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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

On Monday I was still experimenting with the new spring colours from Chanel, having worn them out for the first time on Saturday night – with great success. Les Perles de Chanel (available from January 28) is the name of the collection and it’s a very classic French look with a modern twist. Just look at the ad photo (right): the model’s make-up is a sort of muted, elegant take on the late 1980s and early 1990s, the period when I fell in love with French style. With the soft grey eyes, subtle lips and radiant complexion, it conjures up the look of the Parisian girls I knew when I worked over there nearly 20 years ago. And one of the lessons I learned back then (I worked in an upmarket costume jewellery shop) was about how flattering a jewel the simple pearl could be.

The stand-out item in the new collection for me is the gorgeous, limited edition, Ombres Perlees de Chanel (£39) which are a welcome alternative to the usual Les 4 Ombres (£35.50), the hard texture of which I’ve never taken to. I found the new Ombres Perlees easier to use. The colour glided on and blended beautifully, and there are any number of ways of mixing them to create different effects, from the smoky eye I sported on Saturday, to the more discreet and dainty day look I adopted on Monday for a day of meetings. The pearlised finish makes it really fresh and flattering.

Les Perles de Chanel is a big collection with some lovely colours for the lips – well worth checking out if you go for pink and rose shades.

And, of course, the nail varnishes – Chanel Le Vernis in Black Pearl and Pearl Drop (£17 each), in particular – are instant classics, and a lovely antidote to some of the dull matte shades around this season.

TUESDAY

I spent Tuesday afternoon watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s on DVD, in preparation for a discussion on BBC Radio Scotland’s Movie Cafe about the film’s

enduring appeal. What struck me on this viewing was the scene in which we see Holly (played, of course, by Audrey Hepburn) getting groomed and ready in a hurry. It’s always fascinating watching other people’s beauty routines – even if they’re fictional – and Holly’s involves getting her beauty sleep under a lavish eye mask.

Realising that she’s due on a train in 45 minutes, she flies into action. “I’ve got to do something about the way I look!” she exclaims to her new neighbour as she dashes to her dressing table and loosely pins up her hair. Then, the most fascinating part of her routine.. All the party girl who never took off her make-up from the previous night has to do is tend to her brows and lashes. She elegantly pencils and combs her eyebrows then brushes both upper and lower eyelashes, before disappearing into the

bathroom to slip into her little black dress and pin up some loose tendrels of hair.

When she emerges a matter of seconds later, a vision of cool sophistication in a wide-brimmed hat, she smugly asks: “How do I look?”.  But there’s still one last step: a stop at her mail box where, using a mirror she has stuck to the inside of the box’s flap, she applies her lipstick, before scooshing herself with perfume which she stashes in the mail box! A lesson in time-efficient beauty to us all…

WEDNESDAY


Where to hang my  trio of limited edition prints by Daisy de Villeneuve was the main dilemma on Wednesday.. These funky, felt-tipped designs are being sold as part of Clinique’s Kiss it Better campaign which, every year, raises money to fund research into the causes and treatment of childhood cancer. Each set of prints is signed by de Villeneuve and costs £100 – and all of the money from their sale will go to the Kiss It Better appeal, which is part of Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Visit www.clinique.co.uk or www.gosh.org/shop in February to buy your own set..

THURSDAY

I haven’t had as busy a day as Thursday in a long time. Not only was I juggling work commitments in Edinburgh during the day, but I had two evening events to attend – almost simultaneously – in Glasgow: Estee Lauder’s dinner to introduce the latest Pure Color collection from Tom Pecheux and the launch party for Glasgow’s latest upmarket hotel, the Grand Central.

With only a quick stop-over at base camp, I just about had time to change my outfit and freshen up my make-up – but it was a ten-minute session with an eye mask that really set me up for the night ahead.

Holly Golightly doesn’t have a monopoly on the old eye masks – and they’re not only for sleeping beauties: I swear by a fantastic eye mask which has, very disappointingly and bafflingly, been discontinued. Chanel Precision Eye Patch Total is its name and, thankfully, I still have quite a few. I used one on Thursday and not only did it refresh me but it also smoothed away the fine lines round my eyes and plumped up the skin. A similar effect can be achieved with Guerlain Super Aqua-Eye Anti-Puffiness Smoothing Eye Patches (£68, above), but they’re not quite as hydrating and soothing as the old Chanel ones. Anyone else fancy lobbying Chanel to bring them back?

