It’s been ages since we’ve talked about beauty and I’ve had a few people asking me recently how I keep my skin glowing in summer. Well not very much changes in my routine, I have favourites that I buy again and again because they work. I’ve been invited to test quite a few new beauty products over the last months and I have strict terms for accepting samples. Brands have to understand that I will only recommend their new launches if I can see an improvement to my skin and as a result I’d say that almost 80% of promised PR products then never arrive – which tells me everything I need to know, particularly when it comes to some of the big brands and their puffery. However some do so today I’m talking about tried and tested summer beauty along with other recent finds and I’ll make it clear below what was sent for testing by the brand and what I’ve bought personally after reading reviews in other places. Oh and there’s a competition too, to win an exceedingly good pair of wireless earbuds.

But first beauty – as you know, hair is a huge priority for me but I’m not going to talk about that today. The other thing that I think makes all the difference to a midlife woman is skin and I’m not talking about faces that have been stilled by Botox and stuffed with fillers, nor am I talking about complicated beauty salon treatments. For me skincare happens at home and you can make a massive difference with the products you use in your bathroom. In the end it comes down to glow because without a bit of help our skin tends to dull at this stage of life. It’s not so much about looking youthful as looking healthy and of course as you know the foundation of that is exercise (ideally in the fresh air), sleep, SPF and eating well. Beyond that, there are ingredients that I know make a big difference to my skin’s appearance – I’m not a beauty specialist so I’m not going to lecture you about them, I’m just going to tell you what makes a difference to the glowy element of my complexion – the products that I buy again and again.

Tried and tested summer beauty glow givers – night time


This is my number one for glowy skin. I use it after cleansing and it’s the only night-time product I use other than a good night cream. I let it absorb for twenty minutes while I read a book and then I massage night cream on top. I’ve been using Skinceuticals Retinol for a couple of years now – every so often I try something different but nothing has matched it so far. As an experiment I recently upped the concentration from 0.3 to the more expensive 0.5 but it hasn’t made any difference so I’ll be going back to 0.3 when I finish the tube. If you look carefully there are usually offers to be found and this is the best place to buy it at the moment.

I’m sure you know what Retinol does but if not it increases cellular turnover. I don’t find it helps me much with pigmentation but it makes a massive difference to the texture of my skin, maintaining a smooth, healthy looking surface. If I don’t use it for a few days, I can see the difference immediately. If you haven’t used Retinol before start slowly by just applying it a couple of times a week in case you react with any redness and then gradually build up the frequency until your skin is living with it happily.

Tried and tested summer beauty

Skinceuticals Retinol; 0.3 (bought personally for the last five years)

Night Cream

Now this is a product that was sent for review by a small specialist and I really like it. It comes from a brand called Cult51 which was funded by Richard Mears, a chemist who turned his back on the big beauty industry after 30 years because he was tired of creating endless money-making permutations to tackle skin concerns that he felt could be wrapped up in one product. The night cream was his first development and it was formulated to work with the skin as it goes through its regenerating processes while we sleep.

Tried and tested summer beauty

Cult51 Night Cream (PR sample sent for review SS21)

There appears to be strong scientific testing behind it although full results are not published on the website – you can read about them here. A couple of things annoyed me when it arrived – there were typos on the packaging which isn’t something I’d expect from a brand like this and they use the term anti-ageing which is inexcusable now. However it gets consistent five star reviews from customers and I wasn’t sure if it was making a difference to me until we went to Newcastle for a week and I took a different night cream in a travel size. By the end of the week my skin wasn’t feeling the same in the mornings, there was none of the springy plumpness that had developed over the testing period. I realised it had been so gradual that I hadn’t really noticed it, I started using the Cult 51 night cream again when we got home and it returned. It’s an expensive product but I do think it makes a difference, you can buy it directly from Cult51 and from Harvey Nichols or Fortnum & Mason.

Incidentally they sent me the eye cream and day cream to trial too but I haven’t had a chance to use them yet, I’ll let you know if I get good results from them too.

Tried and tested summer beauty glow givers – day time

Vitamin C +

I have a simple regime in the mornings too. I cleanse and give my skin a quick sweep with an AHA (my favourite is Ready, Steady, Glow), I then leave a Vitamin C product to soak in while I clean my teeth. For me there is only CE Ferulic, I’ve told you about it before and although I keep being sent other Vitamin C products to test, nothing matches it. It comes in a simple glass bottle so make sure you buy it from a reputable seller – there are some horror stories on Ebay. The cheapest I’ve found it is here.

Day cream

In terms of day cream there is one that I’m absolutely raving about for summer. I’ve seen so many beauty journalists singing the praises of this day cream/ SPF that I had to buy it. It’s probably the nicest moisturiser that I’ve ever used – and it isn’t expensive.

