I stood in front of my dressing table this morning and realised that I put five separate moisturisers on my face. This seems a tad over enthusiastic, but when it came down to it I can’t decide what, if any, I could give up.

 First layer: Eucerin face cream. I occasionally get small patches of eczema under my eyes and none of my normal medications are allowed on faces. So I tried this, after my husband bought some for his mother when she had a really bad rash on face and neck, and it calms things down amazingly. So, that one is staying.

Second layer: Eye cream. L’Oreal. I’ve tried more expensive stuff but L’Oreal lotions and me get along fabulously well. I have eyes which tend to puff and dark circles, and I can see the difference when I’m on with my L’Oreal. So that stays too.

Third layer: Dove neck and chest stuff (serum, possibly?). This is the latest addition to my dresser top as I keep looking at the line around my 40-year-old neck and biting back the sighs. I like the Dove ads with the real women, and I’m desperate to do something about the neckline. My face is holding up okay, I have next to no eye wrinkles, but I’m vexed about the neck. The Dove stays, or at least until I’ve finished the canister and evaluated the results.

Fourth layer: L’Oreal day cream. The Eucerin is good but doesn’t feel quite thick enough for my ageing skin; I need a top up. Again, L’Oreal suits me. I’ve tried others, my skin gets noticeably drier and more haggard looking (well, I can tell, anyway). It stays.

Fifth layer: Tinted moisturiser. I’m not fussy, I’ve tried many brands and it’s often a case of I buy whatever is on offer then mix it with the L’Oreal. I’m such a pale-faced Englishwoman that the tint is vital for looking alive, but if I put on the tint without the blending I look like I’m wearing a cosmetic mask. This, I think, is the one I could most likely give up but I’d rather not, especially if I’m venturing out into civilised society. I don’t think the horses notice, but people will. It’s staying.

Oh, and then there’s a sixth. The Aveeno body moisturiser which does an amazing job of keeping my eczema patches at bay. I’m not seriously bad, like those unfortunate people who have all-over itchy skin, but when those little patches crop up and start to itch they drive me demented. My GP gave me E45 and aqueous cream but they just sting. The Aveeno stays. Wonderful stuff.

What did women – or indeed, anyone – with tight, dry, prone-to-itchy skin do before modern cosmetics? My husband and I love the idea of getting our lifestyle to be more self-contained – woodburning stove, wind generator on the roof, recycling water, that kind of thing – and cutting out the extras you end up spending money on out of habit, but how on earth could I manage without the miracle moisturisers created in the modern age? I could have a porridge bath to calm the itchy, but if I did it every morning the drains would be clogged.

Answers on a (recycled) postcard please…

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