Christmas wouldn’t be half as beautiful without Clarins – it’s definitely the go-to beauty brand for skincare treats, and its red packaging just adds to the festive appeal. For me, the stand-out anti-ageing product this year has been Clarins’ Super Restorative Remodelling Serum (£80), which promises to help lift features, replenish the skin, reshape and redefine the facial contours and reduce the appearance of age spots.
I used it religiously from August until very recently (it lasted extremely well, especially since, once I began to panic about running out, I only targeted my forehead and my jawline!), following the “Clarins Method” – a particular way of applying it using gentle pressure. I noticed an improvement in the tautness of the skin on my jawline pretty quickly, which is why I was encouraged to keep using it twice a day and not to skip the serum step even when I was knackered.
Early on, somebody commented on how lovely my skin was looking. I remember feeling perplexed because at the time I felt quite run-down. Then I realised that the credit for any improvement in my complexion was probably due to this serum, since it also restores radiance, and gives older women’s skin the support it needs to bounce back and recover from the hormonal changes which inevitably weaken it.
Towards the end of my Super Restorative Remodelling cycle, I was lucky enough to be treated to one of the fabulous Clarins Tri-Active facials (£67 for 85 minutes), which now incorporate the serum. As ever, it was not only extremely relaxing, but also produced instant results in terms of tightening and brightening the skin. If you’re planning to splurge on a woman who is fortysomething or older this Christmas, this is the skincare to buy – and the Tri-Active facial is the spa treatment to book….
Parisian beauty brand Bourjois is making Christmas shopping a much more enjoyable experience with a couple of fab offers running concurrently at Superdrug and Boots. I don’t normally get excited about these things but these offers are downright irresistible! I haven’t received any press info about them; I just stumbled across them instore – and figured that it’s worth knowing about both deals before you choose which one to go for .. Or which to go for first!
At Superdrug until the end of January, not only can you buy three Bourjois items for the price of two, but you will also receive the lovely eyeshadow trio pictured – a beautiful, light-coloured and very wearable trio of shimmering nude shades, and instructions on how to use them. A brilliant stocking-filler – or maybe a palette to save for the spring?
Meanwhile, over at Boots, a spend of £15 from the Bourjois stand before December 29 will earn you the Rouge Glamour gift box (worth £29; scroll down to view), which contains full-size versions of the Smoky Stories Quad Eyeshadow in Upside Brown, a Volume Glamour Max Mascara in Ultra Black, a Rouge Edition Velvet Liquid Lipstick in Hot Pepper and a So Laque Ultra Shine Nail Polish in Rouge Escarpin.
Both free gifts are available while stocks last. I reckon that won’t be long!
Apologies for the absence of new blog posts over the last week but I was unwell and feeling far too wretched to write.. I did get a laugh in the midst of the misery, however, thanks to the arrival in the mail of a selection of items from the team at cult British beauty house Illamasqua, the brand for those who dare to follow their own path make-up wise. Why the laugh? Well, actually it was more of a snigger – fuelled by the inexplicable name of one of the beautiful nail varnish I’d been sent. Phallic. Nope, me neither. It’s a sparkly midnight blue shade – not a fleshy one as you might perhaps expect!
Anyway, it’s part of the Equinox Gift Set (£45), one of three which complement the gorgeous Equinox make-up collection modelled in the photo above. The collection is said to represent a desert at night, with the shimmering textures of the gorgeous Celestial Palette (£34; one of the loveliest eyeshadow quartets I’ve seen this season – scroll down to view it), the Broken Gold (£18.50) liquid eye colour and the champagne shade of Nail Varnish in Beam (£14.50) all evoking the stars and the sky.
