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Interview

Globetrotting with Alexandra Tolstoy

From being a distant relative of the great Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, to spending eight months riding horseback on the Silk Road, Tolstoy’s story is a book you can’t put down.

Her fairytale may involve a prince, but she’s the one holding the reins. Countess Alexandra Tolstoy’s life has been anything but dull. From being a distant relative of the great Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, to spending eight months riding horseback on the Silk Road, Tolstoy’s story is a book you can’t put down. Nevertheless, adventure spirit aside, you’ll find that she’s a lot more relatable than her marriage to Putin’s ex-banker, Sergei Pugachev, or her BBC series, Horse People, make her out to be. Whether it’s having trouble getting good rest or basking in the delights of motherhood, Tolstoy shares a simpler side of herself with BWB.

Your morning beauty routine?

I have to get up quickly because I do the school run each morning and I don’t drive, so it involves a half hour walk. First, I moisturise using Crème de la Mer. I have very sensitive skin and this is the only cream that doesn’t irritate it. It’s an extravagance, but I use it in tiny amounts and only get my hair cut once a year, so I economise there instead! After that, I use a little of Giorgio Armani’s liquid foundation, Bare Minerals bronzer powder and Chanel brown/black mascara. I like a very natural look, so it’s just to smooth out any imperfections and to not look too tired! I brush my hair and always wear it up. Down doesn’t suit me and it is so quick and easy to do a plait or ponytail.

How does the Russian beauty culture differ from the UK’s?

In the UK, we generally like a natural, healthy look, whereas in Russia, it’s all about glamour and perfection! They wouldn’t be seen dead without a manicure or makeup. Hair is always perfectly blow-dried and plastic surgery, implants, etc. are very popular! In the UK, we dress and turn ourselves out in a much more relaxed, boho way.

Three things you keep on your nightstand?

A book (at the moment I’m reading FramleyParsonage by Trollope), my asthma inhalers, and an eye mask (I used to be a very bad sleeper and this habit has stuck!).

Best tips for a long flight post Covid-19?

I love indulging in a good TV series. I’ve just finished State of Happiness, a Norwegian drama. A long flight is a wonderful opportunity to indulge in back-to-back viewing. I always take a neck cushion, as otherwise I end up with a cricked neck, but I can’t say I do any kind of amazing beauty routine!

What do you always take with you when you travel?

My cross. I’m Russian Orthodox and live in my cross.

Most memorable travel experience?

Too many! I spent a decade riding horses all over Central Asia, Mongolia and Russia – even riding into Moscow’s Red Square once. Last year, I took my children riding in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan, which is a memory I’ll treasure forever.

Your next destination?

This summer I’m dreaming of going back to Corfu. I love everything about it, from the views of Albania to the food to thecrystal clearsea.

Biggest risk that has paid off?

Leaving my job as an equites broker in the city to go adventuring!

What advice would you give to your 20-year old self?

Wow – so much I would have told her! Be calm, everything will work out.

You’ve led such a colorful and dynamic life. If there is only one thing people should know about you, what would that be?

How much I love my children and that being a mother is the only thing that really matters to me.

Alicia Zhang

Originally from Los Angeles, Alicia lived in Shanghai for 11 years before moving back to the states to attend the University of Miami, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and minors in art and philosophy. Currently residing in New York City, Alicia applies her knowledge of strategic communication and design in her career. She enjoys painting, rugby, exploring, and more often than not, you’ll find her petting someone’s dog.

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