Amelia Fleetwood | September 18, 2018


When it comes to beauty and self-care, the women in my immediate family are what one might call “no nonsense types.” We are an understated bunch.

It may seem surprising, considering my female family tree, that no beauty secrets were passed down. Both my mother, Jenny, and her sister, Pattie – known as the Boyd Sisters – worked as models in the 1960’s, but by the time I came along, my two most prominent role models seemed to barely wear makeup or to make much fuss about their skin. I do have distinct memories of my grandmother’s large pot of cold cream at her vanity, my mother’s bottle of Shalimar perfume which she kept in the bathroom, and that curling iron my aunt used when she was fanatically back-combing her hair. But I have no memories of real beauty routines other than seeing my mother or Aunt Pattie sink into a relaxing bubble bath once in a while and paint her toenails.

I cringe at the things I used on my face when I was in my twenties – hand soap and a wash cloth to cleanse, a moisturizer from a drug store. And I knew nothing, not even how to pluck my eye brows! I owned one red lipstick and a kohl-black eye liner. That was it.

My beauty habits, if you can even call them that, were few: I washed my face, brushed my teeth, applied body lotion, combed my hair and always shut the door when I went to the bathroom!!

But as I have matured, so too have my beauty habits. I have my favorite products, and I have developed a routine that is rich in quality but still harkens back to the simplicity handed down to me from my family’s matriarchs. I love Blinc’s mascara. I use a tinted moisturizer by Laura Mercier with SPF 20 as well as Glossier’s Boy Brow for my brows because I’m now influenced by my teenaged daughter.

I have discovered these can’t-live-without products by trial and error. But I have to say, the greatest addition to my beauty rituals was when I was introduced to Retrouvé products three years ago. Retrouvé has helped to repair my skin after years of being “family-careless” about such things. The products give me a glow that almost makes makeup unnecessary. What I love the most about the brand’s collection of products is that it is simple enough for me to embrace and still fit into my “no frills, no fuss” type of routine.

I am an equestrian and love to work out both indoors and outdoors but I have never been sure how best to take care of my skin before and after exercising. Not content with leaving it up to chance (as per my usual haphazard fashion!), I decided to consult a professional to get the nitty gritty on what to do.

I spoke with Jeanette Baer, a P.A.-C from Aesthetics Montecito, where I’m lucky enough to go for my yearly beauty treatments. Apart from scolding me for not coming in more frequently, Jeanette laughed when I told her of my conundrum. She shared, “It is a priority to do your best to protect your skin, but also to enjoy your life. I say do your best, and then every fall come in for a clean-up.”

To take care of skin before and after working out, Jeanette recommends the following:

  • Always start your workout with a clean face, wash off all makeup and moisturizers because the combination of sweat and oil can clog your pores, causing unwanted breakouts.

  • Carry disposable makeup removing wipes in your gym bag to make your pre-workout skincare routine easier.

  • If you’ll be exercising outdoors, be sure to apply an even layer of sunscreen beforehand.

  • Do not touch your face at all when working out, carry a clean gym towel to pat your face and neck dry.

  • Pull your hair back, away from your face.

  • Use a deep cleansing wash for your body and face as soon as you finish the work out.

  • Drink lots of water – you’ll need to keep hydrating post-workout for your skin to recover.

  • Use a moisturizer to re-hydrate your skin.

Listening to Jeanette, I felt so relieved! Maybe I’m not as far off my beauty game as I thought. My favorite thing to do post-workout is to moisturize my clean face with Retrouvé’s Dynamic Nourishing Face Cream. It aids in the maintenance of skin hydration levels, much like what the skin does naturally. Now we can all hit the gym and the tennis ball or the saddle with confidence that it will not be to the detriment to our skin. Happy workouts, folks!

Essay on Exercise 

Generally speaking, I am not the type that says "Good job" or "Way to go buddy,” punctuated with a high five and a whoop. My earliest memory of grade school P.E. was the choosing of teams. No matter the sport, I would inevitably be chosen last, bar one - the down syndrome girl who thought of herself as a cow and liked to graze on the sports field.

In high school I considered P.E just a convenient class in which to smoke pot and stare at the ceiling while at the racket ball courts.

Then, in London in the ’90’s, my fate was sealed - I had a cooler than cool

boyfriend who flat out told me I should never EVER run, no matter what. Not on account of it being hard on the knees. His advice was purely based on his belief that when I ran I looked like a giraffe. Since that day, what I consider to be exercise has consisted mainly of A: Vigorously rubbing body lotion on my legs, or B: Walking up the stairs in the metro.

The next keep-fit memory that comes to me is at age twenty-five, when a most trusted and chic friend, Maria Galliger told me that no one, no one, should work out until they are really, really old, which I interpreted to mean that it might be time start moving, maybe take a pilates class or  brush up on the tennis game. A different boyfriend then suggested I come to the gym with him. I remember

looking at him like he was crazy.


Thirty-five rolled around. I had a kid, and made excuses. I mean pushing the

Bugaboo stroller around and lifting baby? Surely that was exercise enough.

Suddenly I was forty. Then forty-one. Then forty-two happened and the situation was chronic pain after back surgery. Still, I made more excuses. Of course running was out. I mean, who wants to be seen, loping like a giraffe?

