Monthly Archives: May 2011

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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The Lipstick Renaissance

This is the year of the lipstick. After all, so far this spring we’ve seen new lipsticks being launched by Estee Lauder (Pure Color), No7 (their new Poppy King range), Clarins (Rouge Hydra Nude), Dior Addict and Guerlain (Rouge Automatique). Chanel’s creative director of make-up, Peter Philips, continued on his mission to convert girls to the lipstick cause by launching the glossy Rouge Coco Shine…. Lipstick is having a moment, as they say in fashion-ville; though for many of us it’s never gone out of style.

After all, it’s difficult to resist the way a slick of lipstick can lift the spirits by brightening the smile. Not only that, but lipstick is a shortcut to glamour and can instantly transform the appearance in a way that no other single item can. Gwyneth Paltrow summed up the powerful effect of lipstick when she said: “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”

For the millions of women who have bought Chanel lipsticks since they were first sold in 1924, owning one of those little black tubes is an affordable way of sharing in the luxury and elegance of the brand – and of keeping up with the latest trends. The same goes for Dior, Tom Ford, Armani and the other beauty brands which belong to fashion houses.

The history of the lipstick as a staple of our beauty routine stretches back to the ancient civilsations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, when both sexes painted their lips using such natural dyes as carmine, which is made from ground-up insects, or sheep’s blood. By the 16th century, women were following Queen Elizabeth I’s penchant for prettifying her pout by colouring her lips with cochineal paint (made from beetles), while their great-great-grand-daughters, a hundred years later, favoured creams that were made with black grape juice.

But it wasn’t always a smooth ride for the early incarnations of lipstick. In the 18th century, it was banned – along with other cosmetics – by Parliament (which associated it with witches), and it was dismissed as “impolite” by Queen Victoria in the 19th.

Of course, back then, lip colour came in little pots or, in the case of Liquid Bloom of Roses, which was imported from England by the founder of the Parisian beauty house Guerlain, in a little bottle. Monsieur Guerlain soon changed its formula and created Liquid Rose Extract “for lip colour with great staying power that lasts through meals”. It continued to sell until 1958.

Guerlain was also responsible for the very first modern-day lipstick, made with a wax base in 1870. Ne m’oubliez pas was its name and it came in a refillable container with a “push-up” mechanism. The first swivel-up tube was patented in 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee, and 13 years later Guerlain created the Rouge Automatique – which it has recently revived – a lipstick with no cap, that can be applied using just one hand: perfect for the girl on the go, who can’t take her eyes or fingers off her phone as she does her lippie.

And it’s not just the design of the containers and the formulation of the lipsticks that have changed over the years; the colours have come in and gone out of fashion. The most enduringly popular lipstick colour is undoubtedly red, since it’s a dramatic variation on the natural colour of the lips.

Deep, dark red became popular in the late teens and early 1920s when such sexy silent movie stars as the “It” Girl, Clara Bow  and the vampy seductress Theda Bara (right, as Cleopatra in 1917) wore it – anything lighter wouldn’t have shown up in black and white. Not only did they kick off the fashion for red and scarlet lips, but Clara Bow also ignited the trend for “bee-stung” lips, the style of applying the lipstick so that it exaggerates the centre of the lips.

During the 1940s, lipstick was harder to come by because essential ingredients, such as petroleum were unavailable. In Britain, production of cosmetics almost completely ground to a halt and women swapped tips on how to make their own lip tints using beetroot juice or by melting down the stubs of old lipsticks. No7 lipsticks, many of which hadn’t been available during the war, made a comeback in 1949 with a range that included several variations on red.

Indeed, red remained the lipstick shade of choice for Hollywood stars and would-be glamour pusses well into the 1950s, the decade when Revlon launched its iconic Fire and Ice shade, which returned to shops late last year. As the 1950s went on, the pinks and corals shades introduced by Christian Dior also became popular across the world. But the biggest, most radical change in lipstick fashions took place in the early 1960s – and it was all down to one woman: Elizabeth Taylor, who died last month.

Elizabeth Taylor’s services to lipstick should have earned her an award. Not only did she show, in the famous lipstick-on-the-mirror sequence in her movie Butterfield 8, how handy the cosmetic could be in those moments when you find yourself without pen and paper and have to leave an urgent message for your lover, but she also set a new trend in make-up fashion when she starred in the infamous and extravagant epic Cleopatra, which finally came out in 1963 after being in production for two years.

