I once remember having to explain to my newspaper editor (who had recently returned from a warzone) that the reason I was repeatedly late every morning during the summer months was due to the large number of beauty products I had to apply especially in the weeks leading up to a holiday.
Motherhood and many years later, my morning routine is a damn sight quicker and I’ve honed my pre-beach beauty ritual to a fine art which requires minimal products and time but delivers maximum results. It’s a bit like piano practise, little and often works best for that difficult moment on the first day of your holiday when you have to appear in public in what amounts to your bra and pants. So here is my guide to getting yourself beach ready without too much fuss.

Start now

Skin Smoothing
Start dry skin brushing before your shower. It literally takes about 30 seconds and you’ll notice smoother and firmer looking skin after a few days. I love the Organic Pharmacy Skin Brush, £7.96, which isn’t too scratchy. I keep mine next to the toothbrushes to remind myself to do it every morning.
If you tend not to bother during the winter, start applying a good body moisturiser NOW. Even the daily massage will help improve the texture and overall look of your skin. I love Avene Akerat Body Care Cream, £15, which is a genius product for smoothing the backs of the arms as it is formulated for keratosis prone skin. It also makes arms and legs look lovely and sheeny.
Exfoliating once a week will also do wonders for thighs and arms. To be perfectly honest, even those exfoliating gloves you can find in most chemists work brilliantly but for a real treat, try Ila’s Body Scrub for Energising and Detoxifying, £47. It’s a mineral-rich salty scrub which you massage over the body, (it smells fantastic) and then you soak it off in a warm bath enjoying the beautiful (and uplifting) fragrance.
It’s worth investing in a decent foot balm too as a quick massage before going to bed can keep heels from looking scary by the time August arrives. Origins Reinventing the Heel, £22, is terrific, and the consistency is perfect.

1 week before

Bikini models are told to bath in a couple of handfuls of Epsom salts every evening before being photographed. It won’t do anything if that’s all you’re doing, but if you are exercising regularly and watching what you eat, Epsom salts baths can help eliminate toxins and so contributes to the flat-tummy masterplan.

Strip Wax Bars, just do really really great bikini waxes whatever your wax preference from £23. Brilliantly, they have televisions in the treatment rooms which I love as it means I don’t have to start fast-paced nonsense conversations as soon as the therapist starts stretching on the latex gloves and she can just focus on what she’s doing. stripwaxbars.com

I could easily write a dissertation on why I think self-tan is so brilliant. I think we all know how much better (and thinner) we feel when we are a little bit ‘tanned’. For the body, my favourite is still St Tropez as it continually delivers excellent results with its now very easy to use formulations. I am evangelical about St Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body Moisturiser, £14.30, as it’s fool-proof and you can get dressed straight away after applying and it develops into a realistic, golden glow after a couple of hours.
For paler skins I have seen brilliant results from Vita Liberata pHenomenal. Try the
pHenomenal 2-3 Week Tan Mousse, £37.50 which provides a superb long lasting colour.

Just before you go

If all has failed and your beach body prep hasn’t gone to plan, don’t forget how a perfectly arched brow (ideally with a tint) before your holiday will make you look much better in all the photos. A great brow frames the face, enhances the cheekbones and just makes you look prettier. I love Blink Brow Bar, (Prices from £17). And of course there’s always my favourite fall-back for any bikini photograph when there’s been pasta and prosecco at lunch which is to shout loudly at whoever is taking the photo to focus on the waist up and smile like Sophia Loren.

words by Lucia Ferrari

image: Beach Cafe