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Ladies Who Launch

The first beauty event in Glasgow in ages was  a stylish affair which took place in the elegant Hotel du Vin in the West End, and marked the launch of Lancome’s new fragrance, La Vie est Belle.

At a table decorated with beautiful white roses and over an afternoon tea too mouth-watering to resist (half-cupcakes kept landing on my plate as the journalists on either side of me couldn’t face the guilt involved in demolishing a whole one toute seule), Lancome’s chic new PR Holly introduced this grown-up gourmand fragrance to us.  When she mentioned the word “gourmand”, my heart sank as the term usually connotes sickly, heady fragrances of the Angel variety. La Vie est Belle, however, is more sophisticated, with the gourmand note – although much in evidence – tempered by fleshy iris, jasmine and orange blossom as well as sparkling fruity top notes, and a patchouli heart.

Of course, the fact that it’s not a fragrance designed for first-timers is underlined by the choice of poster girls: the luminous Julia Roberts, a fortysomething mother-of-three.  At the launch we were given a preview of the advert which Roberts has filmed for La Vie est Belle – and it shows her as a self-assured, sexy woman completely at ease with herself and exuding a confidence which many of us find when we turn 40.

In the ad, her character – a picture of health and radiance with flowing locks, a sparkling, pale-coloured gown and no accessories – surveys the scene at a chic Parisian party. Miserable-looking women and men – all dressed in black – pout moodily and are bound by glistening, diamond chains. Roberts breaks free of the shimmering shackles and, beaming that famous toothpaste grin, heads for the freedom and fresh air. Actually, she climbs a little staircase towards the open window – and it did seem to me, for a split second as she smiled and looked back,  that she might jump…  But I think that was just my twisted mind. (I hope!)

Anyway, you can see this striking ad for yourself when it hits TV and YouTube screens on September 1 – it certainly made an impression on me. (Indeed, I’m describing all this from memory as I haven’t been able to re-view the advert.) As has the fragrance which I plan to give to an Angel-worshipping friend in need of reminding that life is, indeed, full of beauty and hope.

* La Vie est Belle (£56 for the 50ml eau de parfum) is currently available in Frasers, Glasgow and nationwide from September 1.

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My Fortnight in Beauty

I was all set to start writing my beauty diary last Monday when I received news of the death of a friend from the jazz world. I couldn’t resume writing about beauty products; it didn’t feel right – and I wasn’t in the mood anyway. But, that said, frivolous though cosmetics can be – and though writing about them is hardly as important a job as news reporting – they do play an important function in many people’s lives. Looking your best boosts the confidence – and the spirits. Just ask the ladies who’ve benefitted from the Look Good, Feel Better organisation’s work for women who are battling or recovering from cancer… And often faking confidence can lead to genuine confidence.

As countless makeover shows have proved over the years, a change of image – even a slight tweak – can work wonders, not just on your confidence but on how others see you.  And that bounces back at you, and inspires self-confidence. I was reminded of the power of the makeover during a recent trip to the cinema to see the classic noir melodrama Gilda, which is currently touring cinemas.

Its star, Rita Hayworth – above (on set) and left (at the start of her career) –  wasn’t a chameleon on the scale of Joan Crawford, but she did undergo a couple of simple yet radical transformations during her career.

Her first occurred when she had the brainwave of having painful and intensive electrolysis to move her hairline back: before the treatments, her hairline was very low and unflattering. Post-electrolysis, her beautiful face was shown to best advantage – and a star was born.

During the 1940s as her studio experimented occasionally with Technicolor, Rita went red – it’s still the hair colour with which this beauty is most associated – but for the stylish film noir The Lady From Shanghai, made in 1946 by her then-husband Orson Welles, she not only had her hair cropped but hit the bottle and went platinum blonde (see right) for the first and only time. And that looked fab too!

