that’s if the one per cent haven’t booked personal doctors and nurses (to go with their tutors, hair dressers, personal assistants…) to accompany them wherever they go. Private jet booking services have reported being besieged by requests from multinational firms and high net-worth individuals, as they attempt to “evacuate” to safer areas while still avoiding busy airports and commercial flights.

According to data from the business aviation monitoring company WingX, the number of private jet flights from Hong Kong to Australia and North America in January increased 214 per cent from the previous year. While commercial airlines are watching their profits nosedive, this is one part of the aviation sector where business is booming: a round-trip from New York to London on a 12-seat Gulfsteam IV, a fairly standard private plane, is around £100,000 – ten times that of a commercial first-class seat.

Some may be tempted to take those jets to far-flung private islands, where they can self-isolate on white sandy beaches. Sir Richard Branson may head to Necker, his 30-hectare paradise in the British Virgin Islands. Johnny Depp also has a spot in the Caribbean; Leonardo DiCaprio has one off Belize; and Steven Speilberg is said to own his own plot in the Madeira Archipelago, off Portugal. If you’d like to follow them, head to privateislandsonline.com. One, off the coast of Chile, can be yours for $405 an acre – a snip, until the smallprint: you need to buy all 50,000 acres. That’ll be more than $20 million, then.

A luxury motor yacht Riau Island in Indonesia CREDIT: Laughing Mango

Given the coronavirus pandemic is now affecting almost every country on the planet, travel to a “safer” area doesn’t necessarily guarantee safety (even a luxury resort in the Maldives has reported coronavirus cases), of course. Interpreting this problem, the wealthy come into their eccentric own.

In Kansas, a 15-storey underground structure exists called the Survival Condo. It is one of 72 built during the Cold War to protect against a ballistic missile, but it has since been modified, to the tune of $20m (£15m), for a new generation of ultra-rich preppers. It now includes a library, swimming pool, climbing wall, video arcade, bar, cinema and shooting range. Apartments cost anywhere between $1.5m and $4.5m for a penthouse.

From above, the Survival Condo – which has recently added information about Covid-19 to its website – looks like the sort of grass-covered mounds the Teletubbies lived in. In cross-section, it’s a giant, Coke can-shaped inverted tower block.

“Our design includes all infrastructure support for between 36 and 70 people for more than five years completely ‘off-grid’,” its website says. “The concrete walls in the facility are between 2.5ft and 9ft thick. There are more than 600 tons of high-strength rebar in the structure. There is just over 54,000 square foot of underground, nuclear-hardened, protected space.”

According to one report, one of the 55 individuals who have already purchased space in the condo had the view from her loft in New York filmed in all four seasons, so she could watch it on screens installed in lieu of windows inside her bunker.

Such bunkers are increasingly in demand, not least this week. Modern House, a Russian property firm which made headlines earlier this year when it unveiled a doomsday shelter inspired by Elon Musk’s “post-apocalyptic” Tesla Cybertruck, announced on Instagram last month that “at the request of customers, a system of protection against coronaviruses and radioactive dust is being developed”.

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New Zealand, where the Silicon Valley community may escape to CREDIT: Robin Bush

But life without windows may not be for everyone, no matter how much loo roll you have with you. For billionaires still willing to risk life overground in the time of the apocalypse, there is always New Zealand. That’s where Silicon Valley’s brightest and best are off to. Peter Thiel, the controversial US venture capitalist who co-founded PayPal and was an early investor in Facebook, owns a farm in the land of the long white cloud, and is said to be one of a number of tech types drawn by its clean air, water and relative isolation.

“No other country aligns more with my view of the future than New Zealand,” he once said, which must have worried Kiwis no end. His plan is brief: four years ago, Sam Altman, another influential Silicon Valley entrepreneur, revealed that in the event of some kind of global collapse – a pandemic, say – he and Thiel will get on a private jet and head to Thiel’s 477-acre former sheep station. What they’ll do then is anyone’s guess. But they will have to hurry: to counter the spread of Covid-19, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Adern is expected to announce new border restrictions soon.

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The impression left by all this high-spend prepping is that the one per cent are just as unsure, just as worried, and just as susceptible to coronavirus as the rest of us – only they’ll happily emptying their bank accounts to up their chances. Their reaction could be enough to provoke further unease, so thank God for Gemma Collins, doyenne of reality television stars, unacknowledged Queen of Essex, and the reassuring presence we need right now. She too took to Instagram this week.

“We can’t let the economy crash because of a virus,” Collins wrote, accompanying a video showing her in London’s West End, champagne in hand, about to stimulate growth at a Gucci store. “We’ve gotta eat chocolate and carry on.”

How to make your perfume last longer

Nobody wants to splash out on fancy fragrance, only to find that the scent has all but disappeared by lunchtime. But there’s a world of difference between dousing yourself in the stuff so everybody and their neighbour can get a whiff of it, and spritzing sporadically for a good but temporary hit.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way: from choosing the perfect base note-heavy scent to spraying but not rubbing fragrance, there are lots of things you can do to enhance your scent to help it linger all day.

Take note

When it comes to selecting a fragrance, choose one that works hard for you. Opt for an eau de parfum rather than the lighter eau de toilette. The former contains a higher concentration of oils that will not only last longer on the skin, but is often a more beautiful strength of the original composition.

