25 Aug 2011

The Top Ten Beauty Essentials

My top ten beauty essentials...not counting make-up or products…..This list is made up of my must do treatments and routines… those that I can’t live without… those I do on a regular basis….those that make me feel and look better…. Beauty essentials…not skin deep…not always about the pretty and nothing to do with age…. My philosophy behind these essentials is simple. I believe that prevention is better than cure and I support the idea that if we look good then we will feel good. ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’…… but more important than that… we must know beauty to see beauty…and to know beauty…we must be kind to ourselves.

Number 1…Exercise and Diet
Exercise and I haven’t always been the best of friends. We had a little falling out these last few years but fortunately for me we have kissed and made up. I realised that we can’t live without each other, and while it is a love/hate relationship, I have come to accept that we are better together than we are apart. Exercise is vital. In our 20’s and 30’s we can come and go, pick up where we left off, but once the 40’s and 50’s arrive it doesn’t work. Exercise makes us strong, supple and flexible and these are qualities we need to encourage as we approach our advancing years. Not to mention the circulatory, weight loss and weight maintenance benefits. There is nothing more ageing than poor posture, excess weight and sluggishness. The smoothest face in the world will still appear old if the shoulders are slouched and the movements laboured. I have made all the excuses not to exercise but the only person that suffered was me; negotiation and exercise are not a winning partnership, no pain no gain. My new exercise programme at the gym includes resistance work, cardio and stretching…. alternating with swimming or walking at home….Pilates and/or Yoga when I can….

Diets…. some work and some don’t. For me it is best to limit carbohydrates and processed sugars and focus on protein, fresh fruits and vegetables…For others they prefer a higher protein intake with little fruit and vegetable…..All diets have common ground… we must eat less and have patience…weight does not come off easily (unless you are very lucky or genetically pre-disposed) …Dieting requires dedication and sufferance…Successful and sensible dieting means rewards of self esteem and improved health. Diet and exercise work in tandem, they are meant to go together…start one and the other will take care of itself.

Number 2.…Water
2 litres a day is my goal and that means not counting the coffees and teas that are dehydrating. In winter it is harder to consume as much water so herbal teas are a good alternative. Hydrating our bodies eliminates toxins, makes our skin look better, our body function more effectively and our energy levels increase. A glass of water with freshly squeezed lemon first thing in the morning is the way I start my day.

Number 3….Sleep
Sleep is so underrated as a beauty ‘essential’. Sleep, sufficient and refreshing, can transform our appearance. The quality of sleep is what makes the difference …. less hours of ‘deep’ sleep is so much better than more hours of ‘restless’ sleep… Those few hours before midnight and up until 6 o’clock in the morning are the most restorative of sleep times…not easy to manage….but the face and the eyes reap the rewards.

Number 4…Massage/Acupuncture
Both therapeutic and relaxing massage are important beauty ‘essentials’. Nothing ages us more than a strained face and tense body. Regular massage, especially when exercising, helps with toning, fluid retention, exfoliation and general well being. Acupuncture assists in the same way and works to promote positive ‘energies’ throughout the body but I do understand that the needles are not for everyone. Once a month I try and have an acupuncture/therapeutic massage treatment to compensate for too much flying and time spent on the computer.

Number 5….Vitamins
A multi vitamin, the omega 3’s and a couple of cold pressed flaxseed oil are my daily dose. There are many other supplements I should and could take but any more than that and I forget.

Number 6….Face
Skincare is everything and I don’t mean expensive products and treatments…Care for the skin is paramount. Cleansing, moisturising, hydrating and protection are the key elements. Cleansing twice a day is a routine I can’t live without….protecting my face from the sun is another. I think cleansing and exfoliating are almost the most important skin care routines of all and wearing a hat in the sun is the other. Applying moisturiser day and night is essential as is a masque once a week if possible. Professional beauty treatments are a bonus but without an ‘essential’ home routine, healthy and glowing skin won’t happen.

Number 7...Hair
The must have is good hair. All the wrinkles and sagging recede and lift just that little bit further if the hair is working. A regular cut and colour (if required) is the one thing I never want to live without. Experiment and find the style that suits, then maintain it vigilantly….Well groomed hair is anti-aging and confidence building.

Number 8…Eyebrows and Lashes
Well shaped eyebrows, like a great haircut, frame the face. Eyebrows provide the expression to our faces and emphasise our eyes. The threading technique used to shape brows creates a smooth finish to the brow and lasts longer than waxing or plucking. Regular eyebrow and eyelash tinting gives impact and definition around the eyes especially for those occasions when we are make-up free.

