Nil by face: hospital beauty tips

Most of the time we want to look better than we feel.  The one exception?  When we're in hospital - when it actually helps to look as grim as you feel, writes our correspondent Sally Walton of Carry-A-Bag fame... Some of you may know Sally Walton through bags she's made for Bobbi Brown and Aveda, showcasing their products in creations stitched together with vintage fabrics.  She was w-a-y ahead of the pack with fabric bags (not to mention gorgeous iPad and Kindle cases).  

But - as sometimes happens in life - Sal just found herself in hospital.  (Gall bladder problems.  Ouch.  Though all better now, happily.)  And when Jo visited, Sally made lots of very smart observations about why actually, you don't want to look your best when languishing in a hospital bed.  So we asked her to share her thoughts...

'Through the fog of pain I gathered essentials for an emergency admission to hospital.  And of course the first thing I reached for was my cosmetics bag – same would apply on a sinking ship.  It’s not that I slap it on but there are a few touches that I only feel its good manners to apply.  I may look casual but there’s an art to that.

So this is strange wisdom I’m passing on – because hospital is the one place where you don’t want to look your best.  If you’re sick you want to look as sick as possible so even if it goes against your every instinct step away from the make up bag.  Don’t even think about defining your eyes with a touch of mascara or filling in those gaps in your brows.  Not even a tiny smudge from your Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge – OK?

Here’s the thing – the medics and nurses are looking at your skin colour – they need to see it au naturel with the shadows under your eyes, flushed patchy cheeks.  You tinkering with things could actually mess up your diagnosis.

I had my own red nose day on Wednesday when my skin colour was all over the place and I could not resist applying a touch of green tinted Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF15 (well you would wouldn’t you, since it does what it says on the can?)  10 minutes later my consultant came and remarked as he wrote his notes – “seems better in herself”.  SO not true – but shows how well it works.

So look your worst:  it’s for the best!  And that goes for visiting hour too – go for the sympathy vote and give your loved ones something to celebrate when you’re better and as naturally gorgeous as ever.  (The one exception:  when you've had a baby.  Glam up as much as you possibly can, on that joyous occasion, because the pictures are going to be around for a l-o-n-g time...)

But when you're under the weather, however, there are SOME products you will want to have handy.  So here's what I recommend.

•  Cucumber wipes are fresh, great for wiping sticky hands, and a smell you can’t object to.

•  I swear by Balance Me Stellar Face Balm for lips;  it's simply perfect in every way but I forgot to bring it (so a family member had to fetch it);  I was bought some Carmex Cherry flavour but that just isn’t right – because it's flavoured, you tend to lick it off which dries the lips even more.  Anything flavoured is a mistake.

 Be sure to leave one nail unpainted as the varnish interferes with the readings of the clip-on heart monitors.  But do paint the rest as it gives you something nice to look at.  My daughter came in with a selection of colours and it gave us a good hours worth of entertainment – and those tables they slide over the beds are ideal for a manicure!

•  Leave your favourite scent at home.  Perfume is such a strong memory-trigger and  you don’t want this experience to linger and may put you off something you adore by association.

•  Pack loads of moisturisers for face, hands, arms etc.  The air in hospitals is drier than a desert and sucks every drop of moisture out of your body, so keep lots of rich creams handy for face and body slathering.'