It’s a strange feeling, interviewing Andrea McLean over the phone from my spare room-cum-office while she plucks her daughter Amy’s eyebrows in their bathroom, but that’s the unglamourous reality of lockdown life (“I thought it doesn’t matter, because we’re not in vision!” Andrea explains). She’s someone you’d love to be friends with because, as well as her openness and honesty, her positivity leaves you feeling happy and uplifted, so it’s hard to believe she’s been through such tough times in her life. It’s these experiences, though, that have led to Andrea creating a women’s empowerment website and penning books to help other people like her. This month, H&W caught up with her to discuss life in lockdown,
How have you and your family been dealing with the lockdown?
“I think we’ve been doing alright haven’t we Amy? [“I think so,” says Amy in the background]. We’ve done everything that’s been asked of us, we’ve followed all the rules and guidelines and the way we see it is we’ve focused on what we can control not what we can’t control, so that’s actually taken the pressure off a lot. We’ve just been dealing with have we got enough food? Have we got everything that everybody needs? Are the kids okay? We’ve had a structure, we’ve made the kids get up at a decent time every morning and then they do a day of work. That’s OK with my daughter Amy, who’s 13, but my son Finnlay is 18 and should have been doing his A Levels, so he was doing that and then obviously he found out he didn’t need to do any work any more, so then he started doing online courses, which was great, and then recently he’s got a job in a supermarket so he’s been working four days a week so he’s earning money to try and save up for if universities do open in September. So really we’re trying to keep a sense of normality, that’s been our biggest way of coping.”
What’s been your biggest challenge?
“Admitting that things aren’t fine has been my biggest challenge, and I think that that’s a very British thing, that our stock answer to ‘how are you?’ is ‘I’m fine’. What I’ve realised is that you give that answer because that’s the answer that people want. They don’t want a full run down of ‘well actually do you know what? I’m feeling quite overwhelmed and scared and I’m finding the way you’re being with me is quite rude and it’s putting me on edge’ and what you say instead is ‘I’m fine’. I’m an elder daughter, I’m a big sister, I’ve always been very capable and very strong minded in terms of if there’s something I want, I work really hard and go and get it, I’ve never had to be pushed by my parents, I’ve always pushed myself because I wanted to please them. So to hold my hand up and go ‘do you know what? Actually I’m really struggling and I’m not finding this as easy as people think I am’ has been really hard because I was braced for the whole world to go ‘what? You? But you host a live TV show every day, you’ve been working in an amazing industry for 25 years, you’re knocking it out of the park, who the hell are you to hold your hand up and go I’m not feeling very well?’ It was really hard, there’s every bit of me that wanted to be like the turtle and pull myself back into my shell, but I realised that I could help more people by admitting I was struggling, but this is how I got over it and this is how you can get over it.”
What’s your beauty routine?
“I always thought that I was a low maintenance lady, and then one day someone asked me about my beauty routine and half an hour later I was still talking! But it’s so normal to me that I don’t think about it. Nick literally is like “it’s half past five babe, do you want to go up and start getting ready for bed because you’ll still be there when I come up at 11!”. I’ve always looked after myself, I’ve always eaten well, I’ve always exercised and I have always looked after my skin. By the time this comes out, I will be 51 and I think I look good for 51, and I don’t even mean that in a vain way, I just think I do and I think that’s because the best thing for your skin is happiness. If you’re happy and looking after yourself, it shines out of your face and you look lovely, it doesn’t actually matter about wrinkles or anything like that, so I think the key to skincare is be happy and look after yourself. I’m really open about my whole life, I’ve had Botox in the past, but I haven’t had it for a year and a half and I don’t miss it at all. I tried it like everyone else was trying it and now I don’t think I need it anymore, I don’t think that’s actually me, so all I do is I make sure I always take off all my make-up every night with a good cleanser and a flannel, and I use face masks as well. I’m a great multi-tasker, so if I’m in the shower, I wash my face first, dry it off, put a face mask on, then I wash my hair, rinse it, then put conditioner in, then wash my body, then shave my legs, then I rinse everything off and I’ve completely multi-tasked! I also body brush pretty much every day, and I would massively recommend that. They’re not expensive, you can get them anywhere, they’re just these little wooden brushes with bristles. I won’t lie, it does scratch a bit, but it really makes your skin super-duper soft. So three top tips: always wash your face, multi-task in the shower and body brush.”
To read the full interview, pick up the April issue of Health & Wellbeing with Andrea McLean, on sale on the 6th August.