Monthly Archives: April 2011

My Week in Beauty


Oh dear, I rather overdid it on Sunday night during a couple of back-to-back jazz gigs in Edinburgh – and felt somewhat the worse for wear on Monday. Unfortunately, unlike the uber-chic Myrna Loy in The Thin Man, I didn’t have the urbane William Powell on hand with a liquid hangover cure, but I did have Clarins Eye Contour Gel (£26.50; which refreshes the eye area, while toning and de-puffing it. It’s even better if it’s been in the fridge overnight. If William Powell was around today, you can bet it would be as essential to his hangover-chasing kit as Worcester sauce and raw egg..


I finished using Origins Plantscription after about six weeks and have to report that while using it, I found it had a slightly drying effect on my skin – so much so that I had start using a moisturising serum as well. I didn’t notice any improvement in the lines on my face – if anything, I became more aware of the lines on my forehead because I was studying them more closely than ever. After I finished Plantscription I switched to Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Serum (£245.50; and Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale Rich Night Cream (£255) for my evening skincare routine. I’d been using these two high-end products for about a week when – on Tuesday – I had an appointment at the Clarins Spa in Frasers, Glasgow,  for my monthly facial.  And the first thing that my facialist, the lovely Lindsay, said when she had finished working her magic was that my skin felt significantly firmer than before. Whether this is the result of the Plantscription, or my new Guerlain evening routine, I don’t yet know … but I’ll be continuing with my super-expensive skincare ritual and shall report back anon.


I went to see the French film Little White Lies – Ces Petits Mouchoirs – on Wednesday, with my French pal Sabine. Over our pre-movie coffee, Sabine – who had just returned from a holiday in France – was singing the praises of a face cream which her sister had advised her to track down while en vacances..

Its name (which evokes our last cinema trip – to see the superb psychological thriller Les Diaboliques)  is Diabolique Tomate by Garancia (around 33 Euros in French pharmacies), and it harnesses the goodness of tomatoes – in particular lypocene, which is a powerful antioxidant – to hydrate the skin and help with anti-ageing. So far, Sabine is very impressed – and her sister is a complete convert.


Our man from Dior, Jamie Coombes, was in Glasgow on Thursday to acquaint journalists with the latest additions to the company’s vast range of beauty products. Not only did I come away with fantastic, glossy, neon-pink painted nails – Dior Vernis in Paradise (£23, with top coat) – but also with a brilliant tip which I wish I’d known last time I ran out of nail varnish remover: if you paint a layer of nail varnish over the varnish you want to take off, then wipe it off while wet, it will take off both the fresh and the old coats. Jamie showed me – and it works! He also picked out a couple of colours from the new Dior Addict lipstick collection (£22 each) for me to try – the photo shows me (just hours before I finally got that hair colour sorted out!) having the New Look shade expertly applied.

* Jamie Coombes, international make-up artist for Dior, is available to book for a personal make-up lesson in Jenners, Edinburgh (0844 8003725) on Monday April 25 & Tuesday 26, and in Frasers, Glasgow (0141 221 3880) on Wednesday 27 & Thursday 28. 

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My Week in Beauty


By far the most intriguing and seductive-looking of the new batch of lipsticks is Guerlain Rouge Automatique (£24.50, available in Selfridges now, and nationwide from May 1). Guerlain certainly knows how to package its products: their Rouge G lipsticks, with their pop-out mirror and bullet-shaped tube, look like they should belong to a Bond girl, if not 007 himself. And the Rouge Automatique is just as impressive and gadget-like in its design; the difference being that it is a reproduction of the original, 1936, Rouge Automatique which was designed without a lid so that the woman applying it could do so with one hand.

Of course, there’s more to it than the flick-knife style tube. I became an instant fan of the Rouge Automatique when I tried a few on Monday – the texture is gorgeous: moisturising, comfortable and rich. And the 25 shades include some real beauties – especially in the corals and reds. I’m looking forward to posing with mine … After all, it’s far too elegant and sexy to be kept hidden in the make-up bag.


Over lunch with my beautician friend Margaret she gave me the low-down on the last new product I asked her to test – Clinique Moisture Surge Tinted Moisturizer SPF15  (£21; currently available exclusively at Selfridges, Brown Thomas and at just now, and nationwide from April 22). I hadn’t wanted to judge this one all by myself as I’m a bit of a tinted moisturiser virgin – I’ve tended to avoid them because there usually isn’t a shade pale enough for my fair complexion, and also because, having a less than perfect skin, I feel more confident with a full coverage foundation.