Mind you, I don’t think Rita was too taken with it: she was never seen with short, uber-blonde hair again…

Of the new products I’ve experimented with over the last couple of weeks, No7 Lash Adapt Mascara (£12; www.boots.com) seems to me to be an essential for achieving movie star looks. The USP of this mascara is that you can add up to six layers without it clumping … though I found that my lashes did start getting lumpy before I got to layer five. Where this mascara really triumphed was in its ability to curl the lashes: after just a couple of coats, mine had been teased into a beautiful curve, with minimum effort.  And, as we all know, every femme worth her fatale tag has to have battable lashes. Lash Adapt looks terrific teamed with the beautiful eye shadow quartet from Lancome’s autumn collection: Lancome Les Oeillades in Blondette Fatale (£33; www.lancome.co.uk)

Skincare-wise, these last few weeks have been dedicated to trying out latest wonder serum. Lancome Visionnaire (£57) – yup, the one that the Middleton sisters were rumoured to be using – has certainly got some impressive claims to live up to. In independent tests, more than 50% of women tempted to undergo a dermatological procedure decided to postpone it in favour of continuing to use this skin-correcting serum. And 88% of women considering fillers, lasers or peels said that they noticed a visible improvement in their skin after using Visionnaire.

Actually, I can see where they’re coming from. I’ve noticed that the redness on my cheeks has calmed down considerably, that the lines on my forehead may be a little less pronounced, and that the texture of my skin is markedly improved.

Hair-wise, I had a brief dalliance with Aveda but found that the dry, split ends which often occur at this stage in the cycle of highlights only responded to help from Ojon, and, in particular the Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment (£32.60; www.johnlewis.com) and Damage Reverse Restorative Smoothing Glaze ( £29).

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I knew I could feel a femme fatale moment coming on …. Only a fortnight ago I was admiring Kim Basinger’s peek-a-boo, Veronica Lake-inspired, hair-do in LA Confidential; then on Monday, I was given a preview of the new make-up collection from Lancome. It’s entitled 29, Saint Honore (www.lancome.co.uk; available from September 1), but it was inspired by the femme fatale look of the 1940s (Lancome’s Global Make-up Director Aaron de Mey is clearly a fellow film noir fan!). With their slicked-back hair, models Elettra and Daria could equally be the stars of a remake of the Robert Palmer Addicted to Love video ..

I’ll be writing more about the individual items in the collection anon, but just wanted to give everyone a heads-up: start practising with the liquid eyeliners, and get ready for red lips and nails. Always a favourite for the winter, they are going to be massive this year …

Oh, and one other snippet of Lancome news: their exciting new serum, Lancome Visionnaire (£57) is going to be previewed at Frasers in Glasgow from August 24 – ahead of its nationwide launch on September 1.

TUESDAY

I don’t go for ringing the eyes with heavy kohl, a la Kate Middleton, but I am addicted to eyeliner – and on Tuesday I tried Clarins Instant Liner (£19.50; www.clarins.co.uk), which looks identical to the new Estee Lauder Pure Color Liquid Eyeliner that I wrote about recently, but isn’t sticky. Liquid eyeliner has been my bag since I was a student – not just because I love the retro looks you can create with them but also because, generally, they don’t smudge as much on me.

I am terribly prone to panda eyes and recently resolved to only wear a new eyeliner or mascara out of the house if I’ve road-tested it indoors for a couple of days first. (Lancome’s new Hypnose Doll Eyes Mascara started out so promisingly…)

The Clarins one was fine – until I had a fit of the giggles at a Fringe show and my eyes started watering. So, perfect for femme fatales who seldom crack a smile.

WEDNESDAY

I spent much of Wednesday getting ready for my trip down to London, where I was going to spend a night with my friend before heading to Mayfair to take part in a press trip – to be written up for a newspaper.

I always find the water in London plays havoc with my hair – it’s not as soft as our Scottish water – so I was very pleased to have travel sizes of some of my favourite haircare products in the Ojon Damage Reverse 4 Piece Starter Kit (£34.50; www.johnlewis.com), notably the Ojon Restorative Hair Treatment.

THURSDAY

Getting ready for an evening out with my London-based pal, Siobhan, I finally got round to experimenting with some new eyeshadow palettes which launched earlier in the summer.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Five Color Eyeshadow Palettes (£35; http://www.esteelauder.co.uk) come in eight colourways – shown here are Velvet Orchids, Film Noir (are we sensing a theme yet?!) and Enchanted Berries.

I love the purples and taupes of the Velvet Orchid one for evening wear, and the Island Sands palette – beautiful peaches and browns – is a lovely one for everyday use.

