Tag Archives: Catherine Deneuve

Va-Va Volume

Big hair - older Deneuve b & wFor the second autumn-winter in a row, I feel drawn to the look of the mighty and magnifique Catherine Deneuve – at least as far as my hair’s concerned. (Deneuve plus the big-hairedmodel in the Elnett ads!) This grande dame of French cinema has sported some fantastic hair-do’s over the decades but her distinctive style – voluminous blonde hair, worn off her face whether it’s pinned up or hanging loose – has remained constant and has just been subtly tweaked  over the decades to reflect fashions, and to flatter her as she has grown older.

Creating volume can be a challenge – I’ve found it more difficult since I ditched the blonde highlights and opted for the gentler blonde tint. My hair is Ojon Volume Advance moussehealthier and shinier – but, unfortunately, the flip side is that it’s also floppier. And that’s where my latest favourite hair styling product comes in. Ojon Volume Advance Volumizing Mousse (£23; www.ojon.co.uk) is – for me – the stand-out in the recently launched collection of volumising products from the American haircare company. And I have actually found that it’s more effective when I haven’t used the shampoo (£18.50) and conditioner (£20.50) from the same range; a range which its creators describe – rather appealingly, for those of us with naturally limp locks – as being “like a mega-phone for the hair”.

However, different hair might benefit from a different combination of products from Ojon’s Volume Advance range which also includes a Thickening Spray (£20.50). And in case you need any further French inspiration, here is a selection of shots of la belle Deneuve from different stages in her life. Big hair - Deneuve Belle de Jour

Big hair - Deneuve 1960s

Big hair - Deneuve updo

Big hair - Deneuve recent

Big hair - Deneuve recent, laughing


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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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The Rembrandt of Make-up Artists

Laura Mercier’s latest cosmetics collection, Art Deco Muse (pictured), is an exquisite homage to the style that emerged in 1920s Paris. To mark its launch, here’s a profile I wrote about the renowned make-up guru in 2009.

It’s a little disconcerting to be sitting opposite a renowned make-up artist who is used to looking into the faces of the most beautiful women in the world. But the vivacious Laura Mercier is a pro, not just with the make-up brush, but also at putting the “normal” women she regularly meets, while promoting her make-up collection, completely at ease.

Mercier, French-born with dark, Mediterranean colouring and a slightly boho style of dress, is not at all what you might expect a Parisian-schooled beauty guru to be: she’s warm, friendly and has an exuberant, passionate personality.

It’s undoubtedly the combination of her talent and her nature which has established her, over the last two decades, as the go-to make-up artist of a string of megastars, including Madonna and Sarah Jessica Parker, both of whom have raved about her abilities. “She’s the Rembrandt of make-up artists,” Madonna has said, while SJP has long admitted to being “Laura-dependent”.

Ironically, however, Mercier started out with neither the ambition to be a make-up artist nor the self-confidence that one might imagine as essential in a stressful, competitive job that involves being continually surrounded by beautiful, fashionable people.

Born in Provence, she was, she says, “an ugly duck who wanted to stay in a corner and draw and paint”. The interest in cosmetics came about when she became fascinated with her mother’s going-out ritual of applying green eyeliner and orange lipstick. “Because I was good at art, she asked me to do her make-up and nails as I got older. I enjoyed it but my passion was painting so I went to painting school in Paris after I’d done my baccalaureat.”

Unsure of what to do after her art studies had finished, Mercier followed the advice of a family friend, who had seen the maquillage she had done for her mother, and applied for a course as a beautician. The beauty school was the finest in Paris: the grand old Carita School, founded by sisters Rosie and Maria Carita in the 1940s.

Sighing with nostalgia, Mercier, who talks ten to the dozen and barely pauses for breath, recalls: “The Carita School was a great experience. By the time I went there, Maria was dead; only Rosie was remaining but it was still very tough. It was super-serious. You were taught the Carita technique with the products that were made in a special lab, in the most artisanale way. Fantastic products that we will never see again.

“Everything was so disciplined. It was wonderful; it had personality. There was the Carita make-up too and, in the institute adjoining the school, they did all the actresses and princesses – Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Adjani etc.”

