'Feeling good is the best part of any routine'

Dee O'Keefe

Day trips from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead would more than likely seem a little passe by today's standards - but way back yonder Boots did not exist on these shores.

Their cucumber range was the draw de jour, not least because of its affordability - even the constant threat of sea sickness couldn't take the sheen off these adventures for me.

I'd plan an outfit the night before, check travel arrangements, pray for good weather so the ferry would not be cancelled and then fall into a fitful sleep, like a child on Christmas Eve.

It was in short an event. And items of skin care, hair care, body care and the promise they offered - sometimes real and sometimes imagined - were the prize.

Time passed, Boots came to Ireland, people had more money to spend, beauty routines became more complicated and I got adult acne.


I was in my mid-twenties when my brother asked me one night what was wrong with my face. I subsequently tried every kind of skin care range and treatment available to me, but a clever make up ritual was the only way I could face the outside world for a couple of years.

I learned to live with the low grade but persistent acne, all the time growing more confident by tiny increments as I made my way in the world - and then I discovered Dermalogica.

I still use the range today. My mum has been an Estee Lauder woman for almost 40 years, everybody eventually finds a skin care system that works for them, falls in love with it, makes a commitment to it, and then grows happily older with it.

None of us really believe being beautiful will be the end result of our regimes but somewhere along the way you do realise that gilding the lily is good for you in every sense.

And whatever about being beautiful, our dalliances with cosmetics and other potions certainly make us feel more optimistic about the possibility of beauty.

Yes, some women can go too far by average standards in their quest - this week Renee Zellweger emerged as the latest poster girl for crossing that particular line.

And while men now do pay more heed to their own grooming, they are more likely to become enthused about cars and gadgets.

For women, anything that contains even a sniff of promise in the radiance stakes is irresistible.

And that's understandable - feeling good and looking good are fundamentally intertwined.

Beauty can also be endlessly entertaining. Dermalogica may be my go-to brand, but last night saw me adding a drop of thyme and clove essential oils to my regular moisturiser - a beauty tip from a lifestyle guru I found (Rex Lassalle if you're curious).

And who can definitively say whether it is the application of oils and creams that has me feeling a bit peachy today, or if it's really down to the fact that I took a few minutes to do something nice for myself?

Caroline Casey, who happens to be legally blind, told readers on Tuesday of this week that beauty to her is an energy and she's right. What's truly inside of us is what we reflect to the outside world.

Goodness, kindness, happiness and a sense of ease, will make you monumentally more attractive to others - and you can choose to embody these traits.

Of course we would all love a quick fix and physical beauty is magnetic, heady, compelling and magnificent. It will always demand a high currency - but it's a transient suit of armour.

Inner beauty is utterly fascinating. Probably because it's harder to recognise and absolutely not for sale at any price.

We all have the potential to see it and be it - but we do get distracted.

The 83-year-old model Carmen Dell'Orefice (above) says: "We're all works of art in progress."

She's right - as is her fellow octogenarian Leonard Cohen who says: "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in."