FRIDAY

Well, Friday was beauty a go-go in London.. After dumping my bags at my Mayfair hotel – the elegant Flemings on the whimsically named Half Moon Street – I checked into the Elemis Day Spa, a haven of calm and relaxation which I had not visited in almost a decade.

From there, with skin glowing thanks to the Visible Brilliance facial, I popped into the Chanel press office for a sneak preview of their Christmas make-up collection which had just arrived that morning…

I’m not at liberty to reveal much about it, except that it’s gorgeous (natch) and that you can expect to be co-ordinating your party outfits with red and gold make-up …

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I never used to care much for Kate Winslet’s looks, but since she became one of the faces of Lancome, she has really blossomed. Her latest ads are for the new Lancome L’Absolu Nu (£19.50; www.lancome.co.uk) range of lipsticks – and boy, what terrific lipsticks these are. They’re extremely moist, glossy and they miraculously make your pout look fuller.

At first I thought I was imagining that last quality but then I read the press release and it explains how Lancome harnessed the latest advances in optical science to intensify the radiance of the lips and make them really eye-catching, even in the most natural shades. It sounds like hooey but it works…

There are 12 shades of this gorgeous new lipstick – and I want them all! Especially since they are extremely comfortable to wear – even for the driest of lips.

TUESDAY

New eyeshadows have been rather thin on the ground recently – it’s all been about the lips, dahling! – so I was desperate to get my hands on the new Estee Lauder DoubleWear Stay in Place Shadow Cremes (£15.50; www.esteelauder.co.uk) – although, as someone whose oily eyelids usually don’t hold creme colour for more than five minutes, I didn’t have any great expectations…

However, these are fab: they really do stay in place. My favourite combination is the new limited edition shade of Buttercream (worn all over the eye area), with Smoky Plum to shade in a slightly smoky eye – a lovely day look which I’ve been teaming with the Lancome L’Absolu Nu No.103, a violety-pink shade. Creme eyeshadow? I’m a convert!

WEDNESDAY

I ran out of my favourite toner, Lancome Tonique Douceur, last week and was very wary of experimenting with any new ones as my skin can be on the sensitive side. However, after using the newly re-formulated  Dr Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Soothing Treatment Lotion (£23; www.origins.co.uk), I found that my skin felt lovely – and no sign of redness.

THURSDAY

The jazz side of my journalistic career doesn’t usually overlap much with the beauty side but my jazz pals and I all had the chance to get glammed up for the swishest event in the jazz calendar (indeed, the swishest jazz event I’ve ever been to!) on Thursday night: a formal fundraiser for the Glasgow Jazz Festival, for which I’ve programmed some movies this year.

It was the exactly the right occasion for me to give the autumn-winter colours from Chanel a first outing – although they don’t go on sale until August 19. The new Chanel Illusions d’Ombre eyeshadows, which shimmer and glisten, and the most bling of the new trio of nail varnishes, Chanel Le Vernis in Peridot, simply scream out to be worn to a fancy do, and since I was wearing a simple long black dress with minimal jewellery, I decided to go for the most dazzling of the Illusions d’Ombres, the gorgeous Epatant shade – a greeny, sea blue which, like the Lauder cremes mentioned earlier, lasts brilliantly. It was so dazzling, in fact, that I felt it distracted from my eyes so I toned it down a little – with some of the coppery eyeshadow from the Dior 5 Golds palette I’m still loving from last year.

FRIDAY

And speaking of Dior … it’s launching an exquisite-looking leopard print compact of eyeshadows, the Mitzah Palette, as a limited edition for Selfridges from June 1. Inspired by Christian Dior’s muse, Mitzah Bricard, it has camel, deep brown and nude shades and looks very sophisticated. Sadly, there were no samples for the press … but a bottle of the complementary new limited edition nail colour – Dior Vernis in Camel (£17.50; available exclusively from Selfridges from June 1) did fall into my hot little (hungover) hands on Friday.

It’s a matte shade which is a lovely alternative to the lighter nude shades of earlier in the year. Dior are definitely gaining ground in the nail colour department this summer … this one is tres, tres chic!

