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My Week in Beauty


My week got off to a glamorous start, with a trip to the cinema to ogle Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, Frank Sinatra and the beautiful Deborah Kerr (left, and sadly no relation) in the 1953 melodrama From Here to Eternity.

Despite being a fellow Scot – she was born just outside Glasgow – Deborah Kerr has never been one of my favourite actresses, probably because she often played prudish characters. Let’s face it, the collection of governesses’ dresses and nuns’ habits that made up her movie wardrobe were hardly likely to rank amongst my top choices of stylish films.

Anyway, I was struck by how sexy, indeed vampish, La Kerr looked in FHTE, playing the rather promiscuous army wife who becomes romantically entangled – most memorably on a Hawaiian beach – with Burt Lancaster. It’s not just the long legs which are shown off in shorts that could have been borrowed from The Postman Always Rings Twice’s Lana Turner; it’s the loose, and rather wild blonde hair, the scarlet lipstick and, especially, the long, long eyelashes which turned in their own Oscar-nominated performance.


Only vamps need apply for the new limited edition Tom Ford Black Orchid Collection (£100;  Harvey Nichols stores and Frasers, Glasgow) – of solid perfume, lipstick and nail varnish – which is coming out for Christmas.

At an elegant dinner in Glasgow on Monday, beauty writers were given a sneak preview of this lovely Christmas gift as well as the latest Tom Ford Private Blend fragrance, the gorgeous Azure Lime (£115).

I know we’ve got a few months to go but given that everyone at the dinner was dressed in little black numbers (even our favourite male beauty writer was a vision in noir) with sparkly jewellery (and, in a couple of cases, nails), it definitely had the feel of the first Christmas night-out of 2010!


Tuesday evening was spent in the cosy yet chic surroundings of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh where the journalist and author Justine Picardie was giving a talk on the subject of her latest biography – Coco Chanel – The Legend and the Life. This seemed like as good an occasion as any to road-test one of the latest nail colours from the Parisian beauty company, so it was with Chanel Nail Colour in Jade Rose (£16.50) adorning my talons that I watched Justine’s fascinating slide show and listened to her stories of Mademoiselle’s adventures in bonnie Scotland.

Jade Rose is a lovely, delicate variation on the nude theme  – not as readily identifiable as last year’s Jade or this season’s Paradoxal, but undoubtedly a future classic nonetheless. A bit like Justine’s book – which I’ll be writing more about shortly.


I was starting to feel unwell by Wednesday, thanks to some bug that was presumably brought home by one – or both – of my six-year-old sons. So I let my pal Lizzy do the talking when we had a chat about beauty products which I’d asked her to try out for me.

A couple of months ago, I shared a batch of hair masks out amongst my friends and Lizzy bagged the Jo Hansford Intensive Masque for Fine Hair (£25; www.johansford.com). It certainly got a good review from her, despite a “weird” texture which was “a cross between putty and chewing gum”. Lizzy said it had a lovely scent, reminiscent of pink grapefruit, and that, once she had got over the texture and worked it in her hands for a few seconds, it was softer and very easy to apply.  And the results? “Softer, glossier hair which smells really fresh after it’s dried.”


I was determined to ignore my burgeoning bug on Thursday as I had a meeting at Glasgow’s newest old hotel – the Grand Central. As the name suggests, this is a station hotel and now, as in its heyday (when it was merely the Central Hotel), it is somewhere you would want to see and be seen in … (In the interim decades, it had been somewhere you wouldn’t set foot in!)

Anyway, to get myself in the mood for the hotel where vampy comedienne Mae West stayed for two memorable weeks (in 1947, since you ask), I upped the eyeliner ante by swapping my usual semi-subtle chocolate brown liner for the forthcoming Benefit Magic Ink Jet-Black Liquid Eyeliner (£14.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk from October 31).

The verdict? Very sexy, very femme fatale – the ideal liner for creating a feline flick and the sort of come-hither eyes that Deborah Kerr works so memorably in From Here to Eternity ..

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My Week in Beauty


Dear God, don’t let them run out of ojon oil in the tropical rainforest .. Why? Because if and when they do, that will be the end of my favourite haircare find of last year.

Ojon Hydrating Ritual Collection (from £16; www.johnlewis.com) is a new haircare range which, I am convinced, has boosted the condition of my permanently highlighted hair. It uses a whole host of naturally derived raw ingredients, including nourishing ojon oil, in its shampoos, conditioners, treatments and cultish mask.

I was thrilled on Monday to receive a parcel with the shampoo and conditoner I liked best from the Ojon range – Shine & Protect Shampoo and Shine & Protect Conditioner. If you’ve never been tempted to splurge on hair products before, Ojon might be the range to convert you … wish they’d improve the design of the flimsy lids though.


Thanks to my second bug of the year – oh, the joys of having school-age children who bring us back a daily dose of whatever’s going around – I was pretty much confined to quarters on Tuesday and decided to catch up on my viewing.

I had just bought the special edition DVD of Cleopatra, the lavish Liz Taylor-Richard Burton epic from 1963. I confess I didn’t buy it so much for the film as for the two-hour documentary about the film.. And because I wanted to ogle Elizabeth Taylor’s style in the film – it’s as much 1963 as it is 40BC..

Of course, aside from her 65 costume changes (her wardrobe alone reputedly cost $194,800) and myriad hairstyles, what is particularly striking throughout is her make-up, which again straddles both Ancient Egyptian and early 1960s beauty aesthetics. Of course, we all owe good queen Cleo a debt of cosmetic gratitude: she is a poster girl for mineral make-up, kohl eyeliner and milk baths.


With all her eye make-up, Cleopatra would have loved the latest product from Benefit.

Stay Don’t Stray (£19.50) is an eye base which keeps your eye make-up in place all day so that it stays fresh-looking and doesn’t slide into the crease of your eye lids.

I started testing it on Wednesday – and it works, though I would probably only use it when I knew I had a long, busy day or evening ahead. Otherwise, my recently learned trick of using a flesh-toned shade of eye shadow as a base is fine for general day-to-day use. Check it out at www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk


My pal, and deputy product tester, Shiv gave me her verdict on the new Clinique All About Eyes Serum De-Puffing Eye Massage (£20; www.clinique.co.uk) on Thursday.

As someone whose eyes are prone to puffiness, she was the ideal person to try out my preview sample – especially since she has  “form” when it comes to testing eye de-puffers.

Her verdict? “It was no great shakes – certainly no different from the Garnier one I’d already tried, and although the puffiness did indeed go down, it wasn’t noticeably faster than when I don’t use a product at all. What I did like about it was the coolness of the metal rollerball..”

And her personal, tried and true, recommendation for de-puffing the eyes? “Origins No Puffery eye mask (£19.50; www.origins.co.uk) is still the best.”


Oh, life does get complicated when you keep falling in love … On Friday I fell, again, for a hot pink lipstick – this time the limited edition Island Hibiscus shade of Givenchy Rouge Interdit (£18.50) from the French company’s exquisite new tropical island-inspired summer collection.

Rouge Interdit is a moisturising, shiny lipstick which is a pleasure to wear – and this deep, dark hot pink (that’s how it looked on me, though the press release talks about “a new shade of red with nuances of coral” – don’t see that myself) is going to be vying with the lighter, nearer bubblegum, pink of the Dior Addict Lipcolour in Ravishing Rose for outings over the next few weeks …

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