Monthly Archives: November 2013

Super Sonic Skincare

Lab SonicNewsflash! Well, actually you might not care to know it but my face is currently cleaner and smoother than it has been for most of the last 41 years… And here’s why – and this is the newsworthy bit – it’s all down to L(A)B Sonic – Sonic Cleansing System, which is the latest sonic system to hit the market and, at £65 (currently with a third off at Boots) considerably more affordable than its competitors.

The system includes four interchangeable heads – a cleansing brush head, a dermabrasion brush head, a hydration applicator (for ensuring that moisturiser goes as deep as possible) and a “wrinkle eraser”. It was designed by sibling scientists Charlotte, Lauren and Sophie Rigby, whose research, during their studies at Oxford University, into skincare and skin biology was supported by the Prince’s Trust Charity.

What their research highlighted was how sensitive and unique each person’s skin is; that a cream that can help calm eczema for one person can prove to be an irritant for someone else. The other thing that became apparent from the sisters’ research was how personal each person’s skincare was to them, and how many people would like to benefit from the latest technology but are reluctant to deviate from their favourite products.

So the sisters created the L(A)B Sonic – Sonic Cleansing System which can slot into customers’ normal skincare regime, and improve its efficacity in the process. The sonic frequency of the handset generates 300 movements per second, working gently with the skin’s own structure to prevent abrasion and irritation. Skin is eight times more thoroughly cleansed than if the cleanser is applied manually, and moisturisers and serums can penetrate more deeply.

One for the Santa list, perhaps?

* Visit to take advantage of the special introductory offer of a third off the RRP of £65.

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Nailing the Season’s Polishes

There are some gorgeous new nail polishes on the market this winter. Here are my favourites as we head into the festive season, kicking off with a beautiful shimmery pink-red shade – Trophy Wife – by Tom Ford (£26). His nail lacquers are my new favourites: the design of the brush is perfect for a super-classy, rounded-corners, shape.
Tom Ford Trophy WifeFor a subtle and elegant shot of glamour, Boots No7’s Stay Perfect Nail Colour in Moonlit Shadow, a champagne shade, is hard to beat.
No7_Nail_Colour_-_Moonlit_ShadowChanel can always be relied upon to provide some covetable colours at Christmas, and this year’s Le Vernis in Rouge Rubis (£18) – a shade that Dorothy Gale could match with her slippers – is no exception.
Chanel Rouge RubisGuerlain only re-introduced nail varnishes into its collections earlier this year but they’re already firm favourites, thanks to the unusual colours, fabulous finishes and brilliantly shaped brushes. This pair of polishes from the Guerlain Crazy Paris Christmas Collection offer a stand-out alternative to the reds and golds available elsewhere. On the left is Guerlain Colour Lacquer in Sulfurous (£18), a metallic aubergine; on the right is Guerlain Ultra Violet Top Coat (£18), a shiny blue-tinged, glossy varnish which can be worn alone or over a colour. Worn in nightclubs under UV light, the pigments catch the light and the nails turn fluorescent…
Guerlain nail lacquers 2

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Three Cheers for Benefit

Benefit_Boutique2_SFLast weekend got off to a very pretty, pink start thanks to an invitation to the opening of Scotland’s first Benefit Boutique – in Frasers, Glasgow. And I have a feeling that it won’t be the last weekend I kick off in there. Why? Because this is the perfect pampering parlour to get prepped for a night out – and there’s a champagne bar serving pink Moet to sip on while you do..

Entering the Benefit Boutique is a bit like time travelling back to the 1950s or appearing as an extra in Grease. The assistants are all dressed   in retro gear – Minnie Mouse meets Frenchie, the “beauty school drop-out” – and they not only advise on products and do mini-makeovers but they also offer a menu of services, including those – such as brow-shaping, which is big business for Benefit (it’s responsible for more of the nation’s eyebrows than any other company) – that can be done at counter as well as salon treatments, ranging from waxing to spray-tanning.

As boutique manager Linda, who gave me a tour of this pink paradise tucked away at the back of Frasers, explained, they are primed to cater for not just Benefit launchclients visiting on their own, but also for groups of girls who fancy partaking of some pampering while sampling the delights of the champagne bar. It’s a lovely space, with enthusiastic and welcoming staff – and I’ll be back soon to sample the waxing experience. After all, how painful can it be if there’s champagne as an anaesthetic? Chin-chin!

* Benefit Boutique, Frasers, Glasgow (0141 221 3880; extension 2737).

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All I Want For Christmas ..