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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

We’ve been having a bit of a Star Wars moment in my house recently – thanks to my twin boys’ ever-increasing obsession with the original trio of movies. I hadn’t seen them for years and was struck by how very now Princess Leia’s hair styles are – all those pleats! Sometimes they’re piled high in a bun, sometimes she wears long loose pleats and other times – as in this picture – she loops the loop with them (and snares the gorgeous Han Solo in the process!). It’s just too bad she (and Carrie Fisher, the talented actress/writer who played her) is best remembered for her two-bun look…

The ongoing Stars Wars fixation was the perfect backdrop, on Monday, for the arrival of a parcel containing two perfumes which both looked as if they had been designed by a sci-fi fan.

I’m not drawn to extra-terrestrial style fragrance bottles myself, but the latest addition to Thierry Mugler’s Alien family of fragrances  - Alien Sunessence Amber Gold Edition (£40; out now), a fresh floral amber eau de toilette variation on the original Alien perfume – is bound to appeal to younger fragrance fans and devotees of the Alien range.

The other new perfume on the inter-galactic block is Aura by Swarovski (from £44), the first eau de parfum from the celebrated crystal company.

Like Alien Sunessence, it’s a fruity floral which comes in a strikingly futuristic bottle – with a crystal-topped lid, of course..

TUESDAY

Every so often media coverage of a nail varnish makes my pals sit up and take notice – and I’ve had a few requests for any spare bottles of this season’s must-have Chanel polish, the Black Pearl shade of Chanel Le Vernis (£17; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). If you can’t get your hands on a bottle – or a beauty writer pal can’t help you out – then here’s an alternative which is virtually identical: Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Perfect Storm (£14; www.esteelauder.co.uk). But it is limited edition – so hurry!

It may have been a bit too sober a shade to wear to Tuesday’s press night of Mamma Mia, the Abba show which came back to the Clyde Auditorium last weekend, but it certainly looks very chic and very now.

If I’d really wanted to get into the spirit of the show,
however, I could have chosen any number of the beautiful, vibrant colours in the range, which has been designed by Tom Pecheux. I particularly like Wicked Green and Wild Blue, which are also limited edition shades.

WEDNESDAY

Flicking through the copy of the InStyle’s authoritative Best Beauty Buys 2011 on Wednesday, I found myself nodding in agreement at more of the inclusions than usual.

I’ve recently become a fan of the lovely basic skincare items in Lancome’s comprehensive range, so was delighted to see that two of my new favourites were included in the best cleansers and toners category. Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur Express Cleansing Water (£20; http://www.lancome.co.uk) and Lancome Tonique Douceur Softening Hydrating Toner (£20) are a delight to use. The cleansing water is a lovely, refreshing way to remove make-up and cleanse the skin, while the toner – which smells gorgeous – is extremely comfortable and leaves skin looking healthy.

In fact, Lancome really cleaned up in that category, as their cult eye make-up remover Lancome Bi-Facil Non Oily Instant Cleanser (£19.50) was the third of the five products in that section….

THURSDAY

The lovely Ally and Sheena from the Clinique and Aramis & Designer Fragrances PR teams were in Glasgow on Thursday to brief us beauty writers on their next batch of new launches.

And there’s lots happening. Fragrance-wise, there are two new limited edition additions to the DKNY Be Delicious family – DKNY Be Delicious Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette) which is a fresh, fruity concoction, and DKNY Fresh Blossom Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette), a light fruity-floral scent. Both are availalable now from Debenhams, and from Boots from April 5 onwards.

Personally, I’m not a great fan of fruity fragrances so I was most excited by my introduction to the gorgeous colours in the new range of Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip Colour Balms (£13.50; www.clinique.co.uk). These chunky lip balm pencils are highly moisturising and super-comfy to wear – and I was immediately hooked on the bright pinky-red shade, Chunky Cherry.

FRIDAY

Friday was the launch date for the new Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipsticks (£22.50; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). And, as you may have read here a couple of weeks ago, they were being launched here in Glasgow with a photo opportunity for customers at Frasers: you could come along and have a mini-makeover using one of the 18 shades of Rouge Coco Shine, a moisturising sheer lipstick created by Chanel’s make-up maestro Peter Philips, then have your picture taken in a special Chanel photo booth..