A long-lasting fragrance will also need to be base note-heavy, says Emmanuelle Moeglin, founder of the Experimental Perfume Club.

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“Base notes are the ingredients that stay the longest, and they include woods, amber, leather and musks. Narciso Rodriguez Musc Oil, £75.90,is great for this. It’s a woody musky fragrance that last all day. Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle, £120, is another example of a fragrance that is built heavily on the base note; it’s an oriental woody musk fragrance, so by essence will last longer.”

“Top notes such as citrus will stay on the skin for 10-15 minutes (they disappear the quickest) whereas base notes can stay up to days on the skin. So if you like heavy, oriental woody fragrances, you won’t have an issue with keeping your fragrance all day long. On the contrary, if you like light floral fresh and citrus types of fragrance, a trick would be to layer fragrances on top of each other. For instance, if you own a woody fragrance (such as Santal 33 by Le Labo or Escentric Molecules 01) then you can layer it with your summery fresh fragrances. It will give you the impression that you smell your fragrance all day long.”

Musc Ravageur by Frederic Malle, £120

Build layers

Molecules in fragrance bind to the oils in your skin when applied, so if you use a body oil or lotion first, then “layer on” your fragrance, it will have a better surface to bind to.

The best time to spray is after a shower or bath. “Well-hydrated skin holds fragrance the best, so I love to spritz my fragrance after getting out of the shower and applying unscented body lotion,” says Christine Luby, co-founder of luxury San Francisco-based fragrance company Pinrose.

Better still, moisturise with the matching body lotion and literally build up a layer of lighter fragrance on the skin before spritzing on your perfume. “You could also dab a touch of lip balm onto the inside of the wrists or on your neck before applying your perfume – the slightly waxy texture helps the fragrance to hold on longer,” says Kate Evans, daughter of late artisan perfumer Angela Flanders, who runs the Angela Flanders Perfumery in east London.


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Nina Friede, founder of London-based luxury perfume house, Friedemodin, layers her perfume on her skin during the day too. “With my Friedemodin Jardin Mystique Collection, the fragrances are made to be layered. One way is to spray one perfume in the morning and refresh with another one at a different time of the day – the ingredients start to awaken again and harmonise together. Alternatively you can spray both straight after each other to create your own scent and give a boost to each perfume.”

Don’t rub it in

The best way to wear fragrance is on the skin at the pulse points: the wrist, behind the ears, elbows and on the neck. This is where the fragrance will have the most projection due to the fact that the skin warms up here.

“Women could also dab a bit of perfume on the inner side of their knees,” says Nina.

Apply your perfume sparingly, and, says Kate, “don’t be tempted to rub the fragrance – it’s better to leave it to unfold naturally as it warms up on the skin. If you need to, carry a smaller size bottle with you to top up later in the day – particularly if you are going out for the evening – this will freshen up the top notes again.”

Spray and swish

Many people underestimate the power of scent in the hair. According to Christine: “Another black belt move is to spritz fragrance directly onto your hair. Hair carries scent for a really long time. Applying fragrance directly to your hair creates delicious, mysterious wafts that are bound to get you compliments,” she says.

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A fine spray on the hair, or on a favourite scarf is “also a perfect way to add to the overall silage of perfume as any perfume will hold well on textiles and hair,” adds Kate.

Before she leaves the house, Nina always sprays some of her perfume in the air and walks through it. “The perfume settles in your hair and subtly on your clothes and that helps a lot!”

“Just be careful that you don’t spray too much and from very close distance, as the oil in the perfume can stain. I’d also recommend for men to spray a bit of perfume in the inner side of their jacket, because through movement you release the scent.”

Keep it cool

It’s important to store your fragrance bottles in a cool, dark place – so preferably not in the bathroom cabinet – as heat and light can destroy the quality of the perfume.

And be careful not to over-spray; you smell your own perfume less than others do because your nose becomes accustomed to it. “The brain adjusts naturally to surrounding smells after a certain time (it’s called olfactory fatigue) so while you won’t smell it yourself, other people certainly will,” Emmanuelle concludes.

Latex is the season’s most shocking fashion trend

Kim Kardashian West and Lady Gaga are fans of the natural, vegan material with fetishistic associations. Now it’s dominating catwalks and popular culture.

In stark relief to the face masks being donned at Paris fashion week in the wake of coronavirus, Kim Kardashian West showed up to her husband Kanye West’s show in a mustard-coloured latex bodysuit. The outfit, from Balmain, was typical Kardashian: body con and striking for social media.

Latex has dominated the runways and pop culture this season. Lady Gaga’s new video shows her in a Power Ranger pink latex two-piece. At Saint Laurent, latex leggings were paired with boxy suit jackets, while photos of inflatable latex trousers – likened to Aladdin’s pants – from the London College of Fashion graduate Harikrishnan, went viral on social media. He says he chose the fabric because “it is quite a statement. It comes with embedded fetish imagery … Most people haven’t experienced it and would often associate latex to costumes and hypersexuality.”

Latex trousers by Harikrishnan. Photograph: @harri_ks/Instagram

For Prof David Tyler, from Manchester Fashion Institute, latex’s ability to shock is simple: “It is its ability to be a second skin and reveal shape,” he says. The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe caused outrage after featuring latex bodysuits in his work – his 1978 Joe/Rubberman, for example, features a man in a latex outfit, lying on his back, possibly sleeping, in a Renaissance-esque pose.

