Tess Daly talks feathering your nest, blue eyeshadow and why less is more

'I will never forget that I stayed awake on a night flight quivering under my blanket thinking, James Bond is almost toe-to-toe with me!'

Tess Daly
(Image credit: Getty Images)

'I will never forget that I stayed awake on a night flight quivering under my blanket thinking, James Bond is almost toe-to-toe with me!'

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.

There's no denying Tess Daly is TV royalty, so if you've ever wanted to delve into her make-up bag, you're in the right place. As her new home furnishing line, in collaboration with interiors experts Clarke & Clarke, launches in to Next, we sat down for a good old chat about beauty and beyond – over the phone because, social distancing.

LA: What would you say is the worst beauty trend you’ve ever tried?

TD: It has to be that pale blue eye shadow as a teenager when I was experimenting with make-up. I’m not sure it suits anyone actually, no matter your colouring. That and the pale pink shimmer Rimmel lipsticks – I’m talking late teens here, so I’d like to think I’ve progressed from that! I don’t like too much foundation on young skin, that’s one of my bug bears. Kids now are looking at all the Instagram beauty bloggers and make-up gurus; it’s brilliant, I get lots of tips from my daughters. The other day my daughter scowled at me for not contouring – I’ve never contoured and I’m not about to start! With teenagers contouring is the thing. But, I like to see skin, I like skin to glow. If you cover it up too much and it looks like a mask, for me that's not attractive; it's the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve, which is enhanced skin.

LA: These things look one way on camera and and another in natural light, don't they?

TD: It’s a bit of a shocker. I’m of the school of less is more. Of course, if I’m going on a red carpet, there may be a sultry eye involved and quite a bit of winged eyeliner when you’re under the big camera lights. But day to day basis, less is more for me, so I’ll just opt for a tinted moisturiser with an SPF underneath and a cream blush, curl the eyelashes.

LA: Nice and healthy. What about the best beauty advice you’ve ever been given?

Tess Daly

TD: I think it would be to use sunscreen. [I started using it regularly] in my mid-twenties, which isn’t that early, but I’ve been diligent about applying it ever since. I use an SPF 50 every day because those rays, they’re going to get you no matter what. Whether the sun’s out or not, you’re still exposed to UVA and B. Sun damage is incredibly ageing, it will age your skin so much. This is inspired by my mother-in-law who has porcelain skin, she was never without a wide-rimmed hat in the sunshine and never openly sunbathed with her face up to the sunlight. So, protect with sunscreen – and never over-pluck your eyebrows ever, because sometimes they don’t grow back.

LA: After the super-skinny brow era, people were really lucky if they did grow back.

TD: Yeah! We were clearing out the loft the other day and Vernon [Kay, Tess's husband] dug out lots of old photographs and I had these dreadful, pencil-thin eyebrows. It’s frightening! Again, they are really ageing, I don’t know what they do, but they take away something from the face. So now I’m all about a big bushy brow; I’m slapping my Revitalash on my eyebrows. It’s funny, trends do come and go don’t they, but I think leave your brows alone. And always curl your eyelashes. That’s my must-have bit of beauty kit, my eyelash curlers. Can’t go without.

LA: Which one do you use?

TD: Shu Uemura. If I don’t have time for anything else, that’s the thing I go to so I don’t feel completely bare-faced. When I have the luxury of leaving the house! That’s the one thing about isolation, unless we’re FaceTiming our friends and family, there’s no need for some slap.

LA: No, I haven’t put any make-up on all week.

TD: Our skin can breathe freely, I'm looking for the upsides. Hashtag stay positive!

LA: So, talk me through your new home range; I’ve had a little cheeky look and it's lovely. What was the inspiration behind it?

TD: For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in interior design. I love making my home beautiful, feathering my nest if you like. Being creative is something I enjoy, it’s a passion of mine. I travelled the world before I got into television, I worked in the fashion industry and spent time in the fashion capitals of the world. So I managed to experience lots of different cultures and pick up lots of trinkets along my way that have actually inspired my designs. For example, a vase I picked up in Greece on my travels, I said, ‘can we replicate that design on a cushion?’ Or art deco furniture I picked up in New York in the late 90s – ‘can we reproduce this beautiful geometric design on a duvet?'. Travelling has definitely inspired me a lot, from working in the fashion world to architecture, you'd like to think it rubbed off on you a little creatively. I’ve been able to apply lots of the experience of my travels to my designs. So it’s been wonderful having that creative input, I’ve enjoyed it every second of it. I feel very lucky to have done this collection of duvets, cushions and throws.

Tess Daly Greek Key Cushion, £35, Next

Tess Daly Greek Key Cushion

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LA: So exciting! I love that you’ve managed to work your daughters’ names in as well.

