A little bit about me…my name is Zarah, I’m a full time dentist and a sporadic skincare Instagrammer. I live in Leeds in the UK and I’m currently practicing solo social distancing but still having to go into work every few days.
The first thing I do when I wake up is…of course I’d love to say that I wake up, don my exercise gear and do some yoga or go for a run but realistically you’ll find me making myself a cuppa (or a ‘brew’ as we say here in Yorkshire) in my huge Starbucks NYC mug and snuggling back into bed. It’s gotta be PG Tips, milk no sugar even though Yorkshire tea is a firm favourite in my ends. I believe ‘bed tea’ is an Indian breakfast tradition, normally reserved for those lazy Sunday mornings but right now I’m all about doing the things I love everyday, even on the days I need to go into work. Of course, the beauty of bed tea is that someone actually serves you that piping hot drink in bed, whilst you’re still tucked up under the covers, still in that wonderfully pleasant fuzzy state between sleep and just about being awake. As I live on my own, there’s no such luxury unfortunately (for now!). Sometimes if I’m feeling fancy, I make tea on the stove, grating in a bit of ginger, my halfhearted attempted at Indian chai I suppose. I do usually drink lemon water while I’m making my tea (lime water more recently as lemons have suddenly become a scarcity in my local supermarket) and gulp down my Vitamin C+ Zinc (don’t ask, it makes me feel better ok) and B12 tablets.
My morning skincare routine…I usually just do a water cleanse most mornings but sometimes I like to use a Salicylic Acid based cleanser such as Alumier Acne Purifying Cleanser. Always have been all about hydration so straight after washing my face, whilst it’s still damp I use a toner (Purito Fermented Complex 94 Boosting Essence). Remember that 7 skin trend from a few years ago? I adopted the 3 skin method, where I pat 3 layers of toner in succession on my face and I still do that now. Morning routines for me always need to include antioxidants and Vitamin C serums. My preference lies with L-Ascorbic acid based ones but since reintroducing Tretinoin, my skin is slightly sensitive so Vitamin C derivatives are the way forward. Right now, I’ve been loving Femmue’s Lumiere Vital C Serum, followed by Timeless Matrixyl® Synthe’6® which also contains hyaluronic acid. Hyperpigmentation is a continuous battle for me so I make sure I use a serum that tackles that and for now, it’s Ranavat’s Radiant Rani. Then, I follow it up with a moisturiser mixed with a lightweight oil, and finally a layer of sunscreen. Wearing SPF at home is a divisive subject but personally a no-brainer for me as I have really huge windows, a south facing flat and the sun is constantly streaming. Even if I’m just chilling at home, scent is important, so I indulge in liberal spritzing of Zara’s very affordable yet totally intoxicating Ebony Wood and that’s me sorted.
Whilst this might feel like a lengthy routine, skincare aficionados will know it takes 10 minutes tops. However, now that I have more time on my hands, I’m trying to use up my stash of sheet masks or incorporating a wash off mask. Something about doing that makes me feel very accomplished.
Also, anyone else noticing that their body skin routine is on point these days? I’m diligent on using a scrub on my feet, a heavenly oil on my body or a gorgeously scented body moisturiser. If anything, I’m determined to emerge from self isolation a perfectly moisturised soft skinned goddess, ha!
How I’m spending my days right now…I know most people are WFH but as a dentist, I go into work every few days. There are 3 of us on rota, and mainly I’m telephone triaging and giving plenty of advice. At some point, I’ve been told we may get redeployed into hospitals to assist other health care professionals. On my non-working days, I’m trying to stick to somewhat of a routine of waking up at a certain time and exercising. And cooking, oh boy, lots of experimenting going around in my kitchen right now.
To stay fit, I’m…trying to conquer my inherent aversion towards exercising. I know, I know, daily exercise is good for a healthy body and mind but my reason for exercising right now is frivolous and I’m not even ashamed to admit it. I’m on a mission to get a perkier derriere, determined to be more Kim Kardashian- esque in that department more so since acquiring some vintage high waisted Levi 501’s which scream for a toned booty. Plus, I’m a stress baker and given the fact that I can devour my creations in two days (life is such when you are solo isolating!), some exercise will do me good. I recently discovered Annie Openshaw on Instagram and her glute workout is ideal for someone like me as it only takes 20 minutes but you really feel the burn!
What I’m wearing right now…Sometimes I’m in PJs all day (discovered why so many people say this isn’t a good idea!) Every day is different though, the other day sheer madness and boredom drove me don a lace dress and chandelier earrings (in all fairness I was catching up with my University friends and we planned on wearing something fancy. On days where I need to work, I wear my newly acquired Levi 501’s and a cozy jumper and more makeup than I ever would. I never was a makeup person, I don’t see the point when I’m wearing scrubs and doing conventional dentistry, it all ends up being a sweaty mess but recently I’ve been experimenting with my collection of relatively untouched eyeshade palettes. Fascinating stuff, I can see why beauty junkies love it.
Recently, I’ve learnt to… remove my shellac nails myself. And, unless I want to grow out a monobrow, I need to get back into threading my own eyebrows too, eek.
How I’m really feeling right now…this seems to vary by the minute. As a self proclaimed introvert, I thought I’d love spending alone time in my flat and finally indulging spring cleaning and eating exactly what pleases me but I have to say, I miss social contact and human touch. Other days, I feel like I’m recalibrating and getting this unique opportunity to do so with this free time. I learnt it’s ok to not feel great or positive all the time and just honour your feelings. This will pass.