I was invited along to be a guinea pig, and was delighted with the results. I’d already tried out one or two of the lipsticks at home and love the texture (ideal for a dry-lipped lipstick lover like myself), but I hadn’t tried the colours that Lucinda, the flame-haired make-up artist selected for me.  At home, my favourite of the four shades I was sent was the reddy-pink Monte Carlo. But on Friday, for the camera, the bright, orangey-red Rebelle proved a winner – and a great match for the coral necklace I had thrown on at the last minute as I left the house.  Check out the results below – I’m on the right, and that’s Lucinda, sporting the Romance shade … and if you fancy trying out a Rouge Coco Shine for the cameras, then read on for a list of stores that will be running the same event .. (Thanks to Boothnation for emailing me my photos and saving me from having to scan them in!)* Debenhams Oxford Street, London on March 19

* House of Fraser, Westfield on March 19

* Debenhams Liverpool on March 25

* Selfridges Birmingham on April 1 & 2

* Fenwicks Newcastle on April 2

* Selfridges at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on April 9

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

They may – as Woody Allen said in Annie Hall – have come by way of the Panama Canal, but when the items in Lancome’s Christmas range finally turned up on Monday, they proved to be well worth the wait.

Designed by hot American fashion designer L’Wren Scott, this compact collection includes a lovely eye palette based around her signature favourite shade of grey.  However, my favourite items are the beautiful nail colours – Lancome Le Vernis in Le Gris L’Wren and Le Rouge L’Wren (£12; www.lancome.co.uk), which can be worn by anyone – and therefore make great presents. The grey is a chic gunmetal shade, while the red is a dark garnet not too far removed from the Black Cherry shade of the autumn collection. Last minute stocking-fillers, anyone?

TUESDAY

Tuesday was the press night for Aladdin, the fantastic new pantomime at the Clyde Auditorium in Glasgow. Not only does this spectacular show star the gorgeous John Barrowman, who gives a tour-de-force performance and seems to be having the time of his life, but it also boasts some priceless comedy from a double-act I remember fondly from my childhood, The Krankies.

And it was The Krankies who effectively tested the Dior Extase Mascara (£21.50) for me. Why? Because even though tears of laughter were streaming down my face – not least during Jeanette Krankie’s hilarious SuBo impersonation (and Barrowman’s reaction to it) – the mascara didn’t budge.

And that is always the final test for a mascara as far as I’m concerned. I was so pleased because I was already thrilled with the way it beefs up the lashes and creates the impression of volume..

WEDNESDAY

Hoorah! Just as I was despairing about how lank and lifeless my hair had become in the run-up to getting it cut and coloured, a bottle of my favourite styling product, Aveda Phomollient (£13.50; www.aveda.co.uk), turned up.

This liquid, which turns to foam once released, is a bit of a miracle worker for fine, floppy hair. It helps to create volume but doesn’t weigh the hair down with product.

THURSDAY

Ssssh, don’t tell my mother, but my visit to the Chanel counter was very productive, present-wise, as I picked up the latest incarnation of her favourite fragrance, Chanel No.5 Set of Three Perfumed Soaps (£34; 0207-493 3836) – though she’ll probably be reluctant to take them out of the box as they look so pretty.

Also very tempting at the counter – but just a bit out of my present price range – is Les Minis de Chanel ( £66.50), an elegant and dinky black pouch filled with mini make-up brushes. I can think of quite a few Chanel chicks who would be thrilled to find that Santa had left them one of these …

FRIDAY

I was sent Lancome’s spring colours on Friday – and thank goodness they didn’t come the scenic route, because among them is a lipstick that I’ve fallen for. Big time. Lancome French Touch lipstick (£23) is its name, and although it was launched in the autumn, it slipped through the net a bit – probably because the colour I was given then was way too dark for me to wear.

Anyway, had I tested it back then, I would have been wearing it continuously these last few months: this is the most beautiful lipstick I’ve tried in ages. The colour is intense and elegantly glossy and, what’s brilliant for someone like me who finds many supposedly hydrating lipsticks too dry is the fact that it is extremely comfortable and moisturising. Check out the existing shades on the Lancome website, and watch out for the new colours launching on January 9.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Having spent some of Saturday and Sunday nights getting reacquainted with The Fabulous Baker Boys (on DVD), I went on to have a bit of a Suzy Diamond-inspired week. In case you don’t know the film, Suzy Diamond was the singer who’s drafted in to give the eponymous sibling lounge pianists a touch of glamour in their rather dated act.

