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My Holidays in Beauty

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I last updated my beauty journal – and a lot has happened. Mainly the fact that I’ve turned 40 – and I have to say, it was not only painless but entirely pleasurable. I had a fab party that was everything I’d hoped for and more, I felt great and I got some nice compliments on my hair and make-up (Chanel nails, Clarins eyeshadow, YSL mascara Dior base, Dior, Ojon-treated hair and Clinique lipstick, since you ask). What more could a girl (ahem) want?!

Skincare staples over the last few weeks have been Shiseido White Lucency Clarifying Cleansing Foam (£29, www.houseoffraser.co.uk ), a brilliant wash-off cleanser which seems to calm redness-prone skin, Clarins Gentle Exfoliator Brightening Toner (£24, www.clarins.co.uk), an exfoliator disguised as a toner which is faster to use than the conventional wash-off equivalent, and the brand new Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil (£29). After several weeks’ use, I am now noticing an improvement in the shininess of my skin – it hadn’t quite kicked in at the time of my birthday, however. The logic is that putting oil onto oily skin cancels out the skin’s urge to produce excess oil.. If a permanent shine is the bane of your life (with me, it tends to happen after a drink or if someone points a flashing camera at me! – see picture), I’d recommend experimenting with facial oils.

I’ve more or less given up on blotting papers and have reverted to good pressed powders – notably Guerlain Meteorites Pressed Powder (£34) and the brand-new  Clarins Ever Matte Mineral Powder Compact (£25, from February) – and have realised that I often don’t look shiny in real life; it’s those damn photos where the flash bounces off my forehead (and nobody else’s) that have given me this complex.

Clarins Eye Quartet in Smokey Passion/Dior Rouges d'Or in Victorine in action

I’m going to be gutted when I run out of the two limited edition cosmetics which have seen me through all the Christmas nights-out and parties: Clarins  Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Smokey Passion (£30) and the Dior Les Rouges d’Or lipstick in Victorine (£22.50).

And speaking of favourite products of 2011, I rounded them all up for a “Beauty Oscars” feature in the Daily Record at the end of December. Here’s hoping the next 12 months produces such fantastic finds as Diorskin Forever Fluid SPF25 (£29.50), Chanel Illusion d’Ombre  (£22.50), Chanel Rouge Allure Velvet (£23.50),  Lancome Visionnaire (£58), Guerlain Rouge Automatique (£24.50), Sisley Phyto Mascara Ultra Stretch (£27), YSL Mascara Volume Effet Faux Cils Shocking (£22), Chanel No19 Poudre (from (£61), Clarins Eye Contour Gel (£26.50), Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask (£88), Clarins Extra-Firming Body Lotion (£39.50), Nanoblur (£19.99) and Estee Lauder Resilience Lift Firming/Sculpting Eye Creme (£40). Happy – and beautiful – New Year!

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

As a lifelong movie fan – with a particular passion for the films of the 1930s  – I’m ashamed to admit that I completely missed the centenary of one of my favourite comediennes, the original Blonde Bombshell Jean Harlow (right).

Sassy, sexy and much more sussed than the bimbo characters she often played, Jean Harlow was the original prototype of the dumb blonde persona that Marilyn Monroe also cultivated.

Of course, as one of the biggest stars of her time, she was hugely influential as a style and beauty icon – the platinum blonde, waved hair; the dark, Cupid’s bow lips, the pencilled-on eyebrows and the slouchy, slinky posture were copied by women worldwide.

I was reminded of Jean, and her languid sensuality when, on Monday, I was marvelling at the exquisite Christmas collection from Guerlain. Jean was known to be a devotee of Guerlain fragrance – indeed, the legend goes that when her second husband killed himself, his body was found doused in Mitsouko..

TUESDAY

If one item in that collection screams Jean Harlow (to me anyway!), it’s the  Guerlain Vol de Nuit Perfumed Shimmer Powder Face & Body (£49.50) which looks exactly the kind of item you’d expect to find on a 1930s movie star’s art deco dressing table.

Vol de Nuit may not be the Guerlain fragrance most associated with Jean Harlow, but it is very much of her time. Created in 1933 (the year of two of her biggest hits – Dinner at Eight and Blonde Bombshell), it was inspired by – of all things – aviation. Jacques Guerlain named this sensual oriental after the novel penned by his friend the poet and aviator Antoine de Sainte-Exupery and it was inspired by the great aviatrix of the day, notably France’s Helene Boucher.

This new shimmering powder is a lovely, modern way to try out the daring Vol de Nuit – while adding a touch of Harlow-esque glamour to any lady’s boudoir.

WEDNESDAY

One person complimenting you on your skin could just be insincere flattery but by Wednesday, I had had enough compliments in that department to make me realise that there was something going on with my complexion. It has been especially well cared for in recent weeks, thanks to more regular exfoliation (with Elemis’s Gentle Rose Exfoliator, since you ask) and a weekly helping of a luxurious mask (Sisley’s Black Rose) but I think that what prompted the compliments was the foundation: each time I was complimented, I was wearing Dior Diorskin Forever Fluid SPF25 (£29.50), which provides great coverage but a natural finish. The effect is of no foundation, but super-enhanced, healthily glowing, skin…

THURSDAY

Christmas may still be a way away but I noticed on Thursday that I had already worn down couple of the shades in my favourite Christmas palette so far: Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palette in Smokey Passion (£30; www.clarins.co.uk).

This limited edition set is quite distinct from any other I’ve seen this season. It comprises a tawny, coral shade, a taupe and a dark grey-brown – all shimmery powders – plus a wet, glittery silver which goes on sheer and adds a subtle sparkle.

FRIDAY

It may seem a little premature to be talking about spring cosmetic colours but that was what Lloyd Simmonds, the creator of YSL’s make-up, wanted to discuss when he came to Glasgow to meet the press on Friday. No wonder he was keen to talk spring: he has designed a beautiful collection of pastels and sheer shades for his next collection, which goes on sale on December 20. (The photo shows him playing with the new colours.)

The spring collection was inspired, said Simmonds, “by an old-fashioned candy shop I stumbled across in Paris”. It’s playful, light, fresh – very much “candy for the face” and a complete contrast to the current Holiday Look 2011, which is based around black.

 

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