Monthly Archives: December 2013

My Year in Beauty Buys

Before we start getting too excited about the new products arriving in beauty halls for 2014, let’s celebrate the best of 2013… Here’s my top ten beauty goodies of the year – starting with the Tom Ford palette which became an instant favourite in October, and shows no sign of being replaced in my affections any time soon ..Tom_Ford_Eye_Color_Quad_-_Orchid_HazeIndeed, Tom Ford Eye Colour Quad in Orchid Haze (£62), a coppery-pink quartet with four different finishes – sheer sparkle, satin, shimmer and matte – looks set to be a permanent fixture in my make-up bag, just as it has become a permanent addition to Mr Ford’s gorgeous collection.Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing BalmProbably my singlemost favourite product this year has been Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm (£39.50;  This luxurious-feeling, oil-rich balm melts away make-up and gives the skin a thorough and quick cleanse when washed off with a hot cloth.  Smear a thick layer on before you dissolve into a warm bath, however, and the balm becomes a salon-worthy treatment which leaves the skin clean and feeling nourished. Cleansers are seldom this pleasurable to use..  Clinique Chubby Stick Shadow Tints

For sheer ease of use and the fact that you don’t need to bother packing brushes into your overnight bag, Clinique’s Chubby Stick Shadow Tints for Eyes (£17 each; proved a godsend when they were launched at the start of the year. Tom Ford Oud WoodPossibly the sexiest smells I encountered this year came courtesy of Tom Ford – not only was I rather taken with the luscious and dark Plum Japonais fragrance from the Atelier d’Orient collection he launched in the summer, but I also fell under the spell of the Arabian-inspired Oud Wood scent for men which was complemented this autumn by a shower gel and soap .
Chanel Le Jour La Nuit Le WeekendThe biggest skincare story that I told this year was the tale of three serums from Chanel. The concept of Le Jour, La Nuit and Le Weekend de Chanel (£60 each, or £172 for a coffret containing all three) – of  “re-setting”  the skin’s clock by giving the skin what it needs at the right time of day, and even the right time of the week – may seem gimmicky, but it’s worked for me. And I plan to revisit it next time I am between experimenting with new ranges…Benefit Creaseless Cream ShadowInspired by all things Deco – from the Golden Gate Bridge in its native San Francisco to the look of the summer’s big film The Great Gatsby – Benefit’s relaunched colour collection is striking not just in the appearance of its packaging but also the performance of its Creaseless Cream Shadows (£15.50 each; in particular. If you’ve never taken to cream colour, this is the range that will convert you. PRO-INTENSE-LIFT-EFFECT-NIGHT-CREAMI loved using the Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Super System 30 Day Programme (£155) and did notice some improvement in the taughtness of the jawline – but it’s a treatment only to turn to every so often (when you’re feeling flush as well as flabby of jowl). The complementary night cream, Elemis Pro-Intense Lift Effect Night Cream (£95) was a stand-out which has now become a staple.

Chanel Le VolumeChanel Le Volume mascara (£24) proved impossible to resist. I was seduced (though only once I had actually been persuaded to try it!) by the khaki shade which I was sent when it made its debut earlier this year. Since then, I’ve added the blue shade to my favourites. Why? Because it gives great curl (even to stumpy lashes), adds the promised volume and holds its own for as long as required. What more could you want? Clarins Extra-Comfort FoundationA late addition to my list of favourites from 2013,Clarins’ newest foundation – Extra-Comfort (£35; – is a truly luxurious-feeling cream foundation which is as comforting to the complexion as a fleecy blanket, and imbues it with a lovely, natural radiant finish. I have classic combination dehydrated-oily skin and it ticks both boxes, leaving my skin feeling hydrated but not shiny.Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight MaskThe emergency cream of choice on the beauty ward this year has been Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask (£29;, a wonderfully calming and deeply moisturising unguent to which I’ve turned each time I’ve felt my skin has been particularly tight or dry-feeling. Slather it on in a thick layer at bedtime, and you’ll feel your skin is plumped up and healthier when you waken. Your pillow might be a little stickier in the morning but it’s a price worth paying!

