Don't fear, just fake it
Every year, I think it's going to be different. I won't have The Fear. I'll actually be able to look forward to my summer holiday, instead of dreading it.
All it was going to take was a bit of discipline, a little exercise and a lot of salad. I was looking forward to revealing a whole new me in my brand new bikini.
Unfortunately, the only exercise I've got lately is the mad dash to the beauty counters to examine the latest lotions and potions, hoping against hope that they can work miracles. Of course, I know that no product is going to magically dissolve those pesky lumps and bumps or vanquish a few stubborn pounds.
But there are a few essentials that can help cheat your way to feeling beautiful on the beach.
Shiseido Refining Body Exfoliator, €42
Exfoliate, exfoliate, exfoliate is the ultimate beauty dictat. And it's so much easier to obey when you're using this product. It may smell sweet, thanks to its cherry blossom fragrance. But this is one hard worker that delivers a triple whammy – softening and brightening skin, and evening out tone. If only it had a flip top, rather than a screw on/off mechanism, then it would be perfect. Pricey but pampering.
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Body Total Transforming Anti-Aging MoisturiSer, €130.50
It's expensive, but can you possibly justify it? Yes, because this hydrating and firming formulation is packed with free-radical-fighting ingredients, treating your body to a level of TLC normally reserved for your face. Great for improving the appearance of minor scars, stretch marks and dimpled skin.
Dr Hauschka Rosemary Leg and Arm Toner, €24.95
Okay, we all know that we should have been spending the last few weeks practising our tricep dips and walking lunges – lots and lots of reps are required . . . and, of course, we have been doing so, but sometimes our arms and legs need a little extra help and that's where this comes in. It's called a toner, and indeed the consistency is more watery than oily, but it does blend in easily without leaving any nasty sticky residue behind.
Its cooling and soothing effects will definitely put a pep in your step after exercise. It also helps to improve circulation, as well as the appearance of arms and legs. Shame about the awkward packaging though.
Karora Gradual Bronzing Moisturiser SPF 15, €14.99
Pasty, white skin isn't exactly the best way to show off your bikini. It'll look so much better if it's teamed with bronzed limbs. This does a very nice job of creating that illusion.
The trick to self-tanning is to remember that less is more when it comes to applying, and never ever use it without first exfoliating.
This goes on well to give a nice light colour with a slight shimmer and hardly any streaking. Bonus marks for the SPF.
VOYA Exfoliating Body Brush, €20
There's no way to gloss over it – dead skin cells simply aren't attractive, but you don't have to live with them. Improve the texture and tone of skin (and give yourself an extremely effective wake-up call at the same time) by using this natural bristle brush every day before your shower.
Always work upwards in long, sweeping strokes. Start from the knees working towards your heart and then brush from the ankle back to your knees. Don't neglect the side of your bust (it helps to clear away any toxins lodged in that area).
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Deep Nourishing Intensive Mask, €5.29
You're about to subject it to the triple whammy of sun, sand and sea, so give your hair a break before you go on holidays by regularly (and liberally) coating it in a mask before you step on the plane. Packed with Hawaiian coconut and orchid extracts, this leaves locks feeling soft and strengthened, especially if you go the whole hog and wrap a warm, damp towel around your hair allowing the conditioning treatment to really get to work – a shower cap will do the trick too.
Garnier Ultimate Beauty Oil, €11.99
After you've shown absolutely no mercy to those dead cells, give your skin's elasticity a serious boost by slathering it in this rich and nourishing body oil, which works extra hard to improve tone and appearance. It's lightly fragranced (a nice mix of argan, macadamia, almond and rose) so won't clash with your perfume, and absorbs in easily, leaving a healthy shine without any greasiness. Bonus marks for the handy spray bottle.
Yves Saint Laurent La Laque Vert d'Orient, €30
Its smooth texture and wide, flat brush are all well and good, but really what makes this polish stand out is its fantastic, evocative colour that's suggestive of long, languorous nights in the south of France. Two coats are guaranteed to suit any bikini.