My aunt, Lulu, lives with my grandmother in Cornwall, England. She’s the sweetest person and regularly says things like “bless your cotton socks.” Growing up, I always wanted to have laugh lines like hers. (As a kid, I would crinkle my cheeks to try to get them.) By popular demand, here’s her beauty uniform…
What has it been like to live in a Cornish fishing village for the past two years?
When I moved here from Pennsylvania, to help take care of Milly, I was worried about feeling isolated. But I love the village life. You have to add 20 minutes to every errand because you run into so many people. You meet this little old lady, and that little old lady, and you hear their stories. You crack up the whole time. There’s a lot of nuttiness. We have a little grocery and a bakery and two pubs.
What skincare products do you like?
I like using body lotion after the shower. My favorite is Nantucket Briar, which smells wonderful, but it’s hard to get a hold of. So, mostly I use CeraVe. I take time to put on the lotion and massage myself and nurture myself. I don’t just slap it on. That awareness of myself is really nice.
Top pic: Lulu as a child. Bottom pic: Lulu is third from the right.
What was it like growing up in a family with six children?
Overall, it was fantastic! I was lucky to be in the middle. By the time I came along, my brother Jeremy and sister Jackie had broken all the rules and paved the way; I never seemed to be in the firing line, although I don’t think I was too much trouble. We were always giggling and laughing.
Growing up, we all had to use the same bath water for six kids. It was pretty muddy by the time you got to it, when you were the fourth or fifth person.
Were you into makeup growing up?
My older sisters were really good at beauty. But I didn’t really use makeup. Nowadays I put balm on my lips, and I use blush in the winter.
What about your nails?
I keep my nails short, and you sent me Dior Nail Glow last year, which I still wear every day. I love the Dior! I feel clean and manicured when I do it — although my nails do get pretty wrecked from gardening. I grow all sorts of things — our carrots have been absolutely delicious — and zucchini, leeks, potatoes, sweet pea flowers, lavender.
How many glasses of tea do you drink every day? You seem to always have a cup.
Hmm, four to seven cups of Earl Grey during the day. Then after 4 p.m., I’ll switch to herbal tea. We’ll also have banana bread or ginger cake or lemon drizzle cake. We really love tea and cake.
What do you do for your haircut?
My friend Rodney has been doing my hair for me! He’s a brilliant dancer and professional hair stylist. He’s the boyfriend of my friend Chris, and when he comes to visit our village, he cuts it in my bathroom. I say, you can do whatever you want, just don’t shave it off. I kind of want it spiky and wild looking because I like it when I get out of the sea.
What are your thoughts on going grey?
My hair has been going grey for ages, but I can’t be bothered to do too much. It’s like the leaves falling off the trees in autumn — it is what it is and I go with what’s happening.
What makes you feel beautiful?
I always feel really happy when I’m doing something fun and adventurous. I used to be really worried about swimming the cold sea. I don’t like being cold, and it’s VERY cold in England. But then I thought, I can cope with this. And I swam for half an hour! It’s such a shock when you first jump in, AHHH!!! Now my sixty-something friends and I jump off the rocks and swim to the beach. We chatter all the way there and all the way back. It’s really invigorating. Apparently cold water makes you toughen up.
Do you see jellyfish? I remember seeing so many when I was little.
We look out for them! They seem prehistoric!
How would you describe your overall approach to beauty?
I like to look clean and presentable, but I don’t think about beauty too much. It’s just not in my mind.
That’s like body neutrality. That seems like an amazing goal.
As long as my body is working, I’m happy. I love being able to power up the cliff paths or ride a crazy horse or swim in the sea or manage a little boat. That’s when I love my body. And I feel really flexible after yoga. I do Yoga With Adriene. I’ve learned so much from her. She tells you little tips, and she doesn’t twist you into a pretzel. Afterward I feel like I’ve had a massage.
What has it been like caring for your mother?
Milly is very peaceful and cute and easy. She loves absolutely anything you do for her. One funny thing is that she always makes the same carrot soup every day. Every time, I’m like, Oh, yay, thank goodness we got to the bottom of the bowl… and there she is, whipping up another one! (laughs) I’m crazy about her.
I love how warm you are to everyone.
Well, I do call everyone darling. I probably shouldn’t call the shopkeeper darling! I think people think you really love them! I should be more Jane Austen-ish about it, but I’m not. But I do really love people. I think everybody, no matter what they seem like, are so kind underneath it all and have had interesting lives. The little old ladies in the village — some are grumbly but they’re just a different generation, they’re all really sweet underneath.
Do you have any mantras?
You know the old saying, ‘This too shall pass’? It’s really true. Maybe one of your children is happy, then it flips; the family dynamic is always changing. The goal is being patient with it all. I just believe and trust that things are good. The sun coming up and the sun going down, and nature, the whole thing, take the changes as they come. People can get so fussed about something like the weather, but there’s no point, it is what it is, and I love the idea that you make popsicles in humid weather and meringues in dry weather and fly kites in windy weather and go kayaking when it’s calm. You work with whatever is out there and try to enjoy it.
Thank you, Lulu! You are unbelievably cute.
(Photos by Belathée Photography for Cup of Jo.)