Our resident beauty columnist, Ava Welsing-Kitcher, is ready to answer all your questions.
Whether I’ve been working in a bustling office or in the calm of my own home, I’ve always curated a team of products to live in my workspace, each with their own strategic use. Lockdown and working from home showed us the importance of being more mindful when it comes to structuring our time and environment – and whatever our workspaces look like now, they’re ours to design according to our needs. I don’t know about you, but I often get a post-lunch energy crash, I don’t drink enough water (does anyone?), and get dry, overstimulated eyes after hours spent staring at several screens. On the beauty front, any makeup I’ve applied in the morning gradually creases and cakes by the afternoon, and if it’s been a particularly stressful day, I nibble away at my lip absent-mindedly. But that’s what my desk buddies are for, swooping in at various moments during the working day to perk up, revive and restore – read on and meet the team.
If you work from home or are lucky enough to trust your colleagues in the shared kitchen, put your face mist in the fridge. Want that invigorated boost you get after a cold shower, but in a tamer form? A few cold spritzes before the afternoon slump hits does wonders to revive your skin and spirit – and my spray of choice is Keys Soulcare’s heavenly Aura Mist. With rose of Jericho and witch hazel, it wakes everything up, while simultaneously soothing and enriching the skin, and the spray dispenser softly diffuses rather than spits out.
For me, candles aren’t just for bath time or bedtime – they’re a round-the-clock indulgence I don’t think we allow ourselves enough of. Okiki’s has sensual notes of magnolia, rose otto, sandalwood and orchid, and they all blend together in such a fresh way, making them perfect for morning or right after closing the laptop lid, plus the crackling wood wick provides some comforting white noise. Ami London’s Ocean Breeze candle deserves an honourable mention, too, for allowing us to hold on to summer longer; delicate notes of coconut, orange, vanilla, amber and bergamot will turn any four walls into an island paradise.
I now have to wear actual glasses while I work, but I used to slide on Quay’s clear lenses during laptop hours (and sometimes during night-time Netflix binges, too). Anyone who struggles to fall asleep like I do, somehow feeling full of energy and racing thoughts as soon as the lights go off, needs to try these. The blue light emitted by our screens can suppress the production of melatonin – the hormone that tells our bodies to drift off – and throw our sleep cycles off balance as our brains are tricked into thinking it’s daytime, even when it’s not. If glasses aren’t your thing, try customising your phone and laptop settings to minimise blue tones after a certain time of day.
My issue with applying hand cream when working is that I hate the feeling of residue on my fingertips while typing. Two hand creams that don’t do that are Liz Earle’s Orange Flower Hand Repair – which smells like joy in a tube and has vitamin E and oatmeal to counteract damage from overwashing and sanitising – and RéVive’s rose-enriched formula, which is sumptuous but absorbs quickly into the skin. If you work by a window, the added SPF15 is a must – just make sure to consistently reapply to reap the protection benefits.
We’re all well-versed in hand sanitisers at this point, and this one is the gold standard for aesthetics and scent. With mandarin rind, rosemary and cedar atlas – the most uplifting and balancing notes – it’ll find you searching for more reasons to use it as much as possible, so definitely opt for the bigger size. I’ve had mine for a year and I haven’t gone through it yet, thanks to only needing one pump with each use – plus it dries down with no residue, just that divine scent. With 58-62% alcohol, it’s bacteria-busting for sure.
As you’ve probably already guessed, scents play a huge role in my working day – I was practising scentscaping long before the trend had a name. I have a couple of diffusers already, but this newest offering, from Aromatherapy Associates, takes everything to the next level. Portable, rechargeable up to five hours, and requiring no heat or water refills (no more mould), it’s completely fuss-free but not totally noise-free as described. It comes with a nifty tool to pop the rubber stopper off essential oil bottles, so they can be easily slotted into the chamber. Either use one of the brand’s cult oil blends (Revive is so energising, with neroli and grapefruit, or Breathe for clearing brain fog, with eucalyptus and peppermint) or use the extra empty bottle to concoct your own.
When I worked in busy magazine offices, I was always spraying my team’s space with a selection of mists depending on what we needed. Trying to pick ourselves up after disheartening news? Ila Apothecary’s Beat The Blues, with its strengthening and tension-releasing blend of petitgrain, clary sage, and tuberose. Hitting a creative brick wall? Aveda’s Chakra 2 spray for body and space, with orange and geranium to spark that inspirational fire, or the sandalwood and palmarosa Chakra 4, when we needed to put our heads together and create as a team. Scents truly unlock our subconscious, rewiring our mental pathways to shift moods and focus – and even just the intention behind releasing scents into our atmosphere is the first step towards making those changes.
I have a bit of an addiction when it comes to lip balm, and I always need at least three near me while working, for different reasons. Glossier’s Berry Balm Dot Com for the prettiest purplish tint, Summer Friday’s Lip Butter Balm for a delicious vanilla-scented sheen, and my favourite new discovery: lip expert Dr Esho’s Coat. This is the lip balm, enriched with squalene (from olives) and golden jojoba oil, without feeling greasy at all: just a nourishing glaze that lasts for hours. Pair with Drench, a lightweight serum that’s perfect under the thicker Coat, or just lipstick.
Now, this is is a little bit of an extravagant purchase, I’ll admit – and if you’re not into anything ‘woo-woo’, scroll on. I was sent this by another brand a couple of years ago, and I’ve used it nearly every day since while working. Amethyst is known for its stress-beating, nerve-calming powers, which are channelled really well through water. Drinking out of this bottle won’t cure anything instantly, but even just gazing into its intricate depths serves as a meditation moment. Easy to unscrew and clean properly, it can also be filled with lemon slices or ice cubes, or written on with a marker to keep you on track with drinking enough water. If spending that much on a bottle doesn’t boost your intake, I don’t know what else will.
Pat McGrath Labs
So many concealers look flawless when first applied, only to sink downwards and settle into cracks as the day progresses. On the other hand, I’m not really into formulas marketed as long-wear – they sit heavier on the skin and are harder to freshen up. Makeup legend Pat McGrath’s is one of the few I’ve found that can still look good when reapplied over the top, thanks to its flexible formula that gives off the same luminosity as seriously hydrated skin. If your entire face needs a rework, spray some Aura Mist and re-blend over any problem areas with a brush, then add more concealer or foundation while skin is still damp.
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