Tag Archives: Benefit

Three Cheers for Benefit

Benefit_Boutique2_SFLast weekend got off to a very pretty, pink start thanks to an invitation to the opening of Scotland’s first Benefit Boutique – in Frasers, Glasgow. And I have a feeling that it won’t be the last weekend I kick off in there. Why? Because this is the perfect pampering parlour to get prepped for a night out – and there’s a champagne bar serving pink Moet to sip on while you do..

Entering the Benefit Boutique is a bit like time travelling back to the 1950s or appearing as an extra in Grease. The assistants are all dressed   in retro gear – Minnie Mouse meets Frenchie, the “beauty school drop-out” – and they not only advise on products and do mini-makeovers but they also offer a menu of services, including those – such as brow-shaping, which is big business for Benefit (it’s responsible for more of the nation’s eyebrows than any other company) – that can be done at counter as well as salon treatments, ranging from waxing to spray-tanning.

As boutique manager Linda, who gave me a tour of this pink paradise tucked away at the back of Frasers, explained, they are primed to cater for not just Benefit launchclients visiting on their own, but also for groups of girls who fancy partaking of some pampering while sampling the delights of the champagne bar. It’s a lovely space, with enthusiastic and welcoming staff – and I’ll be back soon to sample the waxing experience. After all, how painful can it be if there’s champagne as an anaesthetic? Chin-chin!

* Benefit Boutique, Frasers, Glasgow (0141 221 3880; extension 2737).

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The Jazz Age – in Colour!

BenefitCoreColor1stPhaseYou can stick your BBs and your CCs (and no, I’m not talking cup sizes – but for that matter .. ). I’m just not falling for these new wonder skincare/make-up hybrids (well, not yet!). What’s particularly excited me in the last couple of months or so, beautywise, is a new colour range which has GG invisibly stamped all over it: Great Gatsby.

Much of the excitement about the eagerly antipated release of Baz Luhrmann’s take on the classic F Scott Fitzgerald novel of the “Jazz Age” has been about the costumes – and in particular the Prada designed party scenes. From what I’ve seen of the clothes, the look is not slavishly authentic 1920s style but an interpretation of it. Which makes me think that the fabulous new,  make-up range that I’ve fallen in love with – the look of which was inspired by the Deco era of Gatsby – is possibly more inkeeping with the original movie version of The Great Gatsby rather than this new one.

Whatever. Color  … by Benefit is a gorgeous-looking make-up collection with packaging inspired by the Art Deco design of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Franscisco, the beauty brand’s hometown.

As a Deco nut, I love the pretty boxes and jars that house the eyeshadows (very reminiscent of Paul & Joe make-up packaging designs) – but what’s really thrilled me in the last couple of months is just how effective and striking this make-up is. The range comprises cream eyeshadows, powder eyeshadows and lip glosses – with lipsticks to follow in September.

I have not gone a day without the Creaseless Cream Shadow (£15.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) in Birthday Suit since I first tried it. (I especially like to mix it with my Clinique Chubby Stick in Fuller Fudge. ) A beautiful, shell shade, it is the perfect base if you like a little bit of shimmery shine – and it works a treat whether you blend a different colour of cream shadow with it, or whether you mix it with some powder. Crucially, it lasts unbelievably well – something that is, in my experience, extremely rare and worth shouting about..

I’m still working my way through the collection – and no wonder: there are ten shades of Creaseless Cream Shadow (three of which were existing shades that have long been bestsellers for Benefit) and 12 shades of Longwear Powder Shadow (£15.50) which come in satin, matte or sheen finishes.

Lip gloss and I don’t get along so I’ll not give a verdict on the six shades of Ultra Plush Lip Gloss (£14.50), but I reckon they make lovely gifts for gloss-aholics of my acquaintance.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Oooh, we’re going to experience a bit of a Weimar Republic vibe this autumn – thanks to Illamasqua, the cult makeup brand which champions alternative looks and cultures.. It’s highly appropriate, given how film noir – which gave us the femme fatale who is also a big inspiration for autumn/winter – grew out of German Expressionism of the same era as Berlin’s cabaret scene.