Number 9….Fingers and Toes
A manicure and pedicure are worth the effort. Just because we might not see our feet does not mean that they should be ugly and unkempt…A little like wearing attractive underwear….it is for us to know that we have fine feet at the ready…Polished toes make me feel like I am all set for the holidays…whether it’s holidays or not…groomed feet make me feel finished.  Neat and elegant fingernails are more difficult to maintain …. coloured polish is so often time dependent and for special occasions..but shaping and cuticles most definitely.

Number 10….??
Lucky last ……and this is where I need help. What is on your top ten beauty ‘essentials’ list? Is it eyelash extensions or tattooed eyeliner? Hair extensions or wigs? Dermabrasion or Laser? Botox or fillers? Tummy tuck or neck lift…eyes or face?….Do you surrender to seaweed wraps or mud baths? What can’t you live without when it comes to beauty? What am I missing? …..xv

image from MY FRENCH LIFE – photography carla coulson, styling vicki archer

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Number 10 – a smile! If you have a great attitude and a smile, you're always going to look better than that miserable, bitter frowning person.

helen tilston

Hi Vicki

This is an excellent routine and, like you, I try to follow all of these. In addition, I devote a half hour each day to daily mass and prayer.
Wishing you a day full of joy and living life to the fullest.
Helen xx


I love your essential list. I think the last one would be — a happy outlook.
Frowns are ugly and also wrinkle causing. It takes far less effort to smile and is much more appealing wouldn't you agree?
have a lovely week Vicki x Suzi

The Fashionable Traveler

My mother as says, "Never skimp on your hair or your shoes." I think wearing well made shoes, with leather soles go hand and hand with taking care of your feet. Plus, there is nothing like fresh roots and new shoes to boost a girl's confidence. I love your list, and totally agree with all of them. I haven't tried Acupuncture yet, but its on my list.

Lost in Provence

Well this perhaps fall under "makeup or products" but N°10 for me is most certainly perfume! It lifts my spirits like nothing else and is an everyday essential.

There is so much here that rings true. Yes, I agree that standing tall with shoulders back does wonders–as does NOT walking with the toes pointed out, like a penguin. I see so many women doing this and know that they just don't know how unflattering it is.

This list is also a good kick in the butt for the things that I have let fall by the wayside! Thank you! As always, so helpful and accessible.

Something for the "face" category (and a subject brought up not too long ago on Garance Dorés blog)–I don't wash my face with water anymore! I use Crealine H2O by Bioderma at night and organic rose water in the morning and think that it has helped quite a bit.

david terry

Dear Vicki,

Now, this anecdote has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with "beauty secrets", but I expect you and your obviously-many Australian readers will be amused by it.

I've just read, in the letters of Patrick Fermor (the famed travel writer who died quite recently at age 90 or so) that he was once, sometime in the early 60's, in Far Northern India, where he stayed for a week or so in the grand, but mostly abandoned by that time, colonial "governor's house". Aside from a few long-lingering servants who'd stayed on after the British had decamped fifteen years previously, the only other occupant of the rambling joint was an Australian botanist. Oddly enough, the man had been imported by the new Indian government to see what they could do about perhaps establishing fruit orchards (apples and other, unlikely candidates)across the countryside.

The two men sat, sweltering beyond belief, at some enormous table in the dining room of that creaky, abandoned mansion….eating what Fermor described as the most eye-poppingly HOT curry he'd ever tasted. The Australian botanist had finished his dreary tale of nothing-working-out-as-planned and concluded his depressing account by declaring "The problem is that the Indians simply don't make enough spice."

Fermor (a proper, upper-class Englishman whose mouth was burning beyond belief) wondered what in the hell the fellow was talking about….how could anymore want MORE "spice"?….

This was followed by some disorienting conversation during which both men wondered if the other was simply drunk.

Suddenly, Fermor recalled that the depressed botanist was Australian…..and that he meant "SPACE" (as in the space between the individual trees in an orchard).

All became clear in a second—– although Fermor claims that the conversation simply went from confusing to boring.

I love that anecdote.

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry

alison bariteau

Thanks for this great article Vicky. It's lovely to have some straightforward advice – all the beauty articles in magazines just seem to centre on product buying nowadays. I'm keeping this safe to reread! xx

under spanish moss

You hit all of our top ones! The first always seems to be our let down so we're opting for more water. the chocalte doesnt' exactly do the diet well daily. LOL Sleep is a must when allowed. Hair, nails, brows, take there toll until in extreme need of a revamp. Love your list!!!

