Lisa Snowdon on her awful menopause experience: I felt completely lost
When we meet Lisa Snowdon, we’re hoping she’s just as lovely as she appears on screen. The bubbly TV presenter comes across as warm and down-to-earth, and has a knack of making us feel like we’ve known her for years. Thankfully, she doesn’t disappoint.
A real girl’s girl, Lisa talks openly about body hang-ups, beauty routines and a topic she’s been particularly passionate about in recent years – the life-changing effect that going through the perimenopause in her early forties had on her. It’s this genuine warmth that made her a hit with Capital FM listeners when she co-presented the breakfast show between 2008 and 2015, Strictly Come Dancing voters (she finished third in 2008) and now This Morning viewers, who love her regular fashion segments.
Lisa turned 50 earlier this year, and it’s clear she couldn’t be happier with life. Her eyes light up when talk turns to her fiancé, entrepreneur George Smart (not to be confused with another famous George, who she had a highly-publicised relationship with in the early 2000s).
“He’s the most supportive person,” she gushes. “I’m so happy I’m not with a selfish person who’s just looking out for number one.”
Following her menopause struggles, Lisa knows the importance of taking care of herself. It’s this passion for self-care, as well as a genuine love of all things beauty, that led her to create her own OK! Beauty Box, a limited-edition box packed full of Lisa’s all-time favourite products at a fraction of their usual price. We caught up with her after our exclusive photoshoot to find out more…
Lisa, you turned 50 earlier this year. How did you celebrate?
George and I went to Reykjavik, just the two of us. It was fabulous. We had delicious food, and we went to the Sky Lagoon where we soaked, bubbled and steamed in the sauna. George has really got me into city breaks – I used to be such a beach girl.
Over the last few years you’ve spoken openly about your menopause experience. Talk
us through it…
In my early forties I started developing an out-of-control feeling, and felt very low and anxious. I couldn’t pinpoint why. I was prescribed antidepressants, but they didn’t feel like the answer. Looking back, that was the start of my perimenopause, but I didn’t
know about it at the time. Over the next few years more symptoms developed, and I went to a few doctors.
Then last year I met Dr Naomi Potter, who I now do my Midweek Menopause Madness series with on Instagram Live. She got me on the right HRT, and it’s been a game changer. I’ve got my brain back and I can sleep again. It’s something that I couldn’t be without. That’s why I’m so passionate about discussing it – I want women to recognise what’s happening and make informed decisions.
How did the changes make you feel?
I felt completely alone and lost. It was years of feeling awful and angry and sleep deprived, with skin, hair and body changes. I ended up putting on quite a bit of weight, and when you don’t know what’s happening, you feel like you’re going mad.
What was the response on social media when you started talking about
I was being very honest on social media throughout that time, and my followers and I DM each other all the time – they all feel like friends now. That makes it a less lonely time.
Did putting on weight affect your confidence at all?
I’ve always had a pretty positive body image, but when I put on weight I was a little bit broken when nothing in my wardrobe fitted me – that’s a really hard thing for us girls. I remember sitting on the floor and just crying. That was a bit of a turning point for me. But I had to take some responsibility for that too – yes, HRT has been amazing for me, but I also realised I had to watch the food and drink I was consuming and I needed to do more exercise.
What types of exercise do you do?
I’ve started doing more strength training, which burns fat and creates muscles and strong bones. I get a big serotonin boost from working out, which makes me feel much more body positive.
Do you eat healthily?
Most days I’ll have three healthy meals and try not to snack in between. And if I’m going out for dinner I might not eat as much during the day. I try to eat lots of healthy proteins and vegetables. I like to keep it fun and varied, though.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Just food in general! I love potatoes, I love pasta, I love chocolate, I love crisps, I love wine, I love beer. I just love eating with friends and George. I don’t see it as a guilty pleasure – it’s just pure pleasure. Food brings me so much joy.
What changes did you notice in your skin?
It became much drier, and I had lots of really big, angry pimples around my chin. The muscle tone and the bounce also changed, and it just didn’t have that glow any more.
What advice would you give to anyone struggling with the menopause?
Write down your symptoms in a diary, because they come and go. There are over 60 different symptoms – not just night sweats but also things like joint aches, skin rashes, food intolerances and urinary infections. Take these to your doctor – if you’re over 45 they can prescribe HRT without doing a blood test. And if they won’t prescribe it to you, then ask to be referred to a feminine health specialist. You have to push back.
Did this time affect your relationship with George?
Oh my God, he’s a saint! We got back together at the time when I was hitting my perimenopause madness, so he was like, “Whoa!” Some days I’d be happy then the next day I’d turn into the devil. We’d be having a great night out then all of a sudden I would just flip. It was the hormones, combined with perhaps that third glass of wine. White wine just sent me cuckoo. Now I’m back on the wine, but I definitely don’t drink as much as I used to.