Anyway, Margaret was highly impressed. ” I’m really enjoying the Moisture Surge,” she said. “It has a lovely texture and great coverage, but best of all – it lasts! Most tinted moisturisers disappear pretty quickly – but not this  one. It will definitely be in my holiday make-up bag! I would buy this product again.” .


When you write about beauty, your local upmarket department stores becomes your second home – and I paid mine, the historic Glasgow store Frasers, a visit on Wednesday in order to meet with Dafna, the PR for Bobbi Brown. She was in town to brief journalists on the American make-up guru’s latest wonder concealer-corrector, Creamy Concealer Kit (£23.50;

Sure enough I was impressed with the results of my mini-makeover using the kit. It contains two products: the corrector which neutralises dark circles and lines, and the concealer which lightens the skin. It undoubtedly brightened the eye area and gave my complexion a much-needed lift. I’ll be interested to see how I get on with it when I try it at home.

In the meantime, I’m delighted with the new mascara that Dafna brought me: Bobbi Brown Lash Glamour Extreme Lengthening Mascara (£18). It certainly lives up to its name thanks to its unusual bristles, which interlock with the lashes like a zipper, coating each hair with colour from root to tip, and the  slightly curved shape of the brush which encourages lashes to stand to attention..


My deputy tester (and head of the anti-ageing cosmetics department) may not have been terribly taken with Clarins’ most recent addition to its Instant Smooth collection – the Instant Smooth Line Correcting Concentrate (£24;, a pen which is supposed to make wrinkles disappear in one stroke – but my experiments with their latest body lotion has been much more successful.

Clarins Extra-Firming Body Lotion (£39.50) is certainly pricey but I’ve enjoyed using it more than I have enjoyed using most products in this category for a long time. By Thursday, I had been using it (just once a day instead of the recommended twice – who has time in the morning?!) for a couple of weeks, and I became convinced that I was starting to notice a difference. It helps that it smells lovely… It contains lemon thyme extract, which encourages the production of a protein essential in maintaining the skin’s elasticity, and plant extracts which reactivate the production of type 1 collagen, thus improving skin density and firmness. Oh, and it feels gorgeous!

Clarins newsflash: the Clarins Spa at Frasers (0141 221 5760) in Glasgow is offering any 80 minute treatment (including the sublime TriActive facial) for the bargain price of £40, if booked before Thursday April 21.


Every time I use the Chanel Crayon Sourcils  Sculpting Eyebrow Pencil (£18.50; for stockists call 020-7493 3836),  which I opened on Friday, I can’t help but think of Bette Davis (left), who wouldn’t have pulled off quite as magnificent a performance as catty Margo Channing in the classic bitch-fest All About Eve had she not had a pair of well-defined eyebrows working in her favour. It’s a cliche but it’s true: eyebrows do frame the face. Their shape can drastically – and dramatically – transform your whole look. Could Bette have been quite as memorable as Margo without those thick, yet well-tamed, eyebrows, which balance out the cruel, full mouth?

The new Chanel pencil is – as most are today – a double-ended affair, with a brush at one end and the pencil at the other. It’s difficult to draw comparisons with other very similar pencils on the market, but what is particularly impressive about this one is the choice of colours available: there are four, including two shades for blondes. Fasten your seatbelts for some serious eyebrow-arching …

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Q&A With Poppy King

Australian make-up guru Poppy King has long been a champion of the lipstick – and in her mission to spread the word about just how fab this most classic of cosmetics is, she has just collaborated with No7 to produce a capsule collection of lipsticks.

In tribute to No7, the collection comprises seven lipsticks (£12) – and matching glosses (£11)  – each named after the reasons women wear lippie: Power, Seduction, Confidence, History, Glamour, Allure and Intrigue. Sounds like the cosmetic equivalent of the Seven Dwarfs from the Snow White fairy tale …  Here’s what happened when the Lipstick Queen granted Style Matters an audience on all things lipstick-related.

Style Matters: Is a girl’s best friend her lipstick – and, if so, why?

PK: I believe a girl’s best friend is her self esteem, and lipstick can help with that – so, indirectly, yes.