Designers such as Alexander McQueen, Versace and Gareth Pugh have also riffed on latex’s associations with subcultures and decadence.

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And yet, despite its synthetic and futuristic appearance, latex is actually a vegan and organic substance, derived from tree sap. This is one of the reasons why the vegan designer Stella McCartney has used the fabric in place of leather in her footwear.

When worn best, the oppositional qualities between the natural world and artificial fetishwear – are displayed to full effect. Think of Lady Gaga meeting the Queen in in a red puffed-sleeved latex dress and Beyoncé walking the Met Gala red carpet in 2016 in a soft pink, floral, Atsuko Kudo X Givenchy latex dress. Madonna wore it in her “S&M Hollywood Squares” video in 1994 as a way of silencing those who had slut-shamed her for the Sex Book and Erotica. It was a deliberate nod to the subversive and shocking nature of latex – and the sexual freedom it evokes. “Good design evinces an aesthetic response,” says Tyler.


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This is exactly what latex does: disrupts sartorial norms and creates controversy. And now, thanks to the Paris runways and Kim Kardashian West, it is an insurgent fabric once again.

B Magazine: March 1st – Fashion challenged

This edition covers The best of London Fashion week, the latest on sexual healing and the portraits from one of the photographers in South Africa.

Portraits of radical beauty – in pictures

These striking images from Adorned, an exhibition at Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, tackle notions of fashion and beauty around the world.

My partner had been having sex with someone else’

My husband told me a woman kissed him, should I forgive him?
File photo: Unity Gym

After 22 years together, I discovered my partner has been having sex with someone else. A text message describing the “intense pleasure” experienced last time they met, was mistakenly sent to me rather than her. Sex now inhabits the majority of my waking thoughts – imagining him with her, and desiring sex between him and me.

More on this edition,

Fashion challenged: portraits of radical beauty – in pictures

These striking images from Adorned, an exhibition at Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, tackle notions of fashion and beauty around the world.

Untitled, from the series Boys of Hong Kong, 2018
Alexandra Leese’s portraits of boys and men in Hong Kong address misconceptions about masculinity or attractiveness Adorned: The Fashionable Show is at Foam, Amsterdam, until 11 March
Photograph: © Alexandra Leese
Untitled. Photograph: © Giovanni Corabu & Roberto Ortu
Mob I, from Albus, 2015
The Johannesburg-based photographer’s series Albus looks at albinism. People with the condition are frequently discriminated against and the subject of superstition and violence. The portraits feature Thando Hopa, the first women with albinism to appear on the cover of Vogue, and model Sanele Xaba (seen here), who spoke with the Guardian about diversity in modelling
Photograph: © Justin Dingwall
Pearl I, from the series A Seat at the Table, 2018
A Seat at the Table features the South African model Moostapha Saidi and is about ‘the aesthetics of vitiligo’. Dingwall says: ‘The images are not about race or fashion, but about perception, and what we subjectively perceive as beautiful’
Photograph: © Justin Dingwall
Untitled, from Family Work, 2018The images are part of a project in which Pitchon recreates ads for luxury brands, but starring his family members at home in sometimes glamorous, sometimes playful poses
Photograph: © Hadar Pitchon
Untitled, from Family Work, 2018Pitchon’s grandmother, who survived the Holocaust, poverty and cancer, is his inspiration here
Photograph: © Hadar Pitchon
Untitled, from the series Family Work, 2018Florida-born Hadar Pitchon shoots for fashion magazines such as L’Officiel Hommes, but his series Family Work has a much more personal perspective
Photograph: © Hadar Pitchon
New Jersey, 2017The poses are powerful and the images bold
Photograph: © Arielle Bobb Willis
New Jersey, 2017The ‘strained, colour-blocked bodies are crimped and tense, at odds with their environment and with the garments (or objects) that cover them,’ writes Foam in a magazine accompanying the exhibition
Photograph: © Arielle Bobb Willis
New Jersey, 2017Arielle Bobb-Willis is a New York photographer who challenges the notion of fashion photography with colourful images of her models posing anywhere from Brooklyn and the Bowery to New Jersey and New Orleans
Photograph: © Arielle Bobb Willis
Untitled, 2018
Catherine Servel’s average-sized models make a compelling case for using subjects who are more representative of the wider world. This series appeared in the magazine Allure
Photograph: © Catherine Servel
Untitled, Sardinia, 2018The pair spent two weeks travelling across the island, and the resulting series is a tribute, they say, to ‘the rebellious youth who lives on the island but are an active part of where the culture is headed, somewhere between tradition and modernity’
Photograph: © Giovanni Corabu & Roberto Ortu
Untitled, Sardinia, 2018London photographer Giovanni Corabi and Italian creative director Roberto Ortu explore fashion, migration and identity in Sardinia to chart how the place is evolving and transforming as new communities form on the island
Photograph: © Giovanni Corabu & Roberto Ortu
Untitled, from Boys of Hong Kong
‘I wanted to counter this and create something that celebrates a range of Asian masculine beauty,’ she continued. ‘I wanted to show the world that these stereotypes are just stereotypes’
Photograph: © Alexandra Leese

Kenneth Ize's collection was inspired by childhood memories of "Sunday best" clothes

Naomi Campbell models at Nigerian designer’s debut

British supermodel Naomi Campbell closed the debut show of Nigerian designer Kenneth Ize at the Paris Fashion Week on Monday.

