Life is back to normal now, or so people keep telling me. Is it, though? Really? I don’t know about you, but I feel flat, quashed.
The word that keeps springing to mind is ‘anhedonia’, meaning the inability to experience pleasure. The pandemic may be over, but we are so beaten down that in its place has come a listlessness.
There’s a lot of talk about ‘dopamine dressing’ — colour as the currency via which we can improve the collective mood. It’s as if, inspired by all those NHS rainbows, we made a decision to become the rainbow. And this makes perfect sense after so much time spent cruising along in neutrals.
Still, a wardrobe overhaul sounds like a lot of effort. How about starting smaller with dopamine nails? Manicures are always joy-inducing, never more so than when saturated with colour.
Hannah Betts has said that ‘anhedonia’, the inability to experience pleasure, has been reflective of her life post-Covid. So she has been bringing colour into her manicures (file photo) to brighten up her weeks
Of late, I have found myself craving any shade so long as it’s blue, from cerulean to cobalt, electric to the Yves Klein-inspired ‘International Klein Blue’. I want the blue of hyacinths, forget-me-nots, blue skies, the sea, Titian’s ultramarine and the lapis lazuli ring I have my eye on.
I ask Jules Standish, head of colour at the London College of Style, and author of A Colourful Dose Of Optimism, why this might be. ‘There’s a reason blue is always voted the world’s favourite colour,’ she explains. ‘It is calming and soothing, lifting your mood and releasing those happy, feel-good hormones, dopamine and serotonin.’
All eyes possess a receptor to sense blue light, even those who are non-sighted. We need it to set our circadian rhythm and provide us with energy.
What is more, it turns out that I am brilliantly on trend. Blue nails are busting out all over social media and have been spotted on Cara Delevingne, Miranda Kerr, Harry Styles, Jessica Alba and Emilia Clarke.
I am sporting them at 51, as are my 23-year-old neighbour, my three and 17-year-old nieces, and the thirty-something fashionista I just interviewed.
This week, Hannah (pictured) talks about ‘dopamine dressing’ — colour as the currency via which we can improve the collective mood, in terms of beauty products
It is, as the young would call it, ‘a vibe’, and the thing about being part of a vibe is that it will make midlifers look current, modish, young. Forget a face-lift — get yourself a set of true-blue talons. Vegan nail brand Peacci confirms that Google searches for ‘blue nail designs’ are up by 70 per cent in the past year.
This is not the baby blue that took TikTok by storm in 2021, or autumn’s cobalt, mind, but an electric shade that makes for a power-packed statement claw. Peacci traces the trend back to manicurist Harriet Westmoreland’s Instagram feed, and her coining of the term #Baderblue, in reference to the packaging of Augustinus Bader’s cult The Rich Cream.
The Peacci people offer Prussian Blue (£10, peacci.com), a deep navy with a subtle shimmer, and a dazzling Electric Blue (£10), both of which look sensational in a blue-tipped French manicure.
Or there’s Palace (£10), a subdued cornflower, and Blueberry (£10), a cool, dark, yet equally flattering shade when worn against the warmth of a tan for a rock-chick edge.
If you’re indulging in the TikTok craze of wearing a different shade of blue on each nail, then this will be your darkest hue.
There is a blue to suit all skin tones, but I wouldn’t be too prescriptive about what this should, or shouldn’t, be — just pick the colour that brings you the most bliss. An entry-level shade might be Kiko Milano’s New Power Pro Nail Lacquer in Blu Sky (£4.99, kikocosmetics.com), a stylish off-grey.
Nails Inc boasts the gorgeous, powdery Soul Surfing (£9, cult beauty.co.uk) and the fabulously uplifting Inner Peace of Me (£9). Or, for the reassuring chic of Chanel, try its limited-edition Rhythm (£25, chanel.com), a rich, inky delight.
The favourites I keep coming back to are Mavala’s Santa Monica Nail Polish (£5.50, beautyexpert.com), a Titian blue, and Kiko Milano’s Smart Nail Lacquer in Iridescent Violet Blue (£3.50, kikocosmetics.com).
On the other hand, now that everyone and their dog is rocking blue, I’m beginning to ‘feel’ yellow. Behold, Mavala’s resolutely sunny Lemon Drop (£5.50, lookfantastic.com), hitting my hands today as a bank- holiday fillip.
RACE YOU TO IT
Beauty Pie is rightly proud of its latest creation. Youthbomb 360° Radiance Concentrate Serum (£44 for members and £185 for non-members) uses a blend of 15 active ingredients, including a brightening hexapeptide and barrier-enforcing proteins, to give a stupendous post-facial glow.
MY ICON OF THE WEEK
Hannah Betts’ icon of the week is 78-year-old model Lauren Hutton
The 78-year-old model has admitted that she’s wary of cosmetic procedures, saying: ‘There are people I find hard to look at today. Their faces don’t look like the people I once knew.’
To keep her youthful glow, she washes with soap and water, then applies StriVectin Star Light Retinol Night Oil (£79, lookfantastic.com).
She also cuts open the leaves of her aloe plant, using its sap on her face and decolletage.
BARE LEG PERFECTORS
A much-loved, award-winning, 100 per cent natural means of transforming drab legs into shiny, soft pins.
This helps fix ‘chicken skin’ (those red bumps caused by blocked hair follicles).
Wash-off make-up that hides mosquito bites, broken veins and even bruises.
The go-to brand for a foolproof, natural-looking tan, with conditioning hyaluronic acid.
The healing formula binds heel skin back together. It’s also great on parched knees.
There’s a reason so many of us are addicted to Diptyque’s candles. They smell sublime, with 60 hours of proper perfume that can be ‘tasted’ in the way that connoisseurs taste wine.
I once spent an evening with the critic Jonathan Meades blissfully engaged in this activity. The firm has relaunched its ten city scents, from Paris to Tokyo, Miami to Shanghai — each available in its ‘home’ stores for £60. London (right) is a dream; a paean to Columbia Road flower market, all heady hyacinth laced with lilac, heliotrope and juniper.
I am besotted with New York — cedarwood, vetiver and patchouli offset by incense, conjuring speakeasies. I’ll just have to jet over and invest.