Hannah Betts’s Better…Not Younger: Found! Beauty soothers to beat ‘back to school’ stress

'This time of the year always comes stuffed with back-to-school stresses, whatever age one is,' Hannah Betts says

How are you feeling? I’m guessing tense. This time of the year always comes stuffed with back-to-school stresses, whatever age one is.

However, it feels far worse this year, with an early Bank Holiday, meaning that September somehow started in August. Those who’ve been away have been catapulted back into reality. Those of us who haven’t been as mad as balloons.

After a summer of slog, I’m exhausted yet suffering from insomnia thanks to metaphysical angst. And, lo, here are the horsemen of the apocalypse in the form of the cost-of-living crisis, Covid still with us and Ukraine at war. Please let there not be a fourth.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting that one’s beauty regime is the answer to any of this. However, it can be an answer to the only part you can control — your attitude. Where there is stress, it will bring calm. A placebo effect is still an effect, after all.

‘This time of the year always comes stuffed with back-to-school stresses, whatever age one is,’ Hannah Betts says

The first thing I’ve done is soothe my face, which had sprung all sorts of scratches, welts and painful patches as I thrashed about unslept.

My favorite cure-all is Sisley’s Ecological Compound (£81.95 for 60ml, allbeauty.com). It’s expensive, yes, but a little goes a long way, and nothing is more dependable when combating eczema, rashes, blotchiness and/or inflammation. Small wonder it’s been a bestseller since 1980.

Or there’s Avene’s ultra-gentle Tolerance Control Soothing Skin Recovery Cream (£17.49, superdrug.com), which I deploy alongside the brand’s Tolerance Extremely Gentle Cleanser (£11.99) whenever my skin goes into neurotic mode.

And if strain also means spots — I currently have a corking pustule where my glasses meet my nose — then swipe on SLMD’s Salicylic Acid Spot Corrector (£18, slmdskincare.co.uk) to wipe them out overnight.

Elf’s Blemish Breakthrough Fighting Spot Gel (£4, elf cosmetics.co.uk) is a similar sort of thing with a reduced potency (1 per cent salicylic acid versus SLMD’s 2 per cent, the maximum an over-the-counter product can contain ).

Trinny Woodall’s Trinny London BFF De-stress serum foundation (£39, trinnylondon.com) proves invaluable at moments such as these. Designed to be an antidote to the impact on the skin of tension, a lack of sleep, a shoddy diet and too much screen time, it should really be called ‘De-crazing The Midlife Female’.

Hannah says the first thing she has done is 'soothe my face, which had sprung all sorts of scratches, welts and painful patches as I thrashed about unslept'

Hannah says the first thing she has done is ‘soothe my face, which had sprung all sorts of scratches, welts and painful patches as I thrashed about unslept’

When we are permanently wound up, our cortisol production refuses to switch off, meaning our complexions end up with insufficient recovery time, resulting in slowed regeneration. This is why when we feel like zombies, we look like zombies.

BFF De-stress is a tint crammed with plumping hyaluronic acid, an antioxidant complex and Neurophroline™, a constituent of wild indigo that breaks down the skin’s excess cortisol production. It activates the release of a naturally calming neuropeptide to mollify your mood, too.

If you make yourself look less anxious, you’ll feel less anxious. You’ll appear more human with the black pits under your eyes veiled worked over and more luminosity into your features.

Stress is the principal cause of female hair loss. Many women have experienced fraught periods when hair thins and matted strands clog up the shower.

I’ve been experimenting with Viviscal, the hair nutrition brand that has been around since the 1990s. Its active ingredient, AminoMar C™, was discovered by a dermatology professor who noted that Greenland’s Inuit population had incredible hair as a result of their diet, which was rich in fish protein.

I’m popping Viviscal Women’s Max Strength Supplement (30 for £29.99, boots.com) when I remember, while enjoying Viviscal’s Densifying Shampoo & Conditioner (£9.99 each).

This combo doesn’t leave hair too softly wimpy, as the focus is on volume. It really does make puny fiftysomething hair look youthfully lustrous.

I’ve also been inhaling Balance Me’s glorious new Balance Being Oil (£20, available from September 20, sign up at balanceme.com) and taking vitamins D and B for tension-busting purposes. And breathe.


Chanel’s eye quads have been chic staples since 1982. This autumn, the fashion house has launched four limited-edition incarnations — brown and beige; golden shimmer; pinks and mauves; and earth and fire tones — with Les 4 Ombres Tweed (£67, chanel.com). Fans are treating the quads, which come in tweed cases, as collectibles.





Julia Roberts, 54, (pictured), is a fan of Lancome¿s Mousse Eclat Clarifying Self-Foaming Cleanser

Julia Roberts, 54, (pictured), is a fan of Lancome’s Mousse Eclat Clarifying Self-Foaming Cleanser

The actress, 54, loves Lancome’s Mousse Eclat Clarifying Self-Foaming Cleanser (£28, lancome.co.uk). She also uses extra-virgin olive oil as a face and hair mask, and is religious when it comes to applying Shade All-Natural Sunscreen SPF 25 (£3.75 for 15ml, shadecream.com). Her principle is: ‘Remain calm, drink water, get sleep and be joyful.’


A lovely, fresh, 100 per cent soap-free cleanser that leaves no tightness

£2.30 for 150ml, boots.com


Aimed at baby boomers, this is a beautiful, peony-powered shot of skin nutrition for any age.

£19.99, boots.com


Ceramides are a form of moisturizing lipid that menopausal skin starts to lack. Think of this as HRT for the face.

£12, qandaskin.com


Super-light yet creamily lustrous, this base comes in 18 shades and three tones: neutral, warm and cool.

£14.99, zara.com


This 96 per cent natural-origin formula battles mid-life dryness. A new bathroom classic.

From £6, thebodyshop.com



Some women will always crave the latest thing in scent, and this autumn Prada Paradoxe eau de parfum (£59 for 30ml, johnlewis.com) is it.

Critics have argued that it doesn’t smell very Prada, being a blousy, amber-floral crowd pleaser.

Think a warm orange blossom and jasmine bouquet, offset by amber and bourbon vanilla. Legions of eager acolytes will love it, however.

Its radicalism lies in its packaging, which is refillable.

A single 50ml bottle and a 100ml refill means 40 per cent fewer materials are used in total, including: 29 per cent of glass, 67 per cent of metals, 46 per cent of plastics and 39 per cent of cardboard. Brava, Miuccia!

£59 for 30ml, johnlewis.com



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