Bridal Beauty & Wellbeing During Stressful & Uncertain Times: Self-Care, Advice & Options With Portraits Bridal, Catherine Bailey & Claire Bowring


If there was ever a time when looking after ourselves is positively obligatory, it’s now. Yes, we need to wash our hands, take our exercise, get enough sleep and eat healthily but it’s the extra things that we do that will give us that all-important feel-good factor.

It might sound like a bit of a cliché but really, taking the time to treat yourself and keep yourself feeling fabulous really is a boost for the soul. And we all need that right now. I don’t know about you but I’ve personally found the last couple of weeks really tough and a pick-me-up is just what I need. So, with that in mind, we’ve invited three of the wonderful hair and makeup experts that you’ll find in Little Book, our wonderful supplier directory, to join us.

Portraits Bridal are here to share their self-care beauty tips, Catherine Bailey is full of home pampering ideas and I take an online skincare consultation with Claire Bowring. I also make no apologies for the length of this feature – just reading this is a little time out from the world!

We’ll start with the co-founders of Portraits Bridal, Nadia and Zara, with their superb self-care beauty tips:

Beauty by Portraits Bridal
James Frost Photography

Self-care beauty tips from Portraits Bridal

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At Portraits Bridal Hair and Make-Up Agency, we take great pride in providing our clients with our savviest tips when it comes to their hair and make-up regimes. By incorporating our advice, our clients achieve the best results towards their beauty goals. During this testing time, your attention may have drawn to the idea of self care, but you might not know where to start with your hair and beauty routine, especially as salons and beauty treatments are currently off limits.

As an Agency, we love to combine classic and modern techniques and with this in mind we have come up with some unique suggestions to help you regenerate and stress-bust some of the anxiety that you might be feeling at this time………

With lockdown firmly under our belts, we are all finding ourselves with either more time on our hands, or less time for those who are trying to spin a thousand plates with little ones now around us 24/7! Either way, we think most would agree that a sense of routine in our lives is of utmost importance in order to reduce anxiety levels and our mental wellbeing. The same applies to your haircare, skincare and make-up routine.

1. Skincare

Now is the time to keep on top of our Cleansing, Toning and Moisturising our skin (in the form of serums and moisturisers). Exfoliation by way of peels a couple of times a week will encourage your collagen levels to boost and new fresh skin cells to increase. We highly recommend the QMS Active Exfoliant that really does smooth your skin after each use. Our strongest recommendation is the use of facemasks during this time.

The QMS Epigen Pollution Rescue Mask can be highly beneficial to calm the effects of cortisol (stress hormone) on our skin while you sleep! Apply this every night before bed. Also, most may not realise that many make-up artists and beauticians are still offering their services in terms of consultations via Zoom/Skype etc. Our skin partners QMS Medi Cosmetics are offering our brides free consultations online with therapists to discuss your skincare routine.

2. CBD + Skin

With many of us feeling anxious and stressed during this unpredictable time, your skin is one of the most obvious indications that your cortisol levels (stress hormone) is in overdrive! This can lead to breakouts or a current skin condition can significantly worsen. As a Make-Up Artist, incorporating CBD oils and balms into our skin routine can be a lifesaving tool and we all know that good looking skin in turn makes us feel great.

CBD Oil – Apply a dab of CBD oil to any red, swollen and sore breakouts and in a few hours the natural anti-inflammatory properties of the CBD will reduce redness and swelling – it really is quite magical how well this works! We recommend Graces London CBD Roll on (250mg).

The beauty of this product is that you can also apply it to your wrists, temples and the back of your neck which will give you a sense of calm and relaxation, again reducing stress levels, so really tackling the underlying issues from the inside out that may be causing those stressful breakouts.

3. Eyebrows + Lashes

For brows – one rule here… leave them be! A number of people will be missing their routine of having their eyebrows threaded or waxed so may be tempted to reach for the tweezer and get busy, however, over plucking can be disastrous! Our advice would be to let them grow out, only plucking a few random strays and do not try to mess with your shape at all – your natural brow shape once grown out is usually aesthetically correct, so just tackling a few strays for now.

For those of you who regularly tint brows, a fantastic and very easy tinting tool at home is Mylee Eyebrow Tint which is suitable for all skin tones. For those of you with disappearing lash extensions, we strongly recommend a top and bottom dark tint. By tinting to the end of your lashes, they will appear longer and thicker which will tie you over until you can get back to your lash technician.

Beauty by Portraits Bridal
James Champion Photograhpy

4. Blow-dry + A Full Face

We are strong believers in the power of hair and make-up affecting your mood, wellbeing and mental health! We all know how looking glamorous on the outside makes us feel glam on the inside, so while we are all tempted to go make-up free and hair tied back everyday, don’t be afraid to give yourself a boost by doing your full face a couple of times a week and a lovely blowdry, perhaps for a Zoom call, standing on the road for our weekly applause for the NHS or that trip to the supermarket!

Instilling a sense of habitualness can help reduce anxiety and give us a sense of normality during this time. Make-Up wise why not check out some YouTube vids and try some new colours or techniques! We recommend Make-Up Obsessions eyeshadow palettes – vegan, cruelty free and offering a huge array of colours so that you can find the perfect shades to suit your skin tone!

