Monthly Archives: November 2011

My Week in Beauty

SUNDAY

A flying visit to London to see a new silent, black & white, movie seemed the perfect occasion to debut one of the most alluring items in the Christmas collections: Yves Saint Laurent Manicure Couture No6 Duo Terriblement Noir  (£24).

This double-act of black nail polishes – one shiny and one matte – echoes the inspiration behind this season’s Les Noirs collection: the tuxedo, with its satin lapels. I haven’t quite perfected (actually, I haven’t come close to perfecting) a French-style manicure using the two polishes – I’ll probably have to train one of my twin boys to do it! – but I’ve been enjoying wearing the glossy one on its own… It seemed the right choice for a silent movie screening: after all, actresses probably wore black nail varnish in those old movies as red would not have shown up ..

TUESDAY

I don’t usually have beauty appointments in suburbia, but I had one in the new Whole Foods market in Giffnock, on Glasgow’s southside, on Tuesday as it is home to an outpost for the French organic beauty company Melvita. In just 18 months, this cultish brand has established itself as a favourite of green-minded beauty buffs, has two stores in London and has become available through John Lewis and its own website.

I had a consultation at Whole Foods and was very impressed with the products and how gentle and effective they felt. I immediately switched to a Melvita cleanser as I had run out of my Clarins one. Melvita 2-in-1 Cleansing Milk (£8.40; www.melvita.co.uk) cleanses and tones the skin in one fell swipe (*makes mental note for the party season*). You simply squirt some of the cream onto a cotton pad and wipe it over the face.

It leaves the skin feeling clean, refreshed, comfortable (and my skin is sensitive) and lovely – and it’s an absolute bargain, at less than a tenner for 200ml (via the Melvita website).

WEDNESDAY

The big cultural event on Wednesday was the launch of the new American TV series Pan Am – but it failed to take off as grippingly as I’d hoped. It felt about as convincing as a Carry On film; Mad Men it ain’t.

However, as with the infinitely superior Mad Men, its influence is bound to be felt in fashion and beauty trends. Revlon, which designed the original Pan Am look back  in the 1960s, is punting it again, with matching pink lipstick and nail polish. I’m waiting for samples to arrive – and will report back..

THURSDAY

And speaking of Revlon, I gave their latest foundation, Revlon Age Defying with DNA Advantage Cream Makeup (£13.99; www.revlon.co.uk) a whirl on Thursday – and am a convert. (I reckon the big count-down to my fortieth birthday has probably made me a sucker for anything that suggests defying age..)

It may have a very complex name, but the way this foundation works its magic is actually pretty simple. Recognising that the main signs of ageing in skin are caused by dehydration and exposure to UV rays – both of which can cause damage to skin cell DNA (hence the name) – it tackles these problems. So, it’s an extremely moisturising cream foundation and it contains an SPF of 20. Not only that but it evens out skin tone and contains subtle illuminators that flatter the skin and reflect the light. The result is healthy looking and feeling skin, and a very natural, radiant finish – and the coverage is good.

I particularly like the fact that it offers plenty of what Revlon calls “play time”; time to apply and blend it. None of that racing-to-get-it-in-place-before-it-sets nonsense…

FRIDAY

Why the photo of a young Alison, you might ask? Well, because I felt like I had the skin of a six-year-old after I had my regular Triactive Facial at the Clarins Spa (0141 221 5760) in Frasers, Glasgow on Friday. My therapist, the talented Lindsay, has made it her mission over the last couple of months to turn back the clock a bit when it comes to my complexion and I must say I was particularly impressed with last week’s results. The radiance and youthful glow lasted for a few days .. and then I caught a stinking cold and have broken out in dry patches and, of course, the obligatory red, flaky skin that’s caused by blowing your nose every two minutes.

Clearly, I’ll just have to ensure that Clarins sorts me out again in time for my 40th birthday – which is now less than a month away. Eek!

Oh, and watch out for Clarins Happy Hour events, where you can have a one-to-one consultation followed by a choice of mini beauty treatments. They’re doing them at Frasers on December 5.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Little did I know, when I opened my parcel from Dior on Monday, that it contained what will undoubtedly be my lipstick for the party season. Or perhaps I should say lipsticks?

The Dior Rouges Or Collection for Christmas 2011 only comprises lipsticks and nail varnishes – but, boy, what beauties they are. The new lipsticks – Rouge Dior Les Rouges d’Or (£22.50 each) – come in vivid shades, among them the coppery coral Victorine and the dark reddy-pink Belle de Nuit (my two favourites – so far), all of which are infused with a golden powder. The colour lasts brilliantly and they’re extremely comfortable too – even on dry lips like mine. If you’re not going down the matte road this winter, this is THE alternative..

TUESDAY

You’d think someone was trying to tell me something. Right on cue following the arrival of the party lipstick came another must-have of the festive season: a super-efficient, multi-purpose, cleanser.

Darphin Azahar Floral Water Micellar Cleanser (£23) is a gentle and fast-working cleansing water which instantly dissolves all traces of make-up – both on the face and on the eyes – with minimal effort.

