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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

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.

TUESDAY

‘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!

WEDNESDAY

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.

THURSDAY

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).

FRIDAY

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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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Having been given a box set of Mad Men DVDs by a concerned friend who couldn’t understand how I’d managed to miss out on the MM phenomenon (combination of a temperamental TV digi-box, too many prior viewing commitments and having the same mentality as Woody Allen, who, in Annie Hall, refused to watch a film if he’d missed the beginning), I have become addicted to the programme. Of course, I particularly love the clothes and beauty styling – and being blonde, am drawn to Betty Draper’s Grace Kelly-like look. I’ve always been a fan of the sort of coral shades of lipstick that January Jones-as-Betty Draper often sports, and was delighted to try a new one, courtesy of the Bobbi Brown counter in Frasers in Glasgow, on Tuesday. The new range of Bobbi Brown Rich Lip Colours (£16; www.bobbibrown.co.uk) includes a gorgeous coral, Sweet Nectar, that leapt out at me. Visiting American make-up artist John Hernandez advised that it be teamed with flicked-up black eyeliner and natural eyeshadow… The results would have been terrific had the eyeliner not strayed from the inner rim of my eyelids and on to my contact lenses, making vision tricky and my eyes very uncomfortable.

I had a chance to recreate the look, minus the red eyes, later in the week when a thrilling package arrived from Estee Lauder. Its contents? A dozen of the new Estee Lauder Pure Color Long Lasting Lipsticks (£18 each; www.esteelauder.co.uk from February 28), and what should leap out at me but a gorgeous shade called Coral Sun which lifted my spirits the moment I put it on and had an amazingly comfortable texture for a long-lasting lipstick. Within an hour of my going out with it on, two women had complimented me on the colour and asked where it was from.. And if that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is.

TUESDAY

Speaking of compliments, I’ve had a few recently about my skin. Par for the course, you might think, for a beauty writer – but, actually, I’ve tried so many lotions and potions out over the years that I now have hyper-sensitive, reactive skin and have to be very careful which products to test myself and which to farm out to friends.

Anyway, the compliments are undoubtedly the result of my current night cream, Guerlain Orchidee Imperiale (£245). With a price tag like that, you’d expect nothing less than a glowing complexion – and this luxurious and gentle cream certainly does not disappoint… Only time will tell whether its harnessing of the orchid’s newly discovered ability to, as Guerlain puts it, “turn back cellular time” (ie: it slows down the ageing process of skin cells), will make me look any younger.

WEDNESDAY
It’s amazing what a difference in perception a change of “face” can make. Dior is re-launching its 2005 fragrance Miss Dior Cherie (from £49 for the eau de toilette) next month with of-the-moment actress Natalie Portman as its poster girl. She may be topless in the ad campaign, but Portman still oozes gamine chic, effortless elegance and natural style in a way that her predecessor, Riley Keough, never did. Keough – grand-daughter of Elvis – may have been photographed against a backdrop featuring the Eiffel Tower but, in her washed-out denim and bleached hair, she looked more trailer park than Champs-Elysees chic. The perfume’s image never used to appeal to me. But you know what? When I opened the press pack that arrived on Wednesday, and saw Natalie Portman, like the fickle Franco-phile I am (and, yes, I know she’s not Parisian but she does a pretty good impression), I ripped off the cellophane and tore into my bottle of fragrance. I’d say this is a chypre for beginners, a youthful, youth-pleasingly sweet and heady (top notes of blood orange and bergamot, a rich floral heart of jasmine and rosa damascena and a patchouli, vetiver and sandalwood base) take on that classic perfume type. It’s just a bit too much for me personally ..  In any case, I’ve found my ideal chypre: Chanel 31 rue Cambon (eau de toilette from £100; Chanel boutiques and Selfridges). And – since it’s just come out in a very portable 75ml size (along with the other fragrances in the Exclusifs collection) – I need never be without it.

THURSDAY

I can’t let Guerlain take full credit for my improved complexion: some of it is also down to the new blusher from Clarins’s spring collection.

Clarins Blush Prodige Illuminating Cheek Colour (£24; www.clarins.co.uk) is a gorgeous addition to their cosmetics range. It’s a sleek compact containing two complementary shades – one shimmery, for highlighting, and one matte, for sculpting. The ideal pick-me-up for tired, dull or (in my case, on Thursday) PMT-induced pale skin…

FRIDAY

A night-out for a friend’s birthday was the perfect opportunity to experiment with the Estee Lauder Pure Color Five Color Eyeshadow Palette in Wild Violet (£34) from the company’s new Wild Violet spring cosmetics collection.

Despite its name, the quintet of colours is actually mainly made up of shimmering ivory, bronze, taupe and copper – with purple as the accent colour. If you’re not in a mood indigo, then you can achieve a suitably smoky evening eye look without the violet. It’s a beautiful palette, however you work it – and very reminiscent of both the Dior golds and the Guerlain Ecrin in Champs-Elysees, two favourites from the winter collections.

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