Giovanna Fletcher talks perfume, boob sweat and the film that will always make her cry

'It needs to be spoken about on behalf of mums everywhere'

Welcome to Beauty Bytes: a place where I chat to celebrities about all things beauty – from their favourite products, to their biggest beauty disasters. Plus I grill them on everything from their social media habits to their all-time favourite meals. You know, all the important and essential things that we need to know about.

In this Beauty Bytes instalment I saw down with author, YouTuber and founder of the Happy Mum, Happy Baby podcast, Giovanna Fletcher, who has just launched her own gifting range into Boots. It was like having a good old chat with a hilarious friend I hadn’t seen in yonks. Get ready for chat about boob sweat, Spritz for Bits and the movie that makes her cry every single time…

LA: What’s the worst beauty trend you’ve ever tried?

GF: Beauty trend? It’s difficult, but I always liked crimping my hair…

LA: I feel like that’s coming back, actually.

GF: But, I’ve heard that if you are old enough to experience it first time round – this goes for scrunchies and everything – I’m too old to do it a second time.

LA: That’s what my mum says about scrunchies. In fact, my mum would say to me that I can’t wear a scrunchie.

GF: I’m not allowed to wear scrunchies or crimp my hair. Beauty wise, I was told that I was allergic to make-up until I was 16 years old. My mum had told me I was allergic.

LA: Mums everywhere are now going, ‘hmm…’

GF: I would literally be putting on clear mascara to go to school and feeling like a complete rebel.

LA: Your skin probably did really well for it; you have really good skin.

GF: I wasn’t at that point when everyone else was experimenting, so I feel like now I have no idea what to do with my make-up! When I’m working and a make-up artist is doing my make-up for me, I’m not paying attention to what they’re doing. Either there’s not a mirror or I’m too busy gassing and by the end of it I’m like, I wish I had watched so I knew how to do it.

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LA: You can always grill them in that situation. What about the best beauty advice you’ve ever been given?

GF: To take my make-up off at the end of the day!

LA: An oldie, but a goodie.

GF: Yeah, I would say that for years – and I don’t wear that much make-up so I guess it doesn’t sit so heavily on my skin – I would literally go to bed, wash it off the next morning.

LA: So did I. It’s disgusting, isn’t it.

GF: The thing is I never used to like wetting my face. When you’re about to get into bed, and you’re already in your PJs, I don’t like the idea – or I didn’t use to – of getting wet. It felt like a bit of an effort.

LA: There’s a mental hurdle to get over there, isn’t there, when you’re ready for bed. Especially if you’ve already gone and sat on or in bed.

GF: It’s funny isn’t it, because I couldn’t bear the thought of going to bed without brushing my teeth. But my face, whatever! Wake up looking like a panda the next day. Whereas now, if I don’t wash my make-up off, I feel gross the next morning.

LA: Best product recommendation you’ve ever received? Something that somebody’s put into your hands and you’ll never go without again.

GF: It’s not really a beauty one, but I feel like it needs to be spoken about on behalf of mums everywhere. It’s called Spritz for Bits. Recommended by a midwife. It’s for after you’ve given birth, it’s literally spritz for your bits and it’s the best thing ever.

LA: Our beauty editor has just given birth so I’ll pass that on.

GF: It’s like this weird, soothing thing. It’s all a bit grim, you know [afterwards], and it’s just a little pick me up for your foof, essentially.

LA: I mean, if that’s not the tag line, it’s going to be after this.

GF: You know how loads of mums have hacks and that kind of stuff, I’m rubbish at anything like that. I’m still picking it up as I go along, even three kids in. But, what I’ve realised I love doing is, I use a natural Salt of the Earth deodorant, it’s lavender and something, and I roll it under my boobs and up my cleavage. Stops all the mum sweats and any other kind of sweats.

Salt of the Earth Lavender and Vanilla, £5.49, Holland and Barrett

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LA: I mean, I’m not a mum but we all get boob sweat, so that’s a very good one. These are the things people need to know. What’s in your make-up bag right now?

GF: I have lots of Bobbi Brown actually, but literally everyday I use the same stuff. The same foundation, a nice Bobbi Brown one that’s a long wear one, a bronzer. I think that most of it is Bobbi Brown. Because my mum told me I was allergic, I’m like, wow it’s a mascara, just whack it on! So it’s whatever I can get my hands on in that moment. I think I always finish a mascara going, that was amazing, I need to use that one again, and then forget about it. I go to the shop and go, what was it? I don’t know, I’ll just get this one.

LA: Is there anything standout in there that’s a go-to?