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The Fantastic (Festive) Five

So many gorgeous beauty gifts out there to choose from – and so little time left … So, here’s my pick of the best, kicking off with this covetable compact (£54) from Guerlain’s Crazy Paris Christmas collection.
Guerlain Crazy Paris paletteThe colours are actually brighter than this photo suggests and this oh-so-wearable palette comes in a beautiful black velvet pouch trimmed with fluorescent pink – to complement the rest of Guerlain’s gorgeous  Crazy Paris range. Clinique Aromatics Elixir Ltd Edition Clinique Aromatics Elixir Perfume Spray Limited Edition (£64 for 100ml) is a must not just for those who are already converts to this cult fragrance, which celebrated its 40th birthday two years ago – but also for anyone who likes their perfume to be sexy yet chic. This special edition bottle is embossed with the signature Aromatics Elixir design.Tom Ford gift setIf you’re wanting to win a lady over, you could not go wrong with a hinged box, initials on the side (not hers – a certain style guru’s), containing your choice of two nail lacquers and two lipsticks from the super-sophisticated Tom Ford make-up range. This selection comes in at £124. Who would fail to be seduced by this gift?  Benefit Love at First Shine setBenefit‘s Love at First Shine (£19.50) is the ideal present for young beauty buff – and a brilliant bargain to boot! Chanel No5 Hair MistAnd, in at number five, it couldn’t be anything other than something from the newly relaunched range of bath & body products that complement the iconic Chanel No5 fragrance. The Chanel No5 Hair Mist (£38) is an elegant way to wear the world’s favourite perfume.

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A Touch of Class, A Clink of Glass

Cocktail night - margarita

The Women – the original, 1939, version of course (from which the Style Matters banner photo comes)– is one of my favourite films and it sort of came to life here, at my flat, last week when I hosted a ladies-only cocktail party.

I may have been the only person there who saw the connection with the glittering and stylish 1930s MGM comedy, but I was rather tickled by the similarities – all three of them. There was the pan-generational, all-female cast (excepting my two children and the barman), the classic cocktails being sipped, and the fact that we all had our nails painted by the Cocktail night - Mojitoslovely Margaret – though not the Jungle Red shade that links the ladies in the movie. (Thankfully, unlike the great movie – which I have often referred to as one of Hollywood’s best bitchfests – there was no catty behaviour..)

What made the night so memorable, however, was the presence (in my own hall!) of a well-stocked cocktail bar and a barman well-educated in the sophisticated science of mixology – both thanks to Social and Cocktail, the must-visit website for cocktail devotees, which recently branched out into events.

Cocktail night - Jean

A satisfied customer

For a very reasonable £25 per head, each guest can enjoy five cocktails – chosen by the host. Social and Cocktail offers an impressive and wide-ranging menu which is divided into different sections – dessert cocktails, rum cocktails, vodka cocktails, classic cocktails and non-alcoholic cocktails.

For my Cocktails ‘n’ Cosmetics night, I opted for one non-alcoholic cocktail – the Summer Berry Sling (pronounced “delicious” by all who drank it) – plus three old favourites: French Martinis, Mojitos and Margaritas. And, since I’d never tried them but associated them with black & white movies, Old-Fashioneds, a whisky and orange bitters concoction which was the perfect final cocktail of our soiree.

* Social and Cocktail is currently offering its cocktail evening services in Glasgow and the surrounding areas, but it will soon be available in Edinburgh too. Contact them at

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Borrowing From Bourdin


NARS Guy Bourdin Voyeur, courtesy of NARS Cosmetics

This beautiful and arresting image by the great French fashion photographer Guy Bourdin (1928-1991) is one of a number from his 1970s heyday which has inspired an entire collection by make-up maestro Francois Nars for the festive season.

