You won't see her, but she's there, in the salons, spas and shops, and she's happy to share her secrets on fake tan
I had never thought about using fake tan until I met my friend Anna at the airport. She was crying inconsolably. "They took my bottle of fake tan," she wailed, and Anna is not a woman who cries easily. She is a yoga teacher and a psychotherapist, so she's normally extremely Zen. If the confiscation of her fake tan by airport security staff could have such a dramatic effect on her, I had no choice but to investigate its magical properties.
I bought some Clinique fake tan later that day. That evening when the children were asleep I body-brushed my skin all over to remove any dead skin. I had a shower. Then I covered myself in my new skin tone. The instructions told me to rub it in carefully to avoid stripes. Excellent advice. The brown-and-white zebra look is not a good one, unless you live in Africa and eat grass.
The smell was not unpleasant. I last tried fake tan circa 1970; just as English cooking has improved since then, so has French fake tan. This particular gel went on easily, it was moisturising, smooth and glowing. Suddenly my phone rang. I rushed to answer it, naked except for my fake tan, clutching a pink towel in case anyone should pop in unexpectedly.
"Hello," said a voice with an efficient New York accent. "I'm calling you from the advertising agency JWT. We're hosting a dinner at le Byblos hotel in St Tropez with leading trendsetters and trend-spotters to discuss what motivates women to keep in shape and look after themselves. As we see you as one of the leading trendsetters of the moment, we would very much like you to attend. Are you available?" I am always available for anything at le Byblos hotel in St Tropez. "When is it?" I asked. "Next Tuesday," she replied. Plenty of time for my fake tan to dry. Was she aware, I wondered as I agreed to come along and share my trendsetting wisdoms, how very trendy I was looking at that moment wearing nothing but fake tan and a pink towel?
I went to le Byblos. I wore a white dress to further accentuate my glowing colour and several people remarked on how tanned I was. "Oh it's all fake," I told them proudly. After lunch one of the other trendsetters took me to one side. "Would you tell people if you bleached your moustache?" she asked. How could she tell I bleach my moustache? "No, of course not," I said. "Well then why disillusion them about your tan, unless of course you're on commission from Clinique?"
She has a point. It is not a secret I am going to share with anyone else, except you.
READY, STEADY, GROW! We admit it - we were wrong. Or at least overenthusiastic. Such was our passion for the new chip-nail gel that we went months without giving our poor talons a rest. The result? Weak, brittle, bendy, broken nails. Hideous. We spent a couple of weeks naked (perish the thought) until we discovered this little miracle: the Sally Hansen Continuous Treatment Growth polish. It looks like clear polish but nourishes your nails and helps them regain their form. Ours are almost back to their super-strong best.
Dh55, Sally Hansen Continuous Treatment, available at Carrefour hypermarkets
Put your best foot forward
Flatter your winter-weary feet with helpful hints from the Tips & Toes general manager Tina Gharfurian
1 Wax works. Instead of having just a pedicure, have a paraffin wax treatment, too. This treatment has many benefits, including increasing blood flow and opening the pores to ensure maximum moisture to the feet.
2 Soft touch. We often forget how much abuse we inflict on our feet, shoving them into ill-fitting shoes and standing on them for hours. So give them a treat at the end of the day and soak them in warm water for around 10 minutes. Then apply a foot mask; peppermint or cucumber are great for their cooling and refreshing agents. Apply liberally, wrap in a hot towel, leave on for a few hours and relax.
3 Well oiled. You don't need to spend a fortune to ensure you have beautiful feet. Look closer to home; olive oil is the perfect home remedy to give your feet much-needed vitamins and nutrients. Ensure your feet are clean, warm up the oil in the microwave and apply liberally to your feet, finishing off by slipping into some soft socks. This is best done just before bed.
4 Scrub up. To ensure that your feet are soft and smooth make sure that you exfoliate at least once a week to get rid of dead skin cells. You can do this easily with a pumice stone and a good foot scrub.
5 Sun cream. Often we forget about our feet when summer arrives (or all year here in the UAE). But when wearing sandals make sure you apply sun cream to your feet - they're at the perfect angle to get burnt.
6 Feet treat. Indulge in regular sessions of reflexology. It not only relieves aching feet but also helps revive the whole body.