GF: I would say the foundation I love. Just because it doesn’t feel too thick or too light. It’s that happy medium.

Bobbi Brown Skin Long-wear Foundation SPF 15, Fabled

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LA: How has your beauty routine changed since becoming a mum?

GF: I think I take care of myself more, even though I have less time. Because the majority of the time I don’t wear make-up, it is literally a case of washing my face. I use the Garnier Micellar water.

LA: I think that’s the best one.

GF: Yes and it’s really cheap. I have the one with the pump so I have it in the shower, and at the moment I’m using a Murad moisturiser. It’s literally anything that you can go wham-bam, done, because I’m very conscious of the time I spend doing things and using my time wisely. For me at the moment, beauty-wise, it’s literally just a case of doing things quickly, so my regime is literally just wash my face and put on some lotion. There we go. Body lotion, never. Nail varnish, never. I look down at my nails and I’m like, eww.

LA: It’s a bit like when you’ve got a tight deadline, you’re almost more productive because it gives you an invisible kick up the bum.

GF: There’s that old saying, if you want something done ask a busy person. If I’ve got my to-do list and something comes in, I just think, oh that will take half an hour. Rather than letting it sit on my to do list, I’d rather get it out of the way so it’s crossed off and I can focus on the big things.

LA: With this question comes a disclaimer: the important stuff is safe. So, the house is on fire, which beauty product do you save?

GF: Well, I think in a fire situation my lips might get dry. It would be hot, so I would take my Salt of the Earth deodorant. I think smells are my thing actually, so I would lean towards perfumes. I love Jo Malone and Jo Loves. I think Jo Malone the person has created some amazing scents, whichever brand, I think she is incredible. I think it would be perfume rather than something for my face. Because, I get so disappointed if I walk past someone who I think is going to smell amazing and they have no scent! It really, really upsets me. Some people’s scent sticks to them, and when they hug you it sticks to you and you might smell it again later in the day.

LA: It’s a personal thing, isn’t it, scent. You always remember your mum’s perfume and things like that. Tell me a bit more about your new line and how you came up with the ideas.

GF: Well, I think I don’t pay enough attention to having time for myself. I think the whole idea of self-care, or having time to yourself, we’re talking about busy lives and it just feels like one more thing on the to-do list. In the last couple of years, I’ve realised that we put too much pressure on that time and sometimes it’s the little things you do. Like taking time to, I don’t know, put lotion on your feet, write in a diary or have a hot drink. My hot drink is usually on the school run; I put it in a mug that I can take with me and then when I’m in the front of the car, I can drink it slowly, enjoy the fact that it’s hot and breathe it in. That’s my little bit of self care. Rather than, I need to go to a spa, because then I just feel selfish.

LA: There’s too much pressure on your spare time needing to be this big thing, I like the idea of just making a hot drink.

GF: It makes everything a lot more accessible, rather than being this big thing that we’re meant to be doing. Because I know if I have time in the hairdressers or getting my nails done, I feel like there are other things that I could be doing with my time. Everything is so stressful and so needing of my time, I need to go, well actually, that stuff has to be sacrificed because I’ve got kids. I need to have time for them. So for me self care, is about the little things and the comfort, and that’s what the line is, basically.

LA: That is what self care is I guess, looking after yourself.

GF: It’s for you.

LA: I think there are a lot of people who will relate to that. To do something that’s a little bit productive but relaxing.

GF: The journal actually ties into the Letters On Motherhood book that I’ve got coming out next year. In each pregnancy, at the end of every day, I’ve written a letter to the baby. And it is just a lovely practice to write down. I think a lot of us are guilty of just getting into bed with our phones, scrolling for half an hour and then going ‘oh, I really need to go to bed!’ And when you sit and write something down, it’s a nice way of closing off the day and rounding it up. So it’s nice to kind of carry that forward and continue it in a different way.

Giovanna Fletcher Start Each Day With A Grateful Heart, £7, Boots

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LA: How do you take care of your skin? Do you have a day and nighttime routine?

GF: It’s the same thing morning and night.

LA: That is a routine though, because you’re doing the same thing.

GF: Exactly. It is a routine and that’s something I haven’t had in a long time. So I do feel proud that I’m now on two products. I go through phases where I’m just like OK, I’m going to have the serums and I’m going to do all that vitamin C malarkey. I’m probably good for about a week and then I’m just over it. Then I look at skin like yours and I’m like, oh my god you look so fresh!

LA: It’s foundation though, isn’t it. I too am of the mind set that if I’m not doing anything, I can’t be bothered to put make-up on.

