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My Week in Beauty

TUESDAY

I was going to review a show at the theatre on Tuesday evening but I went looking as if I was heading for a night at the opera – or something equally glam. Why? Because I had had a meeting with Melissa, the chic PR for Tom Ford Beauty, just beforehand – and I’d been treated to a mini-makeover at the TFB counter in Frasers in Glasgow.

Melissa was in town to preview the company’s new colour collection of molten-toned colour inspired, as she explained, by “the beauty of a radiant, bronzed face”.  As a paleface, I wasn’t
sure there would be anything for me in this range, but the four gorgeous Tom Ford Cream Color For Eyes (£28), in metallic shades, were all extremely tempting – and looked as if they would complement blue eyes beautifully. I went to the theatre wearing the shimmering Platinum colour which can be layered for a dramatic look. And you know what, it’s the first cream shadow I’ve used that lasted the pace – it was still in place at bedtime.

WEDNESDAY

Caroline, an Edinburgh-based friend and fellow jazz fan, hosted a dinner party at her new flat last week and invited some of the creme de la creme of the capital’s jazz scene to attend.

I found myself chatting about beauty buys with the singer Angie King. Last time we met, at Christmas, she expressed interest in trying the then-new Lancome serum Visionnaire, and, on Wednesday, I was struck by how luminous and youthful her complexion was. The secret, she revealed, was not Visionnaire (which she had never got round to trying) but Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair (£41; www.esteelauder.co.uk), which she has been using since we last. She would certainly be a great poster girl for this, the mother of all serums.

THURSDAY

I’m still searching for a luxurious beauty parlour like Sydney’s (left) – the lavish, Surrealist-style, salon frequented by Ros Russell, Joan Crawford, Norma Shearer and their cohorts in George Cukor’s wonderful 1939 film The Women. But while I’m searching, I’m more than content to have a regular treatments in one of the lovely Clarins Spas. On Wednesday, I had a change of venue: instead of going to the spa in Frasers, in Glasgow, I tried out its sister over in Debenhams. It’s just as attractive as the Frasers one, but a little more contemporary in its design. My Clarins Triactive Facial (from £60) was – as ever – just what the doctor ordered. It’s the perfect blend of results and relaxation: my skin looked energised afterwards, and I was well rested thanks to the thorough face, neck and shoulder massage.

FRIDAY

My hair has been feeling tuggy and a little dry at the ends so on Friday, with a few days to go before my hair appointment, I decided it was time to try out a product I’d only put off using because I thought it might be messy (and time-consuming). In fact, Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment Plus (£16; www.ojon.co.uk) was easy (and not messy) to use.  You simply take a tiny amount of the solid, wax-like balm, warm it in your hands until it becomes an oil and work it through the hair. After 20 minutes you rinse it off. I found my hair’s texture had improved immeasurably, and the effects lasted several days – though, thankfully, the coffee bean-like smell of the product didn’t linger at all!

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My Week in Beauty

SUNDAY

A flying visit to London to see a new silent, black & white, movie seemed the perfect occasion to debut one of the most alluring items in the Christmas collections: Yves Saint Laurent Manicure Couture No6 Duo Terriblement Noir  (£24).

This double-act of black nail polishes – one shiny and one matte – echoes the inspiration behind this season’s Les Noirs collection: the tuxedo, with its satin lapels. I haven’t quite perfected (actually, I haven’t come close to perfecting) a French-style manicure using the two polishes – I’ll probably have to train one of my twin boys to do it! – but I’ve been enjoying wearing the glossy one on its own… It seemed the right choice for a silent movie screening: after all, actresses probably wore black nail varnish in those old movies as red would not have shown up ..

TUESDAY

I don’t usually have beauty appointments in suburbia, but I had one in the new Whole Foods market in Giffnock, on Glasgow’s southside, on Tuesday as it is home to an outpost for the French organic beauty company Melvita. In just 18 months, this cultish brand has established itself as a favourite of green-minded beauty buffs, has two stores in London and has become available through John Lewis and its own website.

