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The Lipstick Renaissance

This is the year of the lipstick. After all, so far this spring we’ve seen new lipsticks being launched by Estee Lauder (Pure Color), No7 (their new Poppy King range), Clarins (Rouge Hydra Nude), Dior Addict and Guerlain (Rouge Automatique). Chanel’s creative director of make-up, Peter Philips, continued on his mission to convert girls to the lipstick cause by launching the glossy Rouge Coco Shine…. Lipstick is having a moment, as they say in fashion-ville; though for many of us it’s never gone out of style.

After all, it’s difficult to resist the way a slick of lipstick can lift the spirits by brightening the smile. Not only that, but lipstick is a shortcut to glamour and can instantly transform the appearance in a way that no other single item can. Gwyneth Paltrow summed up the powerful effect of lipstick when she said: “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”

For the millions of women who have bought Chanel lipsticks since they were first sold in 1924, owning one of those little black tubes is an affordable way of sharing in the luxury and elegance of the brand – and of keeping up with the latest trends. The same goes for Dior, Tom Ford, Armani and the other beauty brands which belong to fashion houses.

The history of the lipstick as a staple of our beauty routine stretches back to the ancient civilsations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, when both sexes painted their lips using such natural dyes as carmine, which is made from ground-up insects, or sheep’s blood. By the 16th century, women were following Queen Elizabeth I’s penchant for prettifying her pout by colouring her lips with cochineal paint (made from beetles), while their great-great-grand-daughters, a hundred years later, favoured creams that were made with black grape juice.

But it wasn’t always a smooth ride for the early incarnations of lipstick. In the 18th century, it was banned – along with other cosmetics – by Parliament (which associated it with witches), and it was dismissed as “impolite” by Queen Victoria in the 19th.

Of course, back then, lip colour came in little pots or, in the case of Liquid Bloom of Roses, which was imported from England by the founder of the Parisian beauty house Guerlain, in a little bottle. Monsieur Guerlain soon changed its formula and created Liquid Rose Extract “for lip colour with great staying power that lasts through meals”. It continued to sell until 1958.

Guerlain was also responsible for the very first modern-day lipstick, made with a wax base in 1870. Ne m’oubliez pas was its name and it came in a refillable container with a “push-up” mechanism. The first swivel-up tube was patented in 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee, and 13 years later Guerlain created the Rouge Automatique – which it has recently revived – a lipstick with no cap, that can be applied using just one hand: perfect for the girl on the go, who can’t take her eyes or fingers off her phone as she does her lippie.

And it’s not just the design of the containers and the formulation of the lipsticks that have changed over the years; the colours have come in and gone out of fashion. The most enduringly popular lipstick colour is undoubtedly red, since it’s a dramatic variation on the natural colour of the lips.

Deep, dark red became popular in the late teens and early 1920s when such sexy silent movie stars as the “It” Girl, Clara Bow  and the vampy seductress Theda Bara (right, as Cleopatra in 1917) wore it – anything lighter wouldn’t have shown up in black and white. Not only did they kick off the fashion for red and scarlet lips, but Clara Bow also ignited the trend for “bee-stung” lips, the style of applying the lipstick so that it exaggerates the centre of the lips.

During the 1940s, lipstick was harder to come by because essential ingredients, such as petroleum were unavailable. In Britain, production of cosmetics almost completely ground to a halt and women swapped tips on how to make their own lip tints using beetroot juice or by melting down the stubs of old lipsticks. No7 lipsticks, many of which hadn’t been available during the war, made a comeback in 1949 with a range that included several variations on red.

Indeed, red remained the lipstick shade of choice for Hollywood stars and would-be glamour pusses well into the 1950s, the decade when Revlon launched its iconic Fire and Ice shade, which returned to shops late last year. As the 1950s went on, the pinks and corals shades introduced by Christian Dior also became popular across the world. But the biggest, most radical change in lipstick fashions took place in the early 1960s – and it was all down to one woman: Elizabeth Taylor, who died last month.