GF: I think it’s good for your skin. I think we feel like we have to present ourselves all the time and we don’t. I mean, I don’t go out of the house. It’s all about doing what’s right for you. Even in terms of feeling beautiful and feeling confident, I think we worry too much about what other people are going to think. Actually it’s about, do you feel confident about not wearing anything? If so, great. Go and be confident in your own skin.

LA: I don’t think your skincare routine has to be a big, complicated thing. I think the people who do the seven step routine, they’re enjoying the seven steps.

GF: I’m literally brushing my teeth while making the bed one-handed. If I’m stood still for one two minutes I need to be doing something.

LA: Do you have a favourite skincare product?

GF: Actually, there’s a Bobbi Brown cream that I really really love. It’s their vitamin cream, I just love the smell of it when you’re putting that on. I usually use that before bed. Whereas I didn’t use to like going to bed with a wet face, or feeling like I had product on it, that smell of freshness – I love it.

Bobbi Brown Vitamin Enriched Face Base, £44, Fabled

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LA: They’ve got this make-up removing mousse that you’d probably quite like as well.

GF: When you have a make-up artist that use stuff on your face, it’s always like what is that? What is that smell? I like that.

LA: Top three beauty brands?

GF: Bobbi Brown. Living Proof. I was on a shoot and a hairdresser started using their things on my hair. When you’ve got post-partum hair and it’s all kinds of ridiculous lengths. It’s brilliant to thicken it up. Last time round I remember seeing my shadow and being like what on earth, my post-partum hair has got its own shadow. That’s how big it is. I use their volume lotion, which is brilliant. I don’t get on very well with their dry shampoo. I don’t know why for some reason it doesn’t help it, I’d rather wash my hair and leave it wet in a bun. Third one, I love Lee Stafford and the CoCo range. I love all that stuff, it’s nice smells. Like when you hug someone and you’re like woah, could get lost in your hair.

LA: What is your beauty secret?

GF: The salt under the boobs? Just prone to a bit of sweating.

LA: Which we all are. How do you look after your hair?

GF: I literally look after it by not faffing around with it too much. So I will wash it and put it up in a bun and let it do its own thing. Just so I’m not constantly drying it.

LA: Do you air-dry it?

GF: Yeah, because I think when I was in my late teens and twenties, it was all about straightening. This thing came up on Instagram the other day, like a compilation of all the people doing hair tutorials and their hair has been burnt off.

LA: That is terrifying. How often do you work out, and what’s your favourite way to exercise?

Living Proof Full Thickening Cream, £10, Lookfantastic

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GF: This year I’ve started running and I love it. Byony Gordon did the podcast last year and she was amazing, and last year she did the marathon with Jada Sezer, just those two in their underwear. In the November she said she wanted to do it again, but she wanted loads of people, and would I do it? I was like I don’t know, I don’t know… Then she emailed me and I was like Bryony, I love you, but I’ve just had a baby. I don’t know if I’m going to lose an organ if I try to run that far and also don’t know if my knees will cope. She was like totally understand, I know you’re busy, but it is just a 10k. She just caught me in the moment where I was like I’ll do it! So I said I was going to run 10k in my underwear. Literally six weeks beforehand I started training, and it is the best thing I’ve ever done. It’s completely changed my outlook on my body and what it does, and even on exercise. Because I think I’ve been someone who throughout my teens and twenties was always like, I can’t run, I get a pain over one shoulder, it feels like I’m having a heart attack. I was like, running is not fun, it’s not for me. Then this time round, first day, I did 10 minutes and literally felt like I had given myself a chest infection for the day. Then I went out for another 10 minutes, I felt the same for about half the day. Then the third time I went out, 30 minutes and had a slight sting of the lungs, but nothing too bad. It’s amazing how quickly your body recovers and can take on and enjoy [exercise]. I had a massive shift this year realising that exercise is not about the aesthetics and what you look like. It’s about the mental side, what it does for your mind.

LA: Why didn’t they teach that in PE? You don’t have to go fast, just try to push through it.

GF: Because we’re so used to comparing ourselves to other people. Whereas now, if I go somewhere for a run and someone overtakes me, I’m like ‘yeah, go on!’ Rather than, ‘God, I wish that was me’. It’s all about doing what’s best for you. It has been amazing this year realising how great running is. I can feel quite bogged down, have loads on my to-do list and feel really quite stressed. Then I force myself to go out for a run and everything kind of lifts; I’ll come home and I won’t be stressed anymore. Everything is exactly the same, but my mindset has changed and I’m able to cope a lot better. It’s really weird.

LA: Do you have a signature fragrance?

