The older I've got, the more I think Cicero was definitely on to something when he wrote, "If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." Already a bookworm, I've only recently discovered the highs (and lows) of cultivating my own flower and herb garden.
Gardening is surprisingly physically challenging: if ever there is a time I'm feeling grumpy or overwhelmed, I get out in the garden and get my hands dirty - it never fails to lift my spirits, clear my mind and ground me. There are many other tangible gifts a garden can give us, in the form of all the amazing herbs and flowers we can use in our beauty routine. We can grow and make our very own, bespoke, all-natural beauty cabinet. Gardeners suffer with a lot of scrapes and bruises too from their labours of love, so here I've listed some handy helpers to alleviate some of those skincare concerns.
Crabtree & Evelyn Gardeners Hand Therapy This brand caters so well for gardening-related beauty issues - this hand cream is just divine and heavy-duty enough for work-hardened gardeners' hands, stores nationwide
Heathcote & Ivory Gardeners Shea Butter Hand Cream A good substitute that is high in gorgeously nourishing shea butter, heathcote-ivory.com and amazon.com
● For skin-smoothing repair for scratches and scrapes, especially during pruning season
Mind the skin on your body (especially on your arms and legs) with Peachy's all-natural products. Created by an Irish biomedical scientist, these are all 100pc natural and made from ingredients that can be grown in your own garden; priced from €5-€40, peachy.ie
● For sun protection on face and hands
Garnier SkinActive Moisture Bomb Protect Hydrating Mist (SPF 30) is such a handy new gem for gardeners. The SPF is in spray form, so no need to rub it in with your (muddy) hands. Simply spray this on face, neck and the back of the hands - zero rubbing in required, €10, from pharmacies and retail outlets nationwide
● For dehydrated, irritated complexions
YONKA Crème 83, €47.50, is designed for delicate skin prone to dryness, this cream softens skin and provides protection from harsh weather conditions. Containing calendula, lime flower, olive oil and beeswax; as well as lavender, geranium, rosemary, cypress and thyme oils, this is a gardener's skin savior from the elements. From skinfullaffairs.ie, and selected salons nationwide
● For heavy-duty hand cleaning
Try Bogüe Milk Soap's all-natural, antifungal, antibacterial The Gardener soap and nail brush set for gardeners who don't fancy using gloves, €15, amazon.com
● For a mani treat without the chemical nasties
If you're looking to jazz up/disguise gardener's hands, slick on Nailberry L'Oxygéné Nail Varnish, €19.50. This is a natural, non-toxic, breathable and chemical-free nail varnish option, from neelus-salon.com and simplynatural.ie
● For gardeners' aches and pains
After a hard day's labour in the garden, muscles and backs can be pretty sore - to help with gardeners' gripes, soak in a bath with this 100pc natural Ambre Botanicals Rosemary, Thyme & Mint Invigorating Herbal Bath Oil, €22, from ambrebotanicals.com
● For avid gardeners who don't fancy smelling of compost
Spritz on Clarins Eau des Jardins, €42, department stores nationwide
● For gardeners' gnarled hands - SOS kit
As Marie Staunton says, she doesn't know any gardeners with beautiful hands! For a gardener's one-stop shop for hand and nail care, try Crabtree & Evelyn's Gardeners hand-care tin, €30, from pharmacies nationwide
One of Ireland's best-known models of recent decades, Marie Staunton can still be seen strutting the catwalk - but she is far more likely to be found in her garden, having changed careers to become a horticulture tutor. Below she gives us a sneak peek into her daily skincare routine and shares some tips to care for hard-working gardeners' hands…
What is your daily skincare routine?
I wash my face day and evening with Simple face wash and moisturise in the morning but not at night.
Do you use natural skincare in your beauty regimen?
I use a homemade face scrub with honey, mixed with a little sugar and water, and apply it twice weekly.
What are some of the most common beauty concerns for gardeners?
Using compost can cause skin irritation. Rose thorns can be nasty - it's best to get the thorn out as quickly as possible and wash the area well. Always wear heavy-duty gloves.
Do you make any skincare products with produce grown in your garden?
Yes, I make a coconut oil and calendula hand moisturiser.
What is the biggest mistake women make with their hair and make-up?
Following trends that are too young for them. A really good haircut and a decent blow-dry can work miracles. Also, the make-up routine that looks good for an Instagram shot can all too often look comical in the real world. My advice is to keep it simple and age-appropriate.
What is the biggest beauty myth?
That we can have it all and look as stunning as the photographs in the magazines. Those photos are to inspire - just be the best version of yourself that you can be is my motto!
What are your top five make-up picks?
Laura Mercier primer (make-up just glides on afterwards);
Lancôme Teint Visionnaire (great for mature skin);
Armani Eye & Brow Maestro in 06 (for blondes);
Lacura Caviar moisturiser from Aldi is my best-ever day cream.
Marie Staunton is represented by Morgan the Agency.
Over the coming months she will be teaching classes at The Garden House in Malahide, beginning on March 10 with Springtime Pruning & Colour. Book at thegardenhouse.ie
Natural skincare teacher Mayca Fernandez of WapoBeauty holds skincare workshops teaching people the benefits of home-crafted natural skin products. She belives the life skill of making your own natural cosmetics from scratch should be as essential as learning how to cook your own food.
Are people becoming more interested in making their own skincare items?
Absolutely. I can see that people are more demanding; they are more conscious about what they are putting on their skin and starting to read the ingredients labels. This is a big step towards self-education.
What skincare ingredients can I grow at home?
In Irish gardens, you can find many beautiful flowers, herbs, plants and even fruits that can be used in skincare. One of the most popular is lavender but you also have rose, geranium, witch hazel, calendula (marigold), chamomile, nettle, rosemary, sage, thyme and all the lovely berries: raspberry, strawberry and blackberry.
What is the biggest natural skincare myth?
I think the biggest natural beauty myth is that the more expensive a skincare product is, the better it is. FALSE! This is not always the case. The price often reflects packaging and marketing costs.
Where can I source the other ingredients I'll need for homemade skincare?
You can actually find a lot of ingredients in your local supermarket nowadays, such as extra-virgin olive oil, coconut oil, rosewater (hydrolat) and so on. Also, your local health store will stock a nice range of plant oils such as grapeseed oil and sweet almond oil.
What happens at your classes?
When you come to my workshops, you'll learn the theory and basic chemistry behind making cosmetics, how and why to use every natural ingredient, and where each one comes from. You'll make your own customised skincare products following my recipes and advice, and you get to take those products home with you. You can achieve healthier, more radiant skin from day one without using unnecessary harsh chemicals.