Category Archives: Beauty

A 1950s Christmas Carol

Carol 2Yesterday I was at a press screening of the most gorgeous-looking film I’ve seen this year. Carol is its title, and it was directed by Todd Haynes – who also directed the similarly ravishing-looking Far From Heaven back in 2002. To be honest, I wasn’t really convinced by the characters or gripped by the plot but I was utterly seduced by the autumnal palette, slightly grainy film and – most of all – the  way the two central characters, socialite Carol (Cate Blanchett) and young department store clerk Therese (Rooney Mara), looked. (Scroll to the end of this post for more images plus trailer.) Anyone who loves and appreciates 1950s style and beauty, as I do, will not be able to take their eyes off the screen!

The plot centred on the love affair between these two women – and it was a bit like watching Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn (in Sabrina – pre-Paris transformation) getting together. They both look amazing in clothes designed by costume designing legend Sandy Powell: Blanchett sports chic suits or fitted dresses with silk scarves and elegant jewellery, tidy little hats and a ubiquitous mink, while Mara wears simpler, gamine gear. (Indeed, the pinafore-turtle neck combo she sports for Christmas in the country is a direct lift from Sabrina.)

In an interview earlier this year, Blanchett said: “The mink was old and it kept falling apart. Between takes, Sandy Powell  the costume designer, would sew it back together by hand. I considered changing coats, but when you find the right thing, you know immediately. That coat was the one to tell Carol’s story. It was perfect.”Carol 6

Just as perfect and every bit as striking was the make-up look created for Blanchett by her regular movie make-up artist Morag Ross, who told the MakeUp411 website: “The character of Carol Aird was a sophisticated, wealthy woman, so the make-up and hair had to reflect that. As was the norm of the period, she was always made-up and lipsticked, always put-together and elegant when in public. When the two women go on their road trip the look became more relaxed and free.

“Cate’s look really came together with the immaculate and stunning hairdressing by Kay Georgiou. We took our inspiration from period photos of Grace Kelly who, of course, always seemed effortlessly elegant and beautiful, and we made our aim to channel that kind of look and feeling.” Carol’s coral-red lips, says Ross, were painted with Chanel’s Rouge Allure Lipsticks in Coromandel and Incandescente (used on the middle of the lower lip), while her nails, throughout the film, sport the Lilis shade of Chanel Le Vernis.

And Blanchett’s verdict on her make-up also referred back to Chanel. She said: “I had to pluck my eyebrows nearly every day to achieve that very stern look. I just hated it. I much prefer a natural approach to beauty. You know, Coco Chanel always said to take one thing off before you leave the house, and I think that also applies to makeup.”

Carol is in cinemas from November 27Carol 4

Carol 1

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Carol 3


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Black Velvet

Max Factor Velvet mascaraFancy having flutterable lashes with extra va-va-voom? Then get along to a Max Factor counter near you and treat yourself to the latest magic mascara wand from the company which invented them. Max Factor’s new False Lash Effect Velvet Volume Mascara (£11.99) features the brand’s latest innovation – its “Lavish Volume brush” – plus a revolutionary new mousse formula.

Why do we need another addition to the already bewildering array of mascaras on offer, you might ask? Well, because Max Factor has designed this one in Max Factor False Lash Effect Velvet Volume Mascararesponse to research which found that while women love the full lash look, many of them can’t stand the volumising mascaras already out there because they feel they leave lashes looking stiff and feeling brittle.

With its gentle, mousse texture – the formula has been blended with natural beeswax – False Lash Effect Velvet Volume is kinder to lashes and adds volume in one fell swipe. My verdict? I loved the mega-lashes look and their intense blackness, and liked the softness of the mascara but, sadly, it turned out (unlike my existing favourite Max Factor mascara, False Lash Effect Clump Defy Extensions) to leave smudges under my eyes after a few hours’ wear.


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Luxe Lips on a Budget

Bourjois Rouge Edition AquaAll hail my latest beauty hero! Bourjois Rouge Edition Aqua Laque (£8.99) may have been around for a few months but it took me till now to stumble across it in Superdrug while on a quest to find something to replace a much-loved and much-missed lip lacquer which I can’t really justify splashing my cash on…

When I fell in love with YSL Rouge Pur Couture Vernis a Levres back in 2012, a tube cost £22.50; now the price tag is £26 – and I’m afraid I just can’t help but think that that much of an increase smacks of greed. Of course, I might have been tempted to part with the asking price – and kept the lip shine for special occasions – had I not discovered the beautiful Bourjois equivalent and taken a chance on it. (A no-brainer especially just now, when Superdrug is offering 3-for-2 across all its beauty brands!) It was a miracle that in the coral-pink Appechissant shade (right) I found a pretty close substitute for the gorgeous Corail Aquatique colour that served me well across several adventures in 2012, and was always complimented.YSL Rouge Pur Couture Vernis a Levres Glossy Stain

I’m happy to report that the Rouge Edition Aqua Laque was a big hit on its first outing on Sunday. What do I love about it (and the YSL)? Well, the flattering colour which can be used to soften a darker shade, the high shine and the complete absence of any stickiness (this is not a gloss, and I am not a gloss wearer!). As someone who won’t be doing the matte lip thing this winter, I am hoping that Bourjois add some more shades to the current existing sextet. And that they don’t hike the price up by £3.50!


