Beauty talks: Armand Beasley and Shobna Gulati

Armand and Shobna enjoying a glamorous occasion in Manchester

Armand and Shobna enjoying a glamorous occasion in Manchester - Credit: Archant

Cheshire Life beauty editor Armand Beasley talks with the Dinnerladies and Coronation Street actor about her life, career and the contents of her makeup bag

The very beautiful and natural Shobna Gulati
Photo: The About Studio

The very beautiful and natural Shobna Gulati Photo: The About Studio - Credit: Archant

Over the years I’ve been fortunate to create looks for many people all over the world, from international royalty to members of the public on TV makeover shows. No matter who I worked with, they all had a story to tell. As part of a new series with Cheshire Life I’m going to be chatting to some of the wonderful people I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years, and share some of their beauty secrets and stories with you. The first is a dear friend who is like a sister to me: Shobna Gulati, award-winning actress, choreographer and now author.

How did you get your big break? I’d worked solidly as a dancer, theatre choreographer and actor, quietly and steadily. My big break was Dinnerladies, with the nation’s favourite, the late and great Victoria Wood.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far? So many great things, so many great people; I think my career thus far has been charmed and I have managed to do the stuff that dreams are made of.

Late last year your book, Remember Me, was released and I loved it. A touching memoir dedicated to your mum who sadly passed away in 2019. Why did you choose to write this story? There are so many reasons. Primarily I wrote it open up the conversation around dementia, how this cruel disease affects your loved ones and how that impacted on my life and the lives of my family, as we came together to care for our mum. It was also that in sharing my story I might bring comfort to all those people who are also caring for loved ones – there is no playbook, as there is no identikit dementia. Finally, after many years of my story being retold in the press with and without my permission, I felt it important to speak my truth in my words.

Shobna with her beloved mother

Shobna with her beloved mother - Credit: Archant

Tell us about the process of writing this book. An absolute up-and-down journey I really loved. It really helped process my grief over losing my mum, and also while I was writing discovering who she was as a woman outside of just being a parent. I have finally begun to understand and learn about my own journey in life too. I worked with a brilliant team at Octopus books who really helped me realise this dream. I’ve always written and they gave me this wonderful opportunity to begin to share my story.

Your mum loved going to events and charity functions with you. What was her favourite you took her to over the years? Mum was always my plus one at charity events and award ceremonies. She loved to dress up and go out (more than I do). She would look forward each year to Denise Welch’s Gem Appeal charity ball because they were always themed and she loved that. She loved people watching and being the centre of a conversation. Mum was a tireless fundraiser herself, as a member of the Inner Wheel and Bury Ladies, so she knew how important events can be to charities. I think her favourite award ceremony was the Soap Awards, as she would get to meet and hang out with her idols, all the actors from the various soaps she watched day in and day out.

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Growing up, what’s your earliest memory of your mum’s beauty routine? Mum hardly wore makeup. Before my dad died, she used to love to wear multi-coloured powdered bindis on her forehead. She had the most exquisite, ornate metal mould that would give her a perfectly round bindi. The thing that sticks with me most is my mum’s use of Ponds Cold Cream to cleanse her face, which she did every night regardless of whether she wore makeup or not.

There has been a big influence of ayurveda in Western beauty. Did ayurveda play any part of your family’s life and self-care rituals? Ayurveda is something I’ve come to realise as an ancient tradition and medicine later in my life. Without thinking about it, we would solve tummy issues and skin breakouts with natural products. Turmeric paste on your face for a glowing complexion; turmeric in milk – golden milk – to ease respiratory issues; mashed banana to ease an upset stomach; oil massage for skin and hair, it was routine and weekly.

Shobna Gulati, demonstrating the power of makeup applied with a light hand
Photo: The About Studio

Shobna Gulati, demonstrating the power of makeup applied with a light hand Photo: The About Studio - Credit: Archant

Julie Neville has a fabulous festive Christmas planned for her family

I’ve known you for 20 years and now you are in your fifties. I have to say you look fantastic. What are your three main tips to looking and feeling amazing? Thank you. I think trying to keep an open mind, understand you can’t control what other people think of you – it takes the stress out. Eating properly and drinking plenty of water is important and finally forgiving yourself when you can’t actually be super-human and when you make mistakes.

What three skincare products could you not be without and why? Oh, can I have four?

1. Pro Body Glow: especially on elbows and knees and, for fancy times, on my decolletage,

Armand applies Pro Body Glow for a finishing touch before Shobna walks the red carpet

Armand applies Pro Body Glow for a finishing touch before Shobna walks the red carpet - Credit: Archant

2. I have to have at least one SKN-RG product, like SKN-RG cellular balance toner or SKN-RG night therapy face oil,

3. Weleda Wild Rose Smoothing Day Cream: I keep a tube in my bag,

4. AKT Deodorant Balm, in Orange Grove: the best natural deodorant I have ever used, smells wonderful all day and is all natural, £18,

What three makeup products are essential for your beauty routine and why? I rarely wear makeup when I’m not working, but I think having regular facials and having Rachael Hall, of Eye/Brow Envy, look after my brows creates a great basic beauty regime. My sister has an excellent clinic in Hertford, so I try and get a medical grade facial once a month with her.

1. Emani Cosmetic Double Lash Grow Mascara, £25

2. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Matte Bronzer, £39,

3. Burts Bees lip tint, £5.99,

What does makeup mean to you and why is it important? It’s all about confidence – it helps me especially when working red carpet events to present myself to the world. I love that you design my makeup; it helps me feel ready for all those camera angles and flashbulbs – it’s quite daunting and the made-up face gives me an extra boost. In the way of characters on screen – makeup helps me prepare the overall look of that person I’m playing. In daily life a bit of bronzer and mascara can make all the difference, especially to my mental health on those down days - the reflection in the mirror is more awake and glowing. On those difficult days I deliberately try to concentrate on self-care; sometimes I’m not always successful, but it’s important to try. My personal ethos has always been skincare and the health of my skin, hair and nails, so the majority of my spend is on care products and treatments.

What’s been your favourite red carpet look and why? Armand, there have been so, so many. I think we have had the best looks at the National Television Awards in Kevan Jon’s ivory dress, the ivory Kevan Jon for the Asian Media Awards and the deep pink Nadine Merabi dress. All very different, very glamorous looks. Classic and contemporary Hollywood. Ooh, I felt absolutely amazing.

If you could jump into a time machine, what piece of advice would you give to your younger self? Give yourself a pat on the back for the wins in life and try to forgive yourself for those times when you are not. It’s important to focus on those wins, understand they naturally come and go, keep going and try not obsess on the failures. The only person who can validate you is yourself: you’re in control of that – don’t seek it elsewhere.

Last year was particularly tough on people’s mental health. I know that you’re a big advocate of raising awareness of mental health. What practises and rituals have helped you over the years? Keeping love alive for yourself and others. Being kind to yourself and others and above all the ability to forgive. I have a mantra above my bed, and I also write it on every dressing room mirror: I am enough. It reminds me to keep on. That’s been my phrase throughout the pandemic to my friends and family and virtual friends. Keep on.

What’s new for 2021? Ooh, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie the film. I cannot wait. Also, Best Home Cook (celebrity edition) for the BBC and a new comedy drama I’m in, out this year sometime, I don’t know when, and my book is out in paperback any day now.

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