The collection is completed with a set of False Eye Lashes in No27 (£12.50) and the deep garnet-coloured, satin-finish Glamore Lipstick in Vega (£19.50). In all, a ravishing alternative to the other beauty houses’ festive make-up collections – and a unique one. After all, I don’t think I’ve come across one that reminds me of the Three Kings of the Orient or the old Turkish Delight ads before…
I don’t know about you but I love what we Glaswegians (or maybe it’s just my mum and I) call a good “guddle” around the shops. Not all shops, but shops which have interesting items to look at, especially when they’re presented in imaginative and attractive ways. The place to go for a good guddle in my hometown of Glasgow at the moment is The Curiosity Shop, a pop-up boutique on Hyndland Street (next door to the famous Rio Cafe). The shop window reminds me a little of the warm and inviting one that a shivering Tiny Tim stared into in A Christmas Carol – and certainly the Curiosity Shop has been like a little beacon of good cheer during the cold and wet weather of the last few weeks. It’s the brain child of three go-get-’em Glaswegians – Jill Rodger, Jennifer McGlone (owner of The Braw Wee Emporium) and Sally Reid – who each specialise in selling quite different types of items, which all work very well together. My friend Jill is the vintage queen who has a particular eye for homewards, especially from the 1970s.I have a bit of a vested interest in The Curiosity Shop because Jill is selling some of the pieces from my vintage jewellery collection which is long overdue a bit of a cull – my Christmas brooch habit has been needing to be addressed for some time!And it’s not only my love of classic costume jewellery and accessories that The Curiosity Shop appeals to; I was also rather taken with some cool – and very affordable – necklaces by Florence Box which, at £6 each, are potential stocking-fillers.
My talented sister-in-law, Akiko, got loads of requests for her exquisite felt Christmas decorations a few years ago, when my pals spotted them on my Christmas tree. You’ll find her cute creations (shades of Dick Bruna, I think!) in The Curiosity Shop too.
And if you’re looking for gifts for The Curiosity Shop is it is the first Glasgow stockist of the lovely new Ermana range of natural skincare – beautiful, preservative-free oils, creams and lotions made here in Scotland – which sits alongside handmade soaps by A Pony Called Steve. As a fan of old movies and movie style, I am very taken with the gorgeous Deco Girl lightshades which could be just the job for my new boudoir..
Anyway, the shop is gorgeous to look at so enough of my words, here are some more pix to tempt you.
This year’s Christmas collection from Chanel is as glamorous as ever but it has a dark twist. The Rouge Noir Absolument collection has been inspired by the classic, vampy Rouge Noir nail varnish, which celebrated its 20th birthday recently and was one of the biggest beauty stories of its era. I remember vividly writing a story for The Herald about it when news broke that this dinky little bottle of inky, blackish-red polish had a waiting list in the UK. I only got my hands on mine because I went on a press trip to Copenhagen where there were still a few bottles left!
Rouge Noir was originally inspired by a colour mentioned as a favourite of Coco Chanel in a 1926 magazine article, and this new collection puts the deep garnet shade centre stage, with a number of roses, pinks and golds in supporting roles so you can release the inner vamp or temper her with softer, prettier shades. Highlights of the collection include the Signé Particulier Exclusive Creation (£44), an eyeshadow quartet which revolves around the matte Rouge Noir shade; a beautiful highlighting powder, Joues Contraste Lumiere 12 Coups de Minuit (£31), in a pearlised rose-gold shade, and of course the gorgeous new trio of nail varnishes (£18 each) – the original Rouge Noir shade, plus brand new Le Top Coat Lamé Rouge Noir, a transparent top coat with gold flecks, and the delicate Rose Fusion shade.
I popped along to the Chanel counter in Fraser, in Glasgow, last week for a Rouge Noir makeover (scroll down to see my pix from the day). Late morning is probably not the best time of day to go noir, but it was worth doing as my make-up artist, Megan, gave me some great idea about how to wear the Rouge Noir collection. I particularly loved the eye palette, which was enhanced by the new Rouge Noir shades of the Ombre d’Illusion cream eye colour (£25 ) and Le Volume Mascara (£25).
Yesterday 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.”
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.”
Fancy 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 response 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.
All 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.
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!
You 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 having 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).
Good 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….