In these hard times, manicures can seem like an unnecessary expense – especially when there are so many fab products you can use at home, or even on the go.. My current nail colour addiction (and sadly I can’t find a picture of it) is Chanel Le Vernis in Rose Confidentiel (£17), a wonderful deep brick pink, the ideal autumn colour and the perfect pink until party season (with its hot pinks …) comes along.
Anyway, I’ve been testing some of the products on the market for nail and hand care this week to see if my favourite combination – Crabtree & Evelyn Cuticle Cream plus Clinique Deep Comfort Hand Cream – can be beaten, or at least rivalled.
On Tuesday, I finally began treating my nails after a couple of weeks’ abuse by nail polish. Nail polish just doesn’t seem to agree with my nails so I try not to wear it too much and to always treat my nails to some TLC whenever possible.
Instead of turning to my usual treatment, however, I gave Rituals … Nail Cuticle Treatment (£6.25; www.rituals.com) a whirl. What appealed to me when I requested this product to try was the fact that, although it’s oil-based, it’s not messy. The gel is released through a brush and you can either push it into the nail and nailbed with the brush or with your finger tips. It’s very easy to use and, because of its pen design, perfect for keeping in your handbag, ready to use whenever you find yourself with a spare few minutes.
Oh, and the other reason to love this treatment gel from the mid-priced Dutch company which uses natural gemstones in all its products? Well, it’s free from parabens. After a few days’ use, my nails are looking well on the way to recovery.
Less successful was the hand cream I began testing on Wednesday. With the cold weather beginning to kick in, I was anxious to suss out my hand cream options. I know some of my friends are big fans of cult hand creams which I find too runny and lotion-like – I prefer my hand creams to be rich and creamy and to feel like they are going to be able to keep dry skin at bay.
Sadly, Jergens Naturals Ultra Hydrating Hand Moisturising Cream (£2.49; from Boots and supermarkets nationwide) didn’t meet my particular requirements. It’s really quite runny and although undoubtedly “ultra hydrating”, it didn’t make much impression on the driest bits of my hands. I won’t be giving up my Clinique any time soon, it seems …
In recent months, I’ve been using a flesh-coloured eye shadow powder as the base for my eye make-up (a la Bobbi Brown). But it’s nearly finished, and I don’t have another one. Luckily I was given a new eye base a couple of weeks ago so, in order to have a full arsenal of secret make-up weapons ready for the party season, I thought it was time to check it out.
Cover FX Eye Prep Anti-Age Smoothing Primer (£41; selected House of Fraser stores and Harvey Nichols in London & Dublin) turned out to be a great base. It’s like a lotion so, unlike cream primers, you need to wait a few minutes before applying your eye make-up – until it has dried. Combining skincare and cosmetic benefits, it refreshes the eye area, blurs fine lines and provides an excellent foundation for eye make-up – mine didn’t shift at all. The only thing it didn’t do was disguise a burst blood vessel which had – helpfully – appeared on Thursday morning …
On Friday I had an appointment for a makeover at the Dior counter in Frasers, Glasgow. It was something of an emergency. Why? Because every single eyeshadow palette I’ve seen so far for Christmas 2010 has been based on a gold theme – and I have to confess that I’ve never been drawn to gold (or silver, for that matter) eyeshadow. It never struck me as a colour that would suit my Celtic complexion; sallow-skinned girls could carry off golds, bronzes and coppers, but not me. If I didn’t get help in learning how to work gold, I was going to be left behind this festive season..
Luckily, I was booked into the safe hands of Jamie Coombes, Dior’s National Make-up Artist and a member of the International Pro Artist Team. He was in Glasgow for a fashion show, but managed to squeeze in an appointment so that he could talk me through the Dior Christmas look.
“It’s all about luminosity,” he explained as he stripped off all my make-up, prepped my skin and beefed up my eyebrows using Dior Eyebrow Pencil (£16). Before he applied any foundation, he began work on my eyes, assuring me as he did so that “anyone can wear gold”. The first step was to apply the new limited edition Dior Skinflash Radiance Booster Pen in Golden Glow (£24.50) as an eye base.
Using the Dior 5 Couleurs Iridescent Eyeshadow in Gold Edition (£39, pictured above), Jamie then applied the shimmering yellow-gold highlighter shade to my brow bone before “parking” some of the coppery, mustard-like shade (top right in the palette) at the outer corner of the eyes and drawing it up to the socket. So far, so pretty a look – and one which, with lashings of black mascara, would be perfect for daywear.
But I wanted to go all the way, and be shown how to create an evening look in the gold tones. To “ramp up the look” for a more dramatic effect, Jamie advised using the dark bronzey brown (bottom right shade) along the underside of the brow bone and into the socket to create a really smoky look.
At this point, Jamie shared with me a tip which I’ve not come across in 15 years of writing about beauty. In order to make the eyes stand out even more, he lined my eyelids at the roots of my lashes using black mascara applied with a fine eyeliner brush. It produced a significant but fine line which didn’t get the way of the eyeshadow.
Once we were satisfied with the eye make-up, Jamie applied my foundation – Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Hydrating Make-up (£29), which has a natural finish but provides great coverage – and a light pink, almost nude lipstick, Dior Serum de Rouge No.640 (£24.50), over Dior Contour Lipliner Pencil No.573 (£16). Finally, he swept Dior Diorskin Nude Natural Glow Sculpting Powder Make-up (£36) over the cheekbones and anywhere else he felt I needed a lift.
I was thrilled with the final results, shown here (left and below – though they look slightly less dramatic in the photo than they did in the flesh), and am now an absolute convert to the value of having some gold goodies in my make-up bag. I’ve always found that it’s worth asking for help when you’re stumped by a new look or product – in fact, I might even book Mr Coombes again almost immediately, as he returns to Glasgow’s Frasers on November 2 and is offering lessons until Friday 5. Call 0141 221 3880, ext 2099 to book a personal consultation, booking fee redeemable against any Dior purchase.