Hannah Betts's Better…not younger:  midlife guide to getting your legs out

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The sun will (finally, sort of) be out this week and I am having to make the usual sprucing adjustments. You know the routine. The endless Forth Bridge that is the midlife body will be looking a tad shabby, plaster peeling, in need of a good sanding. 

Cue an aggressive bout of brushing, lathering, scrubbing, exfoliation, epilation, plucking, bleaching, oiling, slathering, spritzing, painting and polishing. 

I favour two distinct approaches to this annual renovation project, and thus two genres of body product. In the first instance, I want belt and braces practical stuff that does what it says on the tin. On the other hand, I also require a few hypnotically beautiful things to incentivise the process and make life feel worth living. 

Hannah Betts explains how to get beautiful legs for summer. She says Ameliorate is the brand to seek out for body issues such as ingrown hairs or keratosis pilaris

Hannah Betts explains how to get beautiful legs for summer. She says Ameliorate is the brand to seek out for body issues such as ingrown hairs or keratosis pilaris

Hair removal-wise, I have been epilating since my early 30s — epilators being whizzing pluckers, yanking out hair between rotating plates. My mate Sarah Vine’s mother got her into it, then Sarah introduced me. I was sceptical, having used one in the 1980s when they were rubbish, then immediately sold on the idea. 

First off, it’s incredibly cheap. My Philips Satinelle Essential Corded Compact Epilator can be had for £25 (amazon.co.uk) and has lasted over ten years. It’s basically invincible — I’ve dropped it thousands of times and still it whizzes on. 

Epilation is also fantastically easy and injury-free. Regrowth is slow, soft and feeble, à la waxing, rather than that almost instant stubble one sprouts post-shaving. And the fact that you can do it on short hair means you never have to mess around in maxi skirts waiting for regrowth as you do with waxing. 

It can feel a little painful first time around, then never does again. The trick is to shave before first use so hair is short. I even epilate my bikini line, the method being to hold skin taut. 

My local salon charges £30 for three-quarter leg waxing, £20 for a non-porn-style knicker groom. Doing that every three weeks for 20 years would cost £17,000 plus tips, meaning around £18,000. Sarah and I really should take her mother out for dinner. 

Dry body brushing is another cheap-as-chips solution I heartily recommend. Anything not too savagely stiff-bristled will do. In over two decades writing about beauty, I am yet to discover a body exfoliator I like better than Clinique’s Sparkle Skin (£26, clinique.co.uk): gritty, hard-working, not leaving a great oil slick, with an invigorating menthol boost. 

Ameliorate is the brand to seek out for body issues such as ingrown hairs or keratosis pilaris. Popularly known as ‘chicken skin’, these are those red or brownish bumps caused by hair follicles becoming blocked with keratin that can crop up at the tops of arms, on thighs, and bottoms. 

The brand’s first product in 2012 was the awardwinning Transforming Body Lotion (from £8, ameliorate.com). It eradicates said bumpiness via lactic acid, a naturally occurring Alpha Hydroxy Acid that exfoliates cells while drawing moisture into the skin. It’s also great at preventing ingrown hairs. Between 2020-2021 alone, Transforming Body Lotion won eight awards — and rightly. 

Hannah Betts (pictured) says that she has been epilating since she as in her 30s. It was Sarah Vine who introduced her to it

Hannah Betts (pictured) says that she has been epilating since she as in her 30s. It was Sarah Vine who introduced her to it

The last few months have yielded something beauty buffs are referring to as ‘whole body skincare’, in which active ingredients hitherto reserved for the face are being redirected at our physiques. 

Names to conjure with include Mutha and Nécessaire. Even High Street hero CeraVe has produced a Hydrating Foaming Oil Cleanser (£15.74, superdrug. com) packed with drynessrelieving ceramides, triglyceride and squalene. 

My particular pash is Messiah and Eve, motto: Good skin days don’t just belong to your face. True, but it’s the scents that seduce me. The brand’s founder, Sarah Sklavenitis, commissions a boutique fragrance house in Grasse, France’s perfume capital, plus a veteran British expert to create heady concoctions that linger on the skin. 

I am obsessed with its Body Cleanser No.2 (£21, messiahandeve.co.uk), a sublime fusion of blackberry, birch tar and guaiac wood. There is no corresponding body lotion, as yet, but one does come in the range’s No.1 scent (£25), a blissful yet quieter blend of jasmine, bergamot, black pepper, leather and wood. The great unveiling? Bring it on.  

RACE YOU TO IT

Revitalift Laser Pure Retinol Night Serum has been a global success. Now L’Oreal offers the same tech in a gentler night-cream including niacinamide (brightening vitamin B3). Revitalift Laser Renew Night Cream, right, (now £16.63, superdrug. -com) is perfect for those dipping a toe into active ingredients.

superdrug.com 

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MY ICON OF THE WEEK

CAT DEELEY

Cat Deeley, 45, (pictured) uses Arctic Freeze roller balls under eyes and across her cheeks before applying her serum

Cat Deeley, 45, (pictured) uses Arctic Freeze roller balls under eyes and across her cheeks before applying her serum

The presenter, 45, uses Arctic Freeze roller balls under her eyes and across her cheeks before applying Decléor Green Mandarin Aromessence Serum (£44 for 15ml, decleor.co. uk) for its serious glow-bestowing capabilities. She also spent 11 years co-creating her own botanical perfume oil e11even (£80, e11evenfragrance.com).

SPRING SCENTS

Jo Malone has created a mass-priced, sophisticatedsmelling concoction, reminiscent of Cabochard by Grès 

zara.com

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A bouquet of powdery floral notes of peony, lychee and spring freesia giving way to barely-there hints of rose

notino.com

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Sounds cartoonishly awful, actually lovely: all pink pepper, warm musk and orris (iris) root 

malinandgoetz.co.uk

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A rose by night, opening with notes of blackcurrant, cardamom and also mandarin 

allbeauty.com 

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Fun, fruity, sparkling – a light and uncomplicated ode to the rose 

allbeauty.com 

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COSMETIC CRAVING 

The award-winning Michael Van Clarke No.1 brush (from £24.50, vanclarke.com) has just launched in the US where it is a sell-out. 

It’s easy to see why. I used only to brush my hair if ridding it of dry shampoo. However, this encourages me to do it for shape, shine, lustrousness and a speedy circulation boost to the brain. Suitable for fine hair, hair that is very knotty and hair that is both fine and knotty, it boasts bristles made from Japanese nylon that detangle without pulling or snagging delicate strands, even when wet. 

As for post dry-shampoo use, it’s a game changer. It comes in two sizes: a compact 15.5cm version for your bag, and the 21.5cm classic (£29.50). 

 vanclarke.com

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