The Lagos-born fashion designer’s collection in the French capital is inspired by his childhood memories of going to church with his mother, the state-owned France 24 reports.

Vogue magazine reports that the sight of Campbell striding down Ize’s runway in a traditional Nigerian fabric, known as Asoke, caused a media frenzy.

The show’s organisers shared a video on Twitter of the moment:

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Pour black coffee in white cup

Why not take more coffee

We’ve come a long way from the cans of Folgers that filled our grandparents’ cupboards, with our oat milk lattes, cold brews and Frappuccinos. Some of us are still very utilitarian about the drink while others perform elaborate rituals. The fourth most popular beverage in the country, coffee is steeped into our culture. Just the right amount can improve our mood; too much may make us feel anxious and jittery.

Pour black coffee in white cup
Pour black coffee in white cup

Yes.

In moderation, coffee seems to be good for most people — that’s 3 to 5 cups, or up to 400 milligrams of caffeine.

“The evidence is pretty consistent that coffee is associated with a lower risk of mortality,” said Erikka Loftfield, a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute who has studied the beverage.

For years, coffee was believed to be a possible carcinogen, but the 2015 Dietary Guidelineshelped to change perception.For the first time, moderate coffee drinking was included as part of a healthy diet. When researchers controlled for lifestyle factors, like howmany heavy coffee drinkers also smoked, the data tipped in coffee’s favor.

A large 2017 review on coffee consumption and human healthin the British Medical Journal also foundthat most of the time, coffee was associated with a benefit, rather than a harm. In examining more than 200 reviews of previous studies, the authors observed that moderate coffee drinkers had less cardiovascular disease, and premature death from all causes, including heart attacks and stroke, than those skipping the beverage.

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In addition, experts say some ofthe strongest protective effects may be with Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and liver conditions such as cirrhosis, liver cancer and chronic liver disease. For example, having about five cups of coffee a day, instead of none, is correlated with a 30 percent decreased risk of Type 2 diabetes, according to a meta-analysis of 30 studies.

The potential benefit from coffee might be from the polyphenols, which are plant compounds that have antioxidant properties, according to Dr. Giuseppe Grosso, an assistant professor in human nutrition at University of Catania in Italy and the lead author of anumbrella reviewin the Annual Review of Nutrition.

However, coffee isn’t for everyone. There are concerns about overconsumption. This is especially true for expecting mothers because the safety of caffeine during pregnancy is unclear. While the research into coffee’s impact on health is ongoing, most of the work in this field is observational.

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“We don’t know for sure if coffee is the cause of the health benefits,” said Jonathan Fallowfield, a professor at the University of Edinburgh, and co-author of the British Medical Journal review. “These findings could be due to other factors of behaviors present in coffee drinkers.”


Yes. Do you prefer a dark or light roast? Course grinding or fine? Arabica or robusta?

“All of these different aspects affect the taste, but also affect the compounds within the coffees,” said Neal Freedman, a senior investigator with the National Cancer Institute. “But it’s not clear at all how these different levels of compounds may be related to health.”

Roasting, for example, reduces the amount of chlorogenic acids, but other antioxidant compounds are formed. Espresso has the highest concentration of many compounds because it has less water than drip coffee.

study in JAMA Internal Medicine examined the coffee habits of nearly 500,000 people in the U.K. and found that it didn’t matter if they drank one cup or chain-drank eight — regular or decaf — or whether they were fast metabolizers of coffee or slow. They were linked to a lower risk of death from all causes, except with instant coffee, the evidence was weaker.


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The way you prepare your cup of joe may influence your cholesterol levels, too. “The one coffee we know not suitable to be drinking is the boiled coffee,” said Marilyn C. Cornelis, an assistant professor in preventive medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and co-author of the JAMA Internal Medicine study.

Examples of this include the plunge-happy French press, Scandinavian coffee, or Greek and Turkish coffee — the kind commonly consumed in the Middle East. (When poured, the unfiltered grounds settle on the tiny cup’s bottom like sludge. To peek into the future, elders in the region have a tradition of reading the sediment of an overturned cup, like a crystal ball.)

However, the oil in boiled coffee has cafestol and kahweol, compounds called diterpenes. They are shown to raise LDL, the bad cholesterol, and slightly lower HDL, what’s known as the good kind.

“If you filter the coffee, then it’s no issue at all,” said Rob van Dam, a professor at Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at National University of Singapore. “For people with cholesterol issues, it’s better to switch to other types of coffee.” He’s been studying coffee for two decades. (And, yes, he’s had a lot of coffee in that time.)

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However, other researchers say not to throw out the boiled coffee just yet. The clinical significance of such small increases in cholesterol may be questionable, given that it’s not associated with an increase in cardiovascular deaths.

Many consumers have also swapped loose grounds for coffee pods. While there are environmental concerns with single use pods, researchers believe them to hold the same benefits as, say, drip coffee. The latter applies to cold brew, too, but more research is needed.

