Donna White is a national newspaper and magazine journalist, blogger, and mum to Brodie, aged seven, and five-year-old Blake.

Her beauty regime used to consist of soap and water, followed by a quick swipe of lip gloss. Since entering her 40s she admits Mother Nature needs just a bit more of a helping hand. You can find her general ramblings over at www.mummycentral.com

 

Cleansing Like Cleo

We’re just back from a holiday in Egypt and I’ve fallen in love with the land of the pharaohs. The people proved friendly, the culture rich with so many different sights and smells, and the country itself was just breathtaking.

But the sun was relentless. On our last few days, the temperature went up to 43 degrees. If that’s what it’s like in the Spring, imagine the peak of Summer and you’d just about melt.

Little wonder then, that the ancient Egyptians used all the natural elements at their disposal to protect their skin.

Back in those days, they decorated their eyes with black and green paints – the black coming from a powdered crystal rock named galena. These days we call it kohl. The dark lines around the eyes helped protect from the sun – similar to why today’s football players put black smudges under their eyes during play.

The green paint was made from the powder of the emerald-coloured mineral malachite, which guarded against infection.

The blistering sun and windswept sands caused dry skin, burns and infections. Body oils were so central to wellbeing that workers received them as part of their wages. Both men and women moisturised.

Finally, Henna was used to condition nails and hair. This natural dye from the dried leaves of a shrub called Lawsonia inermis. decorated the nails of the pharaohs, and both men and women used henna to stain their lips a deep red. Cosmetics companies offer henna-based lip stains even today, touting the long-lasting effects of the natural dye.

Well, all I can say is I’m very thankful we don’t have to boil plants or mash up leaves to get our skin protection these days.

Cleopatra may well have bathed in ass’s milk, but who has the time for all that when there’s holiday fun to be had? Not me. Which is why I relied on a few modern-day “remedies” to ensure the sun’s rays didn’t damage my hair and skin.

 

Wella Professionals Sun Protection Cream, around £10 for 150ml

I get my hair coloured every six weeks, to cover those pesky greys which are gradually taking over my barnet, making me look like Old Mother Hubbard!

So to protect my tresses from fading in the sun, this was just the ticket. It is made for thicker hair like mine, and doesn’t break the bank. If you have finer hair, Wella does a lighter spray.

Applying a small amount through my hair when it was still damp after a shower left it feeling soft and shiny. And my expensive colour didn’t fade too much in the heat. From Boots and Superdrug.

 

Garnier Nutritionist Youthful Radiance Daily Moisturiser for Normal/Combination Skin, £9.19 for 50ml

This fantastic moisturiser was great for my sometimes patchy skin, without being so heavy that I ended up with a shiny face. I’m also sensitive to anything too perfumed – which can bring me out in spots – but this had no heavy odour and didn’t irritate my skin.

From Boots.

 

Estee Lauder Daywear Advanced Anti-Oxidant and UV Defense, £33 for 30ml

With the high temperatures, I needed a dose of SPF50 on this holiday too, so I packed this as a second line of defence, a broad spectrum sunscreen to prevent the face ending up like an old leather belt!

It lived up to its promise of providing a lightweight cover over my moisturiser, which wasn’t sticky or greasy. it’s not cheap, but well worth it. My skin tends to tan and then peel quite quickly (especially my nose – attractive eh?), but on this holiday I felt silky smooth with no dry patches and no peeling at all. From www.esteelauder.co.uk

 

Vaseline’s Spray & Go Body Moisturiser in Cocoa Radiant, £4.99 for 140ml

This made for a perfect “quick spritz” after my daily shower, to keep the rest of my skin hydrated. It smelled gorgeous – almost good enough to eat.

Perhaps it’s the chocoholic in me but I was seduced by the sweet aroma. And it was great for popping into my beach bag, to top up on moisture if I felt my skin was drying out in the sun.

I’m not quite as glamorous as that old Cleopatra – but I’ll do!