Elizabeth Taylor’s services to lipstick should have earned her an award. Not only did she show, in the famous lipstick-on-the-mirror sequence in her movie Butterfield 8, how handy the cosmetic could be in those moments when you find yourself without pen and paper and have to leave an urgent message for your lover, but she also set a new trend in make-up fashion when she starred in the infamous and extravagant epic Cleopatra, which finally came out in 1963 after being in production for two years.

Liz Taylor’s exotic make-up when she played the Egyptian queen may have borne some resemblance – at least in terms of the elaborate eye decoration – to images of the real Cleopatra, but it was also designed to show off her exquisitely beautiful face, and in particular those famous almond-shaped, violet-coloured eyes. All emphasis was placed on the eyes, and her lips were kept light-coloured – in pale corals and pinks – throughout the film.

The effect of this bold eyed, pale-lipped look was sensational. Revlon picked up on it immediately and launched the Cleopatra collection (including “Sphinx Pink” lipstick), which offered a watered-down version of the Liz-as-Cleo look. Andy Warhol later said that Cleopatra was the single-most influential film in terms of style in the 1960s: it certainly launched the make-up trend which defined the 1960s – and it’s a look which is still popular today.

Of course, these days, anything goes lipstick wise – you can work a 1960s, Cleopatra-inspired look one day; a shiny red 1950s Hollywood pout the next and a vampy dark 1920s one at night – and there are any amount of colours, textures and finishes to choose from.

There is a lipstick for everyone – for those who want a signature colour to see them through the ups and downs of life to those who want to stay bang on trend and are currently replacing nude shades with brights for summer. After all, changing you lipstick is the cheapest way to immediately update your look.. Not for nothing did Max Factor advertise its Color Fast lipsticks, way back in the 1950s, with the strapline: “High fashion for every woman’s lips.”

But the last word on lipstick in the 2010s should really go to the American comic Jerry Seinfeld, who once said: “Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not colour, but to accept God’s final word on where your lips end.”

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

We’ve been having a bit of a Star Wars moment in my house recently – thanks to my twin boys’ ever-increasing obsession with the original trio of movies. I hadn’t seen them for years and was struck by how very now Princess Leia’s hair styles are – all those pleats! Sometimes they’re piled high in a bun, sometimes she wears long loose pleats and other times – as in this picture – she loops the loop with them (and snares the gorgeous Han Solo in the process!). It’s just too bad she (and Carrie Fisher, the talented actress/writer who played her) is best remembered for her two-bun look…

The ongoing Stars Wars fixation was the perfect backdrop, on Monday, for the arrival of a parcel containing two perfumes which both looked as if they had been designed by a sci-fi fan.

I’m not drawn to extra-terrestrial style fragrance bottles myself, but the latest addition to Thierry Mugler’s Alien family of fragrances  – Alien Sunessence Amber Gold Edition (£40; out now), a fresh floral amber eau de toilette variation on the original Alien perfume – is bound to appeal to younger fragrance fans and devotees of the Alien range.

The other new perfume on the inter-galactic block is Aura by Swarovski (from £44), the first eau de parfum from the celebrated crystal company.

Like Alien Sunessence, it’s a fruity floral which comes in a strikingly futuristic bottle – with a crystal-topped lid, of course..

TUESDAY

Every so often media coverage of a nail varnish makes my pals sit up and take notice – and I’ve had a few requests for any spare bottles of this season’s must-have Chanel polish, the Black Pearl shade of Chanel Le Vernis (£17; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). If you can’t get your hands on a bottle – or a beauty writer pal can’t help you out – then here’s an alternative which is virtually identical: Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Perfect Storm (£14; www.esteelauder.co.uk). But it is limited edition – so hurry!

It may have been a bit too sober a shade to wear to Tuesday’s press night of Mamma Mia, the Abba show which came back to the Clyde Auditorium last weekend, but it certainly looks very chic and very now.

If I’d really wanted to get into the spirit of the show,
however, I could have chosen any number of the beautiful, vibrant colours in the range, which has been designed by Tom Pecheux. I particularly like Wicked Green and Wild Blue, which are also limited edition shades.