Tried and tested summer beauty

Anthelios Age Correct (bought personally)

The problem is finding it in stock at the moment but I have here and it’s on three for two. Why is it so good? Well for me the main thing is the texture, it moisturises my skin in an instant and it just feels so good. I’ve tried a few different foundations with it and they all apply like a dream with no pilling. It contains UVA and UVB protection; at Factor 50 not only are you guarding against any future age spots but it also contains Niacinamide which among other things helps to reduce pigmentation. The only annoying thing is that they’re using the phrase ‘Age Correct’ – it does make you wonder when the skincare industry will start to celebrate the older woman for who she is.

Tried and tested summer beauty – new make-up buys

Bobbi Brown discontinued my favourite blusher last year (pot rouge in Calypso Coral) so I’ve had to find a replacement for a summer flush. I like to use a cream blusher and then top it with a highlighting powder for added glow. I couldn’t find anything exactly like my pot rouge so I decided to try the Cloud Paints from Glossier that so many people rave about. They’re lighter in texture than the Bobbi Brown blusher I’m used to but I think that might be a good thing because they smudge very naturally into the skin for a healthy (rather than hot) flushed look. I ordered Dawn which is a warm summer coral and I’ve been wearing it with a sweep of my much loved Joy Powder over the top for a glowing finish.

Tried and tested summer beauty

Cloud Paint in Dawn (bought personally)

Tried and tested summer beauty

Joy highlighter (bought personally)

There’s a discount if you buy two colours so I added Puff to my basket too, it’s a pink that gives you that ‘just come in from outside’ look. You only need to use the tiniest amount and it blends straight into your cheeks for a natural finish, I’m wearing it here and hopefully you can’t tell – if that makes sense!

Make-up: Cloud Paint in Puff (bought personally) worn with Luminous Silk foundation (bought personally) and red lip gloss (bought personally)

summer beauty glow givers

Cloud Paint in Puff (bought personally)

Tried and tested summer beauty – Self Tan

I find self tan a real nuisance but it makes such a difference that it’s worth the effort, especially as my legs just don’t seem to tan any more. When the sun finally started to shine this year there was a global shortage of my favourite tanning drops and I thought they must have discontinued them however they’re back in stock now. I like them because you can use them with your moisturiser or body cream and adjust the depth of colour on a daily basis to avoid build-up.

summer beauty glow givers

Golden Glow Booster (bought personally – I use the body drops for face as well)

In the meantime however I ordered this self tanner. I wanted something that wouldn’t mark my white sheets and as this goes on clear there’s no risk. It’s so simple, you just spray your legs (I stand in the shower to do it so that it doesn’t stain the bathroom floor) and massage in using a mitt. There’s no strong smell and in a few hours you have a light tan that adapts to your skin tone so it looks natural. You can opt for light, medium or dark – I tried light last year and it was a bit too pale for me so this year I’m using medium and it’s far better. Incidentally at the same time I ordered the Day Dew tanning face mist that’s getting a lot of column inches at the moment but it did nothing for me at all so I’m sticking with Clarins for face.

summer beauty best fake tan 2021

Self tanning water (bought personally)

Tried and tested summer beauty – hands and feet

I went for a medi-pedi at Margaret Dabbs in London a couple of years ago but I don’t think I ever mentioned it on here. It’s much more of a clinical experience than a pampering one as the technician examines your feet and the damage that you’ve done to them over the years and then sets about fixing it. I had hard pads on the balls of both feet that had built up over years of commuting in heels. However hard I tried I couldn’t get rid of them but the Margaret Dabbs clinician did and every time I lie face down on a sun lounger (which admittedly hasn’t been for a while) I’m still grateful because they’ve never come back. Anyway she recommended that I buy the foot file to take home with me and I was a bit sceptical because it costs more than your average supermarket buy but my goodness it’s good and it will last for  life because the sandpaper (or whatever they use) is replaceable. Use it on dry skin (not soft from the shower) to rub away any build up.

summer beauty best pedicure tools

Margaret Dabbs foot file (bought personally)

They got in touch a couple of weeks ago to see if I’d like another one and with Newcastle in mind I knew it would be good to have a duplicate of something I use a lot. They also sent their foot cream which I hadn’t tried before and it’s great. I love the way that it absorbs quickly so you don’t have to worry about your sheets or stair carpet – depending on what time of day you use it.

best foot creams 2021

Margaret Dabbs intensive foot lotion (PR sample sent for review SS21)

Nails – make your manicure last for over a week

I’m always stunned when friends of mine say they’re off for a treat and then add they’re going for a manicure – I find it really frustrating sitting there unable to do anything because your hands are out of action. Anyway you may remember that I submitted before going to Newcastle to see Mr MC and within days it had all chipped so it felt like even more of a waste of time. I know I could have had a gel manicure but I find they destroy my nails and I don’t like the thought that they’re not strong and healthy underneath. Anyway I decided to get back into the habit of doing my nails myself on a Sunday night and ordered this primer and gloss to replace the base and top coat that had dried out over lockdown.