TD: I started looking at names when the designs came to mind; some were jewel-inspired so I thought, I’ve got to have the name Amber. And then I thought, I can’t leave Phoebe out!

LA: You can’t have one and not the other, can you?

TD: I had to, you can’t have one without the other. My daughters inspire me every day – something they do or something they say. It’s taught me to watch them growing up and be part of their journey, they’re two of my greatest inspiration so I have to give them a name check.

LA: I’ve recently moved and so, now that we’re at home all the time, I’m enjoying looking at interiors inspiration.

TD: I love how you can change up the way your home looks with lots of soft cushions, adding an extra layer to the sofa or your bed. If you just switch up your space with a bed and a set of cushions without blowing the budget, I love that, because you can give it a whole fresh look.

LA: It’s much easier than painting, as well.

TD: Easier than painting – which is why I have white walls!

LA: What's the best beauty product recommendation you’ve ever received? Is there something that somebody has put into your hands at some point and you've thought, 'I can never live without this again?'

TD: Yes, for me it's Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, which a make-up artist introduced me to about 20 years ago. This product is literally one of the best selling beauty products globally, I think, because it multitasks and hydrates your skin. She told me about it when I was travelling, commuting on planes three times a week to work because I was based in Paris, and it’s incredible how it hydrates your skin and plumps it up. I use it as an overnight mask the night before I’ve got an event or if I want my skin to look extra fresh the next day. And I use it under make-up; it gives your skin a lovely, glowy sheen, makes it look healthy and hydrated. Dehydration is the enemy of healthy-looking skin as far as I’m concerned – dry skin never looks fresh, does it? And at this time of year our skin is exposed to so much central heating indoors, not enough fresh air, so it's important to keep it supple and dewy. That Beauty Flash Balm does it all!

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, £33, John Lewis

Clarins Beauty Flash Balm

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LA: That’s a good one, it's a classic for a reason.

TD: Yeah, it’s a bit of a multi-tasking balm.

LA: What's in your make-up bag right now?

TD: I have one of the Urban Decay Naked palettes, I’m pretty obsessed with the Charlotte Tilbury Legendary Lashes mascara, and my eyebrow pencil of course. Filling in those brows! I’ve got a gorgeous Tom Ford metallic cream eyeshadow, you put it on and it doesn’t go anywhere, it stays in place all day. Clarins has stopped making my favourite tinted moisturiser; apparently they’re missing a vital ingredient, let’s hope they can find it again soon! I’ve been loyal to that brand for many years. I’m using the NARS Tinted Moisturiser at the moment, NARS is a pretty good replacement. Cream blush and Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, another can’t live without product. Cuticles, dry spots, it moisturises all those thirsty areas that need a bit of moisture this time of year.

LA: Lovely, some great picks in there. What's the best tip that a professional make-up artist has given you?

TD: One of my favourite make-up artists always says to me: highlight wherever the light would naturally hit with highlighting cream. Her tip was if you highlight where light naturally shines – your cheekbones, your brow bones, down the front of your nose, your collarbones – it gives a radiant look, dewy and luminous. The one I’m using at the moment is Charlotte Tilbury. Never underestimate the power of a good highlighter.

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

TD: I’m quite laid back about my skin. I drink a lot of water, because I believe hydration comes from the inside. I do think the more water you drink, the better your skin looks for it. You can definitely tell when you're dehydrated and as you get older, it becomes more important to hydrate, otherwise your skin looks dry and papery. You really want to throw the moisture in from the inside. I’m religious about taking my make-up off every night and I use the eyelash serum from Revitalash. I used to have eyelash extensions like everyone else and I hated being a slave to the routine of having them redone. And then I started getting claustrophobic with them having to glue the lashes with your eyes closed!

Revitalash Advanced Eyelash Conditioner, £78.95, Just My Look

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LA: Yeah, I get really weird about that as well.

TD: I get really uncomfortable during the whole process and I thought, I can’t go through this anymore for lashes! But then I was left with barely any lashes of my own as they’d broken off during the process. My friend introduced me to a brilliant eyelash supplement so I’ve been using that ever since. It really works, makes a massive difference, so I can just curl my lashes and get away without mascara.

LA: Do you get them tinted or are they quite dark naturally?

TD: Yeah, I used to tint them and I did the whole process where you have them tinted and curled and they look great for a couple of weeks – then they all fell out! So again, that’s a process I now avoid. I use the eyelash serum and conditioner and it works. You’ve got to be diligent, you’ve got to stay with it for at least six weeks. You will see the results, so I’m a big fan of that. But also not wearing mascara helps the lashes have a break.