I may not have writhed around on top of a grand piano (hey, there’s still time – that scene takes place at New Year’s), but I’ve been listening to the soundtrack and, more importantly, was inspired by the Suzy Diamond look throughout the week. Cue lots of playing about with nude eye shades and red lipstick…

TUESDAY

Getting my hair sorted out on Tuesday at James Dun’s House salon in Glasgow was the second step in my Suzy Diamond homage. Michelle Pfeiffer, who played Suzy and immediately became one of my favourite actresses when I first saw this film in 1989, is a California blonde, but for this part, her hair – appropriately for the floosie- turned-chantoosie – is a dirtier blonde than in her earlier movies.

James Dun’s House (0141 248 5864) is an elegant and very contemporary salon which opened a couple of years ago in the same building which now houses Jamie’s Italian. Not only does this salon offer a full range of Aveda spa treatments but its hairdressing is all done with Aveda too.

I was very impressed with my very natural-looking (I hate stripy hair!), born-again blonde locks – achieved by Christine using Aveda highlights – and, especially, by the attention to detail that this salon offers. While you have your colour done, you can select a complimentary mini-treatment from a little menu – a neck and shoulders massage, a hand treatment, or a colour consultation for a new lipstick..

I’ve not yet been asked to add glamour to a piano double act,  but within a couple of days of getting my hair done, I’d notched up a respectable number of compliments on the shine and colour..

WEDNESDAY

You can’t experiment with red lipsticks – or any other strong shade – unless you have a good cleanser to remove all traces of each tester. Luckily, on Wednesday, I received a parcel from Lancome – just in time for my trawl through the red lipsticks of the season…

Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur (£20; www.lancome.co.uk) is a lovely cleansing water, and cleansing water is the quickest, most effective way to remove lipstick in a hurry. Apart from the texture and fragrance, this refreshing liquid is a hit because it has a pump so you don’t risk too much coming out by tipping it onto your cotton pad – as happens with normal bottles. Anyway, it’s now my default morning cleanser – for those days when washing the face is just too much effort.

THURSDAY

Over the last few years, the party season has started a little earlier than before for us Scottish beauty writers. Why? Because those lovely ladies at Clinique come up to Glasgow and treat us all to a fabulous festive dinner. This year’s dinner took place on Thursday and it seemed only good manners to wear as many of my favourite Clinique products as possible for the occasion.

The main one is my ever-reliable Clinique Perfectly Real Makeup (£20 ; www.clinique.co.uk), which – used over Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF15 (£ 14) – keeps my face more shine-free and even-toned than any other combo I’ve tried.

On the eyes, Clinique Brush-On Cream Liner in True Black (£13) and Clinique Colour Surge Eye Shadow in Double Date (£18.50), a neutral palette, helped me create a fairly natural look so that the emphasis could be on my Suzy Diamond-esque red lips. Which I achieved not with the best current red that I could find -

My quest for a Suzy Diamond-esque red lipstick led me to Dior Rouge Dior Haute Couleur Voluptuous Care in Zinnia Red (£22), a gorgeous blue-toned red from the beautiful new Dior lipstick collection that launched in September. However, for the Clinique night, I went into my own personal archive and exhumed the very same shade of red from my favourite lipstick range  - Clinique Colour Surge Butter Shine Lipstick (£14.50). These lipsticks are very shiny and highly moisturising – and the most comfortable I’ve come across. A couple of years ago they had a limited edition shade called Parisian Red. It came out for Christmas, I fell in love with it and then they stopped making it. I must confess I felt like a naughty schoolgirl sneaking it into the proceedings on Thursday…

FRIDAY

Too late for my night-out, I was seduced by the newest acquisition in my mascara collection – Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Excess Mascara (£23). The name may sound more like the sort of product that Michelle Pfeiffer might have worn in Married to the Mob, but it provided dramatic lashes that were certainly worthy of Suzy Diamond.

Not only does this fat wanded mascara curl and lengthen the lashes, it makes them look as if they’ve multiplied. On the smudge-test results, the jury’s still out – I’ve had mixed results so am hanging fire with my final verdict. But put it this way: I’m happy to keep giving it the benefit of the doubt as long as it keeps giving me movie star lashes.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A trip to Paris has eluded me so far this year – much to my chagrin (I lived there for a year as a student). My withdrawal symptoms are even worse now, thanks to the utterly exquisite new eyeshadow compact which I was sent recently, and started using on Monday. Why the increased withdrawal symptoms for Paris, you may ask?  Well, because the eyeshadow comes from Guerlain’s autumn collection, entitled 68 Champs-Elysees – the address of the flagship Guerlain boutique in the French capital.

Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs (£51) is almost too pretty to use. The silvery, solid-feeling, compact was designed by India Mahdavi with an exotic, eastern design carved into the lid. Inside, there’s a mirror which opens out to the side and snaps back into place. Oh, and there are also some gorgeous eyeshadow colours – all of which have moonstone as a common ingredient.

There are five colourways to choose from, and each is named after the Parisian address of a Guerlain boutique. For a lovely, neutral, easy-to-wear palette go for 93 rue de Passy and for a bolder colour scheme which can take you from day to daring,  it’s got to be 68 Champs-Elysees, with its central deep violet shade.

TUESDAY

My nostalgia for Paris continued on Tuesday as I washed my hair with Melvita Blonde Hair Shampoo (£9; www.melvita.co.uk). As soon as I started lathering my locks, I was back in France in 1992 when I swore by a strikingly similar shampoo which counted lemon and vinegar among its ingredients. Lemon, of course, is reputed to be able to lighten blonde hair (in our teens, a schoolfriend and I compiled a beauty manual which was full of recipes for homemade products, and lemon always loomed large in my experiments).  After a few days of using this new shampoo I noticed that the light-coloured ends of my hair looked much more blonde; unfortunately, this emphasised the fact that the roots are in dire need of coverage.. So if I use this shampoo again, it will be nearer the start of a colour cycle!

I don’t think, however, that I’ll be rushing back to use the conditioner which I was sent at the same time.  After using the shampoo, my hair felt very tuggy and even a generous dollop of Melvita Tired Hair Conditioner (£9) failed to detangle it. It’s a shame because I loved the smell: geranium is one of my favourite scents.

I won’t let it put me off trying some of the other products in the vast Melvita range. This is an organic range which, in France, is sold in pharmacies  and over here, is available in John Lewis and online. But watch out for a dedicated store opening in Covent Garden in November.

WEDNESDAY

I seem to be having a bit of a Hitchcock Blonde obsession at the moment… and I’m not just talking about Grace Kelly. While I’m not bowled over by any of the individual outfits that Kim Novak (left) wears in Hitch’s 1958 classic Vertigo, I love the line of her clothes and the way she marries ladylike with sexy.

On Wednesday, I tried on a 1950s-style wide-collared, knee-length, bracelet- sleeved, leopard print coat in Topshop (having just posted a celebration of leopard print on this blog, I thought I’d better check out what was available), and I fell in love. What swung it wasn’t the cosiness of the fake fur, the gorgeous print, or anything remotely practical about the coat; it was the fact that when I tried it on, with my hair pinned back with a bit of a quiff on top, the look was pure Vertigo-era Novak.

Now, you can’t do the Novak look without an impressive pair of eyebrows, so the recent arrival of not one but two eyebrow pencils was very timely. Both the brand-new Lancome Le Crayon Sourcils Pro (£14.50) and Sisley Phyto-Sourcils Perfect (£29) are great for grooming brows – thanks to the little brush they have at one end – and both come in an ideal shade for blondes (Hitchock or otherwise…).

THURSDAY

A night at the theatre with my fiercest beauty critic – AKA Mum – was the occasion for the first public outing of my new Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color in Pink Dusk (£35), which is apparently the most popular shade in the collection of luxury lipsticks.

Being a Monday’s child (“fair of face”), I have always tended to go for brightish reddy-pinks but since a beauty epiphany at Space NK a couple of years ago, I’ve always had a flesh-toned, paler pink in my collection – for use with a strong, smoky purple eye and a 1960s look.

This Pink Dusk shade is perfect for that, and, on Thursday, worked beautifully with a smoky eye made up with a couple of the light shades from the Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs in rue de Passy, plus the eyeshadow that has become an essential in recent months – Estee Lauder Pure Color Eyeshadow in Tempting Mocha (£15; www.esteelauder.co.uk). Put it this way, not once on Thursday evening did Mum ask if I was feeling alright – the usual question I’m asked by family members who are tricked into thinking I look pale if they see me without a bright lipstick.

