British makeup artist, former beauty editor and Votary co-founder, Arabella Preston talks about her passion for natural plant oils, pretty packaging and a good diary session.
The Wind Down
Weekends are always quite busy, what with various kids’ activities, seeing friends and gardening, so Sunday evening is my time to flop. The kids are usually tucked up and reading by 7.30pm so I take this opportunity to jump straight into the bath. I am a bath junkie and I like it really, really hot, which is not good for your skin and I don’t recommend it, but it’s how I like it and how I’ve always had it. I live in the countryside so I spend a lot of time outdoors and quite often have cold hands and feet. I’m tall too, so I don’t have very good circulation and having a hot bath really helps with that. I have a large free-standing bath, which is nice and deep, but it needs to be as I’m 6ft, 1 and like to stretch out and still be submerged! I am a scented candle obsessive and love anything from Diptyque. Baies is my favourite, but I’m a sucker for the limited-edition candles as I really love all the pretty packaging.
I use Votary Super Seed Cleansing Oil every day, but on a Sunday I let it sit on my skin for longer, at least 10 minutes. It’s surprisingly easy to miss areas of your face, so I take my time to get all around the nose area, and go right up to the hairline and always take it down to my neck and chest – particularly when I’m in the bath. I very rarely wear makeup on a Sunday, so this step is more of a treatment or mask. I use the Votary Toning Serum – Lemon & Neroli. It has gentle glycolic in it and also hyaluronic acid so it exfoliates and plumps. About once a month, when my skin is feeling dull or flat or just generally needs a boost, I’ll do a more intensive glycolic treatment. I use either Malin + Goetz Resurfacing Glycolic Pads or Dr Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel. I then apply face oil. On a Sunday I like to use Rose Maroc & Sandalwood because it’s the most nourishing of the three; it has avocado oil in it so is quite thick in texture. I use a few more drops than I would usually and spend longer massaging it into skin. I rub it in just as you would a moisturiser, making small circular movements with my fingertips.
I don’t actually put that much in my bath. I sometimes do my own bespoke blends of essential oils but I don’t use any bubble bath as I try not to use anything foaming on my skin. I absolutely adore Mauli, and use the Himalayan Healing Salts and love the way the product smells. While efficacy is obviously crucial to me, I’m really passionate about using natural plant oils in my own brand because I like products to smell gorgeous and make me feel good too. This was really important when creating Votary; I wanted to create a brand that people got pleasure from and wanted to display in their bathroom and not hide away.
I spend the next 20 minutes or so relaxing. I’ll be on my phone (I know, it’s terrible) but I love looking at Instagram and YouTube for inspiration. For the last five minutes, I make a conscious effort to close my eyes and just switch off completely, I have actually been known to nod off in the bath.
I’m a bit paranoid about contact with water. I think it’s one of the most drying things for your skin, so I always apply a generous helping of Votary Hydrating Body Oil as soon as I get out. This step makes a huge difference to whether or not my skin behaves. Body exfoliation makes a real difference too. I keep hearing about body brushing and I’ve heard Kate Shapland from Legology talk about it. I’d really like to try out the Legology Lympth-Lite Boom Brush, I think using this on dry skin before applying the Votary body oil would make a really good combo.
My hair is long and thick and is getting coarser and curlier the older I get, so it’s quite high maintenance. I don’t like washing it in the bath, because it’s just not possible for me to get it clean enough and I’m a bit OCD about rinsing it with the shower head and then sitting in all the shampoo. If it needs to look fresh for Monday I’ll wash my hair in the shower and use Rossano Ferretti Intenso Softening and Smoothing Hair Mask because it’s nice and natural – none of his products foam. I also use the mask as an intensive conditioner, keeping it very much at the ends of my hair and not near the roots; I find this means I get longer in between hair washes.
I like to switch off on a Sunday night, but part of my relaxation is making sure I know what’s going on. It’s important that I get my head straight for the week ahead because I don’t like going into Monday morning not knowing what I’m doing and where I’ve got to be and when. My husband and I both work from home, but I’m quite often in London for meetings or shoots and he’s a writer so often attends literary festivals and events. On a Sunday we go through our diaries and make sure we haven’t both decided to be away on the same day and there’s always someone there to pick up the kids.
We’re usually in bed around 11pm as we get up just before seven and I definitely need eight hours sleep to feel human. I can’t go to sleep with dry hands or lips, it’s a bit of a weird thing I have. I always have By Terry Baume de Rose Lip Balm and Hand Cream on my bedside table, and I love Aesop too.
I don’t use any kind of cream on my face and no one ever believes me when I say that, I just use our Intense Night Oil every night. I am approaching 40, and last year I started to feel that my skin needed a retinoid. This contains a very gentle form of retinol in a really luxurious plant oil base, and I’ve been so happy with the results – I wake up to plumper, smoother skin.
Spritzing a pillow spray last thing before bed is a really nice ritual and makes the room smell amazing. I know not everyone finds essential oils effective but they really impact my mood and help me to relax. I’ve been using This Works for years, it’s a brilliant product and was very much the benchmark for when I created my own Pillow Spray. I wanted to at least equal or better it, and I think we’ve achieved that.
The alarm goes off at 6.50am. I’m not a morning person and it takes me a while to get my eyes to focus. We get the kids up and I take them to school. This is something I really love doing, I work from home a lot and can go a bit stir crazy, so the school run bookends my day. It’s also my chance to chat to the kids and spend time with them. I’m not someone who cares how I look on the school run and if I’m at home I don’t wear any makeup. I simply cleanse my skin with my Cleansing Oil and apply Facial Oil on top and then I use Nars Tinted Moisturiser. I might just check if I need to tweeze my eyebrows and I’ll pop a bit of SPF on top. I’m fussy about SPF. It has to be really light and not clogging, so I like Chantecaille.
Lastly, I take two teaspoons of Votary Super Seed Supplement – it’s a blend of natural plant oils and is rich in omega 3, 6 and 9. It does have quite an acquired taste as it’s high in flaxseed oil and is quite bitter, but I’m used to it now and I really like it. At lunch time I pop it into a salad dressing and it works really well.