FRIDAY

A follow-up emergency application of the Guerlain eye patches was just what the beauty doctor ordered on Friday morning – to counter the effects of a champagne-fuelled late night on Thursday, and render me fit for a morning meeting in town with jazz contacts. The patch certainly made me feel brighter but something else was required to give my complexion a lift: and it was Guerlain to the rescue once more, in the form of its terrific radiance-boosting concealer.

Guerlain Precious Light Rejuvenating Illuminator (£28), as its name pretty much suggests, is everything you need to perk up tired and old-looking skin. I dabbed it under my eyes to counter dark circles and give myself a shot at looking more wide-awake. And it did the job.. So much so that I’ll be laying in extra supplies next time I go away for a jazz weekend..

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

There’s nothing like a bit of retro glamour to brighten up a dreary November day – at least that’s what I found when I gave myself the Revlon Fire & Ice treatment on Monday. This beautiful red lip and matching nail shade was introduced by the American company back in 1952 and has been revived just in time for Christmas.

If the photo shown left looks a vaguely familiar, it’s because it’s actress Jessica Biel and photographer Mario Testino’s recreation of the original 1952 ad, which featured one of the world’s prototype supermodels, Dorian Leigh, and was shot by the legendary Richard Avedon.

I love the Revlon Fire & Ice Lipstick (£7.29) and the All Fired Up Nail Enamel (£6.29) – both exclusively available from Boots, from December 1. The nail varnish is the first to tempt me away from shocking pink in ages, and I’m having fun trying to figure out the best eyeshadows to go with the lipstick. Mind you, I have to say: I much prefer Dorian’s Fire & Ice look to Jessica’s …

TUESDAY

Tuesday was an exciting day – it was the day I finally got to try out the new Spa at Blythswood Square in Glasgow. Housed in the vast (10,000 square feet) basement space in the new Blythswood Square hotel, this is the city’s first luxury spa – and it certainly looks the part. As the photo of the corridor (above) off which the nine treatment rooms run, it exudes five-star style.

In addition to the treatment rooms, there is a thermal suite with a spa pool, saunas, relaxation areas and a cafe in the spa. It’s easy to see how you could spend a day here, just devoting yourself to the art of relaxing. Anyone who’s booked in for a treatment can use the facilities before and/or after their appointment so make sure you allow plenty of time on either side of your booking.

I was booked in for an Anne Semonin Phyto Aromatic Facial (£80 for 55 minutes) which was indeed relaxing. The therapist tailored the treatment to my skin’s needs and used products designed for sensitive skin – yet my cheeks flared up not long afterwards and didn’t calm down for days. I think I’ll try something else next time: it’s not going to put me off indulging in such luxury, no sirree!

WEDNESDAY

Oh dear, on Wednesday I looked like I might be coming down with something – I was even paler than usual and my normal blusher didn’t seem to give me the lift I required. (Plus, with it being pink, it was a bit too close to the shade of my newly blotchy cheeks!) So I turned to a blusher which has saved me from looking like a ghoul (or, worse still, Gillian McKeith) in recent months: Guerlain 4 Eclats in Caresse de l’Aube (£31; www.johnlewis.com). I had thought this was part of the Guerlain Christmas collection but clearly I had mis-filed it: it came out with the autumn colours but was such a hit, it’s become a permanent part of the make-up range. Swirling the four shades together means you can add a natural colour all over the face, where required…

THURSDAY

On Thursday, I was thrilled to open my post and find Chanel’s spring 2011 colours there. It’s too early to write about them, save to report that they are absolutely stunning – and based on Coco Chanel’s favourite jewel, the pearl, and its luminous effects.

The spring 2011 collection has a bit of an edge to it, unlike the current Christmas collection, Les Tentations de Chanel (above and left) which is more classically beautiful in my view. Really, there’s something for everyone amongst the sumptuous pinks and golden browns – though, sadly for me, the gorgeous shocking pink blusher – Les Tissages de Chanel Blush Duo Effect Tweed in Tweed Fuschia (£31) was just a bit too strong a shade for me. Love, love, love the nail and lip shades, though – Chanel Le Vernis in Pulsion (£16.50) and Chanel Rouge Coco in Patchouli (£21.50), in particular.