I had a consultation at Whole Foods and was very impressed with the products and how gentle and effective they felt. I immediately switched to a Melvita cleanser as I had run out of my Clarins one. Melvita 2-in-1 Cleansing Milk (£8.40; www.melvita.co.uk) cleanses and tones the skin in one fell swipe (*makes mental note for the party season*). You simply squirt some of the cream onto a cotton pad and wipe it over the face.

It leaves the skin feeling clean, refreshed, comfortable (and my skin is sensitive) and lovely – and it’s an absolute bargain, at less than a tenner for 200ml (via the Melvita website).

WEDNESDAY

The big cultural event on Wednesday was the launch of the new American TV series Pan Am – but it failed to take off as grippingly as I’d hoped. It felt about as convincing as a Carry On film; Mad Men it ain’t.

However, as with the infinitely superior Mad Men, its influence is bound to be felt in fashion and beauty trends. Revlon, which designed the original Pan Am look back  in the 1960s, is punting it again, with matching pink lipstick and nail polish. I’m waiting for samples to arrive – and will report back..

THURSDAY

And speaking of Revlon, I gave their latest foundation, Revlon Age Defying with DNA Advantage Cream Makeup (£13.99; www.revlon.co.uk) a whirl on Thursday – and am a convert. (I reckon the big count-down to my fortieth birthday has probably made me a sucker for anything that suggests defying age..)

It may have a very complex name, but the way this foundation works its magic is actually pretty simple. Recognising that the main signs of ageing in skin are caused by dehydration and exposure to UV rays – both of which can cause damage to skin cell DNA (hence the name) – it tackles these problems. So, it’s an extremely moisturising cream foundation and it contains an SPF of 20. Not only that but it evens out skin tone and contains subtle illuminators that flatter the skin and reflect the light. The result is healthy looking and feeling skin, and a very natural, radiant finish – and the coverage is good.

I particularly like the fact that it offers plenty of what Revlon calls “play time”; time to apply and blend it. None of that racing-to-get-it-in-place-before-it-sets nonsense…

FRIDAY

Why the photo of a young Alison, you might ask? Well, because I felt like I had the skin of a six-year-old after I had my regular Triactive Facial at the Clarins Spa (0141 221 5760) in Frasers, Glasgow on Friday. My therapist, the talented Lindsay, has made it her mission over the last couple of months to turn back the clock a bit when it comes to my complexion and I must say I was particularly impressed with last week’s results. The radiance and youthful glow lasted for a few days .. and then I caught a stinking cold and have broken out in dry patches and, of course, the obligatory red, flaky skin that’s caused by blowing your nose every two minutes.

Clearly, I’ll just have to ensure that Clarins sorts me out again in time for my 40th birthday – which is now less than a month away. Eek!

Oh, and watch out for Clarins Happy Hour events, where you can have a one-to-one consultation followed by a choice of mini beauty treatments. They’re doing them at Frasers on December 5.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A dull Monday was brightened up by the arrival of a package containing a selection of new lipsticks from Dior – all from its revamped Dior Addict (£22 each; at Selfridges now and nationwide from April 11) range. As you can see, none other than Kate Moss is the face of this new collection, the advertising film  of which was directed by Jonas Akerlund who’s best known for Lady Gaga’s Telephone vid.

Miss Moss looks gorgeous – 1960s rock chick meets 1950s starlet – in the ads, but frankly I’m more excited about the fact that there are 44 exquisite colours to choose from, and the texture, which is less waxy than a conventional lipstick and contains an innovative gel that makes lips feel hydrated and look shiny and full.

