Saturday, January 16, 2016

Arabella Preston: How to moisturize your skin and soothe your mind

Arabella Preston: “I have always loved the feel of oil on my skin — the way it sinks in and absorbs so beautifully, and my skin has never looked or felt better. I believe face oils are for everyone and can transform dull, tired skin in seconds and for good,” says the sought-after makeup artist. Arabella’s love of face oils is denoted by the name Votary which means devotée or advocate.
by Delia von Neuschatz

Dry winter skin is upon us. Between
the cold air outside and our typically overheated homes, there’s little relief indoors or out. This has been made worse for me due to a good deal of travel in the last few weeks. Arid airplane cabins and hotel rooms which always leave me with a parched throat even when I turn all the ventilation off, led to a dull complexion ... until I met up with Arabella Preston that is. The London-based makeup artist who counts Kate Middleton and Stella McCartney among her many high profile clients, has recently launched Votary, a line of luxe face oils.

The impetus for the all-natural product range occurred during this former model’s stint as a beauty journalist. Adverse reactions to some of the myriad product samples that came her way made Arabella pay close attention to her beauty routine. “I wanted to take control back. I realized that my face was not my job and I took a long hard look at what made my skin happy. For me, it was all about the oils,” she says. So, the mother of two started mixing base and essential oils at her kitchen table and took her concoctions on photo shoots when she began working as a makeup artist several years ago. The result? Clients with brighter, more supple skin. “Most skin problems are the result of dehydration,” explains Arabella.
Arabella advised Kate Middleton on her wedding day makeup.
But the benefits didn’t end there. There was the “shoulder-drop” effect. After massaging her oils into the models’ skin, Arabella also noticed their mood improve. Stress seemed to melt away and fatigued, famous faces perked up. The therapeutic effects can be attributed not only to the massage aspect of the application, but also to the mood-boosting light, natural scents.
The Votary product line consists of a cleansing oil, a toning serum and three facial oils. The Rose Maroc and Sandalwood is pictured above.
Realizing she was on to something, Arabella teamed up with Oxford-educated finance executive Charlotte Semler and voilá, Votary was born. The line, which consists of a cleansing oil, several facial oils and a just-launched toning serum, is made of completely natural, plant-based ingredients. Everything’s manufactured in the north of England by a family-owned business experienced in the use of cold-pressed oils. “Skin absorbs a plant oil beautifully,” says Arabella who is quick to point out that there are no minerals in her line because “mineral oil is clogging and minerals are cheap ingredients.”
The cleansing oil comes with a washcloth.
Her “desert island product” is the cleansing oil. The Rose, Geranium and Apricot blend lifts dirt and moisturizes at the same time. You massage two or three drops into the skin and then wipe gently with a washcloth (helpfully included with the product) that has been soaked in hot water and wrung out. This has the added benefit of giving a nice steam in the process. Those of you with dry skin (like me) may prefer soaking the washcloth in tepid water. Finish with a few splashes of warm water and pat dry.

I have to say that I had never cleansed my skin with an oil before, but now I’m a convert. It leaves my skin soft and supple and thoroughly cleansed without any tightness. The light scent is divine and it just feels good to work it into my face. I finish off with some eye makeup remover as the oil does not completely remove my mascara.
The serum is dispensed through a glass dropper.
The Lemon and Neroli toning serum, just out this month, goes on next. It’s a natural acid product containing glycolic and hyaluronic acids. “Hyaluronic acid can hold on to 100 times its weight in water,” says Arabella, “sealing in moisture.” With a pH of 3.4, the serum allows for very gentle exfoliation, encouraging the skin to do its natural shedding. This should be used at night.
Votary products on display at Liberty in London. Of the three types of facial oils, the Jasmine and Calendula is the lightest of the lot – good to wear under makeup; if you have dry and/or oily patches, Neroli and Myrrh is the one to use; the Rose Maroc and Sandalwood is the richest oil in the range – it can be used as an intensive overnight treatment and to treat dry, chapped skin. I haven’t found it to be too heavy for my dry skin and have been using it every night.
The last step is the facial oil. As with the cleanser, rub a couple of drops into the skin. Give your face a really good massage when you put the oil on advises Arabella as this helps with not only absorption, but improves the circulation too.

The three-step ritual makes me feel like I’m doing something nice for myself at the end of the day. I’ve come to look forward to the routine as the fragrances, the textures, the gentle massaging all force me to hit pause for a few minutes and get immersed in this pleasant grooming process.

The 36-year-old former model and mother of two stands 6’1”.
The luxe experience extends to the elegant packaging too. All the products come in display-worthy, dark green, ingredient-preserving glass bottles with rose gold labels. It’s a shame to keep them confined to the medicine cabinet as they would look beautiful on the poshest of bathroom vanities.

Retailing for approximately $65 - $110, the Votary products do not come cheap. But a few drops go a long way. Plus, you will love the results. If you want to test the waters with just one product, the Cleansing Oil is the way to go especially as it can also be used as a night-time moisturizer. Votary has been a life-saver for my skin during my recent travels, not to mention during the cold weather, and I’m staying with it.

Starting next month, Votary will be available at Anthropologie here in the US. In the meantime, the oils can be ordered directly from Votary and from Liberty where they can be bought online and at the iconic London store.

Now, on a different note, I couldn’t end our interview without asking the in-demand makeup artist for a few maquillage tips, especially as her own makeup was so natural-looking and flattering.

So, here goes: for defining eyes, Arabella advises getting the color as close to the root of the lashes as possible – pushing the liner into the roots of the lashes and out to the corner of the eye; for lips, apply the color at the center of the lip and push out with fingertips, blotting it to the edge of the lip. For eyebrows – groom them with lip balm as opposed to brow gel which can turn crusty. Also, add a bit of color at the top of the brow to create an arch.
Expert tip – Cleanse your face in the mornings. Just splashing some water on it won’t do the trick as the perspiration and dead skin cells that have accumulated overnight will not slough off by themselves. Use a small amount of cleanser and gently wipe off with a warm washcloth.