5. Hair Masks

These are vital for great hair condition, we swear by the following tried and tested brands Olaplex NO3, Amika Soul Food, Davines NouNou Masks for the softest and shiniest of strands and suitable for all hair types. At home we have also been making some DIY versions by mashing two Avocado’s in with one teaspoon of our Graces London CBD Balm.. For an added boost, and for deeper penetration of the products, soak a towel in hot water and wring out any excess before wrapping it around your head and leave them on for as long as you can.

6. CBD Scalp Massage

Scalp health is often overlooked but is of utmost importance for our wellbeing. We have been extremely lucky to be educated in the science behind CBD and its incredible powers by the Founders of CBD Brand Graces London, who are our CBD partners. Run a long bath, set the scene with some scented candles, and rubbing either the CBD oil or balm into your temples and around the back of your neck – close your eyes and relax.

This will boost circulation to the head and neck while de-stressing you and also strengthening your hair in the process, the infusion of CBD will make the experience extra dreamy as it engages with our cannabinoid system to restore harmony in the body!

7. Embrace The Curl

If your hair is naturally kinky, coily, afro, curly or wavy and you usually heat style it or are trying to break away from harsh chemical relaxers, then this could be the perfect time to nourish and experiment with your natural texture and give your hair a new lease of life by embracing those curls. We love “The Curly Girl Method”, which encourages us to get our hair back into peak condition by working in products and styling hair from damp and leaving it to air dry. This method avoids any heat styling and any silicones or parabens, which are often found hidden in our products.

We are in love with the Amika product range, which caters for all hair types and textures and adds serious shine and moisture and we always recommend our natural and curly haired clients stick to a routine by applying their products in a particular order, to really boost curls you should follow the ‘LOC or ‘LCO’ method in the product layering technique below to help with curl definition and to gain maximum moisture that stays locked in for longer.

To get the best results you should experiment with the best way round the technique works for your hair type and there are many online resources that discuss this technique in detail. We have tried and tested this on our clients and ourselves and the results are truly impressive!

Leave in conditioner (water based leave in conditioning spray – Try Living proof, Keracare and Cantu leave in conditioners)
Oil (Oil will seal the cuticle to prevent moisture leaving the hair but try coconut, olive oil and avocado oil, based oils as these will penetrate the hair shaft much more effectively)
– Cream (Styling cream – we like Bumble and Bumble Styling Cream, Amika Curl Corps Defining Cream and Cantu Coconut Curling Cream)

3. Texture Without Heat For Our Straight Hair

There are some ‘damage free” ways to achieve a wider variety of texture in your hair with a little time and patience. You don’t have to use products to achieve this but you can use a little setting spray or salt spray and to really lock in the style, leave it in overnight.

Pincurls – think of bouncy Veronica Lake style hair. Achieve this by wrapping hair around your fingers in 1” sections and clip or grip in place for soft bouncy curls.
Braids – create a regular three-strand braid for ease, a rope braid, fishtails etc. Leave these in throughout the day or overnight and when you take them out you will love the fullness achieved, minus the damage. Go have fun and experiment with what works. If you are not confident with more advanced braids, then stick with the simple versions or go and delve into a You Tube Tutorial for DIY braiding.

