Writer, reader, sunglasses-lover, reluctant yogi, amateur meditator, permanent chill-seeker | London, UK | www.theshadeylady.com @thetinkpanther

And other unlikely ways to achieve beautiful skin this winter

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I am not a dermatologist. Just a well-meaning, tired, slightly vain person who is over 40 and a little bit obsessed with non-surgical techniques for achieving beautifully clear and glowing skin. Not committed enough to do a ten-step Korean cleanse, I am also unwilling to part with significant amounts of money in this quest. Bar one, my tips come via personal experience, not a freebie overload from a Beauty PR, and they won’t cost you a thing. But they will help your achingly dry winter skin.

Many of us have suffered with drier skin than usual this year, due to increased (read incessant) hand-washing, accompanied by a soundtrack of that not-annoying-at-all ditty, ‘Happy Birthday.’ Even my eyeballs feel dry these days. (As an aside, can I get some reassurance that the only reason I have upped my alcohol intake this year is because of an increased tolerance due to the levels of sanitiser absorbed in to my blood stream?) …


A controversial opinion about something other than THAT green velvet coat

Warning: this article contains spoilers

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It wasn’t all about Ms Kidman’s stellar acting, her understated bohemian-luxe wardrobe, or the beauty of Manhattan in the winter. It wasn’t even the outright sexiness of Matilda De Angelis’ mysterious Elena. The Undoing was about three beautiful men and a cheap(er) dress.

Reflecting on the HBO six-parter, I can’t help but feel everyone has been distracted by focusing on just one obvious aspect of the show. Yes, Nicole Kidman’s wardrobe was amazing. But wasn’t it always going to be? She is rich, elegant, model-tall. Everything is going to look fabulous on her figure and against her magnificent Botticelli waves. Her metallic Givenchy gown is perfection — to the point I googled it to see if I could ever afford such a piece when I have no Reardon school fundraiser to attend. …


The eternal, not seasonal, accessory.

Sunglasses are for life, not just for the three months of summer until it’s not hot anymore, you superficial bastards. They’re not bikinis, you know.

Sunglasses are no one-trick pony. They are currently my number one weapon in an ever depleting arsenal fighting against slovenliness and general malaise. I’m showing up to make the case for all-weather wear.

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A master of trickery, everything else I’m wearing may be crap right now but finished off with the right pair of sunnies I’ve gone from downright slob to anything on the spectrum of cool to chic in less than three seconds. Just call me David Copperfield.

In an effort to buy less winter coats (thanks for the A1 advice Shani Silver ) I have chosen to rather wisely increase my sunglasses collection instead. A good new coat is going to set you back at least a couple of hundred pounds (thousands if you take fashion magazines more seriously than you should). But you don’t need to spend as much on a stylish new pair of sunglasses that arguably take up less space and mask hangovers way better than a coat ever can (they can’t). …


The bargain Korean sheet mask of your dreams

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Dewy, moist skin that looks like it could reflect the light naturally is something I haven’t had for a decade. Maybe never. And definitely not since I started alternating every other alcoholic drink for water (RIP party girl days).

Now, there are a plethora of make-up products that promise to help you achieve post-coital type glowing skin but I’ve never been one for cheating! I want that kind of skin naturally - and by naturally I mean without make-up. …


The industry where diversity and inclusion got left behind.

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What’s in a greeting card? Apart from those generously stuffed with spending money (which are, in my opinion, woefully rare in adulthood) very little apparently. Not enough cash anyhow for those catering for a wider and more representative audience, according to the greeting cards industry. This is a major blow for Karmuka*, an independent young card publisher with refreshingly innovative and inclusive designs.

*Disclaimer: Karmuka is owned by my amazing friend Sarah, and is the only greeting card company in the UK that publishes high-end illustrated children’s cards with ethnic diversity in one single design.

Multi-ethnic and LGBTQ designs are included as standard rather than as an afterthought offshoot range of a major brand. Printed on environmentally friendly materials, Sarah commissions highly talented BAME and white artists to produce the designs. Brown unicorns with afro pink hair? Mixed race astronaut girls reaching for the stars? Black, brown and white boys living out their superhero dreams? Karmuka cards cater to modern-day Britain.


Save time, money and the health of your nails with easy tips for a DIY mani.

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Remember when you just groomed yourself and didn’t have to spend a ton of cash at a salon or spa? When making regular appointments weeks in advance to secure a particular therapist was something you had no experience of? I miss those days. I wonder if the growing importance of beauty-related services is just another thing that slowly creeps up and happens to you, like more frequent night peeing. …


But I can tell my little girl she is beautiful every damn day

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“Oh, my pretty little granddaughter!” my mum exclaims, full of admiration for my six-year-old. It’s so superficial it makes me uncomfortable and my body starts to stiffen against the emotions it sets off inside me. Mostly, I’m just annoyed.

It reminds me so viscerally of the importance that was placed on looks in my formative years. Not just mine but everyone around me, from neighbours to relatives to complete strangers. Passing comment upon the beauty (or perceived lack of it) in others was a recurring point of conversation for my mother and aunt. They saw nothing wrong with it.

Conversely I was talked to about inner beauty precisely zero times growing up. Kindness, compassion and generosity were not even acknowledged, let alone encouraged. Conventional outer beauty (and then intelligence) were the only qualities given any respect to — unfortunately both genetic traits that are mostly in-acquirable. They were not mutually exclusive either – contrary to popular stereotypes of the beautiful bimbo and the ugly geek, in their eyes beauty EQUATED intelligence. …


My most played song of 2020 is full of late nineties nostalgia — listen to it now if you’re longing to travel to happiness.

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I first heard Jayda G’s ‘Both of Us’ at home during the early summer and later stages of Lockdown Mark I. The first time should really have been at a summer festival, perhaps an Ibiza opening party, under the carefree Balearic sun and alongside the White Island’s playas and players. I’m guessing that’s what the label heads and Jayda herself had envisioned as a more deserving debut venue for this summer banger than my suburban London kitchen.

This song is quintessentially a love letter to classic soulful house. When you close your eyes and let the uplifting vocals and piano combination take over your body it may even transport you back in time to your first clubbing holiday. A hot European island where you flew Easyjet and stayed in a basic apartment with seven friends that cost you £150 each for the entire week, including transfers. With only a smattering of the local lingo to go with your smiles and cheap luggage. …


Say my name, bitch—I dare you.

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Oh the trials and tribulations of living with a tricky-to-say name. Not only am I plagued with having my ears assaulted on a regular basis with incorrect pronunciations, but it has also caused me an unnecessary amount of negative emotions over the years. As if I even need any more of those. For reference, I don’t!

School taught me to ignore the way my name was said by others. I had an embarrassingly dorky nickname at home anyway (I’m NEVER telling) so my real name never really felt like it was truly my own. …


How a Past Life Reading Can Help You Live a Better Life Now

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In a past life I was caged in a golden prison, wanting for nothing materially – but everything emotionally. Deprived of any real attachment and my voice unheard, I bravely spoke up against the systemic lies and corruption I witnessed. I was punished for it.

This revelation, revealed to me in a past life reading, has helped me to live a greater life in my present one. I should quantify that I’m usually quite the practical person. Until relatively recently I had little curiosity about past lives and reincarnation, too busy with the daily grind to truly contemplate such esoteric issues. Even as a child growing up with the influence of Eastern religions, the idea of reincarnation spooked me. That I might have walked this earth before and that this was a perpetual phenomenon scared me. …

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