Still, I purchased the most fantastic pair of purple and yellow neon running shoes, (“Rough Terrain,” no less).I’d wear them to get coffee in the morning like I was drinking my congratulatory cup of Joe, post work out. This worked wonders for my soul; all it took was a pair of leggings and a big T shirt and I did not even have to wash my hair. Then, two things happened:

1. I lost all sense of ego and moved to the country. 

2: I lost all sense of ego and tried EVERYTHING.

The next thing I knew, I had signed up for something called "Boot Camp.”

Boot Camp! My heart skipped a beat when I realized that I could wear my rough terrain running shoes, and even don a jogging bra, which was hilarious as I’m

totally flat-chested.

At the park was a collection of ladies in a myriad of conditions - women of all ages and shapes -all with amazingly good attitudes. Then I saw the trainer - a virtual goddess, a muscle-bound gazelle, fine and sleek and slender. Her muscles rippled. Her hair was tucked under a baseball cap.

“Ok ladies,” she barked. “Let’s take a warm up lap.” 

I raised my eyebrow and was just about to explain to her that that it’s totally

impossible for me to join in,  what with my bad back and past giraffe trauma. But then I thought NO, just shut up and get on with it - just do the fu#@ing lap!

I was laughing out loud as I ran because it was amazing, me, running with people, in a group - well almost. I was running near a group but still, I felt elated, accepted. I had an instant, endorphins-fueled, total love for life and for all mankind as I ran at the end of the line, behind the car pool moms, behind the cute, young, single professional types in hot pants, behind the divorcée who could stand to lose a few, behind the shapely, Hispanic woman who insisted on wearing spandex, behind the eldest of the group, whose white hair spilled out from her neon yellow hat. Behind her was me, wearing my purple and yellow running shoes and a huge smile.

Then the one hour circuit training began: push ups, knee taps, weights, medicine balls, fire hose drills, sit ups, jumping jacks, (I was dying), squats, lunges, (I was dying). Still, I’m proud to say I tried my best. And afterward, I felt fantastic!

This is what it means to be a jock; jocks are happy pushing themselves. It makes them feel good. Maybe I was wrong all these years? Instead of wearing black

eyeliner, smoking, napping and generally being unenthused i.e “cool,” maybe I should have been exercising in groups and playing on teams and high-fiving and cheering on my pals.

Each week I improve - just like the boot camp ladies all said I would. Each week I am encouraged by shout outs, and each week I  feel the love when I hear, “You can do it!” Each week I feel the 'feel good’ aspect of exercise. It’s almost like I’m in a Nike or Gatorade commercial. I am thrilled even to be in last place around the track as I hear a "Go girl! You’re doing great!” from my comrades.


Amelia Fleetwood

Country Life 


The string I used to pull my son's toy from bygone eras, that woody doll - “Help! thare’s a snake in ma boot" comes to mind today.


Every morning I walk to the hen house to let the girls out, and today, like most days, I am half asleep on account of simply not being a “morning person.” I open the trap door of their ‘Fort Knox’ to gather up the eggs, and the hens rush out in their usual excitement, a rush of two legged squawking, flapping of feathers, head strutting and usual name calling. Except today they walked right into a rattlesnake, curled up in protection mode with its death-rattle tail held high and its head straight up in striking pose. "Holy Sh@# " I yell, dropping all the eggs I have gathered in my

sleep-thickened hands.


My myriad of townie house guests gather around in their pre-coffee amble. '”What should we do?” we mumble.


The snake retreats down a fresh rodent hole. We are all dumbfounded; this is not a regular occurrence where we come from. This has nothing to do with taking meetings, or figuring our traffic routes on the latest apps, or texting, or parking tickets, or cold-pressed juices, or trying out the hottest vegan restaurants, or walking the beloved dog – this has nothing to do with anything.


This is when the iPhones come out:


“What should I do when there is a rattle snake in my yard?"

“What do rattle snake bites look like?”

"Who can get snakes out of your yard?"

"Snake retrieving services.”

“How to be sure it’s a rattle snake.”

"How to deal with snake venom.”

“What tools should you use to catch a rattler?”

We Google frantically.

What the fu%#?

Because lets face it, none of us knows anything! Except we have definitely got this damn Googling thing down.

I go onto my newly-joined 'Friends of Ojai' Facebook page, and ask them what to do. The advice is split into two camps : Kill it, or call the snake guy and have him catch and release it. And failing either of those options, just call the fire department. No one has the snake guy’s number. The fire department said I should call them back when it reappears or flush it out of its hiding place with a hose.


After a game of Banana-gram and ample coffee, my guests and I decide to flush it out.


Hose dropped down the hole? -Check!

Water on? - Check!

All watching? - Check!

Rake in hand? - Check!

Giant plastic container? -Check!


Sure enough, out slid the rattler from a second hole, a little dazed and slow from the cold water.

In a flash, one of my guests hopped the neighbor’s fence, rake in hand and in lightning quick-fast

track-ninja-Keanu-Matrix-magic style, the snake was whisked up from the rake and thrown into

the plastic box.

Lid on? - Check!

Call the fire department? - Check!

Breathe? - Check!


No one could believe their eyes! (And all this before a proper breakfast.)


We are in the county. Things happen in the country. It’s not sleepy here We are in the

thick of it. And boy do I like it here.


Amelia Fleetwood

© 2017 Amelia Fleetwood.  Ojai, California 

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