Kate’s favourite shade is no578 “Dior Kiss” – which she models in the ad above. I’ve only tried out a handful of the 44 colours, but love the texture and the glossy effect. I’m hoping that when Dior’s  National Make-up Artist Jamie Coombes comes to Glasgow next month, he can help me find the best shade for me …

TUESDAY

Some beauty products just baffle me – not because of the “science part” (though that can be a challenge sometimes, if not explained well), but because I do wonder: “What’s the point?”. That was my reaction to the latest nail varnishes from Revlon, a company which already has an impressive range of nail colours. Why? Because its latest thing is smelly nail varnish.  The limited edition Revlon Scents of Summer Nail Enamels (£6.49 each; available now) are just what they say on the label – unfortunately. If you are so inclined, you too could smell papaya, coconut, bubblegum or one of the other scents every time your fingers are near your face. One for the tweenies, methinks – it’s just a step up from the scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers that my generation collected ..

WEDNESDAY

At lunchtime on Wednesday came the sad news that Dame Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most beautiful and talked-about women of her time, had died. Contrary to many news reports, she was not “the last of the great Hollywood stars” – we still have Lauren Bacall, Doris Day, Kirk Douglas, Olivia de Havilland and several more – but she was unquestionably one of the most fascinating.

She had delicate features and, in the early part of her career, often looked like a porcelain doll; her rosebud mouth usually the focus of her look. At some point after she became a fully-fledged sex symbol in the late 1950s, she began playing up those unforgettable, so-called violet eyes. The 1960s suited them beautifully: lashings of fashionable kohl drew attention to them, and personally I think she looked far more alluring with the accent on her eyes and her lips painted in muted colours than in the darker shades which were undoubtedly a requirement of being filmed in black and white a decade earlier. In fact, it almost looks like she’s wearing Dior Addict no.564 (AKA Model)  in this pic …

THURSDAY

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Clarins make-up is really having a moment just now. My Neo Pastels Eye Colour and Liner Palette (£30) is being used on an almost-daily basis and on Thursday I finally got round to trying out their new range of creamy, natural-coloured lipsticks.

Clarins Rouge Hydra Nude Smoothing Cream Lipsticks (£16.50; www.clarins.co.uk) would have been a pleasure to use – had it not been for one thing: their scent. What is it about smelly beauty products? First the fruity nails – and now these lipsticks which have a caramel sort of fragrance to them. I realise that most lipsticks do have a scent but this one is very pronounced, especially if – like me – you can’t stand sickly, sweet, vanilla-ish fragrances. Anyway, if you do like that sort of smell under your nose all day – lucky you: you’ve four pretty nude shades (coral, rose, beige and caramel) to choose from …

FRIDAY

And speaking of Clarins, thank heavens for the their treatments … I was feeling quite run-down and fed-up before I arrived at the Clarins Spa at Frasers in Glasgow but a Clarins TriActive Facial (from £62) soon sorted me out. When Lindsay, my facialist, asked about my skin concerns, I mentioned that I was beginning to worry about the signs of ageing (well, the fortieth birthday is hanging over me), in particular around the jawline. She tailored the treatment accordingly, explaining to me afterwards that “as soon as someone mentions concerns about sagging round the jaw, I reach for the ClarinsPRO Refreshing Lift Mask.”

Regular lymphatic massage – which is a staple of all the variations of the TriActive facial – helps to prevent jowls appearing, but that mask produced especially impressive results. So much so that it can only be used by therapists in the spa: at one point, customers could buy it, but they loved the tightening effects so much, some were over-using it – and it’s very potent..  Needless to say, I’ll be back for more!


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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I did a double-take on Monday when I read the press release that accompanies the Spring 2011 cosmetics collection from Guerlain. Why? Because it name-checked one of my favourite underrated actresses of the 1940s – the luminously beautiful Gene Tierney, who, for some reason, is not remembered much these days despite her timeless gorgeousness and a film legacy which includes the exquisitely haunting romantic-fantasy The Ghost and Mrs Muir and one of the seminal film noirs, Laura…

According to Guerlain’s creative director Olivier Echaudemaison, Gene Tierney was “a very classic star”, and this new collection is all about creating a very classic Hollywood look. Subtly enhanced eyes are complemented by statement
lips, with fuschia pink the key shade – it even features in the lovely and extremely easy-to-wear new Guerlain L’Ecrin in Rue de Rivoli (£52.50; pictured above), six slightly pearlised eye shades of beige, pale mauve and auberginey brown.