GF: Honeysuckle and Davana by Jo Malone is what I’m currently wearing. The thing with scent – and I do realise scent is a big thing to me – is it kind of takes you back to certain times. I have a certain perfume that for me and Tom it’s like that’s so 24, because that’s what I was wearing when we binge-watched it. Or, that’s what I was wearing when I was graduating or got married. With writing, it’s a really big way for me to get into characters, what do they smell like. Because I write in first person all the time, so it’s a really easy way to get into their mind, going through smell.

Jo Malone London Honeysuckle and Davana Cologne, £98, John Lewis

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LA: Do you have any other go-tos?

GF: Ghost is quite a throwback, that’s the 24 one. I like quite floral tones and that almost musky note, so that it’s got that sort of depth to it.

LA: I think musky ones are really nice. They feel comforting, almost.

GF: I used to love [Mugler] Angel growing up, it feels quite harsh when it goes on but it goes quite vanilla-y on my skin. It’s all about how scents change on your skin, as well.

LA: Perfumes can smell completely different on different people. What are your three most-used emojis?

GF: The wide grin, the heart and the laughing face.

LA: Everyone’s got that in their top three, surely.

GF: Although, I have been on the receiving end of a message from an older friend of mine who’s mum had passed away, and she kept using the laughing emoji rather than the crying emoji. I had to tell her [to make her laugh], so she didn’t use the laughing face after that. It’s all about how you see emojis.

LA: That’s so true. The cheesy grin, most people use that for awkwardness, but I would use that if I was over-the-top happy about something.

GF: The big smile isn’t quite the same!

LA: What’s your favourite book?

GF: Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. It’s so good. It’s one of those books I wish I’d written. I know JoJo as we’ve got the same publisher, and there was a point when she felt she had to give me some commission for the amount of times I have spoken about the book. I just think it’s absolutely wonderful. It’s thought-provoking and it’s simply written to a point where it’s accessible to everyone. I read it before I had kids; Tom and the guys were playing in New York and I decided it was going to be the book I took with me. As I was packing, I did that thing where you read it on your bed and read the first page. I’d read half of it before I’d even put it in my bag and had to literally tear myself away. Then I got on my flight, read the rest of it, and I had to cover my face with my hair because I lost it so many times.

LA: You have to be careful on planes what you read or watch. I watched Queer Eye on a plane recently and I was like, why did I do that, weeping into my tray table.

GF: Oh my gosh, you’ve just reminded me. I’ve got the whole Japan series to watch!

LA: I haven’t watched it either, I’m so excited. But they’re the nicest kinds of books, just good reads.

GF: I don’t enjoy books that make me feel like I need a dictionary alongside them to read them. Crime scares me, but saying that, I have read bits of some crime books that are brilliant. But for me, the books that really resonate are those books about relationships and things that I can relate to. It’s what I enjoy reading and it’s what I enjoy writing.

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LA: What would your last meal be?

GF: That’s hard to commit to. On any day I’d say something different. One day I could say fish and chips from a chip shop. Another day I could say a roast. But then, a big plate of pasta as well. Can I just have all three together? Tapas?

LA: The roast is a good one.

GF: Yeah, I just love it. Me, my sister and brother all say that we all had pasta about five times a week growing up. My mum’s like, no you didn’t, but we are pretty certain we did. It’s so easy and she learnt to make the sauce from my nonna. Whenever it was on the stove, she would leave it there, stirring it occasionally. The amount of times all of us would get a slice of bread, whack a spoon in and eat a sandwich of pasta sauce.

LA: Amazing. What’s the weirdest pick-up line you’ve ever heard?

GF: I feel like I don’t have a life in that world! I literally have no idea. That’s how sad I am, though. To be honest, the biggest chat up line was Tom on our first day of school. I sat down next to him on our first day at thirteen and he was like, ‘what’s your name?’ I said, Giovanna, but you can call me Gi. And he turned round and was like, ‘I’m Tom, but you can call me T.’ And that I think is the best chat up line I think I’ve ever heard. Also really cheesy, but it worked. God forbid anything ever happened in my marriage because I find the whole dating world so scary.

LA: Favourite TV show?

GF: Queer Eye! I love Queer Eye. I literally binge-watched it in the last few months. It’s full of joy, full of what’s good in the world. Light entertainment, but it actually deals with really big issues. It’s just done so beautifully. They cast the show really well, even in terms of The Fab Five, I think they all have so much to offer and share. I love how they are able to identify and relate to every guest, and bring it back to how to be a human. When they go to areas that are homophobic and racist, seeing them breaking down different barriers that shouldn’t be there, I think it’s such a magical programme.

LA: Favourite movie?

