Monthly Archives: May 2012

My Week in Beauty


I didn’t really have a big night out at the weekend but I was desperate to dabble in the new summer collection, “Enchanted”, from Clarins, so I possibly looked a little more glam than is strictly necessary for a Saturday afternoon jazz session!

What particularly attracted me to this Indian-themed collection (though I must confess, I thought it was Moroccan when I saw the colours and the new Clarins Kohl Kajal Long-Lasting Eyeliners , £15 each) was the absolutely stunning Clarins Limited Edition Colour Quartet & Liner Palette (£30;

I have loved Clarins’ mineral eye shadows since they launched them last year. The colours always work beautifully together, they usually have one slightly unexpected shade, they blend very easily – and, best of all for anyone who finds that make-up doesn’t stay put all day, they last extremely well.

This new palette of sparkling shadows is one of the loveliest yet – and would look great with any eye colour since it contains an iridescent champagne shade, bronzy-gold, a coppery-brown and a vibrant violet, plus a chocolate brown eye liner. Wearing just the two lighter shades provides a fresh, casual look but once you add in the brown and/or the violet, it’s very striking…


Well, it’s always nice to get compliments about your hair – and I was delighted to get one last week (at the stage in my colour cycle when I only expect insults!)…  I’m putting it down to the fact that for several days last week, starting on Tuesday, I used Tigi Ego Boost (£12.50) from its Bed Head range.

This leave-in conditioner mends dry and damaged hair and protects it from environmental elements, plus the harmful side effects of chemical treatments, shampooing and brushing. It’s quick and easy to use and makes even the tuggiest hair comb-able. I’ve been finding that it gives my fine hair a bit of oomph in the volume department – so it really is an all-round ego booster….


We’ve been having a bit of a heatwave here in Scotland, and it’s been too hot to to wear much – in terms of make-up as well as clothes…

Less face paint is definitely more when it comes to staying cool, and one summer essential which emerged last week was Estee Lauder Sumptuous Two Tone Eye-Opening Mascara (£25; from June, and at Selfridges just now).  It’s not the first double-ended mascara (Guerlain’s Le 2 has two ends and two mascaras, but they are for use on all the lashes, top and bottom) but it is the first to have a brush and mascara for the top lashes and a separate brush and different coloured mascara for the bottom ones. The idea is that the mascara for the bottom lashes, which comes with a dinkier brush, is a subtler shade (either Rich Brown, Rich Blue or Rich Plum) and one which will bring out the colour of the eyes, while the top lash colour is Bold Black.

I’ve been finding that it does indeed flatter the eyes (and I’ve been wearing it with no other eye make-up – unheard of for me!) but that the lower lash mascara eventually smudges – which was the same problem I had with the first dedicated lower lash mascara I tried, by Clinique.


ROX were at it again on Thursday night .. Holding another fab soiree I mean. This time the Glasgow-based jewellery store was hosting a birthday bash to celebrate 40 years of Gucci watches – and a swell party it was too, even if all I could do was ogle the timepieces in question…

Actually, when my ship stops hovering outside the harbour, I think I’ll get myself along to Rox and treat myself to some of the sexy bamboo jewellery I fell in love with on Thursday. A new watch  can follow. Who needs to keep track of time when there are tassle earrings seeking an owner?!

The Kim & I at the Gucci party, photographed by an Orson Welles-inspired snapper .

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My Fortnight in Beauty

It’s been a bit of a manic fortnight, what with a jazz party to attend (that takes a week out of the diary – four days there, plus three days to recover), and a feast of writing assignments after a bit of a famine.

Still, there have been opportunities to try out some new products – and discover a couple of new favourites. Undoubtedly my favourite find of recent times is the new collection of nail varnishes from Yves Saint Laurent.

YSL La Laque Couture (£18) is the name of this new polish and aside from the fact that it comes in 30 fabulous shades created to reflect the couture legacy as well as the contemporary creations of the house of Yves Saint Laurent, what I immediately loved about it was its brush which – during my long train journey from Glasgow to Norwich for my jazz party – enabled me to paint each nail very neatly and precisely with just one sweep.

I haven’t yet experimented with the YSL polishes on my toes – I haven’t needed to, as they’ve been sparkling with a Leighton Denny varnish that was applied by a pro, when I tried out the new Ila Luxurious Seaweed Foot Experience (£80) at The Blythswood Square hotel in Glasgow.

This new treatment turned out to be very relaxing – so much so that I drifted off a few times (possibly, at least once, mid-conversation!). It kicks off with a soothing footbath using nutrient salts and pure essential oils. Then the feet and lower legs are scrubbed with an exfoliator made using the oil from Scottish seaweed. The next stage is a massage using a deeply hydrating and nourishing oil, followed by a comprehensive pedicure which left my feet positively glowing – and undoubtedly ready for their close-up in summer sandals..