 

FRIDAY

Lunch and a catch-up with my beauty therapist pal Margaret on Friday gave me a chance to hear her thoughts on the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Synchronized Complex (£35; www.esteelauder.co.uk) I had asked her to test.

Here’s what she had to say about this new cream-gel which promises to reduce the look of every key sign of ageing around the eye area, thanks to its ability to support the natural synchronisation of the skin’s repair and protective mechanisms.

“I really enjoyed using this beautifully textured treatment, but wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with highly sensitive skin because it contains very active plant extracts. For the rest of us, it’s not going to ‘rock your world’,  but it is a good maintenance product and is a pleasure to use – oh, and it has all the latest beauty wonder ingredients, including hyaluronic acid.”

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

My week got off to an unexpectedly glam start when I decided to have a play about with some of the dark lip glosses I’ve been sent recently. There are currently umpteen variations on the uber-dark lip theme, from the dark berries and plums that swing back into fashion every winter to the deep purples and even blacks which are very winter 2010.

I plunged straight in at the deep end, colour-wise, by starting with the brand new limited edition black lip gloss from Dior: Dior Addict Ultra Gloss in Noir Lame (£19.50; available now from Selfridges, and nationwide from November 1) . As I opened the tube, I thought to myself: “This’ll be a good one to scare the kids with at Hallowe’en”. But as soon as I looked in the mirror, I was completely smitten with the total transformation that I’d undergone with just one swipe of the wand… It was positively vampish, very 1920s silent movie star – shades of the original “It” girl, Clara Bow (above) and her exotic-looking
contemporary Theda Bara. Indeed, they probably did use black lipcolour to create their famously bee-stung lips – black would have showed up best on film…

After that, the purples and plums looked tame and, frankly, less dramatic. Strangely, the black – spread evenly across the lips (which does take a little time) – suited me much better than dark purple which can make me look rather ill… Teamed with a simple, nude-coloured eye dressed with just liner and mascara, it looked beautiful but you can bet I’ll be doing some more experimenting very soon!

TUESDAY

Tuesday was lunch with Margaret, my beauty therapist pal whom I met years ago when she worked as a make-up artist on shoots for a magazine whose beauty section I edited. Of course, she had a report to file, this time on the latest addition to the Chanel Sublimage range of luxury skincare – Chanel Sublimage Essential Revitalising Concentrate (£290; call 020-7493 3826 for stockists).

Here’s what Margaret said: “With all good serums, I expect an almost instant boost of some sort and this certainly didn’t disappoint. With just one application, my face felt firmer – it was like Spanx for the face!

“The instruction manual with this product read like an adventure novel: ‘Driven by a tireless quest for effectiveness and perfection, Chanel researchers travelled the world to discover new natural treasures  – to India and the Himalayas at the altitude of almost 10,000 feet, the Chanel team discovered the Golden Champa..’

“The science pitch with this product is that the Golden Champa detoxifies the skin cells, allowing them to be reborn. Well, after three weeks, my skin is looking great – though I wouldn’t yet say ‘reborn’. I’m looking forward to seeing the final results after I finish this 30ml bottle (and I’m nearly there). I only have two criticisms: the first is that it is very heavily fragranced  and for a sensitive skin this may present a problem, and the other is the price which means that very few women will be able to afford it!”

WEDNESDAY

Bobbi Brown products seem to be getting harder to come by if you’re a beauty writer, but I managed to snag a couple of items from her new Hydrating Skincare range to try.

Hydrating skincare is exactly what my permanently quenched complexion needs so I was the ideal guinea pig for the Hydrating Face Tonic (£18.50; www.bobbibrown.co.uk) and the Hydrating Face Cream (£33, above). And they exceeded my expectations.. The tonic comes in a clear bottle (emblazoned with Bobbi’s crest) which resembles the flacons of old-fashioned toner that I used to buy in Italian beauty halls. And the contents – a calming, soothing fluid made with minerals and cucumber – continue the retro theme. It’s a very comfortable and pleasurable product to use.

