Claudia Winkleman jokes she hid her ‘monobrow’ under fringe and ‘looked like a zebra’ after fake tan fail

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Claudia Winkleman’s on the phone and she couldn’t be happier to be heard and not seen. Having dialled in on time, she wastes no time sharing her views on 2020’s technology.

“I find Zoom calls absolutely disgusting,” she says. “I do not enjoy seeing my own reflection. When I first started doing them, I couldn’t understand why Meatloaf was suddenly in my house.”

It’s precisely this sort of cheerful self-deprecation that has made Claudia one of the UK’s most popular celebs. Whether she’s poking fun at her complexion (“the colour of Minute Maid orange juice”) or wonky eyeliner (“I look like a drunken pirate”), she’s delighted to cast herself as the plain pal to her glitzy TV wife Tess Daly.

“She looks beautiful all the time, on any screen,” she says. “That’s my life, talking to an actual goddess. I love her.”

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We talk to the Strictly presenter about that famous fringe, her beauty routines during lockdown and shaking her shiny-haired stuff for Head & Shoulders…

What’s your beauty regime been like this year?

It went feral. At one point, I bribed my daughter to fake tan me and we were laughing so hard, I ended up looking like a zebra for four days.

I also tried to dye my eyebrows, and that didn’t go well. I sort of looked like an eagle. It was just one big black line, but luckily it was under my fringe so nobody saw.

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Ah, the famous fringe, how did that fare during the salon shut-down?

It did get very Cousin Itt. My hairdresser had to talk me through cutting it on Zoom. I wasn’t very good. I also had to cut the kids’ hair. I was so bad my husband had to take over.

Badly cut or not, your hair is always exceptionally glossy – what’s the secret?

Head & Shoulders. The new Supreme Strength range. It has argan and bamboo oils in it, which sounds alarming, but I don’t want you to be. You will use it and you will break into song in the shower. It makes hair so shiny and it’s also the most intense clean ever. You know when you tidy and just throw stuff in cupboards, thinking, “That’ll do”? Well, this stuff is like the day when you really clean your bedroom, you’re holding Mr Sheen and when you get in bed it feels like you’ve invented a whole new world. Basically, that’s what a really clean scalp does.

Would you consider a radical makeover?

No. The idea is hideous. Trust me, I do not look good with my hair scraped back, no eyeliner.

The other thing about a fringe is it saves a lot of time. I’ve done the school run in my pyjamas. I’m not proud of it. I’ve gone to drinks with friends with lunch all over my top, in old battered jeans and mismatched shoes – a total mess. But with a fringe, I already feel a bit more dressed.

How long does it actually take you to get your glam on?

No more than two minutes. If people are coming round the house at eight, I will be lying on my bed, cuddling my youngest child until 7:57. It’s a much better use of time.

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How would you describe the look you’re rocking these days?

I only wear black. I want to look like a male mature French student who’s 52 and on his way to a physics lecture. I also want to look like I’ve spilled gravy over my face, gone to sleep in my make-up and then woken up and carried on with my day.

You’re 48 now, how are you finding this time of your life?

I really like my late forties. I was a bit angsty in my twenties. I spent my thirties being a mother, which I also loved. I’m never happier than when I have a little person in my arms and I really miss that. But I do love being in my late forties. The older I get, the more I’ve worked out what I want in life – where I want to go, who I want to spend time with, how I want my eggs done. It’s excellent.

Is ageing something you worry about?

My face is falling off and my body is finished, but I don’t mind. It’s not worth stressing about. Getting older is fantastic. You have to appreciate still being alive. The conversations are better, deeper and more interesting now. The physical side of ageing is something I’m not bothered by.

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You’re back on Strictly duty now – does that involve an emergency spruce-up?

Did you ever watch Changing Rooms or that show where they’d turn a dilapidated building around in 24 hours? That’s what happens to me so I can go back to work. It involves scaffolding and possibly 17 pairs of Spanx.

Claudia is the ambassador for the new Head & Shoulders Supreme Collection with Dual Oils. The shampoos and conditioners come in versions for Strength, Colour, Repair and Moisture, available now at Superdrug stores and, RRP £4.99.

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