No. Espresso has the highest concentration of caffeine, packing about 70 milligrams into a one-ounce shot, but is consumed in less quantities. By comparison, a typical 12-ounce serving of drip coffee has 200 milligrams of caffeine, more than instant’s 140. And, yes, brewed decaf has caffeine, too — 8 milligrams — which can add up.

When buying coffee, you never really know what you’re going to get. At one Florida coffee house, over a six-day period, the same 16-ounce breakfast blend fluctuated from 259 milligrams all the way up to 564 — which goes beyond federal recommendations.

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But for some of us, knowing how much caffeine is in our coffee can be especially important. You’ve probably noticed it before. How a friend can pound quadruple espresso shots at 10 p.m. and sleep afterward, while you can’t have any past noon, or you’ll be watching “Seinfeld” reruns until dawn. Some of us have a polymorphism, a genetic variant that slows our metabolism for caffeine. It’s these individuals that Dr. Grosso recommends limit their refills. “They take a coffee, and then they have the second and the third, and they still have the caffeine of the first,” he said.

You can even find out whether you are a fast or slow metabolizer through a variety of direct-to-consumer testing services, including 23andMe.

Evidence suggests there can be a reliance on the drink, and tolerance builds over time. Withdrawal symptoms include a headache, fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and depressed mood.

Indeed, caffeine is a psychoactive drug, and coffee is its biggest dietary source. About a half-hour after sipping a cup of joe, the caffeine kicks in, and is quickly absorbed. Blood vessels constrict. Blood pressure increases. A moderate amount of caffeine can wake you up, boost your mood, energy, alertness, concentration and even athletic performance. On average, it takes four to six hours to metabolize half the caffeine.

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For those knocking back more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day, there’s not enough evidence to assess the safety, according to the Dietary Guidelines. Higher doses can lead to caffeine intoxication, with its shakiness, nervousness, and irregular heartbeat. Caffeine is also linked with delaying the time it takes for you fall asleep, how long you stay there, and the reported quality of that shut eye.

“I think that caffeine is so common and so ingrained in our culture, and daily habits, that we often don’t think about it as a potential source of problems,” said Mary M. Sweeney, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

Cutting down coffee may help with gastroesophageal reflux, too. A new study found that women drinking caffeinated beverages — coffee, tea, or soda — were associated with a small but increased risk of symptoms, like heartburn. The study’s authors predicted fewer symptoms when substituting two servings of the drinks with water.

Current available research hasn’t determined what amount of caffeine can be safely consumed during pregnancy, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Caffeine does cross the placenta so some doctors may recommend pregnant women stay below 200 milligrams of coffee daily.

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Extremely high doses of caffeine can be fatal. But researchers say that’s more likely to occur accidentally with caffeine powder or pills. “You don’t see a lot of people going into the emergency room because they accidentally drank too much coffee,” said Dr. van Dam.


Inside the red fruit of coffea lie two coffee beans. Green in color, the duo spoon together, the rich brown hue to appear only after roasting. In fact, they aren’t beans at all. “It’s like a cherry, you pick off the tree,” said Patrick Brown, a professor of plant sciences at University of California, Davis. Unlike the cherry, though, the seed is the prize, and the flesh is discarded.

In addition to caffeine, coffee is a dark brew of a thousand chemical compounds that could have potential therapeutic effects on the body. One key component, chlorogenic acid, is a polyphenol found in many fruits and vegetables. Coffee is also a good dietary source of vitamin B3, magnesium and potassium.

“People often see coffee just as a vehicle for caffeine, but, of course, it’s a very complex plant beverage,” said Dr. van Dam.

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With coffea’s estimated 124 species, most of flavors remain untapped; and perhaps will be forever, with an estimated 60 percent under threat of extinction, largely from climate change, disease, pests and deforestation. What fills our mugs at cafes, the office, and on road trips are from two species: arabica and canephora, known as robusta. Arabica fills specialty cafes, and costs more than robusta, which fuels instant coffees and some espressos.

For all of the pomp swirling around arabica, the fact remains it is an extremely homogeneous little seed. Almost all of the world’s arabica coffee progeny traces itself back a few plants from Ethiopia, coffee’s birthplace, or Yemen.


Doctors don’t know. One 2015 study found that those adding sugar, cream or milk had the same associated benefit as those who preferred it black. But the coffee industry has exploded since the ’90s when the older adults in the study filled out their dietary history. “It was only about a tablespoon of cream or milk, and a teaspoon of sugar,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Loftfield, with the National Cancer Institute. “This is very different, potentially, than some of these coffee beverages you see on the market today.”

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Sweet coffee and tea are the fourth largest source of sugar in the diets of adults, according to the October survey from the U.S.D.A. That includes dessert-like beverages, like Dunkin’ Donuts’ 860-calorie creamy frozen coconut caramel coffee drink, with 17 grams of saturated fat, and 129 grams of total sugars. Experts say some of these drinks bear little relation to the 2-calorie cup of black coffee of the past, worrying health officials.

“When you talk about a drink that has that load of unhealthy fats and that much sugar, can’t possibly be a healthy beverage on balance,” Dr. Jim Krieger, a clinical professor of medicine and health services at the University of Washington. “That amount of sugar alone is astronomical compared to the current recommendations of U.S. Dietary Guidelines of 50 grams of sugar a day.”