GF: I love The Notebook and I think that will get me every single time I watch it. It’s the story, I think you can’t beat a story that’s about love and that is the ultimate story of love. Getting together, being apart, kind of forgetting each other and then dying together. I just think it’s beautifully told. That will always be my number one. I know it’s been around for a long time.

LA: I remember watching that with my mum. At the end she turned to me and said ‘you didn’t tell me!’ That would negate the point of watching the film.

GF: I think Tom and I watched it together and literally held onto each other for about 10 minutes and sobbed. Because you can relate to different parts of it and it’s what we all fear. We all fear getting older, we all fear what that end is going to look like. I think when you have that person that you love, or you’re still looking for that, you don’t talk about what comes afterwards. Realising that at some point one of you won’t be there. That’s life, one of you will no longer be there, whether that is mentally or physically. Then you can’t help but go, what if I forget you? What if you forget me?! I’m a hoot!

LA: Favourite Instagram accounts to stalk?

GF: I love Rosie Ramsay. I think she is such an amazing woman, ray of sunshine. I first heard of Rosie – was I pregnant? – when she was on the telly. Chris was being interviewed because they’d just shared that she had had a miscarriage, she was with him and Lorraine had brought her on. So I messaged her on Instagram just saying, thinking of you and I think it’s great that you’re talking about this, because I know how much it will help other people. So I started following her and we sort of struck up a friendship. She is just the funniest person ever. Me and Tom will be in separate rooms and I’ll hear him laughing, and I’ll know he’s watching a Rosie video.

LA: They’re the funniest kind of people. Just life stuff.

GF: It’s just life stuff like people falling over, or ridiculousness. In fact, the time she really had me howling – she does this thing where she becomes a blogger, because she got obsessed with watching blogging videos. She has this whole other persona which is her as this blogger and that was hilarious. Then she had the ‘elf on the shelf’ last Christmas who used to stay up with her and drink because Chris was away. Just funny little things that you can relate to, she’s just being herself, she’s a good egg. I [recently] unfollowed a lot of people who just don’t make me feel good. I think that’s really important to do, have a clear out. But in terms of making me feel good, Bryony Gordon, obviously, and Jada. I think the things they do not just for mental health but also in terms of getting your confidence and realising your self-worth, realising that you’re so much more than this, it’s incredible. It’s not a message that’s rammed down your throat, they’re just being and doing. I think that’s the most amazing thing.

LA: What does the word ‘wellness’ mean to you?

GF: Taking a little bit of time to look after yourself. Life is busy, you can just keep going and doing things are on your to-do list or for everyone else. And actually taking a  few seconds, a few minutes, that is wellness.

LA: Like the hot drink thing; everyone can make a hot drink. Who were you most star-struck meeting?

GF: Jeremy Kyle.

LA: One of my favourite questions. It’s always people you’ve watched on the TV.

GF: It’s so ridiculous. By the time I’d met him, I’d worked with Kim Cattrall, I’d worked with big people, and I got on this flight and Jeremy Kyle was there. Literally, the giddiness in me, I just didn’t know what to do with myself. It was actually the same flight I was reading Me Before You. So, I spent half the flight crying reading Me Before You.

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Refereeing mode. 🥴❤️ xx

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LA: Had you cried before you met him?

GF: No, I just got a bit giddy. I was like oh my God that’s Jeremy Kyle. And I never get like that about anyone, it’s so weird.

LA: It’s weird, because I bet you’ve met a lot of people probably.

GF: Yeah and I’ve been chilled. I ended up going over to him and sitting on the floor randomly on the flight and having tea and macaroons. It was nice. Jude Law, I was actually very cool in front of him because we did a series of plays together in the West End. We were in different plays but the same season. It was a party at the end and I was really cool, calm and collected while talking to him. I was understudying Andrea Riseborough and she had been off the last week and I’d been on. So he knew that had happened, we’d been talking about it a lot so we had like a good ten minute chat. I was really like a fellow actor and I came out and did a little happy dance because it was Jude Law.

LA: At least you didn’t do it while he was there.

GF: No, I was really cool.

LA: Well, thank you for such a nice chat.

GF: Thank you! I did chuckle in the toilet earlier, I was thinking if we were going to talk fashion and what was my biggest disaster. It was so funny, thinking back to fashion I used to wear when I was younger – baggy t-shirts, high-waisted jeans and clumpy Dr Martens. I look down and I’m literally wearing high-waist jeans, clumpy Dr Martens. I’m literally dressed as my fashion disaster today.

LA: But in a cool way.

GF: Well, I am wearing pink socks with bananas on them. But I feel like if you own things like that, it’s OK.

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