LA: I think we’re all saving on make-up at the minute!

TD: Absolutely we are! Now is as good a time as ever to give your skin a break. Stay with the moisturiser, but it’s a good time for self care and to indulge and look after ourselves, spending time doing things you wouldn’t normally do. Light that candle, run that bubble bath you save for special occasions, lock the door and indulge in a little 'me time'. Little self-care rituals that we can do for ourselves will help boost our wellbeing, boost our mood. I’ve got vitamins lined up here, obviously as usual we’re taking them diligently. That’s all you can do, isn’t it? Stay as healthy as you can.

LA: You can watch a lot of films together and just chill.

TD: Yes and downloading movies. I love comedy – suddenly you find yourself laughing out loud and that is medicine in itself. You feel so much better your mood is lifted. So I’ve been ordering games, books and fun stuff we can do together as a family. Lots of Uno and lots of charades.

LA: Maybe not Monopoly though. I feel like this is not the time to have everybody argue!

TD: I know, we’re going to have a little family conference together and make vows to be good to each other and not irritate each other. Because you know, you’re in a confined space and we’re just going to be as lovely as we can to each other. Kindness is so important isn’t it. Kindness and tolerance.

LA: Yes especially when you’re in a confined space. How do you look after your hair? You have got bloody great hair so I'd like to know.

TD: I cut it regularly, got a great hair dresser. I use some leave-in conditioner that I spray in and I always use a heat protector. I had an amazing one in America when I was over there, it’s a smoothing blow dry cream by L’Oréal. It helps because my hair gets quite over-processed when I’m working due to lots of heat application – straighteners, tongs, lots of drying – it can get quite broken, so I use a thermal, heat protecting cream all the time. I always use conditioner; it always makes me laugh at the hairdressers when they say ‘do you want conditioner just on the ends?’ No, I’ll have it everywhere!

LA: The whole head!

TD: The whole head. And I use a hair mask and keep that on for longer. I’m a big fan of the Olaplex stuff, that works well.

LA: Oh it’s so good isn’t it? I wish they’d make the treatment in a bigger size.

TD: Yeah it’s a good moisture bath for your hair, isn’t it? And because mine’s coloured and processed, it needs a lot of moisture otherwise it gets really dry and broken. Lots of hair conditioning treatments, the hairdresser says just leave them in overnight if you can because the longer they’re in the better.

LA: Do you use purple shampoo?

TD: No I don’t, I don’t like the fact that it covers my entire bathroom! When I use it it’s on my hand and the floor tiles and everything, so I don’t like that intensive dye on my floor tiles. I like Kérastase, I use their Resistance range and I’m a big fan of Aveda as well.

Kérastase Resistance Thérapiste Masque, £34.20, Lookfantastic

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LA: How often do you workout and do you have a favourite way of exercising?

TD: I work out twice a week with a PT and he’s brilliant, really patient – he knows I get quite grumpy because I don’t like sweating but he’s just firm enough to galvanise me into action. Having him standing over me makes me do it – if he wasn’t I’d find 110 reasons to not be doing it! That’s why I have a trainer. I’ve also got a running machine at home and I quite enjoy that, so I set up for 15 minutes and put on half an episode of Grace and Frankie on Netflix. I laugh so much at the witty dialogue I forget I’m running!

LA: Ha, that’s a good idea! Do you have a signature fragrance or a few go-tos?

TD: We go to Grasse once a year in France on holiday, usually July or August, and we go to the perfume factories there and I mix my own blend. This year’s bottle might have to last two years! It's such a treat to experience the entire process of perfume making, it’s beautiful, learning from these people who know so much and understand fragrance. They explain to you how to layer, how the top notes should complement the bottom layers. It’s a lovely process and wonderful because you end up with a blend of perfume that’s quite unique.

LA: Yeah, super bespoke.

TD: There’s a lot of tuberose involved. Quite a bit of amber usually and top notes of leather. If that runs out, I’ll be switching to YSL Black Opium, or perhaps Diptyque’s Philosykos.

LA: Does your beauty routine change when you’re on holiday? Do you pare things back a bit?

TD: I tend to be bare faced during the day on holiday, just a bit of lip balm or Eight Hour Cream on the eyelids and the lips. Always less make-up on holiday.

LA: And bathing in SPF.

TD: Yeah lots of SPF, I try not to put my face in the sun too much. I love feeling the sun on my skin, don’t get me wrong, it feels so incredibly healing – but if I put my face up to it I know I’m going to have a three-day tan and a lifetime of sun damage. So now I use fake tan on my face to even up. I use Lancôme Flash Bronzer Gel, which is one of the most incredible products I’ve ever discovered. It’s failsafe, you can’t go wrong, there’s no tell-tale fake tan streaks, it isn’t patchy, doesn’t smell of tan, but you put it on at night, wake up and you’ve got a summer glow. It’s a brilliant product so I use that when I’m away.