Have a terrific Tuesday!

Renee and Angela

A Gift Wrapped Life

I think I have all 10 covered (except the yoga)but can offer an amendment to Fingers and Toes. I got on to UV lacquer manicures in the spring and it is my best grooming find. My manicures are instantly dry (no waiting and you can use your hands right away!), lasts for 2 weeks, no chips, and colour stays shiny and bright. Loving that my nails always look good and especially love I only have to go every 2 weeks. Off to book my facial though……….I sometimes forget each season. Thanks for the reminder Vicki and a fun post. Much love. XO


I love your list and agree with all your 'essentials' so my number 10 would be bronzer…..not so that I look like a BBQ chicken, just enough for some glow before I walk out the door! I'll be interested to read others comments….

Martina Rosenberg

Number 10….??
Nothing you can buy or pay for !!
Love to give and receive.
Nothing does more good to feelings, looks and overall well-being then being loved and giving as much love to others as you can. Not always easy and love can hurt as well a lot – but well worth every effort.


Number 10… – Thoughts
Think the happiest thoughts you can. They show. On your face, your body, and in your life.


Dear Vicki

Thank you for such wonderful well thought-out essentials for beauty and health. Have just a few additional suggestions:

1) Avoid harmful or potentially toxic chemicals, including in cleaning and washing products. I was very impressed when waiting for a table one day inside Laduree in the Rue Napoleon to see a staff member cleaning the windows with vinegar and water and not with a spray chemical cleanser. Also, where possible select organic fresh food products and avoid highly processed foods with artificial additives and trans fats.

2) A sense of humour – it relieves tension and stress and contributes to the joy of life which aids inner and outer beauty.

3) Genuine kindness, compassion and empathy are integral parts of inner beauty which shine out through the eyes and smile and help make a person beautiful whether they have physical beauty or not.


Ten: Love: without it there is no sparkle in your eye, smile on your face… real beauty


#10: Teeth Few things are as aging as stained or yellow teeth. Use a whitening toothpaste (they make them for sensitive teeth) or whitening strips, floss regularly, and stop avoiding the dentist. A great smile is always beautiful.


Hi Vicki, This is a great post–and I lag in this area, except regarding my diet (hopefully low carb, low wheat and lots of protein and vegetables and fruit) and supplements (which I sometimes forget) and acupuncture. For No. 10, I personally dedicate (sometimes it is only an attempt) my first morning hour to meditation/prayer and centering myself in gratitude. I find that if I can bring a positive, yielding heart to my day, I am happier and I hope that this is reflected in my face. (Step No. 10 is not as easy as it sounds) Thanks, Mary


10. A curious mind, a compassionate life, a sense of humor and all the love one can manage.


Vicki,sounds like you got it all!I agree with you 100%.I have said I willnot do the face lift thing as I think it looks worse then the wrinkles.But then again Iam 51 and the double chin is hanging pretty low!I love your beauty space you have created with the silver cups and old FRENCH watch boxes I too have done the same!Seems we are on the same page.Any books coming out soon?

Green Goose

Love everything you've offered here… Some wonderful reminders to care regularly for yourself, not sporadically. One thing I might add, since you invited us? Have a secret you keep and be genuinely happy. I think of Audrey Hepburn who always seemed to be keeping a secret and lvoed the color pink, etc, and also of Goldie Hawn, who said that the look of being in love is the most powerful beauty aid a woman can use.


I would have to say laughter! Joy comes through as vitality, n'est-ce pas?

Love your work and blog…

Bonne Journee!
– Irina


Crème de corps! For those dry legs and elbows, for the satiny quality it gives your skin, for the smell… Yum!

peggy braswell

I can't live without my tattooed eye liner! tattooed(did I just utter those words?) Find a GREAT tech and do the upper and lower lids. Small line on both lids looks wonderful. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Gracie's Mom

A good bra! I live in Toronto Canada, and I see too many examples of well groomed women with poorly fitted lingerie. You can not have a polished look with "the girls" slung so low you could tuck them in to the waist band of your skirt.
A good properly fitted bra holds the girls up where they belong, giving you a proper waist, taking strain from your shoulders and helping to prevent slouching and makes clothes fit better.
As a well endowed women it always pains me to go buy new bras because mine cost anywhere from $195- up to $275- EACH!! But the difference is worth it.