Liz Taylor’s exotic make-up when she played the Egyptian queen may have borne some resemblance – at least in terms of the elaborate eye decoration – to images of the real Cleopatra, but it was also designed to show off her exquisitely beautiful face, and in particular those famous almond-shaped, violet-coloured eyes. All emphasis was placed on the eyes, and her lips were kept light-coloured – in pale corals and pinks – throughout the film.

The effect of this bold eyed, pale-lipped look was sensational. Revlon picked up on it immediately and launched the Cleopatra collection (including “Sphinx Pink” lipstick), which offered a watered-down version of the Liz-as-Cleo look. Andy Warhol later said that Cleopatra was the single-most influential film in terms of style in the 1960s: it certainly launched the make-up trend which defined the 1960s – and it’s a look which is still popular today.

Of course, these days, anything goes lipstick wise – you can work a 1960s, Cleopatra-inspired look one day; a shiny red 1950s Hollywood pout the next and a vampy dark 1920s one at night – and there are any amount of colours, textures and finishes to choose from.

There is a lipstick for everyone – for those who want a signature colour to see them through the ups and downs of life to those who want to stay bang on trend and are currently replacing nude shades with brights for summer. After all, changing you lipstick is the cheapest way to immediately update your look.. Not for nothing did Max Factor advertise its Color Fast lipsticks, way back in the 1950s, with the strapline: “High fashion for every woman’s lips.”

But the last word on lipstick in the 2010s should really go to the American comic Jerry Seinfeld, who once said: “Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not colour, but to accept God’s final word on where your lips end.”

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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

Like many of my friends, I spent Monday mourning the end of the best TV crime series since The Killing (which preceded it!) – Spiral, the French drama which (much more stylish than Law and Order) concerns itself not just with the cops, but also with the investigating judges, the prosecutors and the defence lawyers. There may be some damned good-looking actors in the cast (personally, I have a soft-spot for bad-boy Gilou) but the character who keeps me glued to the screen is the flame-haired bad girl lawyer Josephine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot), whose wardrobe and look are always striking – and not at all your run-of-the-mill Parisian professional.  I’m sure I’m not the only viewer who’s been considering dyeing her hair red as a result of a girl crush on JK.

TUESDAY

When it comes to perfumes that are quintessentially Parisian, the house of Guerlain’s collection springs instantly to mind – and no wonder: it’s been on the go for over 150 years.

The Aqua Allegoria range may be quite a bit younger – it was introduced in 1999 – but it is steeped in the Guerlain tradition. The bottle is a classic – inspired by the original 19th century Eau de Cologne Imperiale flacon – and the fragrances are fresh and summery but very classical. This summer’s addition, Aqua Allegoria Jasminora (£35.50; from www.houseoffraser.co.uk from June 1) is a lovely fresh scent which was created by Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser using Calabrian jasmine, a lighter jasmine than is found in most perfumes. Its freshness is complemented by white flowers with green tones, along with cyclamen and lily of the valley. The bottom line? It’s a very feminine, classy summer scent.

WEDNESDAY

I’d been looking forward to my Wednesday afternoon catch-up with the Ojon PR girl for ages.. Why? Because I’d been tipped off that this fabulous haircare range was finally going to sort out the one problem that its fans have identified: the dodgy bottles.

Not only have the bottles been redesigned (no more broken lids – hurrah!) but the collection has been refined and revamped. I tried the Ojon Color Sustain (from £18; available from John Lewis from May 21) almost immediately and found it to be a worthy, possibly even superior, replacement for the old Shine & Protect products. I especially liked the Ojon Color Sustain Color Protecting Cream (£22) which protects the hair from the damaging effects of blow-drying.

THURSDAY

If there’s one company that knows how to do things in style it’s Chanel which chose Frasers in Glasgow as the site for its first Chanel Espace Parfums outside London, and invited journalists along to visit it on Thursday. Not only does this beautifully kitted-out boutique (everything about its look derives from Coco Chanel’s signature style and from aspects of her life) sell the Les Exclusifs collection of fragrances created or revived by house “nose” Jacques Polge, but it also offers customers the chance to discover the world of Chanel perfumes (48 in all) through its unique olfactive bar where concentrates of all the fragrances are sniffable on ceramic blotters. Fragrance expert Joanna Norman guided me through the Chanel perfumes on Thursday and it was a fascinating tour. What makes the ceramic blotter idea so useful is the fact that there’s no need to scoosh any perfumes – and therefore less likelihood of what industry people call “nasal confusion”. It’s much easier to identify what you like – and eliminate what you don’t. Anyone contemplating changing their perfume, or simply interested in how fragrance works should pop in and ask for a consultation.