Which, of course, was famously immortalised in the 1972 Hollywood musical Cabaret, with the wonderful Liza Minnelli in her best-known role as Sally Bowles, an American singer who aspires to be as decadent as those around her.

Minnelli designed her iconic look for the film – the pudding bowl haircut with the widow’s peak and the Harlequinesque eye make-up – with the help of her director father, the great Vincente Minnelli. And it’s still a source of inspiration. I’m sure it’s played a part in the soon-to-be-launched Theatre of the Nameless collection from Illamasqua. Whether it inspired their new mascara, Illamasqua Masquara (£15; www.illamasqua.com) or not, who knows – but this fab separating, curling and lengthening mascara is just the job if you want to emulate Liza’s long lashes..

TUESDAY

The prettiest package I received last week was from The Body Shop which this week launches three new ranges of handcare products. There’s the Hemp collection, for those of us with dry skin; the Almond range for all skin types and The Body Shop Wild Rose collection for, ahem, “mature skin”.

Not sure how I ended up with the rose range – did someone tip them off about my impending 40th (or is it showing on my mitts?) – but it is lovely to use. Even my boys are finding the Wild Rose Caring Hand Wash (£5; www.thebodyshop.co.uk) a luxurious alternative to the usual liquid soaps I offer them. I’ll let you know if the combined assault of the handwash, the Wild Rose Targeted Hand Oil (£7) and the Wild Rose Nourishing Hand Butter (£10) shave any years off the apparent age of my hands….

WEDNESDAY

Wednesday was the day for my regular visit to the Clarins Spa in Frasers, Glasgow. Lindsay, my lovely therapist, really looks after me and is making it her mission to ensure that I continue to look as if I’m on this side of 40 – even after December, when the big day comes along. Last time I saw her, she focused the attention of the Tri-Active facial on anti-ageing for the first time and on Wednesday, she gave me some top tips on caring for the delicate skin around the eyes.

I’ve been diligently using eye cream at night and eye gel in the morning for the last few months and, as if they knew I was starting to get a bit fixated about this, Clarins has just brought out a new, improved version of its fab Clarins Eye Contour Gel (£26.50; www.clarins.co.uk) which is a must for de-puffing the eye area. Lindsay also suggested I try a couple of new additions to the Clarins repertoire: Eye Revive Beauty Flash (£26.50) and Skin-Smoothing Eye Mask (£28.99) …. Watch this space! Oh, and the Clarins Spa in Frasers (0141 221 5760) is currently (until September 3) offering a free “mini” neck and shoulder massage, and 25% off any Clarins Treatment if you book and pay when you’re instore.

THURSDAY

By coincidence, having tried out and loved their new mascara earlier in the week, I met Illamasqua’s PR Nicola in Glasgow on Thursday. Nicola is a walking testament to how wearable this apparently inaccessible brand’s cosmetics are. She looked stunning with her lilac-grey eye make-up, fanned-out lashes that would have made Bambi weep with envy, violet lips and matte purple nails. All of which worked a treat with her shock of short platinum blonde hair.

It was the nails that caught my eye most of all… Nicola was sporting one of the new Illamasqua Nail Varnishes (£13.50), four new shades with a rubbery matte finish which were inspired by the so-called Boot Girls of the Wittenberg Platz; prostitutes whose menu of services was indicated by the colour of their boot-laces… I’m not sure what Nicola’s Faux Pas shade (a dark purple) signifies (we probably don’t want to know!), but the one I’ve taken to is Vice (pictured, though it doesn’t look as maroon in this photo as it does in real life), a Rouge Noir-like dark cerise.

FRIDAY

I didn’t go out on Friday night – though I would have liked to, as I wanted to give my trio of new Benefit Velvet Eyeshadows (£13.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) an outing.

Snow Job (a minty greeny-grey), Raining Men (a grey-ish greeny shade reminiscent of my favourite new eyeshadow from Chanel – the Illusion d’Ombre in Epatant) and Tickled Mink (a taupe shade) are the gorgeous new additions to Benefit’s range of beautifully blendable and long-lasting eyeshadows.