Elemis facial shot - pressure points… is a firm jawline – and it looks as if there’s every chance that the skincare Santas at Elemis are going to make that Christmas wish come true. Why am I so confident? Well, because, sitting in my bedroom is a box containing the brand new Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Super System 30 Day Programme (£155) and I have reason to believe that it might slow down the onslaught of hamster cheeks and a sloppy jawline.

The system contains an arsenal of skincare weapons, with plant stem cells at their core, to take on the triple terrors of droopy cheeks, double chin and sagging jawline, along with the often tired areas around the eyes and mouth – and it couldn’t be simpler to use. I’m on day two so I should know .. You use one vial of Pro-Intense Lift Effect Super Serum each day – half in the morning and half at night (the vials are cleverly designed so they can be re-sealed after they’ve been snapped open). It’s a high-tech formulation which targets the advanced signs of skin ageing, and has been credited in independent trials with restoring youthful tone and firmness to the cheek and double chin areas.

Step 2 is to apply the Pro-Intense Eye and Lip Contour Cream to plump up those invariably dry and thin areas of skin around the eyes and the mouth, while Step 3 – the last daily step – is to use the Pro-Intense Lift Effect Night Cream, a gorgeous and luxurious cream which aims to help reduce the appearance of sagging jowls, cheeks and chin. According to testers, facial contours appear shaped and skin texture is visibly improved.

The system also includes four doses of the Pro-Intense Lift Effect Jowl and Chin Mask, Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Effect Super System pack shotdesigned to be used over the serum once a week. This stretch fibre mask hooks over the ears to help firm and tighten the jawline and  chin.

And the reason for my faith in my Christmas wish being granted is that I recently went to the PURE Spa in Glasgow and tried out the salon treatment – the Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Effect Facial (£75)  – which complements the at-home system, and I was very impressed with the results. The skin was plumper, the jawline was a bit more clearly defined and the tone of my complexion was brighter. But be warned: my granny always used to say “beauty suffers no pain” – which was how she would justify any discomforts (braces, steaming blackheads etc) – and this treatment has a bit of a painful procedure in it. The massage, a unique pressure massage along the jaw and cheekbones (you feel the skin being squeezed against the bone), is quite uncomfortable; painful even. I think it’s as well to know in advance that it’s not relaxing in the way that a lymphatic drainage massage usually is. Luckily it happens early-ish in the facial so there’s still plenty of time to relax and float away (as I did) once it’s out of the way.

* To buy the Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Super System 30 Day Programme, visit or call +44 (0)117 316 1888. For details of spa and salon locations, call  +44 (0)117 316 1888 .

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BearFaced Beauty for Children in Need


Kimberley Walsh, one of the celebrities taking part in the BearFaced campaign

On Friday, November 8, women across the UK will be going ‘BearFaced’ for BBC Children in Need, the annual fund-raising event which will be broadcast on the BBC throughout the evening of Friday, November 15, and features the cheeky mascot of Pudsey the bear.

Ditching makeup for just one day could help raise life changing funds for disadvantaged children all over the UK.

As one of the official fundraising partners of BBC Children in Need, Boots UK has raised over £5 million helping disadvantaged children and young people across the UK over the last decade, and this year, the company is determined to raise the biggest amount to date. So its No7 brand has joined forces with the BearFaced campaign to ensure skin is ready to go BearFaced. Until November 9 (Saturday), five pence from every pound spent on No7 skincare at Boots UK stores will be donated directly to BBC Children in Need.

No7 will help women across the UK feel fresh faced and fabulous for the big day and those who do go makeup free – whether to show support or to raise money by being sponsored for their non-make-up marathon – won’t be alone as BearFaced beauties such as singer Kimberley Walsh (pictured above), One Show presenter Alex Jones, MTV presenter Laura Whitmore and television personality and choreographer Arlene Philips have all signed up to go makeup free too.

To help achieve the ultimate complexion perfection, No7 Consultant Samantha Catt has given her top skincare tips:

•   Cleanse: Always start your skincare routines with a splash of warm water or No7 Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser (£9.95) to open your pores. This allows your cleanser to clean impurities from deep within the skin and leaves it feeling squeaky clean. Samantha advises: “Wash skin morning and night with a cleanser suitable for your skin type. After cleansing, splash your face with cool water to close pores again.”

*   Exfoliate: Exfoliating helps to gently remove dead skin cells to reveal your glowing complexion underneath. This helps skin to look refreshed, rejuvenated and healthy, even without the addition of makeup. Samantha says: “Buff skin twice a week with your preferred method. You could use an exfoliating brush like No7 Beautiful Skin Cleansing Brush (£15), grainy facial scrub or No7 Youthful Glycolic Peel Kit (£24.95).”