In other words, it’s the ideal cleanser to have on stand-by for those nights when you come in the front door and do not want to make a detour en route to collapsing on your bed… It will only add a couple of seconds on to your waking hours – much better than waking up with your eyelashes stuck together and your mascara all over your pillow….

WEDNESDAY

Another staple of the party season emergency beauty kit is a good eye gel. And I’ve had plenty of excuses lately for doing some preparatory work in this department: my eyes have been very puffy of a morning, thanks to a bout of insomnia.

Wednesday morning was particularly bad – but luckily I had a choice of eye gel to choose from. I can’t actually feel any difference between Origins No Puffery Cooling Mask for Puffy Eyes (£19; www.origins.co.uk) which can be used as a mask or as a daily eye treatment under the eyes, and Clarins Eye Contour Gel (£26.50; www.clarins.co.uk) which should be patted into the entire eye contour area. However, my vote goes to Clarins for the simple reason that you get 18 months to work your way through the 20ml tube – which, for me, is much more realistic than using up a 30ml tube of No Puffery in just six months.

THURSDAY

Since Clarins recently did away with my favourite liquid eyeliner pen (they replaced it with a new one which I DO NOT LIKE!), I’ve been fairly faithful to Guerlain Eyeliner (£23) – which is liquid and applied with a brush –  but I was tempted to stray by Yves Saint Laurent Cream Eyeliner (£20) which I first wore out on Thursday on a night out with my girlfriends. I’m fed up seeing photos of me with slitty-looking eyes; I only seem to have non-slitty eyes when I keep the eye make-up simple – a light wash of colour, a slick of inky eyeliner and mascara. This superb cream eyeliner – which doesn’t come with a brush (you can buy one from YSL for £18; luckily I had a great old one from The Body Shop) – is perfect for creating a dramatic 1950s or 1960s flick, and it stays put all day. Pens? Pah!

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

As a lifelong movie fan – with a particular passion for the films of the 1930s  – I’m ashamed to admit that I completely missed the centenary of one of my favourite comediennes, the original Blonde Bombshell Jean Harlow (right).

Sassy, sexy and much more sussed than the bimbo characters she often played, Jean Harlow was the original prototype of the dumb blonde persona that Marilyn Monroe also cultivated.

Of course, as one of the biggest stars of her time, she was hugely influential as a style and beauty icon – the platinum blonde, waved hair; the dark, Cupid’s bow lips, the pencilled-on eyebrows and the slouchy, slinky posture were copied by women worldwide.

I was reminded of Jean, and her languid sensuality when, on Monday, I was marvelling at the exquisite Christmas collection from Guerlain. Jean was known to be a devotee of Guerlain fragrance – indeed, the legend goes that when her second husband killed himself, his body was found doused in Mitsouko..

TUESDAY

If one item in that collection screams Jean Harlow (to me anyway!), it’s the  Guerlain Vol de Nuit Perfumed Shimmer Powder Face & Body (£49.50) which looks exactly the kind of item you’d expect to find on a 1930s movie star’s art deco dressing table.

Vol de Nuit may not be the Guerlain fragrance most associated with Jean Harlow, but it is very much of her time. Created in 1933 (the year of two of her biggest hits – Dinner at Eight and Blonde Bombshell), it was inspired by – of all things – aviation. Jacques Guerlain named this sensual oriental after the novel penned by his friend the poet and aviator Antoine de Sainte-Exupery and it was inspired by the great aviatrix of the day, notably France’s Helene Boucher.

This new shimmering powder is a lovely, modern way to try out the daring Vol de Nuit – while adding a touch of Harlow-esque glamour to any lady’s boudoir.

WEDNESDAY

One person complimenting you on your skin could just be insincere flattery but by Wednesday, I had had enough compliments in that department to make me realise that there was something going on with my complexion. It has been especially well cared for in recent weeks, thanks to more regular exfoliation (with Elemis’s Gentle Rose Exfoliator, since you ask) and a weekly helping of a luxurious mask (Sisley’s Black Rose) but I think that what prompted the compliments was the foundation: each time I was complimented, I was wearing Dior Diorskin Forever Fluid SPF25 (£29.50), which provides great coverage but a natural finish. The effect is of no foundation, but super-enhanced, healthily glowing, skin…

THURSDAY

Christmas may still be a way away but I noticed on Thursday that I had already worn down couple of the shades in my favourite Christmas palette so far: Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Smokey Passion (£30; www.clarins.co.uk).

This limited edition set is quite distinct from any other I’ve seen this season. It comprises a tawny, coral shade, a taupe and a dark grey-brown – all shimmery powders – plus a wet, glittery silver which goes on sheer and adds a subtle sparkle.

FRIDAY

It may seem a little premature to be talking about spring cosmetic colours but that was what Lloyd Simmonds, the creator of YSL’s make-up, wanted to discuss when he came to Glasgow to meet the press on Friday. No wonder he was keen to talk spring: he has designed a beautiful collection of pastels and sheer shades for his next collection, which goes on sale on December 20. (The photo shows him playing with the new colours.)

The spring collection was inspired, said Simmonds, “by an old-fashioned candy shop I stumbled across in Paris”. It’s playful, light, fresh – very much “candy for the face” and a complete contrast to the current Holiday Look 2011, which is based around black.

 

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