Mercier’s background at art school made her stand out from the other students and attracted the attention of one of her tutors, Thibault Vabre, who appointed her his assistant as soon as she graduated. She began to do her own work for Carita, and taught at the school for three years, before setting up as a freelance.

The scene in the early 1980s was very different, not least because the French fashion crowd was quite small and self-contained. Whereas now the same make-up artists, hairdressers, photographers and models pitch up at all the fashion capitals, Mercier remembers it as an era when the job of a make-up artist was much more vital to the success of photo shoots. “It was very old school. There was no retouching of photos at all, so you had to be really good.”

In 1985, Mercier moved to New York to help launch American Elle, but her big break came when she started working with Steven Meisel, whom she describes as “this monstre sacre, the most respected photographer in fashion”. Mercier credits Meisel with teaching her about the business, boosting her confidence and opening the door to her most famous client of all – Madonna. But being a member of Meisel’s studio, she had to be “100 per cent his slave”, and that took its toll.

“I was unhealthy – there was no time to think about yourself, or the fact that you’re inhaling smoke all day and you’ve got asthma. These guys are not regular photographers. The demand from them is extreme and you’re on duty all the time – you’ve got to be right there every instant until the shoot’s finished. It could be 2 o’clock in the morning, 4 o’clock – it doesn’t matter. You have no right to be sick, no right to go on vacation, no right to have a life, really. I didn’t make a decision to have no life; it just happened. There is no way you could have a family, children; no way.”

As at Carita, Mercier stood out from the rest of the crowd in New York – not least because – as a result of asthma medication, she was overweight and frumpy. “I had absolutely nothing to do with fashion,” she admits. “I was way heavier than I am now. I had long hair that I just tied up in a chignon – totally old-fashioned – and I wore shapeless black tunics. I wasn’t interested in fashion because I didn’t have the body for it.

“I was interested in it on the model, but what interested me more was the light Steven was doing for the face, how the face and the texture of make-up would catch the light. I was obsessed with that. And the way I was working corresponded totally with what he was expecting from a make-
up artist which was: no ego, it’s not about me. I was just a working robot to make a picture; a picture that’s going to appear in the magazine and end up in the garbage, basically. But it was fantastic.”

Surely, though, it must have been tough being overweight and lacking self-confidence and having to spend your days with drop-dead-gorgeous models? “You wanna know something? I think what really pushed me in that business is the fact that I don’t think that my mother loved us very much. We were three sisters. She did her best but I think she’s kind of screwed up herself in terms of not having received much love from her parents and grandparents. And that doesn’t give a lot of confidence to a child.

“I had asthma, I was on cortisone at an early age, I had a weight problem. I was not obese like you see in America, but for France I was heavy. And I felt, I think, because I was not loved, that I was the ugliest duck in the world. I really, really was tortured by the fact that I didn’t find in myself anything good. My mum was very negative. The minute I would come down from my bedroom to go to school, she would have a mean criticism; never anything good. I thought I really was that bad.

“When I came into this business, it was great: because no-one cared what I looked like, it seemed that I only had to be good. I had to be a good assistant. I had to be ready to quickly touch up make-up between changes of clothes without bugging the photographer. I was well-educated, very polite, very discreet, very laid-back. It was not about me – I had no ego. People loved that. I was sad and depressed as could be.

“I had absolutely no personality but I was able to disappear. It was all about my art and since people loved my perfection, they complimented me all the time. I finally existed. And I think that’s why I love that business so much, because it eventually gave me self-confidence.”

Mercier is the first to see the irony of an unhappy, overweight girl finding confidence from being with beautiful, stick-thin models, but she points out: “People like Madonna or any of the actresses I’ve met are the same. They don’t want the perfect, lovely, pretty-figure type of hairdresser or stylist or make-up artist because you are there to make them shine. They appreciate when you know your place.”