Number 10 is "teeth." Nothing communicates beauty like a genuine smile. Take care of your teeth the best you can. Get regular check ups. Floss every night. Brush teeth in the middle of the day if you have had sweets. Who cares about lip color if your teeth need help? Yep, teeth gets my vote.

Laura :-)

My Grama's Soul

Hi dear Vicki….I think the only thing I would add is the spiritual aspect to keeping your internal self calm and serene. Whether it be through prayer, meditation or chanting…it really doesn't matter as long as you take a little time throughout your day to do some reflecting.




#10 is LOTION. I learned from my Mom when I was a little girl to slather it on every part of my body I can reach, and I still do that every day, sometimes twice a day during the harsh Minnesota winters.

And hand lotion, after every single time I wash my hands. I have very short nails to play the harp, so I don't get colorful manicures, but I love to have soft skin on my hands. (And I do paint my toenails for a little fun!)


Love this post and I wholeheartedly agree with your advice. I also agree with the comment that said "teeth". I almost married a cosmetic dentist years ago and became very emotionally involved in his practice, as I witnessed not only the celebrities that came through his doors, but also amazing reconstructions of those who had suffered embarrassment and a lack of confidence due to poor dental health or malformations. Restoring or creating a healthy smile for these folks was literally life changing and the before and after photos in the case studies were so powerful to prove the point. For most this may not require drastic procedures, but most of us could improve our smiles. Which leads me to my next point and the title of your beautiful blog… "Essence". Whatever we do to improve our outward appearance, our Essence or Spirit is really the most compelling part of how we are seen by others. If we all work on improving our inner selves,that inner beauty and purity of heart can find its way through a crooked smile on a weathered face and spark the captivating twinkle in an eye that has never seen the likes of botox.


Dear Vicki,
Having reached the grand old age of 60 this year, I eat well, drink lots of water, look after my skin, not so good on the exersise but am pretty slim. I will never resort to Botox ( which is Botulism and, in ten years will be killing people, I'm sure !!) and, I don't think that I have ever seen anyone who looks better after some of these procedures.
I really do believe in ageing gracefully. I have just found something that I am so pleased with. It's called Revitalash and, after two weeks use, my eyelashes are so long that, I think thst I will have to stop using it !!!! ….. and, Dr. Perricone products are my favourite ….. and, lastly, a positive mental attitude is the best beauty product of all. XXXX

Blue Muse

Oh Vicki, your list mirrors mine! The only additions to beauty are a beautiful smile, good posture, and a positive outlook and good attitude. All make such a huge difference!

So, 6 month dental cleanings, bleachings, stand up straight and think good thoughts. Pretty, pretty!

Great post. xo isa

Verandah House

I think your list is similar to mine, over the last year I have put my own health aside for my family and now can feel the extra kilo's, in times of stress I seek comfort food, I'm sluggish and tired and in desperate need to start looking after myself, I have just set my goals starting now to get out there and exercise, thank you for the motivation xxx

Beadboard UpCountry

My suitcase is getting bigger!!!!!!!Your readers did a good job of adding to your thoughtful list… I always like some eye drops too..
Sometimes fatigue makes them look tired….They can take out some of the redness and not make you look tired. Maryannexo


A great list and spot on Vicki! Can I add a tube of hand cream? My favourite carry-with-me-everywhere, is L'Occitane Lavender, but I also use my home made one lavishly each and every day. No point in having a wrinkle free face if your hands look like Frankensteins!


I agree with all the other wonderful suggestions, however I will go out on a limb here and add my own.
Botox and fillers.

Not so much that anyone knows, I can still move my face and I still look like me.
But just enough to ensure that all my other efforts good nutrition, exercise, suncare, love – reflect at their best.

No frown lines for me thank you…

Steph. :)

Number 10 is TEETH…floss, brush, whiten, and if you need to, straighten. Teeth are so important to a great smile and beautiful countenance.


Definitely laughter … there is nothing worse than looking at a frowning face! I also agree with having well maintained teeth … I never forget my 6 monthly check up and clean, I floss everyday and brush morning and night.

Great list and post Vicki.


I vote laughter / smile for #10. Great list – I especially believe plenty of water and a healthy diet show in outer appearance!


No. 10 has to be TEETH! They need as much care, attention and grooming on a daily basis as any other part of your body, and without a clean, fresh, well maintained mouth, all the rest counts for nothing! … it only occurred to me last night as I was going through the evening maintenance ritual!