WEDNESDAY

Flicking through the copy of the InStyle’s authoritative Best Beauty Buys 2011 on Wednesday, I found myself nodding in agreement at more of the inclusions than usual.

I’ve recently become a fan of the lovely basic skincare items in Lancome’s comprehensive range, so was delighted to see that two of my new favourites were included in the best cleansers and toners category. Lancome Eau Micellaire Douceur Express Cleansing Water (£20; http://www.lancome.co.uk) and Lancome Tonique Douceur Softening Hydrating Toner (£20) are a delight to use. The cleansing water is a lovely, refreshing way to remove make-up and cleanse the skin, while the toner – which smells gorgeous – is extremely comfortable and leaves skin looking healthy.

In fact, Lancome really cleaned up in that category, as their cult eye make-up remover Lancome Bi-Facil Non Oily Instant Cleanser (£19.50) was the third of the five products in that section….

THURSDAY

The lovely Ally and Sheena from the Clinique and Aramis & Designer Fragrances PR teams were in Glasgow on Thursday to brief us beauty writers on their next batch of new launches.

And there’s lots happening. Fragrance-wise, there are two new limited edition additions to the DKNY Be Delicious family – DKNY Be Delicious Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette) which is a fresh, fruity concoction, and DKNY Fresh Blossom Juiced (£26.50 for 30ml eau de toilette), a light fruity-floral scent. Both are availalable now from Debenhams, and from Boots from April 5 onwards.

Personally, I’m not a great fan of fruity fragrances so I was most excited by my introduction to the gorgeous colours in the new range of Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturising Lip Colour Balms (£13.50; www.clinique.co.uk). These chunky lip balm pencils are highly moisturising and super-comfy to wear – and I was immediately hooked on the bright pinky-red shade, Chunky Cherry.

FRIDAY

Friday was the launch date for the new Chanel Rouge Coco Shine Lipsticks (£22.50; call 0207-493 3836 for stockists). And, as you may have read here a couple of weeks ago, they were being launched here in Glasgow with a photo opportunity for customers at Frasers: you could come along and have a mini-makeover using one of the 18 shades of Rouge Coco Shine, a moisturising sheer lipstick created by Chanel’s make-up maestro Peter Philips, then have your picture taken in a special Chanel photo booth..

I was invited along to be a guinea pig, and was delighted with the results. I’d already tried out one or two of the lipsticks at home and love the texture (ideal for a dry-lipped lipstick lover like myself), but I hadn’t tried the colours that Lucinda, the flame-haired make-up artist selected for me.  At home, my favourite of the four shades I was sent was the reddy-pink Monte Carlo. But on Friday, for the camera, the bright, orangey-red Rebelle proved a winner – and a great match for the coral necklace I had thrown on at the last minute as I left the house.  Check out the results below – I’m on the right, and that’s Lucinda, sporting the Romance shade … and if you fancy trying out a Rouge Coco Shine for the cameras, then read on for a list of stores that will be running the same event .. (Thanks to Boothnation for emailing me my photos and saving me from having to scan them in!)* Debenhams Oxford Street, London on March 19

* House of Fraser, Westfield on March 19

* Debenhams Liverpool on March 25

* Selfridges Birmingham on April 1 & 2

* Fenwicks Newcastle on April 2

* Selfridges at the Trafford Centre, Manchester on April 9

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I got ahead of myself quite a bit last week as I couldn’t resist trying out some exciting beauty products which won’t be launched for some time.

On Monday, I gave the next addition to Chanel’s mascara collection an early outing. I’d say “a trial run” – but one thing that the marvellously versatile (it lengthens and curls) Chanel Sublime de Chanel (£22.50, from April 15) didn’t do was run, even though I was very watery-eyed during the Glasgow Film Festival’s Monday matinee showing of the romantic epic Out of Africa, with Meryl Streep (pictured) and Robert Redford. The real test, however, will be to see how it fares when I next watch my favourite-ever romantic weepie, Somewhere in Time, which – like Out of Africa – has an achingly beautiful John Barry score.

TUESDAY

The lovely ladies from the Origins press office hosted a lunch in Glasgow on Tuesday, to brief local beauty journalists on the latest must-try serum.

