My Week in Beauty


There are glamorous weeks and then there was last week; a week which begin with a party hosted by movie director-turned-food critic Michael Winner and attended by the likes of Sir Michael Caine, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber – oh, and me.

The party was to launch Michael Winner’s new book, Unbelievable! (JR Books), which is a collection of stories about memorable meals he’s enjoyed with his famous chums over the years. One famous chum who doesn’t figure in the book but whose presence upped the glam factor at Monday’s party was the ever-bubbly Barbara Windsor.

She may be in her seventies, but Barbara looked much, much younger – and not only that, but she was wearing a very sexy fragrance which turned out to be the classic oriental, Guerlain Shalimar (from £32.50 for the eau de toilette). “I’ve worn it for years,” she told me, adding that after wearing it at an event once, she was thrilled to receive a jumbo-sized bottle from the one-time Guerlain ambassador, perfume expert Roja Dove. Perhaps it was this gorgeous ad for Shalimar from the 1960s that also inspired Barbara’s beehive-like hair style..


Barbara Windsor didn’t enquire as to my preferred perfume – mind you, given that it had been applied at 7am, it was probably barely noticeable 12 hours later! My favourite for the last couple of years, since it came out in fact, is Chanel 31 rue Cambon (£160), from the Exclusifs collection created by Jacques Polge.

I’m mad about this elegant yet sensual chypre which comes in a magnificent 200ml bottle (and – unfortunately for me, has a magnificent price tag to match!). Due to the size of the bottle, I couldn’t bring it with me to London but I’m thrilled to learn that a small bottle is in the offing, hopefully for next year.

In the meantime, anyone who fancies trying out one of these less commonly worn Chanel fragrances (there are five other perfumes in Les Exclusifs collection) will find them at a handful of department stores (including Frasers in Glasgow) – previously they were only available in Chanel boutiques. Call 020-7493 3836 for stockist info.


On Wednesday, back in real life after my star-studded soiree in London, I decided to nail down my verdict on the latest mascara – Revlon Grow Luscious Mascara (£8.99). Like my favourite mascara of the year so far, Lancome Hypnose Precious Cells, it conditions and strengthens the lashes while making them look longer and fuller.

I loved the thick wand which was very easy to use. And my lashes did indeed look about significantly more luscious than they would without cosmetic help, but I’m afraid I won’t be keeping this mascara. Why? Because I ended up with my old affliction – panda eyes…

For some reason, some mascaras just don’t stay on my lashes.  It doesn’t happen with all mascaras so I only stick with ones that have passed the panda eyes test. This one didn’t – so it’s being lined up as a successor to Mum’s current fave, Topshop mascara …


Thursday was the annual Estee Lauder companies’ Christmas press day in Scotland. Which means that all the Lauder-owned beauty brands set up stalls in a trendy media watering-hole, and we journalists get briefed on all the goodies that are coming out for Christmas.

I always think that Clinique does Christmas with THE most style – and at great prices. It’s a bit early to post pix of Christmas gift sets, I think, but it’s never a bad time to write about beauty treats for oneself.. and Clinique Limited Edition Strawberry Fudge Colour Collection (available from November 12; is likely to be just the job for brightening up dull November days.

Not only is this mini-collection very pretty, it’s also very easy to wear – rosy cheeks, toffee pink
lips and lashings of black mascara. The star product is the Clinique Limited Edition Strawberry Fudge Holiday Compact (£25), a lovely silver compact containing three eye shades and a blusher. All very wearable – and the perfect present.


On Friday, my friend Kim – whom I met when we covered the beauty beat for sister newspapers back in the mid-1990s – hosted a soiree at which I sold off some of my unwanted beauty products, in aid of charity.

The night was a huge success. In fact, it was nearly over in five minutes as that’s the length of time it took for every last lip gloss to disappear. Judging by what I brought home with me (not much), everyone is on the look-out for a beauty bargain but nobody is prepared to compromise on their looks. Which makes the job of beauty writers like myself all the more, er, important as we really don’t want readers wasting their money on products which don’t deliver.

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