LA: What about your three most-used emojis?

TD: Ha, now it’s probably the stressed ones! Ah, that’s a really good question; usually lots of hearts, and the love heart eyes, love that, always trying to spread a little love among friends and family. Lots of stars, I appreciate those people who are stars in my life and all my girlfriends, we are there for each other and help each other out. I try to express gratitude and thanks with hearts, eyes and stars, so they are my three.

LA: Ah that's lovely, it’s a funny question.

TD: It’s a good one actually! The dancing girl tends to make an appearance in the later part of the year too.

LA: I can't think why! Do you have a favourite book?

TD: One of them is Maya Angelou I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It's just a beautiful, life-changing, affirming book about an incredible woman and her journey. I was so moved by it, I've just ordered it again for my 15-year-old to read. I’m a big fan of Deepak Chopra. I met him in The States last year and went to see him in February, actually. I was hugely inspired by him. Goldie Hawn was there as well, she's a huge fan of his. Sorry to name drop but I just love her! She is one of my women idols and I love what she stands for, I love her sense of spirit, her lightness and positivity. She really is a little ray of sunshine. So I love Deepak Chopra, I’m re-reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success at the moment. Urm any positive literature I can get my mitts on. I’m also reading the The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, which I love.

LA: Good choices. What would your last meal be?

TD: Fish, chips and mushy peas. I love it, it’s my favourite and I’m a northerner after all!

LA: Gorge. Does gravy get involved?

TD: Oh I do love gravy, absolutely do, but not on fish, chips and mushy peas. I do love a Sunday roast chicken dinner with lots of gravy.

LA: Yeah, dream. What about your favourite TV shows to binge watch?

TD: Ah favourite TV show to watch, that’s a good one. Scandal was my all time favourite, love Scandal. Love Killing Eve, actually that comes a close second, and now I’m enjoying lots of Grace and Frankie. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, love the hysterical bond between them. It’s good for the soul.

LA: Yes definitely what we need right now.

TD: Very uplifting in times of need, I can highly recommend it

LA: What about a favourite movie? Have you got an all time favourite that you always stick on?

TD: Oh not really, but I loved The Blind Side. It's just such a brilliant, uplifting story and it always makes me cry. I like a weepy one. I'm veering more towards the comedy section at the moment, though!

LA: Netflix is well-stocked for that so, all good.

TD: Yes exactly, thank god for Netflix!

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LA: Who were you most star-struck meeting? People always pick really interesting ones here.

TD: Oh god, meeting Sean Connery. I was on a plane once coming back from the Bahamas and I came back from the bathroom before we got on the plane in the waiting room and he was sat in my chair. I almost fell to the floor and felt faint. It has been my wish to meet him my entire adult life and there he was sat. And then we got onto the plane and he was sat next to me!

LA: Amazing!

TD: I almost lost it, I had to pull my blanket over my head so he couldn’t see the adoration in my eyes. He would have thought, oh no... but I collected myself and he slept all the way back anyway, then woke up and smiled at me. Which almost made me faint again!

LA: I mean, great story though.

TD: I will never forget that I stayed awake on a night flight quivering under my blanket thinking, James Bond is almost toe-to-toe with me!

LA: At least you didn’t crack some sort of James Bond joke to him. I feel like you played it cool.

TD: Well I tried to avoid all eye contact for a long time, in-case he could see that I was a desperate fan and how overwhelmed I was. But yeah he was a gentleman and absolutely lovely. Another one was Muhammad Ali; he was staying in a hotel that myself and my crew on a fashion shoot were staying in. There was a boxing fight at the arena there and he invited me and my entire crew to go and watch it with him. He got tickets for all of us, it was just incredible to be watching my first boxing match sat next to Muhammad Ali. That was something I will never forget in my entire life.

LA: I mean that’s a pretty good one.

TD: it was brilliant, honestly. It was something special to remember.

Lucy Abbersteen
Beauty Contributor

Lucy is a freelance beauty editor and contributor at Marie Claire, and has written for titles including Glamour, Refinery29, Popsugar, woman&home and more. She was previously Marie Claire’s junior beauty editor. During her career, she’s covered everything from backstage beauty at fashion week to interviews with famous faces like Drag Race royalty and Little Mix. As for her beauty ethos, she’s a big advocate for not having to spend a fortune on beauty products to get good results, and when she’s not got beauty on the brain you’ll find her reading or hanging out with dogs.