Monthly Archives: April 2012

My Week in Beauty

TUESDAY

I was going to review a show at the theatre on Tuesday evening but I went looking as if I was heading for a night at the opera – or something equally glam. Why? Because I had had a meeting with Melissa, the chic PR for Tom Ford Beauty, just beforehand – and I’d been treated to a mini-makeover at the TFB counter in Frasers in Glasgow.

Melissa was in town to preview the company’s new colour collection of molten-toned colour inspired, as she explained, by “the beauty of a radiant, bronzed face”.  As a paleface, I wasn’t
sure there would be anything for me in this range, but the four gorgeous Tom Ford Cream Color For Eyes (£28), in metallic shades, were all extremely tempting – and looked as if they would complement blue eyes beautifully. I went to the theatre wearing the shimmering Platinum colour which can be layered for a dramatic look. And you know what, it’s the first cream shadow I’ve used that lasted the pace – it was still in place at bedtime.

WEDNESDAY

Caroline, an Edinburgh-based friend and fellow jazz fan, hosted a dinner party at her new flat last week and invited some of the creme de la creme of the capital’s jazz scene to attend.

I found myself chatting about beauty buys with the singer Angie King. Last time we met, at Christmas, she expressed interest in trying the then-new Lancome serum Visionnaire, and, on Wednesday, I was struck by how luminous and youthful her complexion was. The secret, she revealed, was not Visionnaire (which she had never got round to trying) but Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair (£41; www.esteelauder.co.uk), which she has been using since we last. She would certainly be a great poster girl for this, the mother of all serums.

THURSDAY

I’m still searching for a luxurious beauty parlour like Sydney’s (left) – the lavish, Surrealist-style, salon frequented by Ros Russell, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and their cohorts in George Cukor’s wonderful 1939 film The Women. But while I’m searching, I’m more than content to have a regular treatments in one of the lovely Clarins Spas. On Wednesday, I had a change of venue: instead of going to the spa in Frasers, in Glasgow, I tried out its sister over in Debenhams. It’s just as attractive as the Frasers one, but a little more contemporary in its design. My Clarins Triactive Facial (from £60) was – as ever – just what the doctor ordered. It’s the perfect blend of results and relaxation: my skin looked energised afterwards, and I was well rested thanks to the thorough face, neck and shoulder massage.

FRIDAY

My hair has been feeling tuggy and a little dry at the ends so on Friday, with a few days to go before my hair appointment, I decided it was time to try out a product I’d only put off using because I thought it might be messy (and time-consuming). In fact, Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment Plus (£16; www.ojon.co.uk) was easy (and not messy) to use.  You simply take a tiny amount of the solid, wax-like balm, warm it in your hands until it becomes an oil and work it through the hair. After 20 minutes you rinse it off. I found my hair’s texture had improved immeasurably, and the effects lasted several days – though, thankfully, the coffee bean-like smell of the product didn’t linger at all!

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My Week in Beauty

TUESDAY

You may have seen this photo before but it seems the ideal one to use to illustrate my trip to Edinburgh on Tuesday night for a sumptuous dinner hosted by Estee Lauder’s press team. The reason it’s the ideal pic is that I was wearing the same dress – and just about half the journalists at the table in the exquisite Number One restaurant at the Balmoral were sporting the nail varnish I’m wearing here – Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Teal Topaz (£14; www.esteelauder.co.uk).

The dinner was a 30th birthday celebration – not of a person, but of Lauder’s now-iconic serum, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, now going by the name of Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex (£41 ) and reformulated to harness the latest research in genetic ageing while holding true to its original mission of reducing the appearance of past damage from environmental assaults and preventing future damage.

While the press girls had us under the spell of champagne and Michelin-starred food, they also gave us a preview of their summer make-up. Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess 2012 – The Capri Collection goes on sale at Jenners, in Edinburgh this month, before it hits counters everywhere else in May – and Edinburgh ladies who passed the beauty squad post-dinner will undoubtedly be forming an orderly queue… We all had a play with the products – and went into the night smelling divine, thanks to the Bronze Goddess Luminous Liquid Bronzer (£27) we were trying on our hands and forearms….

WEDNESDAY

Eugh, I felt a wreck on Wednesday after a particularly disturbed sleep in a Holiday Inn
Express which had previously seemed very comfortable and quiet. I was awake every hour thanks to a combination of the racket coming from the room opposite, the noise of traffic on the stairs through the wall from me and my usual first-night restlessness when away from my own bed.

Anyway, the result was that despite having fused Kim Novak and Veronica Lake influences the night before, I looked more like Simone Signoret – at least in the heavy-lidded eye department – the morning after. Only one thing for it: Clarins Skin-Smoothing Eye Mask (£29.50; www.clarins.co.uk). This has turned out to be an absolute must-have for me lately as it seems to be the only way of waking up my eyes when the lids weigh heavy on them ..

THURSDAY

I took the train to London on Thursday for a quick visit to interview the wonderful singer-songwriter – and fashion plate – Melody Gardot whose new CD, The Absence (Decca), comes out at the end of May. Since I last met her three years ago, Melody has visited more countries than I’ve probably managed in the last 15 years – and she has absorbed musical and style influences wherever she’s been.

When she opened the door of her hotel suite to me, she was a vision in a fringed Lanvin dress and Moroccan-style turban into which her still long (she assured me) locks were tucked. The turban and 1940s-style shades were very Gloria Swanson-in-Sunset Boulevard – and I told her so. Apparently, I was the second person in a day to compare the 27-year-old to the great Gloria (the other comparison had been a vocal one) – but she couldn’t visualise Swanson, so before I left, I had to help find a photo..