It took three years of persuading by Steven Meisel for Mercier to get up the nerve to meet Madonna. “She’s an icon, and I’d heard that she’s very demanding and says things that can be humiliating, but Steven had talked to her about me and was convinced that we would get along. I thought: ‘Okay, I’ve got to transcend that fame otherwise I won’t get any further than where I am now.’ ”

Who was the most famous person she had worked with before Madonna? “Probably the supermodels but that was easy because they were babies when I met them, and they became girlfriends. The most famous person was Catherine Deneuve, who scared me to death. She was
very mean to me and that traumatised me. So I was nervous about meeting Madonna but she was a sweetheart. She gave me the scenario for her video of Take a Bow, which was to be filmed in Spain, and left me to read it, then she came back  ad asked for my ideas.”

Mercier immediately knew that a retro look, inspired by the legendary movie star Ava Gardner, would be perfect. Madonna agreed. Nevertheless, the night before a dummy run of the make-up, Mercier was to be found throwing up in her hotel room. The nerves didn’t subside when she started doing the make-up. “I was out of my comfort zone because we were in a hotel, not a studio, and she was sitting in a big armchair, not on a high stool, so I had to kneel on the floor. I was petrified. I remember I was perspiring, and I had to get the eyeliner perfect.

“After I finished the first eye, she said: ‘Wait a minute.’ And she went to the mirror and looked at it from every angle possible. My heart was pounding as she turned to me and said: ‘It’s perfect – we can do the other one.’ At the end of the video, she hugged me and whispered in my ear: ‘You are a great soul.’

“From that point on, the door was open and whenever I was alone with her at the beginning she would asked me questions about my family, to help me relax. She could feel I was terrified and she knows that can happen. You can be this way at the beginning but then she wants you to be comfortable with her, and get on with the job. We always respected each other’s position. I never wanted to be friendly with a celebrity; I never thought it was the right way.”

There was aboslutely no chance of a cosy friendship formng with the terrifying US Vogue editor Anna Wintour who, says Mercier, was “underplayed” by Meryl Streep’s fashion maven in the movie The Devil Wears Prada. What wasn’t translated from real life into fiction was her daily 6am ritual of having her hair and make-up done while she reads, with the unfortunate make-up artist squatting on the ground and trying to work on a face that’s pointed downwards.

After working non-stop with Madonna for eight years, and then with Celine Dion and Mariah Carey (“It would be literally 27 hours non-stop to shoot a video!”), Mercier was, by 2000, exhausted. She had stopped doing magazine work partly because she had her own line of cosmetics to work on and promote, but also because so much was being retouched that there was no need to hire a talented make-up artist.

She continued to look after some private clients. “THe actreses and pop stars always need you, but then you become their lave,” she exclaims.  So, gradually that has been phased out too (Sarah Jessica Parker was the last to go), leaving Mercier free to pursue the creative side of her work, coming up with products that adhere to her beauty principle: the “flawless face”, and meeting regular women who need help with their make-up routines.

Mercier loves helping them regain confidence in their looks. Just meeting her is bound to give the ego a boost, becaus she genuinely beliees that “everybody has the potential to be beautiful”, since so much of beauty is derived from the personality. “I have always had a fascination for people who are not obviously beautiful, who are not perfect,” she says. ” Often, if you look into the details you see that a face is not perfect. Look at Jackie Kennedy, she was not obviously beautiful – her eyes were very far apart. Or Sophia Loren, who has a disproportionately big mouth. But the defect becomes an asset. Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly are undeniably beautiful but they’re slightly boring, a bit bland. I like a little more hot pepper!”

And with that, the mesmerising Mercier heads off to make another group of adoring women feel good about themselves.

* First published in The Scotsman Magazine, March 2009.

(c) All text by Alison Kerr

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My Week in Beauty


Appropriately enough for Valentine’s Day, I tried out the romantic and pretty new spring colour collection from Clarins – a company which has never really been a contender in the cosmetics stakes. Until now.

Clarins Neo Pastel Collection comprises some of the loveliest and most delicate pastels around this spring – and the key product is the limited edition Clarins Neo Pastels Eye Colour and Liner Palette (£30; www.clarins.co.uk), six suits-all shimmering shades that can be used in any number of combinations.

