Josie Taylor, Blogger and Food Stylist

Josie is my oldest friend – we have adored each other since we met at 12 years old at after-school swimming lessons. Even though she moved across the oceans to London right after we graduated, we have kept our friendship kicking through the decades with haphazard Skype sessions, hilarious emails, long summer holidays in Sydney and more than several wine-fuelled weekends in Paris. Jose is one of those freakishly gifted and creative people – not only can she write beautifully and humorously, she also acts, sings, teaches yoga, cooks like an angel and takes incredible pictures of food. 

After a career of professional acting (she starred in Tamara Drewe, Midsomer Murders, Dr Who and forthcoming film 'Youth' with Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel), with some singing on the side, she did a course in nutrition and turned her talented hand to food blogging and styling as The Fresh Ginger (a name we conceived together over several Rosé's on my balcony). The best bit? Her fare is true beauty food: nutrient-rich, beautiful and unfussed-with. Last year I begged her to start sharing her recipes with us on Beauticate and she became our contributing food writer. We recently photographed Josie in her vibrant Chelsea apartment in London and asked her to share her inspired, mostly-natural beauty secrets and refreshingly real attitudes towards health and wellness.


Happy snaps from catch ups in paris

Happy snaps from catch ups in paris

“Sigourney and I were an unlikely double act in high school. 

She: dark and petite, and me: rangy and redheaded. We were precocious, spoke our own language thick with private jokes, and wrote long, long letters to one another during class. I think it’s a testament to our friendship - and to the energy we’ve put into it over the past 20 years - that the moment we meet up in say, Paris or somewhere, we'll immediately slip back into that double act. Except now we have better hair. And shoes. And one of us runs a brilliantly successful beauty website. I feel lucky because Sig has always been unwaveringly supportive and encouraging of my work. That’s why it feels really special to be able to contribute to Beauticate. To be a part of her world, even though I’m 10,000 miles away. 

 

Discovering rosewater was something of a beauty epiphany for me. 

I like my Celtic skin, but it’s not the most resilient of structures. After ignoring inflamed protests over many years of using alcohol-based toners, I discovered pure rosewater. Now I buy it by the litre from an essential oils distributor and use it as a roseaca-friendly astringent, a spray to set make-up and a generally dreamy handbag pick-me-up. Roses have seeped out into the rest of my beauty cabinet. I stock up on Essano Rosehip Intensive Body Lotion whenever I’m in Sydney. I also think Rose by Terry does classy things, I like their Hyaluronic Blush.

Josie cossets her celtic skin with alcohol free and rose-infused products

Josie cossets her celtic skin with alcohol free and rose-infused products

 
she applies her food styling prowess to beauty

she applies her food styling prowess to beauty

Natural perfumes for the skin. Glam fragrances for the hair. 

Right now, I’m really enjoying playing with natural fragrances. I still like traditional fragrances, but these days, I’ll tend to spritz them on my hair and not my skin. Aromantik Strangers in Blood Perfume Oil smells all complex and buttery on pulse points. I also like LAVANILA The Healthy Fragrance Pure Vanilla and Aveda’s Chakra 1 Balancing Body Mist. Sometimes, I’ll wear them both at once so I can smell like a yoga-flavoured cookie. Now who doesn’t like a yoga-flavoured cookie?

 

When it comes to the great natural skincare debate, I like to keep things loose. 

I love using natural products, but I don’t want that love to ever feel like a prison.  For example, I have a tube of La Mer’s The Reparative Skintint SPF30. I like using it, I think it’s a great product. Equally, I get a kick out of the simplicity of using something like almond or olive oil as an eye make-up remover. Whenever I’m unsure, I’ll try to consider regularity of use and the surface area a product covers. I use organic brand, RMS Beauty’s Un coverup everyday, but then Shu Uemura’s Lightbulb Foundation for special occasions. For body care and nails, I’ll tend to favour natural. I reckon Kiri Organics Gradual Tan is pretty genius and my favourite nail polishes come from chemical-free Anglo-French brand, Nailberry

josie happily mixes and matches natural beauty brands with her edit of the mainstream

josie happily mixes and matches natural beauty brands with her edit of the mainstream

 
the natural red-head chooses sulfate free shampoos and indulges in hair masks

the natural red-head chooses sulfate free shampoos and indulges in hair masks

My hair and I have had a difficult, but fulfilling relationship. 

In primary school, I wanted nothing more than blonde, surfie hair and the ability to play handball. Neither of those things materialized, but I’m kind of glad they didn’t. My red hair - and spectaular lack of ball skills – have become cherished parts of my identity.

Before GHDs were invented, I used to iron my hair on an ironing board because, apparently, Nicole Kidman did it. Since then, my curls have benefited from high-quality shampoo and a final cool rinse in the shower. Pureology have the most hydrating sulfate-free shampoos I’ve found and I love AESOP’s Rose Hair & Scalp Moisturising Masque combed through with a big Mason Pearson comb.

 

For my first major film role, 

the hair and make-up designer on Tamara Drewe whipped my hair into a poodle-esque quasi-mullet because he thought it worked well as a contrast to Gemma Arterton’s sleek and glamorous look. For the last film I worked on, Paulo Sorrentino’s Youth, the award-winning Italian hair and make up team basically made me look like Rita Hayworth in the film Gilda. I’ve never felt more beautiful or glamorous in my life. I guess that’s hair karma for you.

josie's acting career taught her about versatility

josie's acting career taught her about versatility

 
she has realised the importance of integrity, self value and self-belief

she has realised the importance of integrity, self value and self-belief

It might sound nuts…

but I feel my most beautiful when I’m being true to myself and to my values - I feel like my features come more into focus. I also feel more radiant when I’m practicing yoga regularly, I imagine it has something to do with standing on my head. Whenever I look at pictures of myself as I younger woman, I’m always struck by how much better I look than I felt at the time. If only I could tell that girl to stop being so hard on herself and enjoy the way she looks. Having said that, I’ll probably feel the same way about these pictures in a few years!

