The photographer Rankin has revealed that the Queen once refused to pose with a sword because she didn’t like her hands.
I can’t tell you how much this makes me miss our doughty monarch, her normality and complete transcendence of normality — at one and the same time.
Rankin imagined this was simply a ‘get out’ but I’m not so sure. So many women harbour some hatred of chin, waist, or ankle, and such small self-loathings dictate how we present ourselves to the world.
Were Elizabeth II’s gloves more than just a politeness? Did her handhatred influence her preference for top-handled Launer bags, gripped in a fist or the crook of an arm?
The Queen once refused to pose with a sword because she didn’t like her hands. Hands reveal age, while parchedness can make us feel particularly crone-like
I’m glad my hands are strong. However, this also means they’re big, meaty, manly affairs.
Premature, I was born without fingernails, then bit them relentlessly, so they’re still stumpy. Hands reveal age, while parchedness can make us feel particularly crone-like. Still, there are Things One Can Do…
For a start a professional manicure makes the responsibility for your hands’ redemption somebody else’s.
Find a technician who understands that not everyone is flattered by a squoval (that ubiquitous square-oval) shape. Rounded, oval proper, or almond will be considerably more flattering.
Ask your manicurist to use every optical illusion to make length appear greater. The strategy easiest to reproduce yourself is to leave subtle unpainted strips either side of your shade (nail contouring).
Lacquering them will also make any slight differences in length disappear
ALL ABOUT BASE
Do use base and top coat — it’s the difference between a botch job and something that endures. The difficulty with DIY is not so much the painting but allowing the layers to dry.
Invest in Leighton Denny’s excellent Miracle Drops Speed Dry Polish Drops (leightondenny.com, £12.50), having first given damp varnish a cold blast with your hairdryer.
NO AGEING PASTELS
Her Majesty is said to have disliked bold colour, considering it déclassé. Instead, she favoured Essie’s pinky-white Ballet Slippers (from £3.99, superdrug.com) back in the days when she still did varnish. Don’t go near it — it’s ageing on anyone older than 15, its opaque pallor making skin look mottled and raddled.
UK-based beauty expert Hannah Betts (pictured) reveals what you can do to stop this by looking after your hands including a good scrub and using a base and top coat for your nails
If you must go minimal, go sheer with the brand’s Hard To Resist Nail Strengthener in Pink Tint (£9.99, boots.com). But it’s a myth that short claws require pastels. A glorious berry, blueberry, or satsuma looks chic on neat nails.
A good scrub can make things appear more shipshape. ‘It’s the first and most satisfying step,’ explains Sam Kendrew, chief manicurist at nail experts Mii Cosmetics.
‘A good hand exfoliant brightens, smooths and softens, prepping skin to allow serum or cream to sink in.’ Sam recommends Mii Cosmetics Brighten + Renew Hand Exfoliant (£32, miicosmetics.com). It combines natural pumice with glycolic and lactic acids, moisturising panthenol and sweet almond oil.
If you can be bothered with cuticle oil, try Cutex Hydrating Cuticle Oil (Amazon, £3.49) to nourish nails. Ditto hand cream. By day, it has to offer sun protection, such as Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Visibly Renew Hand Cream SPF20 (£5.75, boots.com).
By night, consider L’Occitane, Balance Me or Clarins Hand & Nail Treatment Cream (from £9, clarins.co.uk).
RACE YOU TO IT
This pharmaceutically developed treatment bar for the face and body tested so well on eczema sufferers that it went on sale with an imposing waiting list. With a pH of 5.5, and containing pre-, pro- and post-biotics to improve the skin’s microbiome, Beauty Kin: the Soothing Bar (£9.95, beautykin.com) works well on dry, itchy skin.
MY ICON OF THE WEEK
Oscar winner Charlize Theron, 47, (pictured) is the face of Dior’s J’adore (from £63, boots.com). Her non negotiables are lip balm, sunblock and WaterWipes
The Oscar winner, 47, is the face of Dior’s J’adore (from £63, boots.com). Her non negotiables are lip balm, sunblock and WaterWipes Biodegradable Baby Wipes (£2.99, boots.com). She says: ‘The older I get the more I’m about not matte-ing your face down with powder. I don’t think it’s very flattering.’
BEST ADVENT CALENDARS
Liberty’s magical offering can’t be beaten.
The Body Shop Advent Calendars.
I was given one last year and loved it. Sustainable, organic skincare that’s also seriously good.
A glow-in-the-dark celestial objet d’art packed with pristine perfumed perfection, this is the calendar to sigh over.
12 days of Benefit favourites for teenagers of all ages.
If anything can endear me to Black Friday hysteria, it is the opportunity to indulge in a Pat McGrath treasure.
This British beauty legend’s MTHRSHP Mega: Celestial Nirvana Palette ( £76, patmcgrath.com) is a cornucopia of 18 shades, in four finishes, across neutral, cool and warm tones to structure, highlight and add metallic punch to eyes.
See her website’s ‘Anatomy of a Palette’ guide for which hues work as structure builders, gleaming metallics or finishing highlights.
They work wet or dry, promising ‘extreme adherence’. As Dame Pat exhorts, ‘Use without caution!’