I’ve been on the look-out for a peachy-coral colour of eyeshadow to replace a Guerlain one I wore out last summer – and may well have found it in this sleek new compact which – along with the Clarins Blush Prodige Illuminating Cheek Colour (£24), that I tried last week – is likely to be a staple of my makeup routine for some time.


‘Tis spring (well, allegedly), and beauty companies’ thoughts turn to perfume. So, evidently, do luxury shoe designers’ … One of the first new fragrances of 2011 is the debut scent of the celebrated Jimmy Choo.

Simply named Jimmy Choo (from £39; available from Harrods, Selfridges and selected Jimmy Choo boutiques), it’s officially described as “a modern, fruity chypre” , with green top notes, a creamy heart of Tiger Orchid and a base which blends “sweet toffee and patchouli”. Oh, and it comes in a python-inspired bottle (which could be confused with Flowerbomb’s similarly shaped pink bottle).

Given that I don’t much care for fruity, and the thought of sweet toffee in a fragrance brings to mind such sickly perfumes as Thierry Mugler’s Angel, I was surprised, on Tuesday, to find that the scent actually reminded me more of leathery, old-school, chypres and wasn’t overly sweet or sickly at all. It does have a heady – bordering on the cloying – quality and undoubtedly evokes the sophisticated sex appeal of a pair of Jimmy Choos, leather and all!


Looking for something new to try out for the opening night of the Glasgow Film Festival on Thursday, I had a session with the gorgeous new Milly for Clinique Limited Edition Pretty in Prints Compact (£25; www.clinique.co.uk). Containing an eyeshadow quad in shimmering pinks and browns, as well as a blusher, this covetable compact and its lovely pouch were designed by Michelle Smith of fashion and accessories label Milly.

I loved the natural, delicate tones – though, with my pale colouring, couldn’t possibly team them with the Clinique Limited Edition Long Last Glosswear SPF15 in Milly Pink (£14) – but my favourite Clinique lipstick, Clinique Butter Shine in Pink Toffee (£15) completes the look perfectly.


Lovely as it was, the Clinique palette wasn’t glam enough for the purposes of an opening gala, so I reverted to an old favourite – the purple smoky eye and nude lips – partly because I love it, and also because it always reminds me of Catherine Deneuve in the 1960s. And Deneuve was the star of the Glasgow Film Festival’s opening film, Potiche.

The film was really quite disappointing – a typical French farce which spoofed 1970s style and mocked male chauvinism. Catherine Deneuve still looks beautiful but she was dressed in the most vile clothes, and there were none of the expected sparks flying between her and her co-star, Gerard Depardieu (whose portliness has finally put paid to his sex symbol status).  My disappointment didn’t end there: someone pinched my goody bag (which was stuffed with gifts from Urban Outfitters). I went home and treated myself to a viewing of one of my favourite Deneuve films, the gloriously OTT 1967 musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (available on BFI DVD), in which she starred with her equally stunning sister, Francoise Dorleac (both pictured above).


I learned a lesson on Friday: never experiment with nail polish if you only have a tiny drop of nail polish remover left in the house …

Inspired by the simplicity of the instructions from Topshop on how to create the “marbled” nail look – which involves mixing two nail varnishes together in a bowl of room-temperature water – I blithely took the plunge using a Topshop Nail Duo (£9; www.topshop.com). As Holly Golightly would have said: “Quel desastre!”.

Having added drops of the two varnishes pictured to the bowl of water, I’d used a cuticle stick to swirl them together. Instead of creating a pool of marbled pink and gold, the two varnishes rolled into a ball and stuck to my stick! I tried again, this time (as Holly would have said) sans swirling, and when – as directed – I dipped the nail beds into the colours floating at the top of the water, I ended up with gold and pink all over my hands and nothing much on the nail beds. Never has one tiny drop of nail polish remover had to cover so much ground ….

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French Beauty Ideals

I’m in a French frame of mind today – what with it being Bastille Day. So I thought I’d share some of the words of beauty wisdom that I’ve received from two leading French make-up gurus whom I’ve interviewed in the last couple of years.

