Beauty: Winter indulgence

Divinely scented essential oils and creams are enough to make you embrace the cold weather, says Annalisa Barbieri Cleanse tone moisturise
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Indy Lifestyle Online
I WAS WORRIED as I planned this month's CTM that winter might not have arrived by the time it was published. And there I'd be, advising on what creams to use to protect skin from sharp winds as we basked in late sun. Not so. Winter is here and it is magical. Crisp walks make your face glow better than any instant-fix face mask and wine, lots of it, renders wrinkles invisible.

My favourite product this month is by Aromatherapy Associates. Aptly named Winter Bath Oil, pounds 21.50, it contains essential oils of pine needles and eucalyptus. These are supposed to help your body's resistance to infection and clear your head, but I just like sitting in a steamy bath, breath- ing in the smell of pine needles. AA also makes a stonking good Deep Relaxing Bath Oil, pounds 26.95, which knocks me out - so take care not to drown. AA, along with E'Spa, makes my most favoured body/bath oils. Not only are they glorious but they come in sensible bottles with wide necks that dispense generous amounts of oil. Of particular note are E'Spa's Anti-Infection Oil, pounds 13.50, which contains tea-tree oil (nature's antiseptic) and eucalyptus; and the Restorative Bath Oil, which contains myrrh, lavender, geranium and orange to "rebalance your skin's natural vigour" and help improve the circulation.

Bathtime is a serious business in winter. You can stew for too long and surround yourself with lovely smells. I like to mix a cocktail of essential oils with a few drops of Neal's Yard Remedies' Tea Tree Organic, pounds 5.10, and Eucalyptus Citrodora, pounds 3.55. Plus a few shakes from such Crabtree & Evelyn 'mixes' as Relaxation, pounds 12, which contains lavender, tangerine and clary sage, and Concentration, pounds 12, which has fir, lime and ginger. For a more perfumey effect, I love Jo Malone's Amber and Lavender Bath Oil, pounds 14.95, or the Nutmeg and Ginger version. I do have one reservation about JM oils: I need a good few capfuls to appreciate their scent.

After bathing, you need a good, fat, thick cream to massage into your body. Revlon's Dry Skin Relief in Original, pounds 3.65, is my all-time fave. Marks & Spencer's Body Formula Replenishing Body Cream, pounds 7, is also excellent, although the glass pot is a little impractical. Johnson's Baby Protective Moisturing Lotion, pounds 2.75, is also gorgeous and smells wonderful. If you like an oil to smooth on after your bath, I thoroughly recommend Origins Birthday Suit, pounds 12.50, especially if you have a cold bathroom. It comes in a spray, so you can cover your body in seconds, and it contains olive oil, canaga and Spanish rosemary. E'Spa makes two great oils for after- bath too: their Soothing Massage Oil, pounds 15, smells gorgeous. It contains myrrh, ylang ylang, sandalwood and eucalyptus citadora. And their Anti Stress Nourishing Treatment Oil, pounds 18, contains no essential oils, so it's safe to use during pregnancy.

So far so comforting, but the most important part to protect is your face from winter's biting winds and central heating. Three good but heavy- duty creams (ie, for use in extreme conditions) are Eve Lom's Creme Universelle, pounds 31.50, Clinique's Weather Everything Environmental Cream, pounds 27, and Elizabeth Arden's cult Visible Difference 8 hour cream, pounds 17. For more everyday use, I love Sisley's Botanical Protective Day Cream for dry/sensitive skin, pounds 58, which smells divine so you get great wafts of loveliness all day. Ditto their Creme Reparatrice, pounds 60, which is a day or night cream and contains karite butter to protect from cold, heat, humidity and wind. Jo Malone's Orange and Geranium Night Cream, pounds 29, is good, too. It's too heavy for me, unless my skin is particularly dehydrated, but for older skins it's a real treat.

These creams are great for chapped and sore red noses, which brings me on to the subject of colds and stuffed hooters. Long gone are the days of steam inhalations over hot water-filled sinks. I now use an Inhalation Cup, pounds 8.95, code MJ0132, from the Innovations catalogue. It has a funnel attachment which fits over your nose and mouth and the plastic cup has handles so you can fill it up and drop in a few drops of menthol crystals (from any chemist for a couple of pounds) or essential oils. If menthol crystals are too 'harsh' for you, or you prefer something fancier, try Aromatherapy Associates Inhalation Essence, pounds 6.95, which you drop onto a hanky and inhale. Origins do something called Nothing To Sneeze At, pounds 12.50, an inhalation oil to be used in a burner. It contains essential oil blends of Australian eucalyptus, French peppermint and lemon.

Finally, lips. Try the fab Rosebud lipsalve by Smith's in its little retro tin. Don't forget to drink lots of hot chocolate, too, especially Green and Black's delicious organic version, pounds 2.95, from Sainsbury's.

For stockists, ring: Aromatherapy Associates: 0171 371 9878; Clinique: 0171 409 6951; Crabtree & Evelyn: 01235 962244; Elizabeth Arden: from department stores nationwide; E'Spa: 01252 741600; Eve Lom: 0181 661 7991; Jo Malone: 0171 720 0202; Marks & Spencer: 0171 935 4422; Neal's Yard Remedies: 0171 627 1949; Origins: 0800 731 4039; Revlon: 0171 491 5450; Sisley: 0171 730 1234; Smith's Rosebud available from Beauty Quest: 0541 505000. Call 0870 908 7070 for an Innovations catalogue.

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