Am I the only one who gets tired of magazine's 'must have' beauty lists which appear to be sponsored by L'oreal and almost never include anything a bit less chemical? Here, then, is the beginning of my own, thoroughly biased but rather more broadly-based list, which I can guarantee is based on extensive and thorough experimentation!
1. To begin at the feet - the only foot cream that I am passionate about is L'Occitane's shea butter foot cream. It smells refreshingly of lavender (real lavender, not synthesised lavender). It's rich and creamy but if you massage in a pea-size blob to each foot you will be able to walk on carpets again by the time you have moisturised the rest of your body - which leads me to...
2. Body lotion - best cheap and plentiful lotion for dry skin like mine is St Ives Collagen Ellastin. Rich but not sticky and an unobtrusive smell, large bottles at very reasonable prices. Weleda mallow body lotion is a runnier but even more virtuous alternative.
3. Shower gel - it is a mystery to me why anyone still buys generic shower gels unless they really really love them. A trip to Whole Foods Market or a local healthfood shop will reveal a cornucopia of really lovely organic shower gels in every price range. I am currently revelling in Figs & Rouge's Juniper gel (the only flaw is the screw cap but I switched it for a flip-top from an old shampoo bottle). Next on my list is Giovanni's sweetly named and sweet-smelling 'cucumber song'. Ren, Korres and others are also now widely available in department stores.
4. Facial wash - it is no good asking me about cream cleansers, nor about toner, I am a firm believer in cleanser that washes off, toning as it goes. Elemis Tri-enzyme facial wash is pricey but does a good job of encouraging dead skin to depart without giving that nasty tight feeling. I only like to use it once a day so my morning wake-up wash is JASON's Super-C cleansing wash, lovely long-lasting organic orange burst of freshness. Simple's cleansing washes are also a good basic.
5. Night cream - cream, schmeam. What you want is oil. I say this with zealous conviction after my own conversion. Oil is great because skin can recognise it. You need very little so it lasts ages. I will say this only once - it does not make skin oily. It does make it soft and lovely and prevent wrinkles. And because of the texture you do spend a minute or two massaging it in which is also really good for your face. My failsafe is Rosa Mosqueta oil - the only downside is that is doesn't smell as good as the name sounds. To be honest I get it from the healthfood shop and have no idea what its credentials are, but you could also try Es'pa or Darphin for more mainstream alternatives.
6. Eye cream - you know you should. I have been told (by a therapist at Champneys) that I have a very good eye area for a 30-something. I've tried dozens of creams but my favourite is Weleda's rose eye cream. It's extremely simple and pure, just what I feel happy having close to my eye. Half a pea of cream rubbed in gentle circles round the bone of the socket and tapped in under the eye morning and night is a good feeling. And the tiny tube in pretty pink is great for taking on holiday etc.
More ranting on this subject later...