The concern is heightened, experts say, especially because an estimated 43 percent of teens are now drinking coffee — nearly doubling since 2003 — according to the research firm Kantar, driven partly by sweet drinks.

“People should worry a lot about what they put in the coffee and what the food and beverage industry puts in it,” said Laura Schmidt, a professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine. “And sweetened coffee is one of the things that the beverage industry is pushing on the public now that consumers have turned away from soda for health reasons.”

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Depends on your goals in life.

If you are enjoying the drink in moderation, doctors say continue onward, and savor those sips. And for those patients with a sensitivity to the beverage, Dr. Sophie Balzora, a gastroenterologist, weighs the benefits and risks very carefully. The clinical associate professor of medicine at N.Y.U. School of Medicine understands its cultural significance, and knows to tread lightly. As she put it: “Robbing people of their coffee seems cruel.”

Fighting back with color

“Fashion week is like the playoffs, like a championship,’’ the musician Quavo said as he made the rounds here this week.

Dior Homme, fall 2020Credit…Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times

By Guy Trebay

“There are some designers that don’t do well,’’ added the rapper, flashing a grill made from emerald-cut diamonds covering top and bottom teeth. Others, however, come out on top.

Asked to name some, the Migos member (who was born Quavious Marshall) handily reeled off his list: “Prada, Off-White, Rick Owens, Undercover,’’ he said. “They all had good pieces, great pieces you want to own.’’

Like advance scouts, Quavo and his fellow musician, Takeoff (Kirshnik Khari Ball), had been enjoying their status as favored guests as they tracked a men’s wear circuit that has lately changed almost beyond recognition.

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As recently as five years ago, men’s wear was fashion’s sleepy minor leagues. You barely had to wait in line to get into most shows, let alone battle your way past mobs of fans screaming for rappers, ballers or Robert Pattinson.

Now the scenes outside shows — like those in Paris for Louis Vuitton or Dior Men, held in temporary structures set up inside the Tuileries Garden or on the Place de la Concorde — could have been lifted straight from “The Day of the Locust.’’

What was notable was not merely the spectacle of screaming bystanders at V.I.P. drop-offs mobbing the limos depositing K-pop sensations or musicians like the Colombian reggaeton star J. Balvin but that the composition of the crowds tracked broader demographic shifts the industry has shown itself eager to exploit.

The days of #fashionsowhite, in other words, are numbered. You can see it the streets outside the shows but just as notably on the runways, where often the clothes themselves are less memorable than the fact that they are being displayed on models who in the past, if they were cast at all, were stereotyped as “exotics.’’

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In 1964, when the designer Emilio Pucci cast two black models for a fashion show in a gilded salon of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Italy, journalists questioned whether the gesture had been an act of courage, a scandal or a novelty.

Contrast dated observations like those with the clear and decisive statement that the designer Kim Jones made with his authoritative Dior Men show on Friday. An opening look is considered in the industry a designer’s concept statement. Here it was a billowing swing coat of pearl gray moiré taffeta with a rumpled rosette at the collar, worn over a turtleneck and pinstripe trousers and accessorized by a white velvet opera glove and a single pearl earring. The person wearing it was the elegant young Angolan model Guibu Bunga.

Consider that a writer for the Business of Fashion site declared last week on Instagram that the breakout runway star of the season was the Senegalese model Malick Bodian. Add to that the fact that when Nicholas Daley, an award-winning young British designer of mixed race, mounted a fashion week presentation early this month at a cavernous club in north London, he cast the show exclusively with people from what he called “his community.’’ Not one appeared to be Caucasian.

Comme des Garçons men, fall 2020Credit…Valerio Mezzanotti for The New York Times
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The designer Olivier Rousteing told a group of journalists before the Balmain show on Friday, “I think I can deliver messages that are beyond business or beyond fashion.’’ Balmain’s desert-themed “Sheikh of Araby’’ theatrics appeared to be as much Vegas spectacle as anything seen before on the runways of Paris.

Recently Mr. Rousteing, who was adopted in childhood by a white couple from Bordeaux, France, discovered the origins of his birth parents, and now describes himself as “Half Ethiopian, half Somalian and 100 percent French. Add to that the multicultural global citizenship conferred on him by an Instagram following of 5.8 million and you can see the power he has to upend the definition of inclusivity. The once yearly appearance of a black face on a fashion magazine cover (usually in February, a graveyard month for print publications) won’t pass muster now that the people whom fashion historically excluded are increasingly calling the shots.

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“That script has already been flipped,’’ the designer Telfar Clemens said before the show he staged earlier this month as part of the Pitti Uomo men’s wear fair in Florence. Mr. Clemens meant the breakdown of hegemonies that pigeonholed people by sexuality, race or gender.

At shows like the opulent one Mr. Clemens staged inside a palazzo on the banks of the Arno — a posse of his New York friends had been flown in at Pitti’s expense for a night of eating and dancing and celebrating, at the conclusion of which models stomped across a littered banquet table — the point seemed to be the erosion of arbitrary boundaries of all kinds.