FRIDAY

I’m thrilled that there are so many purple options out there again for autumn and winter 2010, and I’m certainly going to be making full use of them.

I was sorting through all the purple possibilities on Friday and came to the conclusion that my two favourite nail varnishes of the moment are Chanel Le Vernis in Paradoxal (£16.50), a pewtery shade of purple, perfect for evening wear, and Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Surreal Violet (£12; www.esteelauder.co.uk) which has turned out to be the polish that I’ve worn most over the last couple of months. I particularly like the fact that it dries fast, lasts well and – as a near-neutral – goes with just about everything.

Of the purple make-up for the face, I love the new shades of lipstick from Dior (the Serum de Rouge  in Smoky Pink Serum would be lovely on a sallow skin) – though purplish lipsticks don’t work on me – and the two Dior 5 Couleurs compacts (£39), Pink Design and Misty Mauve. Mum had her own beauty epiphany recently, and it also revolved around the colour purple. She is now a convert to purple eye makeup, and I sent her off on her trip to Paris on Friday with two treats: Clinique Color Surge Eye Shadow Duo in Blackberry Frost (£18.50; www.clinique.co.uk) and the gorgeous new Sisley Phyto Khol Star in Dark Amethyst (£29), which has a subtle sparkle.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Aaahh!!! Monday was what the French call La Rentree – back to school day – so I was up with the larks, or at least with two very excitable six-year-olds, despite having gone to bed at my usual ridiculously late hour.

So, how to deal with the resulting tired eyes? Well, luckily, I had just started using the new Jurlique Herbal Recovery Eye Cream (£33; www.jurlique.co.uk), a gorgeous botanical cream which is soothing and refreshing – and helps to counter those dark circles and morning puffiness..

TUESDAY

Tuesday morning was a struggle – thanks to a late-night viewing of the glorious Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall, which I hadn’t watched in ages. While  Annie (Diane Keaton in her most stylish role) favours black soap for her complexion (“Say, are you joining a minstrel show?” asks a bewildered Alvy), I have found that both complexion-wise and wake-up-call-wise, the best face wash on the block just now is Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser (£15; www.origins.co.uk). Thanks to the saw palmetto extracts and mint which are key ingredients, it is incredibly thorough and gives the skin a tingling, awakened feeling ..

WEDNESDAY

The combination of this strange, changeable weather and the arrival of autumn/winter clothes in the shops made my Wednesday play date with the new season’s cosmetics very timely.  There are some stunningly beautiful new products being launched but few as exquisite as Lancome’s La Rose Deco compact (£32; from Harvey Nichols stores now, and other Lancome counters from September 1), which is one of the stars of the lovely French Coquettes collection. In fact, it’s so exquisite that I can’t actually bear to use it and spoil the pretty picture…  I’ll be writing more about the French Coquettes collection – it’s very inspiring, and was itself inspired by three icons of Parisian life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Wharton and Kiki de Montparnasse. Chapeaux off to Aaron De Mey for his most covetable collection to date.

THURSDAY

After the success of its initial, core, range of make-up, Topshop is launching a seasonal collection named Heavy Duty in late September. Inspired by the grunge aesthetic of such LA “boho” girls as the Olsen twins, it features inky, murky shades on the eyes, crumbly black kohl eyeliner, and a “bitten lip”. One essential component, to which I’m already devoted, is the thick black mascara, Topshop Mascara in Carbon (price TBC but under a tenner; www.topshop.com, from late September) which does a brilliant job of creating that dramatic, heavy lash look that sixties beauties like Brigitte Bardot (right) perfected when they combined it with layers of kohl eyeliner. Watch out for it going on sale and buy yours while you can as this limited edition mascara is going to fly off the shelves.

FRIDAY

When the latest foundation from Laura Mercier – Creme Smooth Foundation (£40; from September) arrived in the post, I dismissed it. It looked too old-fashioned, too heavy and, even in the Warm Ivory shade (one of 12), too dark. How wrong I was! When I gave it its first proper outing on Friday, I found that appearances can be deceptive. This is actually an incredibly light-feeling foundation which glides on to the skin (as opposed to having to be dragged across it – which is what I was expecting) and provides good coverage. It leaves the complexion looking naturally radiant, and much fresher than most medium coverage foundations, and its optical diffusers help to reduce the obviousness of fine lines and wrinkles.


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