French Heart

I think the #1 thing that makes ANYONE look great is a highly defined silhouette, including precision haircut, and simple clothes. Even if dress from Target and get haircut at SuperCuts….fastidious crisp definition is a standout. It says, 'I'm self-discipline, self-aware, I care.' IMHO. I like to keep things simple.

Completely Classic

Wonderful list! For me, #10 would be perfume–light and crisp, not too heavy. A beautiful smile, as others have mentioned, is must too. That's a pretty photo you've posted too.

Paris Hotel Boutique

Wonderful post Vicki! I'm afraid I don't have a good regimen. I find myself trying to manage my time better with work and the important things like exercise and diet take a back seat. After reading this, it gave me another push to take these things seriously. I do sleep well, get manis and pedis, but need to step it up! Thanks for the great advice :)


As others have commented above, it must be TEETH!!! Nothing exudes beauty like clean, well cared for teeth and a beautiful smile.


Have loved reading your list – and it inspires me to take more attention to the essential things like water – I'm always too busy to drink water – must be more diciplined….
Thank you Vicki – keep safe. xx

Castles Crowns and Cottages

Bonjour Vicki!

I believe and practice these steps…except the water part. I drink a tall glass when I get up and then start my day with a healthy breakfast, but I can't seem to remember water for the rest of the day!

GREAT TIPS !!! Anita

The enchanted home

Yes exercise and diet and I have been involved in a love triangle for some time:) We have had a volatile relationship as well…lol!
Agree with all you said,some I am better at than others!
Number 10 for me would be a sound mind. Feeling like you are thinking clearly and using good judgment. I feel my absolute best when I am nto stressed, feel very focused and have a clear and present mind.


What a wonderful regime you have. I think you may have missed what is my number one essential;
A long luxurious soak in the bathtub is on the top of my list of 10. At least once a week.It makes all the difference in how I feel about myself. Brief showers are for everyday.
Teeth come second…
Next on my list is daily one hour walk with my pooch..
Love, Eugenia

Ms. Mig

I vote for a lovely smile to complete your list. The simple smile transforms and lifts a sour attitude and invites kindness. It's missing from too many people's day.

Thanks for your lovely blog. It always makes me smile and sigh with contentment.



All great Vicki, and add a genuine smile.

As a side note I had a chipped tooth for many years, finally had my two upper front teeth fixed and I feel so much better about my smile!


Art by Karena


Hi Vicki!
For my face I use a glove loofah once a week. It is very scratchy and I use gentle circular motions evenly. Immediately after my face is a bit red, but within hours my skin is glowing. It removes all the dead skin etc. I heard this trick from a fancy Californian skin Dr., who said this is a natural equivalent to some of the 'unnatural' treatments out there!
Oh, and I also practice kindness, it shows in the face!

Ingrid Mida

The only thing missing from your list is self-confidence. Feeling beautiful from the inside out has to be the secret of looking beautiful in the long run. We can try to stop time but in the end, it all catches up with us. But a beautiful heart makes a beautiful face at every age.

- Nina

Perfume! I think every woman should have a signature scent – at least I've read that the french think so! My personal signature scent is Burberry Classic, all my friends love it and say that I'm the only one they know who wears it.


Wonderful list as always. I think you should devote an entire book to these topics. I'd buy it to add to my collection. I think my number ten would be creativity. It keeps you in the zone where you stay young and joyful. Mirka Mora said she always sucks her thumb when going to sleep so a childlike attitude is good. Spiritual beliefs also are good for the soul and face no matter what path you pursue. And a great lipstick which cheers you up every time you apply it is essential. (Okay, so I cheated with a few in that reply. It's too hard to stick at one!) xx

Sweet Freak

Wow, I love your 1-9 list, and skimming all the comments have to agree with many others: curiosity, compassion, love, teeth, good manners, a genuine smile… so many things add to our beauty, n'est-ce pas??

I'd also had: sex and/or having a good secret – both which make us beam from within!


My number 10 would be to be self esteem,
taking care of yourself, being yourself,
loving yourself and what you have to offer,
because that reflects on everything else,
don't you think?


I just went through a terrible year of depression & all the loss that comes with it. You forget who you are.
It's simple things like this article, the joy of remembering you are a woman & how to respect yourself with your actions.
Truly, thank you, thank you, for the simple thing of knowing & remembering you can love every moment of your life.


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