Currently binge watching…Making the Cut on Amazon Prime. I have always been an ardent fan of Project Runway so I’m thrilled see Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum reunited. I’m also really liking Four More Shots, please! Think Sex and the City meets Mumbai.
I’m a bit of a creature of habit, I love rewatching old series like Gilmore Girls (a perennial favourite) and I’m seriously considering Mad Men again whilst sipping a Gimlet (the easiest cocktail to master; lime juice, simple syrup and Gin shaken over ice).
I’ve recently enjoyed watching…Karen Brit Chick on YouTube. I have always been a fan, a British fashion icon in New York with phenomenal style coupled with a sunny disposition. Her ‘What everyone is wearing in New York’ episodes showcase the crème de la crème of NYC street style Her latest upload though featured people from around the world and was truly inspiring and humbling, because everyone really is in it together. Watch it here.
Lisa Eldridge is my favourite makeup artist ever. I enjoy watching her put makeup on herself or other people, with her calm reassuring voice, as she adds the most subtle hints of makeup that somehow end up being truly transformative . Her latest video was candid, a little vulnerable and gently nudged me to try wearing a little makeup everyday, despite not going anywhere and it’s really uplifted my mood. Makeup really is war paint after all.
One thing I look forward to …getting outside, even if it’s just for work or essential food shopping.
My guilty pleasure is…sometimes doing absolutely nothing, having a guiltless duvet day with sweatpants on and hair in a bun. Like so many people, I’m always go go go, filling every spare minute of non-working time with activities but I’m a Libra and we’re naturally lazy so to finally give into that sheer slowness I’m instinctively inclined to feels just wonderful.
I’m grateful for…technology. We’re immensely fortunate to live in the digital age. Facetime and Zoom are god-sent and seeing a familiar face is so easy. Even though my dodgy Wifi means calls keep dropping, I love that I can talk to my parents several times a day (despite seeing the ceiling more than them!) or catching up with friends over wine or coffee.
How I’m staying in touch with family, friends and reality at the moment…obviously Facetime and several of my favourite influencers, brands and fellow Instagramers have Lives and I’m not going to lie, I plan my day around those.
I currently live for…homemade guacamole and tortilla chips. I have even used pitta bread crisped up in the oven as an acceptable substitute for tortillas. After a few margaritas, I swear you won’t notice the difference…!
I’m very much enchanted by charismatic female celebrity chefs. Nigella Lawson will always be the OG but recently Alison Roman has come on my radar for equally effortless yet delectable recipes (her wildly popular salted chocolate chunk shortbread cookies blew up the internet). I watched her live stream recently she made a yummy sardine pasta which I’ve adapted to ingredients I have on hand. Basically a can of sardines, pasta and fresh herbs, who knew that could make the ultimate comfort food?
My night time skincare routine… I’m currently reintroducing tretinoin in my routines so that sometimes means joyless routines as too many products can irritate my skin. I always double cleanse and my first cleanser needs to feel luxurious so it’s usually a heavenly balm or oil. Currently I’m rotating between Nini Organics Halo Cleansing elixir (which is a heavenly combination of my favourite scent, Blue Tansy and Passionfruit) and Sahajan Essential Oil Cleanser which feels so luxurious and has just the perfect hint of rose. My second cleanser is the same one I use in the AM from Alumier and I use the same toner. Once my face is dry, I apply 0.05% Tretinoin and a sleeping mask after.
Then I put on my whitening trays. As well as giving me pearly whites, it stops late night snacking sessions.
One skincare product that I’m absolutely loving right now… sleeping masks because if I’m feeling lazy, I can cleanse and throw one on and still wake up with perfectly radiant and happy skin. My top choices are Huxley Good Night sleep mask (you can get it here from online store Tonic_15 even in a travel size, you will fall in love!) and the exorbitantly priced Le Masque Hydralift Intense from African Botanics which came in a Boxwalla box. You can still purchase it here I believe.
One luxury item that you cannot live without at the moment…candles, something about the scent, and hearing that soft crackling sound is so soothing to me. Of course I love my Jo Malone and Diptyque ones but the reality is Aldi dupes are perfect for guiltlessly leaving them on for hours.
What I’m currently coveting (and succumbed to buying!)…the entire Joanna OrtizX H&M collection!!! I have admired this Colombian designer from afar since forever, her gorgeously feminine and signature floral bright hues and ruffles are enchanting and so playful yet wearable. I never really shop at H&M but their collaborations usually pique my interest (I still wear my Isabel Marant XH&M cardigan) so I actually know I will treasure those pieces. The much sought after blush coloured one-shoulder satin dress has pretty much sold out but I managed to score the top version which I find just as pretty and know I will wear to death. Just for good measure, I also decided to buy the red version as well as this swimsuit. I’m not planning on a tropical holiday anytime soon but I’ll wear all even if it’s just to prance around my apartment or catch up with friends or even to the supermarket. I don’t care, I’m wearing those gorgeous prints somewhere!
Once this is all over, I’m really looking forward to…hugging my parents, seeing my friends again, sitting in a cute café drinking coffee and brunching (maybe bottomless!) , a proper night out, a city break somewhere cheap and cheerful and…seeing my eyebrow lady!
What’s honestly keeping me sane at the moment…is sticking to some sort of routine and authentic conversations with my amazing family and friends, even if they include rants and tears!