I think that Natalia Vodianova (right), the model who is the face of Guerlain make-up, looks less like Tierney – and even less like Kim Novak and Grace Kelly, who are also name-checked in the press release – and more like the contemporary American actress Elizabeth McGovern in her Ragtime days (early 1980s) but I can see the influence of what Echaudemaison describes as Tierney and co’s “fire under ice” sex appeal …

TUESDAY

Of course, a classic movie star look requires classically long, luscious lashes – and by Tuesday I was a convert to a mascara which achieves those with minimum effort - Estee Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Mascara (£22; www.esteelauder.co.uk).

A new variation on the original Sumptuous Mascara, it has an almost triangular brush which contains two types of bristles that create a false lash effect when they comb and coat the hairs with the three-fibre formula mascara.

I’m hooked on the Extreme Black shade, but am looking forward to trying Extreme Indigo, Extreme Violet (both limited editions) and Extreme Brown…

WEDNESDAY

I turned 39 just before Christmas – and, suddenly, it feels as if 40 is looming. So when I went along for my regular Clarins TriActive Facial on Wednesday, I told Lindsay, the therapist, that ageing was now a concern.

After the super-relaxing treatment  - it really is the most pampering facial I’ve come across in recent years – Lindsay delivered her verdict and I was chuffed to hear that she wouldn’t prescribe any anti-ageing creams for me just yet. Keeping the skin moisturised is really the key to getting the most mileage out of its youthfulness, so I intend to continue with the Clarins HydraQuench range, which I’m alternating with Chanel’s Hydramax, and from which I recently began using Clarins HydraQuench Cream (£32.68; www.clarins.co.uk) at night to counter the effects of the cold weather.

By the way, I noticed that the Clarins Spa (0141 221 3880, ext 2023) in Frasers, Glasgow is offering 25% off treatments if they’re booked before January 15 and taken before the end of February.  Not a bargain to be sniffed at!

THURSDAY

Skincare is not the only reason for my complexion looking better than usual at the moment: the latest foundation from Chanel – Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua (£31;  020-7493 3836), which goes on sale on Friday, has played its part too.

This lovely, sheer and moisturising foundation feels fresh and makes the skin look fresh and healthy. It’s very runny, and the consistency takes a bit of getting used to but I found it a treat to use a foundation that gave decent coverage to my less-than-flawless skin but wasn’t cakey or heavy-feeling.

I haven’t tried wearing it for a full day yet – or, for that matter, for a night-out (when a glass or two of wine might ordinarily trigger an attack of shine), so I’ll report back once it’s been through these tests. But so far, so good.

FRIDAY

Over Christmas my hair behaved very strangely indeed. No amount of conditioner could stop the ends from being infuriatingly tangled after washing and matted within a few hours of drying it.

I had had my hair coloured with Aveda highlights before Christmas, and so had been using the Aveda Pure Abundance shampoo and conditioner. I didn’t know whether it could be the colour that was causing the problems – or the products. By the end of the holidays, however, I was noticing lots of split ends and breakages so I sent out an SOS to Aveda.

The lovely Cemo, who looks after us beauty journalists, said: “Pure Abundance is designed for fine hair to give it volume. However, it contains Acacia Gum which gives the hair root a lift. It’s a sticky ingredient so it’s probably the reason for the difficulties you’re having combing your hair.”

Cemo immediately sent me Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturising Shampoo (£18; www.aveda.co.uk) and Aveda Dry Remedy Moisturising Conditioner (£19.50). She explained her choices: “Dry Remedy is enriched with Buriti Oil so it will inject moisture into the hair. Since it’s an oil, it can weigh fine hair down so focus the treatment on the ends of your hair and not the roots.”  On Friday I followed her advice – and there was an instant improvement which lasted all day – my hair looked healthier and stayed completely un-matted and smooth. Hopefully, this means I won’t have to have it all chopped off next month after all…

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

After being confined to quarters as a result of the first big snowfall of the year (which caught everyone offguard), it was time to venture out on Monday. I don’t have an array of ski-wear like Audrey Hepburn’s alpine wardrobe in Charade, but what I do have – in lieu of her very cosy, complexion-protecting headgear – is Clarins HydraQuench skincare range (www.clarins.co.uk).