An emailed statement from Rei Kawakubo, the Comme des Garçons Homme Plus designer, described her antic rush of a show on Friday as “color resistance — fighting back with color.’’ She meant the vibrant strident clashing animal prints, tartans, stripes and checks worn by models who were sent caroming around the space, mosh pit style. It was a joyful thought from a most serious designer and, like many of her gnomic statements, open to personal interpretation.

Heron Preston men, fall 2020Credit…Kay-Paris Fernandes/Getty Images

Fighting back with color can also be read as an endorsement of embracing the whole human dispersion, the best imaginable thing that could happen within fashion and outside it. That the process is underway can be gauged by the fact that the creative director of a powerhouse multinational like Dior Men can now pay overt homage to figures once judged marginal or even less. The Dior show, in homage to the jewelry designer and gender provocateur Judy Blame, felt like an augury of a broader liberation as welcome as it was overdue.

When the American designer Heron Preston filled his front row on Thursday with friends from across the social/sexual/racial spectrum and talked about things coming apart and being reassembled in better ways, you could tell he meant more than camouflage-patterned jacquards or the cleverly reworked polyamide Gore-Tex workwear that has brought him success.

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In a Nina Simone interview quote sampled on the soundtrack of Mr. Preston’s show, the singer spoke passionately of black power and black pride. “To me we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world,’’ Ms. Simone said, adding that her goal had never been to persuade the white world of a black superiority she considered self-evident but to encourage people of color to be “aware of themselves and where they came from and what they are into and what is already there, and just to bring it out.’’ Apply that thought to every historically oppressed group and you can start to see a future.

The one hair product every woman should own

I will hazard a guess that by now you have returned to your gym, or resumed your weekly pilates class. Of course you have. It’s January, the month we make resolutions about our wobbly bodies and worry over our overused credit cards.

Functional and affordable, dry shampoos can mimic the effects of a traditional hair wash and blow dry CREDIT: GETTY

I have just the thing for both: Dry shampoo. Functional and affordable, this powdery spray soaks up oily roots by plumping them to swollen proportions that mimics the effects of a traditional hair wash and blow dry – in just a few seconds.

Not only is this convenient when you’re running from your spin class to your desk, it can stretch out hair washing for three or four days, which has some surprising merits (other than saving time) such as reducing the amount you subject your expensive salon hair colour to hard water fade.

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The original Batiste Dry Shampoo has been a staple in hair stylists kits for as long as I can remember, but in the last year or so dry shampoo has become a mainstream hair hero in most hair care ranges for its ability to do so many things in one.

An instant thickener, it is arguably better than mousse at giving hair body and guts, which you will find an instant confidence boost if you have fine or thinning hair.  I’ve discovered that it gives my straight hair some welcome texture which saves me from twenty minutes tonging in the morning. And if you buy a good one, it offers the light hold of a hairspray without a chalky finish.

Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo, £19, Hair By Sam McKnight

I am fond of many of the latest launches, but if I were to choose one it would be Hair By Sam McKnight Lazy Girl Dry Shampoo, £19, for it smells like the English country garden in full bloom. Should you invest in one? For hair that appears freshly washed (even when it isn’t), with a youthful disheveled texture and decent root lift, there’s no better value for money. I’ve put these five through their paces. 

Minister of Communication, Dr Isa Pantami

For festive fun, go matchy-matchy with your makeup

Go all out with colour coordination. Plus, a lipstick to survive Christmas kisses, and the Pat McGrath and Star Wars collaboration.

Purple reign: Valentino Couture AW19/20. Photograph: Armando Grillo/IMAXTREE.COM

Lovers of rules will tell you matching your makeup to your clothes is old-school. The modern approach is to throw a mishmash of things together and adopt an “I woke up like this” insouciance. Where’s the fun in that? Matchy-matchy makeup is perfect for Christmas. The secret to a brilliant execution is in this Valentino AW19 Couture look. Go for a single statement lip or eye in a bright, jewelled colour and adapt your sartorial choice accordingly. And, for now, enjoy.

  1. By Marian Newman Nail Colour £15, mybeautybrand.com 
  2. Urban Decay Moondust Palette £36.50, urbandecay.co.uk 
  3. Glossier Play Colorslide Eyeliner £13, glossier.com 
  4. Dolce & Gabbana The Blush £48, harrods.com 
  5. LA Girl Volumatic Mascara £7, beautybay.com

I can’t do without… a bold and enduring Christmas lip

Nude lips for Christmas Day is odd to me. I mean, as a woman of colour, the generic use of the term nude jars. Nude bra, nude nails, nude lips, nude slip… Whose nude are we talking about here? Anyway, I digress. Nude lips and Christmas Day. Not the most obvious bedfellows. A little too muted, too understated, too restrained. On this occasion, I’d rather the celebratory and joyous feel of a bright lip. But I have a checklist. I prefer a matt, but I need one that doesn’t leave my lips with more cracks than a building site. I also require an unapologetically strong pigment. One that not only shows up, but shows up correctly – it’s disappointing when what appears on your lips is totally different to the shade of the bullet. This is an issue that women of colour – many of us have dark lips – will relate to. While these sound like easy asks, the criteria is quite tricky to meet. However, this Fenty number, which glides on beautifully, ticked every box. The most startling element for me is that it lasts all day. It does not slip, it does not slide, it does not crack and I do not have to re-apply. Which is perfect because if you are going to be spending your day talking, laughing, eating and drinking, the last thing you want to do is keep rushing to the mirror to ensure your lipstick isn’t half way down your face. Fenty Mattemoiselle Plush Matte Lipstick, £16 boots.com