I may have been all dressed-up, make-up wise, with nowhere to go – but I know which eyeshadows I’ll be turning to next time I do have somewhere …

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Blue eyeshadow and I have never really got on. Having dark blue eyes, I was always being given eyeshadow palettes in blue or shades when I was a teenager first learning about make-up, and I’ve never found a blue palette which didn’t make me look like a beginner – or remind me of the Queen Mum or Dame Edna or someone still living in the 1980s (a decade whose looks I still can only remember with horror, sorry Dynasty fans)….

This was the case until I got to grips – during my holidays last week – with the latest eyeshadow compact, which comes from Dior’s Blue Tie collection for autumn 2011 (available from August 16). The Dior 3 Couleurs Smoky Eyeshadow in Smoky Navy (£32) is a craftily designed compact with a pop-up mirror and a trio of colours – two of which (a shimmering denim and a deep navy) I found were brilliantly easy to apply for a smoky look. I don’t think blue would ever be my first choice for a smoky eye (I like the sound of the new palettes in Smoky Nude, Smoky Khaki and Smoky Brown), but this could sway me ..

TUESDAY

I went to St Andrews laden with products to test. One of them – which was much better tested there, in a power shower (as opposed to in a bath in my shower-less Art Deco bathroom) – was Elemis Tranquil Touch Body Polish (£20; www.timetospa.co.uk), from Elemis’s new Sp@Home range.

As with all the items in the range, Tranquil Touch is a professional standard product with a lovely aromatic fragrance; luxurious but functional too. It made the chore of exfoliating a pleasure – which is why my body has now been scrubbed enough to last the next two months!

WEDNESDAY

Remembering how the seaside air completely dried out my skin and hair last year, I didn’t stint on the serums when I was packing – and although I had decided that the time is right for adding an anti-ageing serum to my routine, I used it with my usual Chanel Hydramax Active + Serum.

The anti-ageing serum in question is Clarins Double Serum Generation 6 (£54; www.clarins.co.uk), which I’ve experienced in facials but had never before used myself. After just a few days’ use, I was a convert: my skin looked refreshed and glowing, and well recovered from all my late nights at the Glasgow Jazz Festival. This is the sixth generation of Clarins’s famous dual-phase serum and it certainly does seem to firm, hydrate and nourish the skin.

THURSDAY

“Dramatic length, visible lift and long-wearing results” – if you saw that on the heading of an email in your in-box, you might think someone was trying to sell you Viagra. However, these are some of the observations made by testers of the latest mascara from Benefit..

I’m always a sucker for a new mascara – so I had high hopes for Benefit They’re Real! (£18.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk). I wouldn’t say I’m likely to drop any of my favourite mascaras and switch to this one, though it did give me well-curled, well-plumped-up lashes. The problem was that it wasn’t easy to use, it seemed to clump the lashes together and the results, while good, weren’t dazzling. Still, if you’re promised something that moves the earth, you’re just being set up for disappointment!

FRIDAY

“Happy feet, I’ve got those happy feet … ” So goes the song, and so it was on Friday when I felt the benefit of a week of using the other Elemis Sp@Home  goodie I took on holiday: Elemis Treat Your Feet Foot Cream (£16). This is a gorgeous-smelling (patchouli, eucalyptus and lemon oils) cream, rich in texture but easily absorbed – and it did a great job of moisturising and soothing my feet and softening hard skin, thanks to key ingredients jojoba oil and shea butter.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I couldn’t help but think of the lovely 1940s bombshell Rita Hayworth when I opened my bottle of this summer’s most unusual product so far: Benefit Cha Cha Tint (£24.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk, from June 1).

Rita was a terrific dancer (Fred Astaire once named her his favourite of all his many dance partners) and was well versed in every style from the Charleston to the Cha Cha Cha. With her colouring – auburn red hair and olive skin – she would have been a natural for this lovely sibling to the original Benetint. But whereas Benetint was a rose-coloured tint (scarlet in the bottle, but sheer pink on the skin), Cha Cha Tint is a coral version which is less sheer but equally wearable – especially on sun-kissed or naturally sallow skins.