I had been sent this recently, after my fantastic Tri-Active facial at the new spa in Glasgow’s Frasers, and it had just started it using at the weekend. Immediately I applied the rich yet easily absorbed Clarins HydraQuench Lotion SPF15 (£32), I felt that my skin was ready to take on the
elements. It’s the perfect day cream for those of us whose skin is prone to dehydration, and particularly sensitive to the cold.

And it’s especially effective when worn over what Clarins considers the star product in the collection - Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum (£37.50), a comforting, hydrating liquid which, despite a slight oiliness, is a pleasure to use and really does deliver. There are two other moisturisers in the range, plus a lip balm.

TUESDAY

Being stuck indoors – apart from the very occasional venture out to shops/school/pillarbox – I had plenty of time last week to assemble my cold weather emergency skincare kit.

A key component is Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator (£25; www.elemis.com), a brilliant exfoliator which I’ve been using since I had a facial at their SpaPod in Debenhams in Glasgow a couple of months ago.

I wouldn’t use it every day – though Elemis says it can be used daily – but it’s certainly gentle enough to be used frequently, and on sensitive skin. In this cold weather, it’s a must to keep the skin smooth, soft and ready for all the lovely comforting moisturisers I’ve been falling in love with.

WEDNESDAY

There’s nothing like a compliment to boost the spirits, especially on a dreary winter’s day – and I received a couple on Wednesday when I revisited one of my favourite lipsticks from last winter: Rouge Dior Serum de Rouge no.760 – AKA Raspberry Serum (£24.50).

Actually, whenever I’m feeling a bit blue, I stick on this beautiful reddish-pink, super-glossy lipstick and I immediately feel brighter. Dior calls this lipstick a treatment because it contains ten times more concentrated skincare ingredients than your average lip colour; I call it a treatment of the spirits as well – prozac for the pout ….

 

THURSDAY

I had a bit of haircare epiphany this week thanks to the discovery of Aveda’s Pure Abundance range (www.aveda.co.uk). This relatively new collection turned out to be just what I needed for my hair, which, since it was treated with Aveda’s all-natural highlights, had looked good colour-wise but been very limp, lank and fine-feeling.

The combination of Aveda Pure Abundance Shampoo (£13.50) and Aveda Pure Abundance Volumizing Clay Conditioner (£15) was an instant antidote. These plant-based formulas manage to make the hair look and feel fuller but without weighing it down. Frankly, I was amazed at how effective they were – and the results were even more impressive the next day, after I’d slept on it. (Ordinarily, it’s only immediately after having my colour done that I can get out of washing my hair every single day.) Oh, and the smell is sublime…

FRIDAY

Finally, on Friday a chance to get out on the town. Going out for cocktails for a friend’s 40th at the Blythswood Square hotel was the perfect occasion to road-test the primer to which I’d been introduced when I had a makeover at the Giorgio Armani Cosmetics counter in Frasers.

Giorgio Armani Fluid Master Primer (£32) is a silky-smooth, transparent gel which evens out skin tone, mattifies the skin and smoothes away fine lines. My foundation went on beautifully afterwards and looked great. Indeed, for once I didn’t feel the need to check how shiny I looked – in fact, when I looked in the mirror, shininess didn’t even cross my mind. I think it’s safe to say that this is my latest must-have. Especially for brightly-lit bars like the Blythswood’s Salon.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I love this 1960s picture of the great American actress Gena Rowlands. And I thought of it on Monday when, with no time to wash my hair, I had my first try-out of one of two dry shampoos I’d been sent by Ojon. The effect on my hair, which had been backcombed on Sunday, was very similar to Gena’s look.