Both Laura Mercier and Terry de Gunzburg are charming, vivacious and sexy older women who graduated from the legendary Carita beauty school, and made their names as top make-up artists in the 1980s before launching their own lines of cosmetics. (Of course, for de Gunzburg, there was also the small matter of her creation of a “magic wand” called Touche Eclat at YSL ..)

It’s perhaps unsurprising then to discover that they share a similar beauty aesthetic – one which really highlights the difference between how French women and their British and/or American cousins view themselves, their looks and their sex appeal, as they go through life.

Asked to name the movie actresses whose looks she most admired, Laura Mercier said:  “I’ve always had a fascination for people who are not obviously beautiful … Obviously beautiful women like Catherine Deneuve absolutely don’t move me. Yes, she’s gorgeous in Belle de Jour but she has never moved me. However,  I am completely fascinated by the Italian actress Anna Magnani (right; 1908-1973) who can be gorgeous. Sometimes she can be not so beautiful but she’s always so intense. The personality is to die for – I mean, big dark circles, the nose and the teeth. I’m fascinated by that, by all faces. Everybody has the potential to be beautiful.”

Another of Mercier’s beauty heroines is the stylish, but not conventionally beautiful, octogenarian interior designer Andree Putman.  “She looks odd – she has adopted, completely adopted, a make-up and a hairstyle that’s always asymmetrical. I mean, she really goes for it. She imposes a personality. It’s not just about being perfect and symmetrical – it’s also her talent and her personality. Thank God! Beauty’s not like that. Paloma Picasso (below)  is another example. Even if you take Jackie Kennedy (left), yeah she was beautiful but she was not obviously beautiful. Her eyes were very far apart. If you look into the details, you see that they’re not perfect but that’s what makes us all unique. The defect can often become an asset.”

Terry de Gunzburg agrees. “I’ve always said: ‘ J’aime les defaults dans les grands oeuvres. ‘ [I like the flaws in the masterpieces.] I think that some wrinkles and fine lines can give you an internal beauty.”  She named as one of her favourite beauty heroines, whose face she had made-up while she was at Carita, the grande dame of American cinema Lauren Bacall. “I prefer the face of the older Lauren Bacall to the face of the older Goldie Hawn,” she said, recalling Bacall’s own view that she had “earned every one of her wrinkles”.

Laura Mercier sums up by saying:  “No-one can say Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly are not beautiful but, to me, they’re slightly boring, they’re a little bland. I like a little more hot pepper..”

* Laura Mercier’s range is widely available. Visit www.lauramercier.com to view her products. By Terry is available in Space NK stores in the UK. Visit www.spacenk.co.uk

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Oh, Beehive!

In tribute to the hit musical, Hairspray, which is touring the UK at the moment, here are some of the best beehives of the 1960s – starting with the most elegant and iconic of them all: Audrey Hepburn’s in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Swedish star Britt Ekland was a big beehive fan in the 1960s too – and helped popularise the gravity-defying style here in Britain.

Julie Christie was another film star whose hair trends were always worth watching in the swinging sixties.

The most famous exponent of the beehive, pre-Amy Winehouse anyway, was French “sex kitten” Brigitte Bardot who liked to wear hers loose – a sort of 1960s variation on the bedhead look.

Her fellow French star Catherine Deneuve was usually seen wearing her backcombed hair long and completely loose, or with an Alice band, but here’s a rare picture of her with a shortish fringe and bit of a beehive.

And let’s end our beehive bonanza with the lovely Leslie Caron, another Gallic style heroine – and one who often played similar parts to our first queen of the beehive, Audrey Hepburn. This is probably how Leslie C would have looked had she played Holly Golightly!

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My Week in Beauty


Having been very lazy over the weekend , I paid the price at the beginning of the week..  If I skip my moisturiser at night, it’s not long before dry cheeks kick in, and make-up refuses to do anything other than sit on top of my skin, looking like a mask.