SM: Who is your favourite famous lipstick wearer?

PK: Of today? Chloe Sevigny. And of all time? Louise Brooks (pictured below).

SM: What advice would you give someone who is lipstick shy?

PK: To start sheer. These days there are a lot of options in sheer colour, so you can have almost a hybrid of lipstick and lip gloss until you get used to the idea of lipstick.

SM: What are your golden rules for applying lipstick?

PK: I always believe the best way is straight from the tube and then if you want, use some lip liner AFTER you have applied the lipstick where you see any gaps or where to define the line.

SM: Do you believe that lipstick should only be applied in private – or do you love the theatre of applying it in public?

PK: Whatever makes you more confident. I would rather see a woman applying her lipstick in public than being on her Blackberry constantly!

SM: Any tips on shopping for a lipstick?

PK: Don’t make snap judgements. Try something on and walk around in it. It takes a while to really know if something different feels right on you.

SM: Which is your personal favourite of the lipsticks in your new collection for No7?

PK: I adore each shade of course, but the colour that I am most myself in is History because I have worn red pretty much for 20 years in many different forms and textures.

SM: Bright lips are big news this spring/summer. Do you have any tips on how best to wear it?

PK: It’s not so much the application as it is minimal eye make-up. When you wear bright lips then you don’t want your eye make-up competing.

SM: What are your top tips for getting your lipstick to last?

PK: Blot with a tissue and start again; apply lipstick from the tube; choose less glossy lipsticks; use a lip liner over the entire lip first before applying the lipstick; after lunch, take the lipstick off and re-apply from the start and it should last right through the afternoon.

SM: And what about tips for finding the perfect shade for your colouring?

PK:  I have just one – the right lip shade(s) lights up your whole face!

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My Week in Beauty


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!


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; 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.


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; 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.


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; 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?


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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Coco Mademoiselle

The most stylish film you’re likely to see this month is just 30 seconds long and has no dialogue. It was shot in Paris by a BAFTA award-winning director and stars a Hollywood A-lister in a surprisingly action-packed role. Oh, and it’s a sequel. You’ll see it on TV any number of times  – and it might just inspire you to go on a shopping trip.

It’s the new advert for Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle fragrance – and it stars British actress Keira Knightley, who has been the face of the perfume for the last three years. For 25-year-old Keira, reprising the role of the elegant starlet leading a glamorous Parisian life offered the chance to be reunited with Joe Wright, her director on two of her most successful films – Pride and Prejudice and Atonement – as well as the last Coco Mademoiselle ad, which has been running since 2008.

That advert famously opened with Keira, wearing a man’s shirt and bowler hat, nipping into an apartment through its open window and dressing herself in a 1930s-style scarlet evening gown which she wears to an event before fleeing into the moonlit streets of Paris.

The new advert also crams a great deal of story into its running time – and Keira is clearly still playing the same mysterious character: same hairdo, same penchant for grey nail varnish, same hurry to get to where she’s going (this time it’s to a photo shoot) – and the same desire to flee once she’s done her job. But this new advert required a bit more preparation from the actress
than the last one. Why?

Giggling, she replies: “Because of the motorbike! All Joe told me before we started work on the ad was that it would involve a motorbike. I must admit I was rather terrified of the idea. I think that Joe thought that I was the kind of girl who would already have been on one – which is flattering for me, because that means that he must see me as a very cool girl! But in reality, I’d never been on this kind of bike – so I took a few lessons.”

After her “crash” course, Keira felt sufficiently confident to shoot the ad – only to be told that the motorbike that would be used wouldn’t be any old motorbike. “They told me it would be a Ducati – and that was a completely different story. Especially since my instructor very calmly explained to me that if the motorbike fell, I would be unable to lift it up. Mind you, I had a lot of fun with my lessons – though I would have loved to have been as good as my biker companions who made revving up their bikes look so easy. I had to cheat a little, but this made me want to take more lessons so I could really make the bike go ‘vroom’!”

Of course, you can’t ride a motorbike in a Chanel evening gown. So Karl Lagerfeld promised to kit Keira out in appropriate gear. “All I knew before I saw it was that was a catsuit and that it would be beige,” laughs Keira. ” I didn’t have any details. I discovered it in his offices once it was done and immediately when I put it on, I felt like I was slipping into a second skin. I felt like a Chanel superwoman!”