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A Little Noir for the Soir

Tom Ford Noir faceYou can rely on Tom Ford to confound cosmetic expectations – and for this party season, he has created a dark and decadent look that is in contrast to the reds and golds and other seasonal shades we normally see at Christmas time.

The Noir Color Collection – available from Monday – was inspired by Ford’s new signature women’s fragrance, Noir Pour Femme, and features the darkest smoky eye, matte nude lips and vampy black nails. I’d say it was reminiscent of that great beauty icon Morticia Addams, but she would have had to be feeling extra audacious to swap her red lipstick for the pale one that’s key to this look.

It’s not all sombre sophistication, however: there is a playful side to the Noir proceedings too – in the form of the new Lash Tips Mascara, in cobalt or gold, which adds a dash of colour where you might least think of Tom Ford Lip Color in First Timehaving it!

Personally, I’m already rather smitten with the Lip Color Matte in First Time (£42), which is a beautiful, very wearable velvety nude shade – and one which is surprisingly comfortable to wear.

This limited edition collection also comprises Cream & Powder Eye Color  in Night Sky (£50), Eye Defining Pencil (£29), Waterproof Extreme Mascara (£39), Lash Tips Mascara (£35 ) and Nail Lacquer in Black Out (£30).

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The Crème That’s Not For Ma Mère

CDLM Renewal Oil High ResGood news for Crème de la Mer fans – or anyone else with the financial resources to fight off the signs of ageing! The cult skincare company this month launches The Renewal Oil (£155), a highly potent and super-versatile elixir which offers a new way to deliver the famous Crème de la Mer “Miracle Broth” – a kelp-based formula which is at the core of every CDLM product – to the skin.

The dual-phase oil, which you have to shake gently before use, contains a liquid blend of sea-sourced nutrients plus the Miracle Broth which rehydrates, helps to lift and claims to plump the skin and soften emerging lines and wrinkles.

It’s not only luxurious (and expensive), it’s also great for using on the body and on hair. I have a tiny bottle and am rationing myself to just a couple of drops at a time – on the old visog, where the anti-ageing assistance is most needed! Gone are the days when I’d ask my mum to test the wrinkle potions….

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Forward Festive Face Planning!

Bourjois Night Lights in ParisI know it’s not yet Hallowe’en, but I thought you might appreciate a heads-up on a gorgeous Christmas cosmetics range which goes on sale today – allowing plenty of time for customers to perfect their party make-up or start filling their daughters’ /sisters’/friends’ stockings. Bourjois’s Night Lights in Paris collection is all about old-fashioned, high octane, glamour – smoky eyes plus classic red lips and nails.

The historic French beauty house has even created a new “night” edition of one of its oldest products, its rice powder – Illuminating Java Rice Powder (£9.99; Bourjois Poudre de Riz openexclusively from is perfect for adding a hint of festive stardust to cheekbones, shoulders and décolleté and comes in a beautiful retro tub.

Choose from two new editions of Bourjois Smoky Stories Quad Eyeshadow (£7.99 each) –  No9 Grey-zy in Love, and No10 Welcome Black – for the eyes. (The model above is wearing No10.) For lips, there is a new shade of Rouge Edition Velvet Lipstick (£8.99), No15 Red-volution, and for nails, paint on a coat of So Laque Ultra Shine Nail Enamel (£5.99) in No22 Rouge Diva, and top it with the sparkly 1 Seconde Nail Enamel (£3.99) in No39 It’s Raining Down.

All products available from Boots and Superdrug stores unless otherwise stated.

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Going for Gold

Michael Kors gold fragrancesYou can’t have missed the memo about how rose gold is THE colour of gold to be seen in this year?! Well, here’s a newsflash: it’s also the gold to be smelled in… Confused? Then look no further than your nearest Michael Kors stockist where you’ll find that his perfume interpretation of the pretty pinkish gold metal is as desirable as the inspiration itself. But it’s not the only shade of gold being feted in fragrance.

Michael Kors adores gold – in all its incarnations, so it should come as no surprise that he is celebrating it in fragrance form. “There is nothing sexier than a woman with a beautiful glow after an amazing vacation,” he says.  “And nothing complements that glow better than shimmering gold jewellery and a hint of fragrance that feels just as opulent and glamorous.”

For autumn 2015, he has launched The Gold Collection, three distinctive perfumes (from £39 for 30ml): 24K Brilliant Gold, a romantic fragrance with orange mandarin and voluptuous florals; Rose Radiant Gold, a beguilingly seductive infusion of spices, florals and soft musks, and White Luminous Gold, a sparkling and sexy scent which captivates from its opening burst of pear and jasmine.

For stockists, call 0870 034 2566.