In addition to the YSL nail polishes, my other great find of the last fortnight is an exfoliator which makes me smile every time I use it. Can’t be a bad thing, can it? It’s not just that MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator (£18) is jet black, and makes me look like Al Jolson or a member of the chorus on The Black and White Minstrel Show. It’s because it reminds me of Annie Hall, one of my favourite Woody Allen films. Remember the black soap scene? (If not, scroll down to see a clip.)

As Annie explains to Alvy, the black stuff is good for her complexion – and my skin was certainly radiant after I’d used this unusual product (a cult favourite from MAC which had been limited edition but was reinstated due to popular demand) thanks to its combination of natural volcanic ashes and sugar crystals. Next time, though, I’ll warn the offspring before I put it on …

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My Week in Beauty


Who knew that paradise had an outpost in Polmont of all places? Yes, almost halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh there is a spa which is as sumptuous and luxurious as any in either of the cities between which it nestles. The Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa may not be in the most prepossessing of surroundings but it is a haven of tranquility, with a restaurant that achieved a rare 8/10 from the Sunday Herald’s not-easily-impressed food critic, Joanna Blythman, very comfortable rooms, and – most importantly – it has a spa, which I visited for the first time on Monday.

The French beauty company Decleor had invited me

to try a treatment that is exclusive to the Macdonald chain of hotels and
spas – and it was certainly worth the trip. Paradise Escape is the name of this two-hour “spa journey” which harnesses the benefits of a Madagascan fruit called the boabab. This fruit has six times more Vitamin C than orange and is grown on trees that are 80% water and live for 100 years..

The treatment begins with a full-body exfoliation using boabab seeds which smoothe and rejuvenate the skin. Then it’s on to the paradise part of the experience: a back, neck and shoulder massage using warmed balms and Decleor’s unique massage tool, the “Acacia Massager” which provides an intense massage. A gentle facial follows, and during the mask part, the therapist massages the legs and arms.

I must say, I drifted off to sleep several times during the treatment (always a good sign) and positively floated back to my room afterwards. My lovely therapist, Amanda, gave me some great skincare advice and no hard sell products-wise, and couldn’t have done more to ensure that it was as relaxing as possible. Indeed, the whole spa set-up is designed to ensure that guests feel as pampered as possible: I was particularly impressed with the candle-lit relaxation room, where you can chill out before and after your treatment – which was every bit as luxurious as others that I’ve experienced in much swankier/more expensive hotels.

* The Paradise Escape treatment costs £110 from Monday-Thursday and £115 from Friday-Sunday and is available from Macdonald Spa Hotels.  Rooms at the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa start at 71, and there is currently a special offer on for an overnight luxury spa break

Being a natural-born sun-avoider who is happy to look pale, I am very popular with my tan-loving girlfriends since I often give them self-tanners to try out. My pal Siobhan has been using these products throughout our 22-year friendship so she was the ideal person to try a face tanner I was given a few months ago. Here’s her report on Sisley Self Tanning Hydrating Facial Care (£78):

“It has a nice light texture and has that adorable smell that some of their other skincare products have (I am thinking in particular of the Express Flower Gel which I was lucky enough to get from my sis a couple of years back). Anyway, it’s not like putting on a tanning product at all – a good thing. Having said that, it is so light in texture that I felt the need to apply a second layer of moisturiser over the top. The colour is pretty subtle and only started coming out after the second application – it suggests applying two-three times a week and I’d probably go for three. All in all very pleasing – I hadn’t used a face tan for a while so was quite tentative, but soon realised this was a subtle product in every way – smell, texture and colour-wise. A real treat to use for which many thanks!”


The most glamorous night – oh, okay, the only glamorous night – in the Scottish jazz calendar is the Glasgow Jazz Festival’s fundraising ball. This year’s event took place on Thursday and it was very unusual to be wearing a full-length gown, rather than jeans, while hanging out with jazzers.

It seemed the perfect occasion to debut the latest gorgeous eyeshadow palette I’d been sent.    Dior 5 Couleurs Croisette Edition in Aurora (£41; from May 14) may comprise Riviera-inspired shades but they seemed to suit my distinctly non-Riviera-like colouring; the gold, ochre and brown eyeshadows look terrific with blue eyes and blonde hair, while the slightly scary burnt orange adds warmth and works well with a coral or red lipstick. Thankfully, I had been sent a replacement Sisley Eyelid Shading Brush (£38.50) – I lost mine earlier in the week – or I’d not have done such a professional job on the eye make-up!

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