Ojon Rub-Out Dry Cleansing Powder (£16.50; 0870 034 2454) is by far the best dry shampoo I’ve yet come across, and one of the reasons I fell instantly in love with it is the fact that you put its nozzle right up to the roots of your hair to dispense the powder: you don’t have to hold it 20cm away and risk spraying your walls and furniture. (I still have marks on my wardrobe from my last encounter with an aerosol version of the dry shampoo.)

I have a feeling I may have used too much of the powder but I used less the next time I didn’t have time to wash my hair – and it was just as effective. It soaks up the oil in the hair very quickly and doesn’t significantly dull the shine. Apart from the ease of use, the other reason I am now a convert to this dry shampoo is the fact that after using it, I didn’t once feel as if I hadn’t properly cleaned my hair (which I have felt after using other dry shampoos). And even on Tuesday, my hair still looked clean .. But I gave it a wash anyway!

TUESDAY

If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to update your make-up bag for the party season, I’d advise you to get down to your nearest Boots store and check out their 17 collection. Why? Because the 17 Starry Eyes eyeshadow trios (£4.99 each; www.boots.com) are absolutely fabulous – as I discovered when I dabbled with them on Tuesday.

There are four colour palettes to choose from, including the beautiful greens of the Galactic trio and the blues of Moondust. But my favourite is Neptune (pictured) which, once applied in a smoky style, could have passed for the Dior golds which I reviewed last week.

WEDNESDAY

And speaking of Dior golds, you should have seen my friends’ faces when I gave them a peak at the Dior limited edition for Christmas 2010. Dior Minaudiere (£59). This sleek purse-style clutch is the perfect accessory for the party season – as long as you’re with someone whose pockets you can stuff with such essentials as your mobile phone and keys. With its patent black leather exterior, embossed with the signature Dior houndstooth pattern, it could, conceivably, be carried as a particularly dinky mini evening bag – by a particularly dinky girl!

The Minaudiere comes in two colourways – Grey Golds and Pink Golds – and each contains a trio of eye shadows and two lip glosses.

THURSDAY

Thursday was a day to remember – though I did sleep through the high point … one of the new Clarins TriActive Facials (from £59) at the beautiful new Clarins Spa (pictured right) in the revamped beauty hall at Frasers in Glasgow.

Having finally shaken off a cough that plagued me for a few weeks, I was still feeling a bit wracked when I arrived for my facial but I was sure that being cossetted for 80 minutes would be just the tonic I needed. Oh, and my complexion might benefit too …

I wasn’t wrong. The TriActive Facials, the first facials to be introduced by Clarins in seven years, produce great results while giving clients a thoroughly relaxing and pampering experience. There are six variations on the TriActive Facial, each tailored to a specific skin concern.  After having a good look at my face and a chat about my main concerns, my therapist, Lorna, decided on the Moisture Replenisher for my dehydrated combination skin.

The facial unfolds in three stages. The first prepares the skin with a combination of cleansing, exfoliation and lymphatic drainage massage; the second comprises a deeper massage and a mask, and focuses on the absorption of the active ingredients prescribed for the skin; the third stage is about reinforcing or optimising the results with a skin supplement and day cream.

What help to make this treatment so special and so relaxing are the extras – the foot massage,  gentle leg massage that goes on throughout (the chair does it!), the attention to the arms and hands, and the lovely neck and shoulders massage.

I’ve probably missed out lots of details – but then I did snooze through quite a bit of it – always a good sign – and my skin looked and felt amazing afterwards..

* The TriActive Facials are available at Clarins Day Spas nationwide and selected Clarins Gold Salons.

FRIDAY

I don’t know if the mascara had anything to do with it, but I got one of the nicest compliments of the year (so far) on Friday – a couple of days after I started using L’Oreal Volume Million Lashes Extra Black (£10.99).

With its “millionizer brush” – which has long and short bristles – it thickens each lash and fans out what they call “the lash fringe” (yes, it was a new one on me, too). I found it took a bit of practice to master the technique of applying it to the best effect, but by Friday, by George, I’d got it! And my compliment just confirmed it..


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