On my radar… Seductive scents, starry eyes and a Christmas light

Beauty alliance The beauty collab to end all beauty collabs. Pat McGrath has joined forces (get it?) with Star Wars to launch a range of makeup. Even if you are not a fan, it’s a canny investment. From £35, patmcgrath.com

After dark Cult brand Byredo has relaunched a trio of scents that pay homage to night blooms. Sellier is a smoky leather; Casablanca Lily, a floral; Reine de Nuit, a rose and patchouli dream. £230 each, byredo.com

Seasonal glow In the market for a Christmas candle? Try Cire Trudon’s six-strong collection. They all come in the famed handblown glass. Fir, my fave – a pine, fir, myrrh and incense combo – is irresistible. £85 each, selfridges.com

Follow Funmi on Twitter @FunmiFetto


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When your makeup is the party

Almost every time history is being made, there it is. It’s not a suit anymore. It’s a symbol.

Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

By Crystal Martin

Rachel Goodwin, a makeup artist in Los Angeles, thinks we’re living through a rare makeup moment. “It hasn’t been this experimental since the 1980s,” she said.

This modern makeup is characterized by an adventurous spirit. Bright eyeliner is applied in doodles or at sharp angles far away from the lash line. Crystals and glitter are layered on top.

The origins of the trend are many. Though social media is criticized as a study in conformity, it has given a platform to those who are creatively inclined. Moreover, the “be yourself” aesthetic of Gen Z is an increasing influence.

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For weeks last summer, the makeup on the HBO teen drama “Euphoria” was all anyone could talk about. On the show, makeup conveys mood and character through looks like bright watercolor eye shadow, black-lined red lips and gold-foiled eyebrows, temples and lids. Now its styles have entered the mainstream.

Ms. Goodwin describes a tension that she said has almost always existed in makeup: polite looks meant to make the wearer conventionally “pretty” to others contrasted with makeup that functions primarily to express the mood, ideas and tastes of the wearer.

“They’re being playful,” she said of the latter, “and not necessarily looking for external validation, just expression of a sense of identity.”

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It’s a sensibility that all of us, from boomers on down, should be able to get behind. Here, in celebration of the holiday season, Ms. Goodwin shows us how to join the makeup party.

Despite (or maybe because of) the festive spirit of the season, you may still need a little boost to get out the door. Makeup can help. “This kind of makeup creates a feeling of wonder,” Ms. Goodwin said. “It’s rainbows and sparkle and has a childlike quality. You start to embody that.”

She covered the lid with a mix of gold and iridescent Lemonhead LA glitter gel and scattered a rainbow of Swarovski crystals on and just outside the lids.

“I amped up the look with a bright color on the water line,” she said. “You can use any color — purple, green, blue — but it’s an easy way to add color for women who are overwhelmed by eye shadow all over the lid.”

Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

This pink and yellow neon eyeliner channels the color layering and experimental shapes in abstract art, Ms. Goodwin said. Liquid liners create sharp lines that are long-lasting. To get this effect, she used Diorshow On Stage Liner in matte yellow and matte pink, $30.50 each, to draw two rounded triangles.

To replicate her shapes, start at the inner corner of the eye and continue up into the crease, angling your liner toward the tail of your eyebrow. Connect that line back down to the lash line, coming in about a third of way.

The second pink triangle layers right on top and follows the crease of the lid and finishes past the outer corner of the eye. Connect that line to the outer corner of the lash line.

It’s not about perfection, but wobbly lines do happen. If that’s not the look you’re going for, use a Q-tip with a little foundation for cleanups. Makeup remover will erase all of your other work.

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Ms. Goodwin added Lemonhead LA glitter on top of each line. She said that “avant-garde” eyeliner like this, and unexpected makeup in general, gives its wearer an opportunity to create a look that’s emotionally expressive. “As long as it feels how you want it to feel, you’ve been successful,” she said.

There is playfulness inherent in using nontraditional materials. “I wanted to showcase that here,” Ms. Goodwin said. “It’s not always about eyeliner, lipstick and eye shadow.”

She cut a sparkly fabric found at a craft store into triangles, then used eyelash glue to apply them as cat-eye “wings.” Multicolored Swarovski crystals line the lid crease.

She finished the look with a “power blush,” a Kevyn Aucoin Neo-Blush in Sunset, $38, and pearlescent gloss (Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer in Diamond Milk, $18), topped with gold glitter. “Together, it all looked like she just had to go out dancing,” Ms. Goodwin said.

Lips Can Be Fun, Too
Much of adventurous makeup happens on the eyes. Ms. Goodwin wanted to show that the lips can be unexpected, too. First she applied a bright matte red, MAC Retro Matte Liquid Lipcolour in Feels So Good, $22.

“This is one of those liquid paint lipsticks,” she said. “You don’t want to be touching up a lip like this because it’s more dramatic. Glosses move around and don’t last.”

She lined the bottom and top borders of the lips in gold and topped that with gold glitter. The line is wider in the outer corners and narrows toward the center of the lip, when it ends. It’s a modern take, rather than a stark ’90s-inspired lip liner.More party-ready makeup