A Face in The Country

jess ruston

Sometimes, relocating your home means having to reload your look. Londoner-by-the-sea Jessica Ruston learnt the hard way.


I had thought, when my husband and I decided to move out of London, where we had lived for 30 and 16 years respectively, that we had considered things from all angles. We‘d weighed up the major issues – property prices, distance from family and friends, change of lifestyle. We’d made plenty of visits to our new home town of Hove. We’d even made a list of pros and cons, like Ross does about Rachel in that episode of Friends (though our list was more ‘schools not too spoiled’ than ‘a little spoiled’). Basically, we had it all covered.


But there was one thing I’d failed to consider until one night a few weeks after we’d moved and we went to the local pub for dinner. I got ready as usual. Did my face and chose my outfit without really thinking about it. It wasn’t until we were two glasses of wine into proceedings that I put my finger on what the nagging feeling of discomfort I’d had all evening was. Something was wrong. And it wasn’t the cosy pub, with its locally sourced sausages and organic ales. It was me. Or more specifically, how I looked. Everyone around me was fresh-faced, lightly tanned from the sun and wind, wearing Bretons and flip flops. I was in skinny jeans and stiletto boots with a smoky eye and slightly pouffy hair – an every day look for me. But suddenly it felt too smart, too much. Too London.


Because, as I’ve realised in the 18 months since I moved here, town and country (or seaside, in my case) have a different set of aesthetic requirements, and while much will remain the same – I’m certainly not suggesting that moving beyond Zone 6 means you should ignore your T-zone – some things may need to change.


I spend a lot more time outside these days – walking along the seafront for an hour or so most days – and I quickly worked out that my preferred thick, smudgy eyeliner and a blustery sea wind is a recipe for a look that’s less Marilyn Monroe, more Marilyn Manson. And while a shiny lip gloss may finish off your face perfectly in the West End, here it’s liable to do so in an entirely different way – by getting smeared all over it as the wind whips your hair across your cheeks.


So while I still wear make up every day – I don’t feel like myself without it, and nor do I feel like subjecting everyone else to the shadows under my eyes – I’ve tweaked the way I wear it so I don’t feel as though I’ve come to a party thinking the invitation said ‘fancy dress’ when everyone else knew it said ‘dress fancy’. I keep things simple and low key at home by the sea, and I save my more experimental moments for days and nights out in town. Now, where did I put that glitter eyeliner…


Jess’ Town & Country Essentials




Bobbi Brown Kohl Eyeliner, £17.50

I love a smudgy, rocky eye, and this dense black liner is the easiest to apply and softest I’ve found yet.

bb kohl

ELF Individual False Lashes, £1.50

Full falsies make me look like Bet Lynch, but these individual ones are just right. And they’re so cheap I can spend more money on cocktails.

ELF eyelashes





Bobbi Brown Blush in Nude Pink, £18

A natural, pretty blush that makes you look as though you’ve just done a 3-mile walk along the seafront even if you haven’t made it out of the house.

Bobbi Brown Nude Blush

Clarins Sun Wrinkle Control Cream for Face 30 SPF, £18

Weather feels much more, well, weathery outside of London, so for my pale skin, broad spectrum sun protection is a must. I like Clarins because it smells nice. It’s as good a reason as any.

Clarins UVB 30 Cream for Face





Armani Maestro Fusion Foundation, £38

Wherever I am, I can’t bear feeling as though I’m wearing foundation that could grout my bathroom tiles. This is beautiful – smooth and silky.


By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder, £41

I’ve been searching for a light powder that doesn’t look caked for eons, and finally I’ve found it. It sets everything in place and then sort of disappears. Magic.

By Terry Hyaluronic Hydra Powder



Jessica Ruston is a novelist, screenwriter and journalist. Her latest book, The Lies You Told Me, is out now.

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