However, I have the solution: Chanel’s “Hydramax +” skincare range, which is designed for dehydrated skins like mine.  I’m completely addicted to these moisturisers, especially the Chanel Hydramax + Active Moisture Gel Cream (£41), a terrific day cream for combination skin which can’t handle a rich cream but finds that a fluid is too light. Icy blue in colour, it has a refreshingly cool feel too – perfect if your face is prone to sensitivity. It soothes it beautifully.

My favourite Hydramax + item – and, really, something of a Desert Island product for me – is the Active Serum (£49) which boosts moisture levels and seems to smooth the skin at the same time. Four drops at a time (I use it day and night – or I pay the price) are all you need, so it does last. I’m currently using it in conjunction with the latest addition to the Hydramax  family: the Nutrition Nourishing Cream (£46; available April 23), which is perfect for night-time use.


My day was made on Tuesday when an acquaintance in the beauty biz commented on the lack of fine lines and wrinkles around my 38-year-old eyes.

It’s very gratifying when your efforts pay off – and I’m putting this compliment down to all the eye creams I’ve used in my thirties.

My current favourites in the eye department come from Guerlain, and adhere to the principle that the best thing you can do for the skin around your eyes is keep it well moisturised.

So, these days I swear by Guerlain’s Super Aqua-Eye Serum (£55) which revitalises the skin while hydrating it, and also helps counter puffiness and dark circles. It’s truly a luxury product  – my only problem with it is that it says it has to be used within six months, which is difficult if, like me, you only use it at night.

My other eye essential at the moment is the new Super Aqua-Eye Anti-Puffiness Smoothing Patch (£66.50), a soothing (if pricey) eye mask which moisturises the fragile skin round the eyes and improves the appearance of that area.

Put it this way, when I was assembling a recovery kit for a friend who’d been doing a lot of crying, a set of these masks just had to be included…


The summer cosmetics collections have started to arrive in the post – really, they have been the only antidotes to the return of the winter weather ..

So far, the colours I’ve seen have conjured up images of fresh-faced beauties with neutral tones on the eyes, and coral, cherry-coloured or pink lips – as seen on my current style inspiration, Catherine Deneuve as she looked in the wonderful romantic 1964 musical The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.

It certainly looks as if the 1960s – already the inspiration for the current Lancome collection, with its Brigitte Bardot-inspired items – are the decade du jour.. They have also influenced Peter Philips’s summer collection, Les Pop-Up, at Chanel which has a colour named Nouvelle Vague (the name of the revolutionary style of French cinema in the early 1960s).


Leaping out of bed is not something I make a habit of, but I positively sprang into action on Thursday morning – because I had a date in John Lewis. With a Sisley Botanical Facial. It’s been years since I last had a Sisley treatment, though I use their skincare any chance I get: they are the creme de la creme of botanical skincare; skincare royalty in fact since the company’s owners are the Count and Countess d’Ornano.

This super-relaxing (I fell asleep!)  facial, which is available at most stores which stock Sisley every couple of months (£25 booking fee, redeemable against any two products), is a brilliant introduction to the vast range which, in addition to skincare, comprises fragrances, body products and make-up. The facial is worth having for the smells alone – these are some of the loveliest smelling beauty products on the market. The radiance of the complexion post-facial is simply a bonus..


The weather took another turn for the wintery on Friday and, having ventured out on the school run with my hair tied up, I had to go home and let it down so I could shove my beret on again to warm up my frozen ears. The ponytail will have to go on hold for a while longer..

The icy blast also brought back everyone’s colds, and there were several outbreaks of chapped lips in our house. So it seemed the ideal time to try out the e.l.f. (eyes, lips, face) products I was sent last month.

The new Studio Lip Balm SPF 15 (£3.50) is a must for anyone, like me, who suffers from dry lips and likes to be able to wear balm under her lipstick. It comes in a tube – by far my preferred option for a balm. I won’t be sharing: the rest of the family can use pots of balm.

I felt duty-bound to try out the e.l.f. nail polishes I’d been sent as well, and since my toes have been seriously neglected in recent months, the timing was perfect. There are six colours in the new spring/ summer collection of e.l.f nail polish (pictured is Punk Purple) and, at £1.50 each, you could reasonably treat yourself to the whole set.

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