The world-renowned make-up artist and Human Givens-trained psychotherapist talks us through the connection between beauty and emotional well-being and offers her advice on taking a more mindful approach to how we view and look after ourselves.
Lee Pycroft is a beauty industry giant. Her work appears in glossy magazines, she’s on call to the A-list – Liv Tyler, Elle Macpherson, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, to namedrop but a few. Having achieved this, many would have rested on their laurels. Not Lee. Sensing what she calls “a sea change in attitudes and the beauty and wellness industry” she trained as Human Givens psychotherapist. Now, she combines the two to great effect, running MY-Makeover, working with vulnerable women (including Maggie’s Cancer Care and victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy).
Under-estimate “beauty” at your peril
“For a multi-million-pound business, beauty is unfairly trivialised. I’ve seen first-hand the effect it can have: from painting on the face an A-list actress wants to project and watching them become that character, to working with vulnerable women. I see women who have lost part of themselves (owing to illness, domestic violence, tragedy) – and a makeover and it makes them see themselves differently. I remember one woman who told me she bought herself a nail polish afterwards, and that was the first step to realising she had value. I always say it’s not just about the product: it’s the consequence of putting it on; how it makes you feel.”
Change the dialogue
“It’s easy for that negative dialogue to take over. To look in the mirror and think you look tired. But just creating awareness of why you’re having that dialogue (is it because you’ve had a tough day? You’re in a comparison trap?) is a positive step. And remember: we all do it.
Instead, take that time and make it part of your self-care plan. Focus on touch. Use sensory products and massage it into your skin. Slow your breathing as you do so.”
Take control of stress
“Stress has become part of lives. We don’t notice it building up slowly, so we accommodate it more and more. We’re almost at disconnect with our bodies and don’t recognise that we’re in overwhelm, a constant state of fight or flight.
I’m a big advocate of self-care and taking the time to build the emotional resilience we need to deal with challenges. I find the antidote to stress is getting outside and connecting to nature. When I feel stressed, I remember how that feels. Being able to access that feeling is powerful tool.
Most of all, listen to your body throughout the day. What’s it telling you? Are you hungry? Tired? Lonely? What do you need now?”
Start with one small change
"Chances are you’re overwhelmed, so break it down into small, bite-size pieces, which will build incrementally over time to a more balanced life. Start by looking at just one area where you could pull back. It might be stepping away from your screen every 90 minutes for a 10-minute break. Forcing yourself to find the time to exercise – it’s a great way to give your brain space. Getting outside in nature. Connect with people in a meaningful way.”
Make conscious beauty choices
“Our lifestyle has a huge impact on our skin – it can make it highly activated. That’s why how you approach looking after yourself is vital. Be smart in your products and opt for things proven to help your skin, like vitamin c and vitamin a. Think about looking after yourself not in negative terms (‘anti-ageing’, focused on concealing perceived flaws) but in positive ones: think about how you can help your skin feel nourished, healthy and glowing.”
Shift your focus
“When I was younger, I traded more on how I looked because that was what I associated with being successful. Now I want people to listen to what I say. Change what you value. People remember us for how we made them feel – that has far more longevity. How you look is going to change all the time, but the capacity to learn and grow and contribute is always there – do that and you’ll feel (and look) better.”