The colour of the catsuit was obviously chosen to stand out alongside the black gear worn by the male bikers in the film, but that wasn’t the only reason: beige was Coco Chanel’s signature colour, and it’s one of the advert’s many little tributes to the legendary founder of the house of Chanel. Her famous mirrored staircase, which is to be found at her original boutique in Paris, is featured, as is her beloved Place Vendome, the magnificent square onto which her bedroom at the Ritz Hotel faced. Her love of pearls is reflected in the keyring which Keira carries her bike keys on, and even the actress’s loose bob seems to evoke the look of Coco Chanel in her heyday.

Was Coco Chanel an inspiration for the character Keira plays? She won’t say, but she does admit to being very impressed by what she’s learned about Chanel and her background. “I’m sure I would have found her intimidating in person. In my mind, she is incredibly mysterious but also strong, powerful and – above all – independent. Which is an essential quality to me.

“Actually, one of the things I love about Coco Mademoiselle – which was my fragrance even before I was first approached by Chanel – is that although it’s extremely feminine, it gives me this feeling of power. Before it, I only wore men’s fragrances. I didn’t want something light and flowery – I’m not that kind of girl. Coco Mademoiselle was the first perfume I tried and thought: ‘Yes, that fits.’ It’s the mixture of strength and subtlety. It doesn’t overpower but it makes you feel you can stand up straight – and that’s important to me.”

Keira was given her first bottle of Coco Mademoiselle by a friend who was fed up with her wearing men’s perfume and told her “it was time to grow up!”. If she hadn’t fallen in love with the fragrance almost on first sniff, Keira would undoubtedly have discovered Coco Mademoiselle for herself by visiting one of Chanel’s olfactive tables – one of which will be a key part of the company’s new beauty zone, an Espace Parfums with a Chanel Make-up Studio, opening in Frasers, Glasgow, later this month.

The Chanel olfactive table houses the 48 concentrates which make up the entire range of Chanel perfumery. From April 21, when the the Espace Parfums opens, fragrance experts will be on-hand to guide customers through the collection using a new ceramic blotter system which will allow them to sample every scent. There will also be a floating bar showcasing the entire Les Exclusifs mini collection of perfumes which, until recently, were only available in Chanel boutiques and Selfridges.

The Espace Parfums is the first that the company has opened in the UK outside the capital. The revamped beauty area, which will have a make-up play station and a giant screen showing the latest make-up collections, will put Scottish Chanel fans on an equal footing with Londoners as the “Fast Track” make-up collections, designed by Peter Philips, the creative director of Chanel Make-up and previously only sold in Selfridges and in Chanel boutiques, will be on sale here for the first time.

So, later this month, make like Keira and get on your bike – down to Frasers to check it out….
* View the Coco Mademoiselle adverts online at, and the Chanel Espace Parfums and Chanel Make-up Studio open in Frasers, Glasgow, on April 21

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Turban Power 2

This winter I’ve had great use out of my my fabulous ASOS turban, a style of headgear I’ve hankered after for years – after seeing it being worn in many a 1940s movie, by the likes of Ann Sheridan and the sultry Hedy Lamarr (above).  The style was in and out of fashion from the 1920s onwards – and Hedy’s white, 1940s version contrasts beautifully with her jet black hair. I’m not sure that Greta Garbo’s (below) works as well: it looks a little like a post-brain surgery bandage ..

It wasn’t just the exotic beauties who made the turban chic in Hollywood; homegrown, all-American actresses worked the look too. Here’s the elegant and always tasteful Loretta Young pushing the boat out with an uncharacteristically OTT variation on the turban theme. Substitute some fruit for those flowers and you’re halfway to Carmen Miranda-style understatement!

And talking of understatement (not!), few actresses of our time offset instances of good taste with those of bad as blatantly as the late Elizabeth Taylor, pictured here in the sort of turban that normal people could only wear to a wedding..

Lee Remick’s blue turban in The Omen was one of the few style highlights of the movie – though her character paid a price for it ..

And those jazz divas knew a chic trick (saves washing the hair) when they saw one. In my last turban round-up, I featured Lena Horne, but she wasn’t the first jazz star to adopt the style: here’s Billie Holiday, offsetting the turban with a mannish suit, alongside one of the most stylish men in jazz – Duke Ellington (left).

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