FRIDAY

Unlike Kim Novak (pictured here, with the swoonsome Cary Grant), who showed hers off at every opportunity, my back has never really had any attention. But all that changed on Friday when I accepted an invitation to have a back treatment Clarins Spa in Frasers (0141 221 5760).

Clarins Neck, Back & Shoulder Massage (£33) proved to be just what the doctor ordered. Using the Renew Body Serum and the Smoothing Body Scrub, Lindsay, my therapist, untangled the knots of tension in my neck and shoulders and gave my back a thorough going-over, both in terms of massage and treating the usually neglected skin. The serum is great for hydrating, but doesn’t leave the skin feeling overloaded with product – perfect if congestion is an issue.

If you fancy getting your back in Cary-worthy condition, you can try out the Neck, Back & Shoulder Massage for free, if you book a Clarins Professional Face or Body Treatment at any Clarins Spa between now and May 31. To be redeemed by July 26.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I wouldn’t compare myself to Marilyn Monroe, but I did wake up on Monday morning looking as puffy as she does in this photo (presumably from her Actors’ Studio period) – especially around the eye area. Why? Because I’d just had my second night of virtually no sleep – at the Norwich Jazz Party. The “jazz party” format involves round-the-clock music until 12.30am, followed by the obligatory “hang” at the bar. For me, it also involved trying to cram in some writing, and some sleep – in a room which made very strange noises (room 211 of the Holiday Inn Express, Norwich, I’m talking about you!).

Despite all this, I was told I looked fresh-faced on Monday morning – the result, I’m sure, of a four-pronged attack on the signs of knackeredness. I used an eye mask (one of the discontinued Chanel ones) to reduce the puffiness round my eyes, exfoliator – Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator  – to brighten my skin, and Clinique Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF15 to counter any high colour caused by late-night libations. And of course, the old reliable Guerlain Precious Light …. Never leave for a jazz fest without it!

TUESDAY

Knowing that some sleep was going to be lost in Norwich, I had planned to take the new Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel (£32.50; available from May 20; for stockists call 020-7493 3836) bronzing powder with me – to perk up my pale skin.

Luckily, I forgot to pack it: when I got home from Norwich and brushed some of the Rose palette on to my face, I realised that it’s not for me. The colours are beautiful, and I love the healthy glow a good bronzer/blusher can impart, but I am just too fair-skinned for even the lighter of the two colourways. It’s even a little too dark for me to use purely as a blusher (which is how I use the equivalent compact from Guerlain).  To paraphrase the Gershwins, s’wonderful – but not for me…

WEDNESDAY

Any help I can get in the eyelash department is always welcome and I love to experiment with any mascara that promises to beef up my featherweight lashes. So I was delighted to be given a tube of the latest from Dior, whose Extase I already love.

DiorShow Extase Flash Plumping Mascara (£22; www.houseoffraser.co.uk) may have a particularly daft name but it does the biz – not so much, I’ve been finding, with “plumping” up the lashes, but more in terms of lengthening and curling them. Ten out of ten for battability..

THURSDAY

I was thinking about how much my legs are currently worth, on Thursday morning. It’s not that they’re anything special – and I’ve not had them insured a la Betty Grable (left) – but I’ve certainly been investing in them recently. Let me explain: I’ve been testing out one of the pricier cellulite creams over the last few weeks.  Sisley Phyto-Svelt Global Intensive Anti-Cellulite Contouring Body Care (£123; www.sisley-cosmetics.co.uk) is the latest wonder cream from the French botanical company, and it has made a difference to my thighs – which is where I’ve been using it (might as well give it a challenge!). It has, as it claims to be able to do, improved the texture and tone of cellulite-afflicted areas and there’s a tautness to the skin that I’m pretty sure wasn’t there before. I’m not saying that the cellulite is a distant memory but it’s certainly not as obvious as before.

FRIDAY

Having finally caught up on my sleep, I met the PR for Aveda and Darphin – the charming Cemo – on Friday morning at the Hotel du Vin in Glasgow. I’ve yet to try out the new Darphin samples she gave me, but I had to point out that I’m already a convert to the conditioner and conditioning treatment she brought from the excellent Damage Remedy range.

As I have a few more trips coming up, I was very keen to hear about the Aveda Travel Size Collection (from £4; www.aveda.co.uk) of 50ml bottles of shampoo and conditioner, plus various hair styling and body products. Unfortunately, the Damage Remedy items don’t come in these plane-friendly sizes but at least you can continue using Aveda when travelling – and decant some Damage Remedy into the bottles when they’re empty!


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