I know that the menopause can cause relationships to break down but I’m lucky that George came into my life at that time. For me, it was a godsend. For him, it was challenging. We laugh about it now – he’ll say, “You were a nightmare!” But he was very patient and loving, and he could see that something else was happening to me. I’m genuinely so happy.
You and George had a brief romance years ago. Talk us through how you got back together in 2015…
We first met when I was on MTV 20 years ago, then we got back together through a dear friend of mine, Amanda Grossman [who did Lisa’s make-up for this shoot]. She asked if he was interested in anyone, and he said, “There’s this girl I used to date, and I’d love to take her out again – her name’s Lisa Snowdon.” So she gave him my number. We met for dinner and as we walked towards each other our smiles just got bigger and bigger. We immediately got back into that familiarity, and we’d both made all the mistakes in life we needed to. And the rest is history!
You were 19 when you started modelling. Did you have to develop a thick skin?
Definitely. It’s a career where you’re being judged on your looks so it can be hard, especially as a teenager. There were times where I didn’t get the job or didn’t fit the clothes, but you have to see yourself as a product and not take it personally.
Did you enjoy the work?
Yes, I did – I still do. I was lucky that my work was always varied, from TV commercials and high-end editorial to catalogue trips. I’ve got great memories from my modelling days.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to do on a modelling job?
I once had to carry a live baby goat on my shoulders, on a shoot in Morocco. I never saw the pictures, but I’ll never forget that.
You look amazing in our shoot. Do you enjoy getting glammed up for photoshoots?
Absolutely! This was such a great day. I love being on set, working with amazing make-up artists, hairdressers, stylists and photographers, and seeing how it all comes together.
Have you any beauty tips from sitting in the make-up artist’s chair?
Good skincare as your make-up base is really important. If your skin’s well hydrated, you’re not going to need as much make-up. Also always curl your lashes before adding mascara. It really opens the eye up.
Have you always been into beauty?
I really have, from such a young age. My auntie used to work at a department store and would bring me back samples from a brand called Kanebo, and I always used to raid my mum’s make-up bag. When I was 11 I found her tweezers and restyled my brows… The next day I had my passport photo taken, so these very skinny brows lasted in my passport for 10 years! Luckily they grew back.
Has your skincare routine changed much in recent years?
My skin needs a lot of moisture now, and I need products for my neck, because I’ve noticed the loss of collagen there. I always take make-up off at night and do lots of massage when I apply products.
What are your make-up must-haves?
I use concealer under my eyes, under my brows and around my nose. I’ll comb through my brows, then curl my lashes and add lots of mascara, a little bronzer and a pinky blush. I’ll use a smudgy kohl eyeliner if I want to add drama, and a bit of lip liner and gloss if I’m going from day to night. I think dewy, shimmery make-up is really flattering.
You’ve put together lots of your beauty heroes to create your OK! Beauty Box. How did you decide what to pick?
There were certain products I’ve loved for ages, like the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm – it’s a real hero product of mine. It’s multi-purpose, too. If I ever burn myself it helps to heal the skin, and I use it as a mask overnight.
I wanted to add some great hair products, and Living Proof is a brand I love as it’s backed by science and silicone-free. With that shampoo, you don’t have to wash your hair as often because it cleans it really well without stripping it.
I wanted a good eye cream in there too, so we’ve got a full-size Murad Youth Renewal Retinol Eye Serum – this is a nice introduction to retinol. I wanted to include some gorgeous body care as well, as skincare doesn’t stop at your face, and the Prai product is amazing for the “neck and dec”. Then there’s the Ciaté eyeshadow for a little shimmer-shimmer.
I wanted an all-round beauty capsule collection that will make you see and feel a difference. And the price is unbelievable – it’s £45 but worth over £200! I’m so excited about it.
You run a series on Instagram called Self-Care Sunday. What does self-care mean to you?
Having rituals like having a bath, lighting candles, doing your facial massage and using pillow spray can be a game changer, mentally and physically. It doesn’t have to take hours – it can just be five minutes – but it’s so important. That’s one of the great things about my OK! Beauty Box – you can use it to take that moment before bed to apply all your creams and give your skin a nighttime treat.
Do you have any tips for quick self-care steps if people don’t have much time?
Apply serums and moisturisers in bed, as you’re winding down, or while you’re sitting in front of the TV. If you can find the time to watch a cheeky box set, you can find the time to do a quick facial massage.
What are your views on tweakments?
I personally think having a little line here and there just shows your experience, but people should do what they want to feel their best self.
What are your goals for the rest of 2022?
I feel really positive about being 50. I’ve joined a campaign called the Menopause Mandate to make change happen. And I want to do a book at some point. Life is really good.
Click here to buy the OK! Beauty Box by Lisa Snowdon for £45 (worth over £200).
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