 

I wish I’d had a better sun care routine when I was growing up in Australia. 

Now I never leave the house without a 30+ sunscreen on. Greek brand, Korres make the most delicious smelling yoghurt sunscreen face cream for sensitive skin. They also do a nice tinted Lip Butter Stick SPF15+ in Rose. I have a wide collection of mum-style wide brimmed hats. Sometimes, I’ll swallow my cool and wear one.

Josie protects her skin with greek brand korres

Josie protects her skin with greek brand korres

 
josie's creatively curated bathroom cabinet

josie's creatively curated bathroom cabinet

I come from a long line of bath takers 

And nothing beats a cleansing, detoxifying salt bath. I like combining big buckets of Epsom salts with rose oil and the petals from dried-up bouquets. I might also indulge in a scoop of REN Moroccan Rose Otto Sugar Body Polish and a soothing slather of Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask. This is my self-care ritual and I am openly addicted to it.  I’m also pretty pedantic about night care. After cleansing and toning with rosewater, I use Natural Earth Vitamin C Serum followed by Retinol A Gel from Simply Health. I’ll then be generous with Antipodes Avocado Pear Nourishing Night cream and a few dots of Antipodes Kiwi Seed Oil Eye Cream.

 

My personal style sits somewhere between 40’s pin-up and Led Zeppelin groupie.  

Wearing red lips gives me confidence when I’m feeling a bit flat – US vegan brand Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics does a very punchy and durable lip tar. I love high-waisted things. Probably because I have short legs and a freakishly long torso (shh… don’t tell anyone.) I’ve never been much of a one for high heels because they make me walk like a baby giraffe. I always feel much more grounded in a pair of badass boots. Or better still, no shoes at all.

josie wears vintage styles with aplomb

josie wears vintage styles with aplomb

 
josie's fig & rosewater chia pudding - recipe here

josie's fig & rosewater chia pudding - recipe here

Moving from the world of acting into working with food felt like coming home. 

Even though I got to do some very cool things when I was an actress, there’s a big portion of introvert in me who likes nothing better than to be left alone to create things. I still enjoy doing voiceovers – playing Jason Donovan’s bilby wife in ‘Boj’ is still one of my favourite creative experiences. 

My food styling career came via Instagram, when I was approached by London based conscious creatives agency, Novel Beings.  Making food look beautiful in pictures gives me a lot of pleasure as it combines my love of cooking with a sense of aesthetic as well as problem solving. My food styling kit will always contain a tube of very decadent hand cream to counteract the mess. Antipodes Delight Hand & Body Cream has that job right now. 

 

Music is very important to me, mostly the old funky stuff.

I’m always happiest at work in my little kitchen, playing with food and blaring music.

I also collect originals...I feel like I’ve been fortunate enough to collect some pretty extraordinary people over the years. I think it started with my crazy, fragmented, international family. I’m surrounded by original thinkers and mavericks . How lucky am I?

the stylist's pantry is an ode to whole food

the stylist's pantry is an ode to whole food

 
passionate about vital food, not health food

passionate about vital food, not health food

Nourishing people gives me jollies. 

The greatest gift I gained from studying nutrition was an understanding of how to give myself and other people energy and clarity of mind through food. I don’t really like using the term ‘health food’. Either food is vital and gives you life, or it takes it away, and the foods that do that are different for every individual.  I believe learning to listen to that information from your body is the most important step one can take towards health.

 

I have a bit of a fetish for large jewellery. 

I feel better when I have harem of heavy, exotic earrings to hand, but I tend to only wear one piece at a time. My great aunt has shared some of her Kenneth J Lane pieces with me and I treasure them the most.

a repurposed antique printer drawer holds her ecclectic jewellery collection

a repurposed antique printer drawer holds her ecclectic jewellery collection

 
kale and pomegranate never looked so sexy

kale and pomegranate never looked so sexy

I love fat.  

I always take a big dose of high-quality Omega 3 fish oil in the morning with my juice. Phytonutrients are fat soluble, so I always have fat with my veg. I like to get everything else I need from beautiful organic vegetables and fruits, whole foods and some high-quality animal protein. 

 

I’m wary of fundamentalism of any kind.

I love that the health zeitgeist has well and truly arrived. My wish for the future would be for this knowledge to be a source of increased choice, rather than another reason for us to beat ourselves up all the time. For me, there is no ‘being bad’ or ‘naughty’ when it comes to food. I believe that pleasure is a vitamin all of its own. If I decide to make a different choice, to drink my beloved red wine or get stuck into the cheese board, I want it to be an adult, conscious choice - like those orgasmic women in chocolate adverts. 

josie seeks to reposition health food with joyful, guilt-free connocations

josie seeks to reposition health food with joyful, guilt-free connocations

 
some of the foodie's favourite tomes

some of the foodie's favourite tomes

I love reading cookbooks.

Mostly the introductions. The how and the why of food really fascinate me. Claudia Roden’s books are full of well-researched food history." 

 

Credits: Photography by Rachel Manns; Hair and makeup by Sharon Massey;

Additional photography by Jonathan Short and Josie Taylor