All you do is brush three (or fewer) strokes of the tint on the cheeks to create a gentle flush. It is strange to use as it seems as if you’re painting on your nail varnish. (Don’t
keep the bottle too near your coral nail polishes – or you might make that mistake!) I would avoid it if your skin is sensitive: I am prone to red cheeks and did have mini flare-up after using this as a blusher. Personally, I was particularly impressed with the results when I used it as a lip stain as the colour was lovely, and it was very comfortable on my normally dry lips.

Not only that but it seemed to last pretty well.

TUESDAY

I was packing for an overnight trip on Tuesday and was delighted to have an excuse to try out the “gift with purchase” which Lancome is launching on June 1.

For the second time, the French beauty company has teamed up with fashion label Temperley London – and the result is a very covetable clutch-style cosmetics or wash bag, stuffed with such favourite Lancome goodies as a travel size Hypnose Mascara and my favourite toner, Tonique Douceur.

To get your free gift, buy two Lancome products (including at least one skincare item) – but watch out, stocks are limited..

WEDNESDAY


I was fortunate enough to have a tete-a-tete with Chanel’s make-up supremo Peter Philips on Wednesday, when he unveiled the gorgeous Autumn-Winter colours (which launch here on August 19). More about them nearer the time – though I’m starting wearing them right now! I had to take the opportunity to grill Peter about the star nail polish in the currentLes Fleurs de Chanel summer collection: Chanel Le Vernis in Mimosa (£17.50; for stockists call 020-7493 3836). How on earth did he come up with this unusual sparkling canary yellow shade?

The rest of Les Fleurs de Chanel collection

“Well, ” he said, “actually there was a large demand because the frst thing I ever did for Chanel was a limited edition mini collection created for the opening of a boutique on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. The collection was called the Robertson Collection and it was  four nail polishes – one a lavender, a shocking pink, a coral and a yellow (LA Sunrise). Shortly afterwards I did the make-up on a Japanese actress and I used the nail polishes. The pictures appeared in a magazine in Tokyo and everyone went crazy. The colours were being sold in Tokyo and they sold out in an instant. And people kept asking me: “I’ve seen a yellow nail polish somewhere – and I can’t find it!” I’d just done it as a limited edition and I feel that when you present somethng as a limited edition, and they queue for it, they’re buying it because it’s something unique – because it’s limited. I don’t want to go the next season and bring out the same colour because then they’ve been queueing for nothing.”

Three and a half years later, Philips felt the time was right to bring out a similar yellow – a fraction stronger than the original one. (Click here to compare and contrast.) So, which skin tone does he think wears it best? “Yellow is not so easy. Yellow is best on a sun-kissed, holiday skin tone. If you’re olive-skinned it might be tricky – but that’s why I have a beautiful pink in the collection. It’s best on the toes, you can wear Morning Rose on the hands and a cute bikini – and voila! – holiday!”

THURSDAY

The most fabulous facials I’ve had in my entire 15 years of writing about beauty were in the Guerlain Institut de Beaute on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Why? Because they were the longest, most indulgent, most opulent – and most effective I’ve ever had. I think the last one I had, about four years ago, lasted about three hours all-in.

So I was thrilled, on Thursday, to be able to take up the invitation of trying a Guerlain Facial when the French beauty brand was operating out of the airy beauty rooms downstairs in Frasers, Glasgow. Okay, it wasn’t on a par with the ones I’ve had in Paris but, then, you have to make some allowances when you’re in a department store’s beauty room. It was a relaxing, extremely pleasant experience (strangely, the most striking aspect was that there was no exfoliation stage) – and I loved having my beloved Orchidee Imperiale professionally massaged into my grateful pores..  My skin looked and felt great afterwards.

Guerlain facials are available regularly at your nearest department store, so keep an eye out.

FRIDAY

Kirsten Dunst won the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday –  but it wasn’t just her acting talents which were worthy of recognition; her sartorial skills were faultless.  In the past some of her choices have been a bit hit or miss, but she seems to have recently upped her game in the style stakes.