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Miracle on Every High Street

Max Factor Miracle Match foundation model shotApplying my foundation has been a delight rather than a chore lately. Why? Because I discovered the latest foundation Max Factor Miracle Match (£12.99) almost the minute it went on counter. Not only is its hydrating, creamy texture a pleasure to blend onto skin, but it also provides such a natural yet flaw-Max Factor Miracle Matchobscuring finish that it will earn you compliments on how well you look!

The reason for this is that Miracle Match has been developed using a breakthrough formula which blurs imperfections (older ladies rejoice!) thanks to its light-reflecting particles, and contains translucent particles which allow the natural radiance to shine through. The skin is nourished by such conditioning agents as vitamins E and B so it feels comfortable and cosseted. And, as someone who invariably has trouble finding a perfect match for her fair Scottish skin, I love the fact that there is a shade which is ideal for me – the palest one of the 12 available, Light Ivory.

Max Factor Miracle Match is available at Boots and Superdrug stores now.


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A Match Made in No7

No7 makeover 13Last week I finally visited Boots for a No7 Match Made appointment, having been invited ages ago when the much-loved beauty brand began offering the Match Made service for women shopping for foundation. Since then the Match Made service has been extended to lips and cheeks too. The process begins with a discussion about what you need from your foundation –  in my case, good and lasting coverage but with a natural appearance. This led Rose Marie, my cheery consultant, to opt for the Stay Perfect range of foundations. She used a little gadget to take a picture of my skin and calculate which three shades might work. After testing all three, we settled on Cool Vanilla – modelled here, and applied with No7’s foundation brush. Top tip? Don’t dab foundation on the face and then start brushing it all over; instead, squirt some product on to your hand and work from it there. Otherwise, you end up with too much on your face…No7 makeover 1Rose Marie administered Match Made concealer in the same Cool Vanilla shade as the foundation before colour-matching my blusher – the foundation recommendations determine which two blushers will be proposed. I was shown a coral shade and a pink one, Damson Mist, which is what Rose Marie had just applied before the next picture as taken.No7 makeover 3For the eyes, something subtle and delicate – so that the emphasis could be on the lips. I chose the Eyeshadow Trio in Good Earth.No7 makeover 4Here’s the eyes-wide-open photo of the eyeshadow’d look – complete with very baggy under eyes.. Eek!No7 makeover 5After she had worked on defining my eye brows, Rose Marie persuaded me out of my comfort zone by allowing her to use eyeliner under my eyes and not along my upper lash line. She followed this with lashings of Dramatic Lift mascara both above and below the eyes. I really wasn’t very keen on the results, as seen in the next picture. I felt I looked like my eyes were popping out of my head. I’ve never liked how I look with eyeliner under my eyes (maybe some of us just can’t carry it off; I don’t even think – shock, horror – that Princess Diana, the queen of that look, always managed it!).No7 makeover 6Phew, lower eyeliner removed – and Brown Felt Tip Eye Liner applied to eyelid .. and on to trying the list of suggested lipsticks that go with Cool Vanilla complexion. The first choice (not pictured) turned out to be too pink, but this shade, Soft Paprika, from the Moisture Drench collection, was much better.No7 makeover 9Instant Radiance Under Eye Concealer was a must to disguise the eye bags, and to make me look fresher and more awake! No7 makeover 11Powder and a hint of bronzer rounded off the whole experience very nicely. I’d recommend it – the foundation in particular was the perfect match. And my No7 consultant was very patient, and extremely generous with her time. Oh, and we had a good laugh while we were practising my “Ta-dah!” moment… It’s only make-up after all; it should be fun..No7 makeover 10


Make-up used:

Complexion: Airbursh Away Primer (£16.50), Stay Perfect Foundation in Cool Vanilla (£14.50), Match Made Concealer in Cool Vanilla (£7.50), Instant Radiance Under Eye Concealer (£13.50), Powder Blusher in Damson Mist (£9), Perfectly Bronzed Dual Bronzer (£12)

Eyes: Stay Perfect Smoothing & Brightening Eye Base (£7), Stay Perfect Eye Shadow Trio in Good Earth (£9.50), Stay Precise Felt Tip Eye Liner in Brown (£8), Dramatic Lift Mascara in Black (£13.50), Beautiful Eyebrow Sculpting Pencil in Brown (£8)

Lips: Precision Lips Pencil in Rose (£6.75), Moisture Drench Lipstick in Soft Paprika (£9.95)



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Hard as Coloured Nails ..

OPI Nail Envy Strength in Colour CollectionI had the most fabulous manicure recently (details to follow soon) but when I removed the polish a week (a world record for me!) later, my nails had slipped back into their old weak and splitting ways. Thank goodness then for the package that arrived from OPI the next day. It contained a new quartet of varnishes which not only paint but also treat the talons and are targeted at weak nails like mine.

OPI Nail Envy Strength in Colour varnishes (£19.50 each) harness the fortifying power of OPI’s famous Original Nail Envy Nail Strengthener with softly tinted colour in four delicate OPI shades (from left to right) – Pink to Envy (an online exclusive – at, Bubble Bath, Samoan Sand and Hawaiian Orchid.

I love the Samoan Sand shade which provides a very chic and subtle glossy nude finish and matches my pale skin tone perfectly. Watch this space for more colours as they’re launched!

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