In creating NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection, Nars pays tribute to an artist whose influence, he says, is “in the DNA of NARS.”  Here’s a Q&A with Francois Nars on this exquisite collection which comprises five lipsticks, five eyeshadows, four nail polishes, three blushers and a number of covetable cosmetics bags, kits and gift sets.

When did you first discover the photography of Guy Bourdin? In French Vogue, in the early Seventies. The images I found captivated me – so edgy, so colourful. I had never seen anything like them.


NARS Guy Bourdin Fling, courtesy of NARS Cosmetics

What draws you to Guy Bourdin? His sense of colour. His madness. The way he broke so many rules. The way he saw women. The strong sexual aspect in the images. I love a strong woman who is comfortable being sexy and beautiful, and he celebrated that in his images.

What is it about Guy Bourdin, and his work, that lends itself to make-up? The explosion of colours, and also the extreme sophistication of the girls in his photographs. The models look totally artificial, totally unnatural, but very decadent and never cheap or vulgar. I’m drawn to bringing that juxtaposition to life in make-up.

NARS Guy Bourdin Tomorrows Red Nail Polish - email version

NARS Guy Bourdin Nail Polish in Tomorrow’s Red (£14.50)

When and why did you decide to dedicate an entire collection to Guy Bourdin? I always dreamed about it. Bourdin’s influence is everywhere in my life; it’s in the DNA of NARS. I’ve long incorporated his work into our collections – in names, colours, even inspiration for the campaign images. It was only a matter of time before I created an entire collection around him and his work.

How did you translate Bourdin’s vision into this beauty collection? I started by staring at the make-up of the models, and sometimes, the backgrounds and sets of his editorials and campaigns. It was important to me to capture both the colours and the feeling of his images. From there, we translated the shades into a cohesive collection.

How are you and Bourdin alike? How are you different? Well, we both love taking pictures, of course. And we’re both drawn to beautiful, provocative, even audacious, women. I think we’re both willing to break the rules. He was unafraid in his choices at a time when everyone was doing the same thing. I hope I am bold enough to be doing the same today.

How has Bourdin influenced you as a make-up artist and as a photographer? Enormously. His point of view has been so informative in my work – as a make-up artist, then later when I picked up a camera and stepped behind the lens for the NARS campaigns.

NARS Guy Bourdin Cinematic Eyeshadow Wishful Thinking - email version

NARS Guy Bourdin Cinematic Eyeshadow in Wishful Thinking (£18)

Why do you think Bourdin is still relevant today? His images are timeless. You look at them now, and they’re still so modern. His creativity is still inspiring the photographers, the make-up artists, the designers of today. I don’t believe he’ll ever cease to be relevant.

Both you and Bourdin have worked with the same models over and over again. How important is establishing that relationship to getting a great image? It’s all about the model – without a great model, the photography does not have the same impact. I’ve enjoyed and admired all the women I’ve worked with, and I believe that really shows through in the images.

What are your favourite images of Bourdin’s? All his work for French Vogue in the sixties and seventies. And the Charles Jourdan [shoe] campaigns. They were a revelation in their time.

NARS Guy Bourdin Cinematic Lipstick Full Frontal - email version

NARS Guy Bourdin Cinematic Lipstick in Full Frontal (£18.50)

How did you decide from Bourdin’s body of work what to incorporate into the collection? The most iconic images, and the most daring also. I wanted to bring  the bright colours from these pictures – and the happiness drawn from them – to women’s lives and make them look beautiful.

For a fan of NARS who may be new to the work of Guy Bourdin, what would you tell them? Buy the books and admire the images. That is where it all started for me.

What should women try from the collection? Holiday is the perfect time to experiment with make-up. The shades of the Cinematic Eyeshadows are seductive and sexy. And of course, you cannot go wrong with a strong red lip, found in several of the new Cinematic Lipsticks, like Short Circuit and Future Red.

NARS-GuyBourdin_Beautiful Stranger

NARS Guy Bourdin Beautiful Stranger, courtesy of NARS Cosmetics

* The NARS Guy Bourdin Holiday Collection is available now, online and in selected department stores and Space NK branches.

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