She wore Chanel throughout the festival – either couture or make-up, or both. In this picture, she’s a poster girl for the cult Chanel red – Chanel Rouge Allure in Enthusiast (£23) – which, with the vibrant mustard yellow gown, gives her a fabulous old Hollywood look.


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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I love the strong lips and slinky eyes of old Hollywood movie stars and you can always rely on Dolce & Gabbana (from Harrods) to create a collection that allows you to wear this style but still look bang up to date – just check out D&G poster girl Scarlett Johansson, above.

Their Italian Summertime range, which I received on Monday, is no exception. The lip colours include a beautiful orangey-red (Dolce & Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick in Venere, £22) and a gorgeous purpley-pink (Dolce & Gabbana Shine Lipstick in Violet, £22), which is a close match for the season’s new nail colour, Dolce & Gabbana Intense Nail Lacquer in Passione (£17). I was less struck on the eye shadows, a mix of violets and rusts which were a perfect match for the colours my skin goes when it’s bruised and made me look like a battered woman … However, on the darker-skinned Scarlett  - as we saw at the Oscars – they looked much more glam!

TUESDAY

I threw a party on Saturday night, and I was still paying for it in terms of sleep by Tuesday. There was only one thing for it: dig out the secret weapon for dealing with tired eyes.

My Guerlain Precious Light (£28; www.houseoffraser.co.uk) pen hasn’t seen that much action in the past, as I often find that the more products I put on my skin, the less youthful it appears, but it now looks set to become a staple of my daily routine.

Why? Well, because it blurs fine lines under the eyes, bounces the light off the skin and adds a touch of radiance. I have no idea if that’s what it claims to do, but it’s been doing those tricks on me all week, and I’m planning to keep it handy – and ready for all mornings-after. And as for the problem of having too many layers of product, I found this week that if I used it under my eyes and kept everything else away from that area, it looked fine.

WEDNESDAY

By coincidence, I’ve decided that my favourite item in the new Benefit b.right skincare range is the eye cream – Benefit It’s Potent! (£23.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk). I found the scent of some of the other products got in the way of my enjoyment of using them, but this cream, which helps eradicate dark circles while hydrating and firming the skin, is a pleasure to use and it does have an instant effect. It brightens and refreshes the eye area. Since it’s not as portable as the Guerlain pen, I’ll not be stashing it in my bag for on-the-go pick-me-up purposes, but it’s set to become an essential whenever I’ve had a late night or two.

THURSDAY

A civilised lunch took place on Thursday – and, a few days into the children’s school holidays, it was a treat to eat with other adults .. It was a particular treat because lunch – at the Blythswood – was hosted by the beauty PR I’ve probably known longest, my friend Sarah who works for Sisley.

Sarah always comes with a few treats up her sleeves and this time she was introducing the beauty press to the botanical beauty company’s latest cellulite-fighting cream (Phyto Svelt Global Intensive Anti-Cellulite Contouring Body Care) as well as to its new mascara, Sisley Phyto Mascara Ultra Stretch (£27; www.sisley-cosmetics.co.uk) It will be some time before I can pronounce a verdict on the cellulite-fighting capabilities of the cream, but I can safely say that the mascara is a winner and looks set to join Dior Extase, Lancome Hypnose Precious Cells, Laura Mercier Full Blown Volume, Revlon Double Twist and Estee Lauder Sumptuous as my favourites. It curls and lengthens the lashes – and, crucially for someone who’s prone to panda eyes, it doesn’t smudge. What more could you want?

FRIDAY

I ended the week by working on a feature on lipsticks for the Daily Record. There are so many new ones launching this spring that it seemed that the time was right for a piece celebrating this queen of cosmetics.

Anyway, one piece of lipstick news that I’ve not already mentioned on this blog is the collaboration between Australian lipstick guru Poppy King and No7. I’ll be writing more about Poppy King’s mission to inspire women to discover – or rediscover lipstick and, in particular, colourful lipsticks – but wanted to let you know that they’re worth seeking out, as the seven shades of No7 and Poppy King Lipsticks are all extremely pretty and very wearable. Not to mention reasonably priced – at £12 each.

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