Catherine Bailey’s at-home pampering guide

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  1. Turn your shower into a spa-like experience by exfoliating your whole body with a body scrub, concentrating on your elbows and knees. My personal luxury favourites are the MOR Marshmallow Sugar Crystal Body Scrub (£23 at Feel Unique) and Herbivore Amethyst Exfoliating Body Polish (£38 at Space NK) but there are plenty of cheaper drugstore options.
  2. When exfoliating your face, use gentle circular motions and don’t rub too hard, or you may scratch and irritate your skin. I always use the Sanctuary Spa Complexion Perfection Radiance Exfoliator (£10 at Boots).
  3. If you prefer to wallow in a bubble bath, my current favourite is the new Molton Brown Milk Musk Bath & Shower Gel  (£22 at John Lewis), which has the most comforting soft powdery scent, like being wrapped up in a cashmere blanket. It really helps me to still my racing thoughts before bed time, especially if I light a few candles.
  4. For even deeper relaxation, try Westlab Mindful Epsom & Himalayan Salts (£6 for 1kg at Boots).  This contains magnesium to relax your muscles and CBD oil to calm the mind, plus it has a divine relaxing scent with frankincense and bergamot essential oils. I also love the Feather & Down Sweet Dreams Magnesium Sleep Salts (£8 at Boots), which are scented with camomile and lavender – bliss!
  5. Straight after your bath or shower, apply some body lotion or body oil, concentrating on your elbows, knees, feet and hands. I mainly use unscented body lotions from Aveeno and Diprobase as I have very sensitive skin, but the Herbivore Jasmine Glowing Hydration Body Oil (£22 at Space NK) is a lovely luxury option. It sinks in fast and has a delicate, natural jasmine scent.
  6. To help you to wind down in the evening, I recommend using a cleansing balm, as the motion of massaging the balm is calming and will also help to relax your facial muscles. I highly recommend Clinique Take The Day Off (£25 at Look Fantastic) as it’s a fragrance-free cleansing balm which you rinse off with lukewarm water. The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter is a fantastic budget alternative at only £11.
  7. To rehydrate and plump up your skin after cleansing, I recommend using a hyaluronic acid serum, followed by a moisturizing cream. My current favorite combo is L’Oreal Revitalift 1.5% Hyaluronic Acid Serum (£25 at Boots, but often on offer), followed by MILK Vegan Milk Moisturizer (£35 at Cult Beauty). If you have very dry skin, you’ll find an oil super-nourishing, as well as very relaxing to massage in – I love Caudalie Vinosource Overnight Recovery Oil (£28 at Feel Unique) which has a beautiful rose scent. And if you have hyper sensitive skin, I think Avene Skin Recovery Cream is unbeatable and will help your skin to repair itself overnight.
  8. This is actually an ideal time to give your skin a break from make-up and tackle any issues that you’re still having with pesky blemishes. I recommend using a clay or charcoal face mask on the affected areas as needed – try Origins Clear Improvement mask (£22 at Look Fantastic) as it contains active charcoal to clear pores. Then dab on a little spot gel just exactly where needed, to reduce inflammation overnight – I recommend Evolve Organic Beauty Rainforest Rescue Blemish Serum (£22 at John Lewis).
  9. If your hair is in desperate need of some TLC, why not leave on a hair mask while you’re in the bath or shower? Garnier Ultimate Blends Nourishing Hair Food (£7 at Boots) in ‘Banana’ smells delicious and made from 98% natural ingredients. If you have blonde hair which is looking brassy from a lack of trips to the hair salon, try the Bold Uniq Purple Hair Mask (£19.95 at Amazon) to refresh your colour.
  10. Hair dressers generally advise being wary of box dye, but if your roots are really getting on your nerves, L’Oreal’s Casting Creme Gloss range is generally a safe bet from the drug store – the dark and red shades are demi permanent, but the blonde shades are permanent, so handle with care!
  11. If you can’t be bothered to wash your hair as often, a dash of Bumble and Bumble BB Pret A Powder (£23 at Boots) or a spritz of SGX NYC Do-It-All 3-in-1 Dry Texture Spray (£8 at Boots) will refresh your hair in seconds.

Beauty by Portraits Bridal
Elena Popa Photography

An online skincare consultation with Claire Bowring

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I’ll be honest, I’m a pretty low-maintenance kind of girl when it comes to skincare. If I’m being generous, the words ‘stripped back’ and ‘minimalist’ would describe my skincare routine. Alternatively, ‘basic’ would cover it well too. However, the last few months have definitely made me want to look after myself a little more and embrace those things that make me feel cared for as well as giving me a bit of time-out at home. So, when the utterly delightful Claire Bowring invited me to take part in an online skincare consultation, I couldn’t refuse.

I genuinely could not recommend Claire’s consultations more. Claire is such an easy person to talk to and she really knows her stuff. Also, in the midst over everything that’s going on for us all right now, the chance to spend half an hour or so in the company of someone who just wants to talk about you and make you feel better is such a joy.

Claire instantly puts you at your ease and in the first part of the consultation, where I talked through my current routine with her, she didn’t bat an eye-lid at my rather haphazard approach to skincare. I did feel quite proud to say that my day cream always contains SPF but there’s no judgement, just a lot of love and some really fantastic tips – I will never again apply my eye cream in the same way again!

During the consultation, Claire recommends products for you and what I loved here was that she absolutely took my lifestyle into account. When I’m not writing, I’m outdoors and I’m always busy so she didn’t recommend anything too complicated and she didn’t bamboozle me a new and super consuming routine. Everything was perfectly pitched to me – easy upgrades and improvements rather than a massive new routine that I probably wouldn’t be able to stick to. Claire listened to everything I said, considered everything I need from my skincare and responded. It was perfect.

After the consultation, Claire sent me a recording of the Zoom chat and a personalised, detailed skincare plan with more details of all the suggestions that she made and I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled, to receive a few samples in the post not long after our call.

It’s easy, so easy, to put yourself at the bottom of the list when it comes to time right now. It’s all too easy to get so caught up in just getting through that the joyful things and the things that make you feel special and cared for get lost. It’s easy to prioritise everyone else and leave yourself to last. Claire wrapped me up and made me feel special and that delicious feeling lasted long after the call. Both myself, and my skin, can’t thank her enough.

To book your own Online Skincare Consultation with Claire, just click here. Or, opt for a Skincare Snapshot as a great introduction to Claire’s services.

Claire has also just launched some new bridal services aimed at bride only bookings, elopement weddings and small bridal parties; “It’s a blend of my treatments and makeup for a real personal service.”. More details here.

Beauty by Portraits Bridal
James Frost Photography

Tamryn Settle

Tamryn Settle
View all Tamryn’s articles

Self-confessed wedding addict Tamryn spends her days in her Berkshire studio writing about all things beautiful and romantic with her black Labrador for company.

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