Monthly Archives: July 2010

My Week in Beauty


Dear beauty diary, I’ve been on holiday so apologies for the lack of entries. However, I must tell you about my holiday beauty crisis – or near-crisis. Thankfully, I had just the right products with me to avert a disaster.

We were in St Andrews, the picturesque Scottish seaside town and we enjoyed a typical Scottish seaside holiday – with weather a mixture of gorgeous sunshine, drizzle, torrential rain and wind. Even on the warm days, the wind was a nuisance, not least to my hair and skin. Using not one but two Ojon conditioners (a rinse-off and a stay-in) sorted out the drying effects of the wind on my hair (which I took to tying up as the windswept look just doesn’t do it for long, fine, poker-straight hair),  and the new Chanel Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask (£34; from August 13) successfully tackled my weather-beaten face, but it wasn’t till I remembered to start using my Clinique Deep Comfort Hand and Cuticle Cream (£14.50; that my hands began to feel more like themselves.  This is a rich but easily absorbed cream which sorts out dry skin quickly. I’ve yet to find a lotion that cut the mustard in this department.


The night before our trip, I should probably have been packing but instead I was at a dinner hosted by the glamorous Estee Lauder PR girls who were in Glasgow to show off the first colour collection by Tom Pecheux.  Forgetting to pack my favourite jeans was a small price to pay for the  sneak peak at the Pecheux goodies …

To be honest, I was sold on Pecheux’s collection before I’d even seen it – thanks to its exotic name, Blue Dahlia – the title of a film noir starring one of my favourite 1940s actresses, Veronica Lake.  I took the gorgeous Pure Color Five Color Eyeshadow Palette in Blue Dahlia (£34;; in Selfridges and Brown Thomas now and the rest of the country in August) with me to St Andrews and experimented with the more subtle possibilities it offers.  There’s a lovely dove-grey shade which looks fab with a wash of one of the three deep blue tones – particularly the teal one. I’ll report back anon on my attempts at the full, Blue Dahlia, monty – as seen on the model pictured above.


I know that as a beauty writer, it’s time to get excited about the autumn collections but I’m still finding gems in the summer ones… Having been hooked on Dior Addict Lipcolors (£21.50)  in Coral Craze and  for much of the summer, I just stumbled across Pop Red on Wednesday and am completely smitten. It’s a perfect pinky, cherry red – and since it’s glossy and extremely moist, it doesn’t have the harshness of many other reds out there. Which means it’s perfect for red wimps; those of us who are too fair or too afraid to go for full-blown red…. Okay, it’s red- lite but who cares if it makes you feel like Veronica Lake? And, yes, it goes a treat with a subtle wash of Blue Dahlia on the eyes.


On Thursday I finally got round to experimenting with a new-fangled hair accessory that I was sent. Goody’s Modern Updo Pin (£4.99; available from Asda from August 18) looks like a giant, malformed kirby grip and like the kirby, it can do wonders for the hair. Once you’ve mastered it, there’s no need for any hair pins or other tricks of the pinning-up trade. It is ideal for creating chignon styles, whether tidy, formal affairs, or loose, relaxed ones, and keeps its hold even on the finest, most unco-operative hair. Mine would have been with me on holiday – but was another casualty of the champagne-quaffing the night before the trip …


I don’t normally get excited about toner but I’ve just about finished my bottle of Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner (£15; and I feel quite sad at the prospect of being without it.. Tragic eh? But this is a really great toner which refreshes the skin while removing any last vestiges of make-up or dirt. It really makes your skin feel like it’s sparkling – and a bonus, in St Andrews, was its ability to sniff out tiny traces of sand which my cleanser had missed …

It has quite a strong fragrance, which did send off alarm bells for me initially as I have a very sensitive skin, but I would happily use it again – in fact, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get to!

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French Beauty Ideals

I’m in a French frame of mind today – what with it being Bastille Day. So I thought I’d share some of the words of beauty wisdom that I’ve received from two leading French make-up gurus whom I’ve interviewed in the last couple of years.

Both Laura Mercier and Terry de Gunzburg are charming, vivacious and sexy older women who graduated from the legendary Carita beauty school, and made their names as top make-up artists in the 1980s before launching their own lines of cosmetics. (Of course, for de Gunzburg, there was also the small matter of her creation of a “magic wand” called Touche Eclat at YSL ..)

It’s perhaps unsurprising then to discover that they share a similar beauty aesthetic – one which really highlights the difference between how French women and their British and/or American cousins view themselves, their looks and their sex appeal, as they go through life.

Asked to name the movie actresses whose looks she most admired, Laura Mercier said:  “I’ve always had a fascination for people who are not obviously beautiful … Obviously beautiful women like Catherine Deneuve absolutely don’t move me. Yes, she’s gorgeous in Belle de Jour but she has never moved me. However,  I am completely fascinated by the Italian actress Anna Magnani (right; 1908-1973) who can be gorgeous. Sometimes she can be not so beautiful but she’s always so intense. The personality is to die for – I mean, big dark circles, the nose and the teeth. I’m fascinated by that, by all faces. Everybody has the potential to be beautiful.”

Another of Mercier’s beauty heroines is the stylish, but not conventionally beautiful, octogenarian interior designer Andree Putman.  “She looks odd – she has adopted, completely adopted, a make-up and a hairstyle that’s always asymmetrical. I mean, she really goes for it. She imposes a personality. It’s not just about being perfect and symmetrical – it’s also her talent and her personality. Thank God! Beauty’s not like that. Paloma Picasso (below)  is another example. Even if you take Jackie Kennedy (left), yeah she was beautiful but she was not obviously beautiful. Her eyes were very far apart. If you look into the details, you see that they’re not perfect but that’s what makes us all unique. The defect can often become an asset.”

Terry de Gunzburg agrees. “I’ve always said: ‘ J’aime les defaults dans les grands oeuvres. ‘ [I like the flaws in the masterpieces.] I think that some wrinkles and fine lines can give you an internal beauty.”  She named as one of her favourite beauty heroines, whose face she had made-up while she was at Carita, the grande dame of American cinema Lauren Bacall. “I prefer the face of the older Lauren Bacall to the face of the older Goldie Hawn,” she said, recalling Bacall’s own view that she had “earned every one of her wrinkles”.

Laura Mercier sums up by saying:  “No-one can say Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly are not beautiful but, to me, they’re slightly boring, they’re a little bland. I like a little more hot pepper..”

* Laura Mercier’s range is widely available. Visit to view her products. By Terry is available in Space NK stores in the UK. Visit

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