Plantscription (£45; from March 3 at department stores and www.origins.co.uk) is its name, and if that sounds a little bit medical then that’s because it seems to be the ideal prescription for ageing skin since it enables it to repair itself. The test results and before-and-after photos which we were shown were pretty impressive – so much so that I started using my tube that very same night!

The medical-sounding name also alludes to the fact that this serum was designed to take on America’s leading prescription wrinkle ingredients, retinoids, and to do so without producing any of the associated unpleasant side effects – photosensitivity, burning, redness, dryness and stinging among them.

I can report that after using the serum religiously for just five days, I’m impressed – not by any line-reducing activity (yet – though the clinical tests showed significant improvement after just four weeks!) but by the brightness and evenness of my complexion.  And this from a rosacea sufferer … Watch this space.

WEDNESDAY

On Tuesday after lunch – and feeling somewhat mischievous after quaffing champagne in the middle of the day – I sneaked through to Edinburgh to see one of my favourite romantic comedies at The Filmhouse cinema – the sublime, Snow White-inspired Ball of Fire.

When I wasn’t lusting after Gary Cooper (who, to paraphrase a colleague, “does things to my innards”), I was hankering after Barbara Stanwyck’s glossy locks. My own hair was still not 100% cured of its dryness and tangledness so I was very relieved to discover that there’d been an Aveda delivery while I’d been in Edinburgh.

I started using the three key products in Aveda Damage Remedy – Aveda Damage Remedy Restructuring Shampoo (£18; www.aveda.co.uk); Aveda Damage Remedy Restructuring Conditioner (£19.50) and Aveda Damage Remedy Daily Hair Repair (£18.50) – on Wednesday and have been thrilled with the results. I’d already tried the Dry Remedy range and, although the condition of my hair had improved, it was still not back to where it had been pre-Aveda colour. One of the Aveda hair experts at James Dun’s House salon in Glasgow then advised me that the range I should be trying was, in fact, Damage Remedy as I do not have naturally dry hair. So far, so brilliant. I haven’t yet dared try just using the shampoo and conditioner; I’ve been using the Daily Hair Repair – a leave-in conditioner-cum-styling cream which protects the hair from heat damage when you’re blow-drying it.  This trio of products seems to be working so I’m going to stick with it …

THURSDAY

I do love a proper, old-fashioned liquid or cream eyeliner which you can use to create a fifties-style flick… I’ve been using eyeliner pens and brushes for years, since I realised that pencilled-on eyeliner just did not stay put and always seemed to give me panda eyes.

The latest eyeliner in my make-up bag is No7 Spring Limited Edition Gel Eyeliner (10.50; www.boots.com), part of No7’s lovely, Riviera-inspired, spring collection. I’ve got the navy blue shade (it also comes in black and turquoise) and it’s really easy to use, though if you want a fairly well defined line, you need to build it up with a few layers.

Oh, and if the flicked-up eye line is a style you might want to commit to, shop around for a longer brush than the awkward little one that comes with the eyeliner…

FRIDAY

Great excitement here on Friday when I received a sneak preview of the new colour collection from Chanel for summer 2011. The arrival of Les Fleurs d’Ete de Chanel could not have been better timed as Friday was a glorious spring day here in Glasgow, the first hint that winter might be over.

This being a Chanel collection, I immediately looked for the nail varnish destined to be the next must-have (people are still searching this blog regularly for information on the greeny shade from last year’s Nouvelle Vague range) – and I didn’t have to look far… All I am going to say just now is that it’s not a colour I expected to like on my nails, but I am smitten. Oh, and the little chick on the right is a bit of a clue …

P.S: Before the summer collection comes out, Chanel is launching a new hydrating and sheer lipstick collection called Rouge Coco Shine.  If you live in Glasgow, book yourself in for a complimentary mini-makeover using the range, followed by a unique photographic experience in a Chanel photo booth. This event is taking place at Frasers on Friday, March 11, and Saturday 12. To book a place, call 0141 221 3880, ext 2038.

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