Journalist Madeleine Spencer is joined by a guest to reflect on the challenges and triumphs they've faced throughout their lives, and to touch on the beauty memories and rituals - if any - that have played a role or had resonance.
I first met Tova Leigh at the launch of her first book, F****d at 40, which as the title suggests is a rather no holds barred look at some of the things Tova had experienced in her then 40 years.
I liked how forthright, fun, and funny she was, and put her on my wish list of guests to come on the podcast. The pandemic slightly thwarted our efforts to have a chat, so in the end, we recorded this episode over zoom.
In it, Tova explains how she went from a studious married woman living in Jerusalem to a divorcee in London, before meeting her husband Mike and going on to have three children. Does that sound like a neat and rounded off happy ending after which our heroine rides off into the sunset? Probably, but Tova, being the boldly honest woman she is, adds nuance, talking about the mental and physical trauma of having children, the need to travel away from them sometimes to reconnect with herself, and the desire that, despite loving them, they’d on occasion, in Tova’s words, ‘just fuck off.’
We also talk about enjoying rather than performing sex, how she navigates representing her relationship online, and how Tova has used the very same face cream since she was 20.
I first came across Irish make-up artist Aimee Connolly a couple of years ago, when I picked up a lipstick by her brand, Sculpted by Aimee, and was blown away by the quality married with clever design. That lipstick, by the way, is the Lip Duo in Pink Pair and it is a lipstick with a liner on the other end - very handy - and it is now a staple in my make-up bag.
After that find, I started to try more and more by Aimee’s brand and continued to be impressed. Aimee came over to mine to record this episode, and I found that the woman behind Sculpted by Aimee is no less impressive; she is a savvy entrepreneur who was brought up as an only child solely by her mum, from whom she draws inspiration. She never took a loan or investors in her business, and she started saving money in uni to fund it.
Aimee’s grit and a clear vision has served her really well - Sculpted by Aimee is now in its 6th year, and has over 40 products in the range.
In this episode, we talk about how she has taken a small brand and grown it across the UK, how she now finds balance as a very involved business owner, and just how she achieves that signature glow.
Carrie is an artist who works in a variety of media creating her designs on items as varied as car bonnets, plates and paint cans made of ceramic. She has worked in film, performance and sculpture. Carrie's website describes her output as “anarchic artworks where vintage floral, kitsch, royal and religious crockery is given a new twist by refiring with layers of new ceramic decals." Carrie is perhaps best known for her mosaic home which has become so well known over the twenty years that she has been decorating it, that it has become a recommended stop for tourists making the trip to Chiswick where Carrie lives.
To record this episode of the podcast I visited Carrie's home, which as you can imagine doesn't really need a door number because the house is immediately recognisable, standing out from the red bricked buildings on the street thanks to its multi coloured mosaics of all sorts including a cheshire cat, flying eyeballs, dancing skeletons and palm trees covering the front of the house. The legend "I'm an artist, your rules don't apply” is displayed prominently. A bumper detail on the taxi parked in front of the house, also covered in mosaic, reads ‘beware artists, they mix with all classes of society and are therefore the most dangerous.’
I first became aware of Carrie's work when I received one of her pieces as a Christmas gift - a plate which said ‘buy less, fuck (excuse the expletive) more.’ It was kitsch, and yet anarchic. I was curious, so went to take a look at her mosaic house.
Here’s a woman with a story, I thought, so I asked her on the podcast. Carrie’s answer to being invited on a podcast focussing on beauty was ‘I hardly have a ritual - I just wash off grout.’ That sealed it - I had to have her come on to tell her story, and to explain how a woman with such a keen eye for adorning had never been seduced by beauty.
We sat in her garden to record this, which is why you can hear cars, wind, her dog scratching around, and the general bustle of London. I hope to you that adds to the picture, fleshing out what it’s like to have a very frank conversation with a very frank woman. We talk about all sorts from Dolly Parton to art as therapy to how Princess Diana helped to destigmatise self harm to her friendship with a death row inmate.
I loved this having this conversation, and I hope you enjoy listening to it.
(A little warning before you listen, as you may have guessed, Carrie isn’t one for holding back, and you might find some of the topics we discuss triggering.)
Internet sensation Hyram grew up on a cattle ranch in what he describes as a ’toxic’ environment, leaving the country life behind to move to tropical Hawaii at the age of just 18 in the hope of finding a new life. He found it, amassing millions of followers for his forensic and refreshing reviews of products, brands, and skincare routines.
Hyram is also now the founder of his own brand, Selfless by Hyram, in partnership with The Inkey List. Every single product purchased will help to contribute to organisations including The Rainforest Trust, who protect tropical forests from deforestation through buying land, and the charity Thirst Project, to provide clean drinking water.
In this episode he recounts his journey from a rather challenging start in Arizona, to his flourishing career today, as well as touching on the products he can't get by without - and why he isn't afraid to take on the big players in the industry.
Actress Kristen Bell believes, in her own words, 'in moderation with everything.' In today's episode, she talks about how this relates to her attitude towards food, make-up, and her career, as well as running through the products which mean which she simply can't get by without.
This episode is sponsored by Scandi brand Mantle, who are kindly offering 20% off their face and body products with the code MADELEINE - but only to the first 50 buyers, so get in there quickly if you'd like to take advantage of the discount to try their CBD-powered wellness products. You can check out their products at https://www.hellomantle.co.uk or @hellomantle on Instagram.
To browse Hello Bello products, head to https://hellobello.co.uk.
This episode was produced by Rich Jarman, with artwork by Sung Lee.
At The Movies with George Driver: Christmas Films
Join me and journalist George Driver for a very rambling meander through the beauty highlights and themes in some of our favourite Christmas films including Home Alone (HELLO Kate McAllister), While Your Were Sleeping (the jumpers! Elsie's soft cashmere skin!), The Holiday (Jude Law's absurd tan and Diaz's very expensive-looking hair occur), and Love, Actually ('would we call her chubby?').
On Female Pleasure with Rebecca Reid
It was so enlightening and refreshing to hear two people discuss female pleasure through their own experiences. I have two daughters, I would love them to listen to this episode! Brilliant! Thank you x
One of my faves
I always love listening to Madeleine and her guests. Like catching up with old friends each time. Xx
Fab podcast with Ayda Williams
I loved this and could relate to the lip glosses that used to stick to your hair when you swung it. I had the same in my late teens early 20s.
Loved all the makeup and beauty tips ❤️❤️