Anyway, Melody’s make-up – as ever – was exquisite  (see the video below too); perfectly defined eyebrows sat above the retro specs, Hollywood red lips offset her newly nut-brown skin and her nails were painted a metallic sand shade which offset the camel colour of her turban and wrap. Having been on a train for five hours, I felt bedraggled by comparison but had at least made my own nod to glamour in the form of my Chanel’d nails (the April shade which has been my favourite for months now). I painted them on the train – a calculated risk, but worth taking since I had my handy Rituals Nail Varnish Corrector Pen (£6.90; from John Lewis and www.rituals.com)  with me…

SATURDAY

A girls’ night out for my friend Colette’s birthday and the occasion to wear a kaftan-style top I had exhumed from the depths of my wardrobe during a major spring clean gave me the perfect excuse to move on from April to, no not the May or June shades of Chanel nail polish – but one named Distraction.

Chanel Le Vernis in Distraction (£18) is part of Rose Ultimes de Chanel, a mini collection, coming out on May 11, of lip glosses and nail varnishes based around a pink theme. I have totally fallen for this gorgeous coral shade which is extremely pretty and very retro. And it went a treat with my top (shown below, in photo with my pal Lizzy) which has multi-coloured (including coral), Sergeant Pepper-style, frocking.  With two coats, it’s perfect against pale skin like mine .. Goodbye April, hello Distraction!

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My Week in Beauty

SATURDAY

A last-minute invitation to attend a black tie charity dinner on Saturday night was the perfect occasion for me to get a second wear out of my bargain evening gown (bought last May for my first-ever formal jazz event) and a first wear out of some fab new Dior make-up I’d been sent.

I’d come across this photo of the lovely January Jones amongst the publicity for the new series of Mad Men, which got underway last week, and once more she proved to be a great inspiration – though at the last minute I switched to dark pink lips (Dior’s Rouge d’Or in Nocturne, from their limited edition Christmas collection, since you ask) as I just looked too washed out…

Anyway, my take on the 1966 Mad Men look involved using the paler shades in the classic Dior 5 Couleurs in Greige (£40), which has become my favourite palette lately, and the fabulous Dior 360 degrees Revolving Mascara (£29.50), an extremely easy-to-use mascara which does a terrific job of curling the lashes for a dramatic effect.

MONDAY

Since running out of my Chanel skincare a few weeks ago, I have been using some new products from another of my favourite French beauty brands – Guerlain. They have just relaunched their Super Aqua range of hydrating skincare and I’ve been enjoying getting reacquainted with their lovely textures and, especially, their distinctive, rose, scent. The fact that I’ve had more than a few compliments on my skin is a bonus.. I’ve been using the new Guerlain Super Aqua-Lotion (£30), a softening and hydrating toner, and the newly reformulated Guerlain Super Acqua-Serum (£65.50), which was already one of my favourite serums and is now better than ever..

The 2012 version of Super Aqua-Lotion harnesses Guerlain’s newfound awareness of the ageing effects of water pollution on the skin’s cells. The result is a serum which simultaneously hydrates and plumps up the skin, as the product reactivates the skin’s natural water purification process, thus allowing the flow of cell life to continue without disruption – ie, less chance of wrinkle outbreaks!

WEDNESDAY

I didn’t get round to trying out the new Benefit High Brow Glow (£14) in time to use it at the charity dinner on Saturday but I would probably have avoided it anyway: I’m not a big fan of the shimmering brow bone look, though I can appreciate the way a highlighter can enhance the bone structure. This easy-to-use, creamy pencil certainly does that and offers a champagne coloured alternative to the original, cult classic – the linen-pink shade of High Brow. Mind you, £14 seems quite a lot to pay for something that comes – albeit in powder form – in most eye shadow palettes.

THURSDAY


I finally got round to trying out the latest body treatment from Clarins on Thursday. The Clarins Melting Hone Hot Stone Massage (from £60) is not the most relaxing treatment I’ve had – but it was certainly extremely effective at ironing out the myriad knots in my muscles. It turns out that not only do I carry a load of tension in my neck, shoulders and back (which I knew) but also in my right foot. Go figure.

The therapist uses nine stones, in four different shapes, to carry out a deep and very precise massage – the shape of the stone and the amount of heat it can carry determines where it is used. Unlike some hot stone treatments, where the stones are placed on particular spots on the body; these ones are designed to be an extension of the therapist’s hands. The honey massage gel – available in two formulas, one for relaxing and one for invigorating – is massaged on initially as a barrier for the heat, and it melts into an oil as the massage unfolds before transforming into a very moisturising milky emulsion.

The effects were still evident several days later – though I do now crave a facial with back massage where I can completely switch off and not be flipped over half-way through as happens in a body treatment….

FRIDAY

A low-key dinner with a friend in Edinburgh seemed just the right occasion to try out the Incognito shade of  Dior Vernis Extreme Wear Nail Lacquer (£17.50). It’s very appropriately named, this shade which looks sort of putty-like on first application but then takes on a slightly lilac hue with a second coat. In fact, it’s very reminiscent of Chanel’s Rose Cache and Rose Confidentiel – and the name is inkeeping too!

The corresponding Dior Addict Extreme lipstick (£24) would have been perfect for the January Jones look (above), but I need just a bit more colour to prevent me from looking pale and of interest only to a mortician …

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