best nail products for long lasting manicure

Infinite Shine Pro-Stay Kit (bought personally)

I used them with this polish and my manicure was still going strong after two weeks, the only reason I had to redo it was because my nails had grown and I had a gap at the bottom. It’s incredible stuff. I’ve used Infinite Shine with the silver bottle tops for a couple of years now and always loved the finish but the primer and gloss make such a difference to longevity. My all time favourite is this classic red…

best red nail varnish for summer 2021

OPI Infinite Shine (bought personally)

… but this week, inspired by Alyson Walsh I’ve been wearing this creamy white and I really like it.

Creamy white polish (bought personally)

Tried and tested – Music – win a pair of earbuds

Last March I bought my first Apple AirPods and as soon as I tried them I was distinctly underwhelmed but because they were so expensive I’ve stuck with them. Despite trying all the different sized tips they won’t stay in my ears when I run. I’ve got into the habit of tapping them back in every couple of minutes so although it’s a nuisance it isn’t the end of the world, Mr MC has the same problem and has dropped his into the canal so often that he’s now onto his second pair. I don’t find they fulfil their promise of noise cancellation either which is what I need to block out the endless Zoom calls that go on around me.

A few weeks ago JBL got in touch to ask if I’d review their new earbuds. Now being an Apple orientated household I didn’t know JBL and was about to delete the email because I’m forever being approached by Amazon traders asking for reviews so I assumed it was one of those. Luckily I was sitting with the eldest at the time and as soon as I mentioned it he was excited, telling me how good JBL are. So, I said yes to the review and for a bit of fun they suggested that I use this diagram to help me find which pair would be best (as it happens they’re all the same model but it helps you to identify which features are going to be most valuable to you).

earbuds for running review

The quiz led me to the black ones which would have been my preferred choice anyway.

JBL Live Pro + Wireless Earbuds

What I can say is that they’re brilliant. When I run they don’t fall out and the Smart Ambient feature means that even when my music’s playing, I can hear cyclists whizzing up behind me on the canal. I’d put them through their paces in an hour long circuits session here (our gym has created a whole new Covid-safe torture chamber outside so that we can exercise in the fresh air if we want to) and they stayed in place for all but some of the most dynamic TRX moves.

Midlifechic gym kit

Top; Leggings; Stability trainers (now in the sale); JBL Live Pro + Wireless Earbuds

At work I can block out Mr MC’s endless Zooms… along with the people at the agency the eldest works for who are all young and very excitable. The sound’s better than Apple too. It isn’t often that tech excites me, in fact the only other thing that has exceeded my expectations as much as these earbuds is my Dyson vacuum cleaner – and I realise that’s a bit of a sad midlife thing to say but I know you’ll understand. So, a few of you have asked me for earbud recommendations since I started running and these are a really good choice, especially if sound quality matters to you. I think as far as running is concerned it’s the ergonomic design that helps them to stay in place.

best earbuds for running UK summer 2021

JBL Live Pro + Wireless Earbuds

Anyway I’m pleased to say that I managed to secure an extra pair as a prize for one of you so that you can test them too. As always I promise that this isn’t a data capture exercise, I won’t store your details, share them or sell them to anyone. The only email address that I pass to JBL will be the winner’s so that they can send the prize out.

The prize is one pair of JBL Live Pro + TWS headphones worth £169.99. There is no cash alternative and the closing date is Friday 9th July 2021. The winner will be drawn at random using RafflePress software on Saturday 10th July and notified the following week.

Summer sales

So that was a bit of a mixed bag today but as you know, this is how the summer posts tend to go while the sales are on. Just in case you’ve missed them, the sales that have started or upped the ante this week include:

  • Boden – up to 50% off here
  • Hush – up to 50% off here – if you scroll down you’ll see they’ve added quite a lot of stuff from previous seasons when the designs were stronger in my opinion
  • The White Company – this has been going on for a while with up to 60% off here but new lines have been added this week and there are some really strong pieces
  • Baukjen – up to 50% off here including the brilliant Georgie pants in navy, still available in all sizes
  • John Lewis & Partners – up to 50% off here and don’t forget the hub is a good place to go to check the discount levels at other high street brands as they’ll be price matching
  • Arket – up to 50% off here including Scandi homewares
  • Cos – up to 50% off here including menswear (very slow delivery this year according to Mr MC)
  • Stories – new lines added here

Have a lovely weekend – I hope the sun shines on you as much as it has in the north this week – and watch me jinx it again now!

Disclosure: ‘Tried and tested summer beauty and other finds’ is not a sponsored post. All PR review products have been directly declared.

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