•   Hydrate: For even better anti-ageing results, pair a serum with a moisturiser. “Follow your favourite serum with a moisturiser tailor made for your skincare needs,” says Samantha. “Make sure it has a 5* UVA rating as well as sun protection factor (SPF) to protect your delicate skin from the sun, try No7 Protect and Perfect Intense range (£43).”

•   Eye cream: For a fresh-faced, bright-eyed effect, apply an eye cream after your moisturiser. This helps to smooth any fine lines and keep your under eye skin hydrated. What’s best, a little goes a long way. Samantha says:  “Apply an eye cream with your ring finger very gently; a grain of rice size is the perfect amount.”

 •   Illuminate: Add some ready-made radiance to your complexion with an instant skin fixer. Light-reflecting particles will make your skin appear immediately brighter and fresher. “If your skin is lacking in youthful glow, particularly in the winter months, glide No7 Instant Radiance Beauty Balm (£17) over the cheeks to lift your complexion.”

•   Primer: A solid base is key to any flawless look but essential when going “bear”. Samantha says: “If your skin is oily, the No7 Beautifully Matte Makeup Base (£10.50) will combat shine or try No7 Airbrush Away Primer (£19.50) which gives the illusion of smooth, even skin.”

* Watch out for Children in Need events taking place in Boots stores across the UK. Children in Need, BBC 1 & 2, Friday November 15.

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Get Radiant with Guerlain …

GuerlainHow, I wondered as I lay back and awaited the start of a “Complete Facial” at the sumptuous Guerlain Spa at Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel yesterday, are the Parisienne fans of my favourite facial experience coping while the Guerlain Institut at 68 avenue des Champs-Elysees is closed for renovations?

The Complete Facial – one of Guerlain’s classic staple treatments – is the centrepiece of one of the Complete Radiance package (£99)  currently on offer at the Guerlain Spa – until November 15.  The Complete Facial is one of the most sublime (and addictive!) beauty experiences around: it’s a tailored facial which lasts 90 minutes and is almost like a comprehensive overhaul of the complexion. It kicks off with the selection of a Guerlain scent with which to fragrance the treatment room and the footbath which is administered before each facial begins.

This treatment is sheer relaxation all the way – especially if you ask to skip the “extraction” (of blackheads) stage which follows a gentle steam of the face. While I floated off into a state of semi-consciousness, my hands were pampered with a paraffin mask, and I was given the 19-minute, Guerlain facial massage, before Jen, my therapist, applied a mask. While it was working its magic, I enjoyed a soothing scalp massage. I really felt that I had been pampered from head to foot by the time I left.

* The Complete Radiance package, which also includes a mini makeover, and use of the spa facilities, is available until November 15 at The Caledonian in Edinburgh. For further information or to book, call the spa reception on 0131-222 8836 or visit

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Style on Film: Belle de Jour/Le Week-end

Belle de Jour - hat and shadesI watched a couple of movies set in Paris last week – and found style inspiration in both. Weirdly, the film which I fully expected to be like a flick through the pages of a 1967 edition of Vogue turned out to be a little drab in the style stakes, while the film which I hadn’t even considered as a potential source of style inspiration provided a handful of sartorial delights..

The 1967 film in question was Belle de Jour, starring Catherine Deneuve – whose 1960s look, I had already recently decided (when donning a tux and backcombed hair for an awards event), is going to be a reference point for me this winter. Her Belle de Jour wardrobe was created by her favourite designer in real-life, Yves Saint Laurent, and it Belle de Jour - Red suitwas the above photo of the ensemble she wears when first visiting the brothel where she is seeking a day shift that seduced me into watching the whole film.

Aside from a Chanel-esque scarlet wool skirt suit and a pretty, if unremarkable, black mini dress with white collar (admittedly, very “now”), however, the clothes were nothing to write home about. They certainly didn’t inspire me. I should have made-do with that photo as inspiration; I didn’t find any more in the film. Indeed, underneath that coat she is wearing a very dreary beige shirt dress.

Much more interesting – as well as quirky and insouciantly sexy – were the clothes sported by Lindsay Duncan in Le Week-end, which I saw in the cinema last week. Duncan may be more than twice the age Le Weekend - Black lace dressthat Deneuve was when she made Belle de Jour but to the modern eye, hers is the more youthful look. (Mind you, Deneuve was playing a buttoned-up kind of a character letting her hair down for the first time.)

I loved her boulevardier gear of slouchy herringbone coat, short skirt and ankle boots, and coveted the sexy little black lace dress she wears to the pretentious dinner party at which, to her own surprise, she beguiles several of the men. Oh, and I fancy a fedora having admired Duncan’s in the final scenes. Move over Ms Mirren; the Duncan dame looks like the new poster girl for les femmes d’un certain age …Le Weekend - fedora & raincoat



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