Ditto for the cream, which I used at night instead of my regular serum and cream combo – though it’s probably intended more as a day cream. With a texture of thick, whipped cream and an ingredients list which includes soothing caffeine and moisturising algae extract, it’s soothing, hydrating and great even on sensitive skin like mine.

THURSDAY

Thursday was the official opening of the newly revamped beauty hall at Frasers in Glasgow – and who better to do it than Elizabeth Hurley (left), who was in town anyway in her role as a spokesperson for Estee Lauder.

Not only did Liz pronounce the slick and gleaming new hall open, she flicked a light switch and turned the historic Frasers building pink – so that it joined the other landmarks across the world which are marking Estee Lauder’s Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign.

A vision in pink Herve Leger, she then did a brief signing – of products from the limited edition The Elizabeth Hurley Lip Collection (£25; www.esteelauder.co.uk) which is being sold as part of this year’s Pink Ribbon Collection. For your £25, you get a shocking pink mock-croc clutch bag containing two double-ended glosses from the Pure Color Gloss range. From each purchase of a product from the Pink Ribbon Collection in the UK, £7.50 will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation for its research programme at the UK’s Institute of Cancer Research.

FRIDAY

Elizabeth Hurley’s sexy make-up look (smoky eyes, pale-ish pink lips) was created by the renowned make-up artist Mary Greenwell who took advantage of being in town to introduce the Scottish beauty press to her “baby”, her first fragrance – Plum (from £60 for the eau de parfum; available from selected House of Fraser stores).

Over an informal lunch, Mary – whose gold baubly bracelet evoked the weighty, gold- plated, stopper of her Plum bottle as well as the case in which the Solid Parfum (£70) is housed – chatted to journalists about her luxurious, very feminine scent. A classic chic chypre with a fruity twist, it has sparkling top notes of plum (natch), blackcurrant, peach, bergamot and lemon; heart notes of gardenia, tuberose, orange flower, rose and jasmine, and a base of sandalwood, oakmoss, patchouli, amber and white musk.

I’ll be writing more about Mary and Plum later this week …

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

A trip to Paris has eluded me so far this year – much to my chagrin (I lived there for a year as a student). My withdrawal symptoms are even worse now, thanks to the utterly exquisite new eyeshadow compact which I was sent recently, and started using on Monday. Why the increased withdrawal symptoms for Paris, you may ask?  Well, because the eyeshadow comes from Guerlain’s autumn collection, entitled 68 Champs-Elysees – the address of the flagship Guerlain boutique in the French capital.

Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs (£51) is almost too pretty to use. The silvery, solid-feeling, compact was designed by India Mahdavi with an exotic, eastern design carved into the lid. Inside, there’s a mirror which opens out to the side and snaps back into place. Oh, and there are also some gorgeous eyeshadow colours – all of which have moonstone as a common ingredient.

There are five colourways to choose from, and each is named after the Parisian address of a Guerlain boutique. For a lovely, neutral, easy-to-wear palette go for 93 rue de Passy and for a bolder colour scheme which can take you from day to daring,  it’s got to be 68 Champs-Elysees, with its central deep violet shade.

TUESDAY

My nostalgia for Paris continued on Tuesday as I washed my hair with Melvita Blonde Hair Shampoo (£9; www.melvita.co.uk). As soon as I started lathering my locks, I was back in France in 1992 when I swore by a strikingly similar shampoo which counted lemon and vinegar among its ingredients. Lemon, of course, is reputed to be able to lighten blonde hair (in our teens, a schoolfriend and I compiled a beauty manual which was full of recipes for homemade products, and lemon always loomed large in my experiments).  After a few days of using this new shampoo I noticed that the light-coloured ends of my hair looked much more blonde; unfortunately, this emphasised the fact that the roots are in dire need of coverage.. So if I use this shampoo again, it will be nearer the start of a colour cycle!

I don’t think, however, that I’ll be rushing back to use the conditioner which I was sent at the same time.  After using the shampoo, my hair felt very tuggy and even a generous dollop of Melvita Tired Hair Conditioner (£9) failed to detangle it. It’s a shame because I loved the smell: geranium is one of my favourite scents.

I won’t let it put me off trying some of the other products in the vast Melvita range. This is an organic range which, in France, is sold in pharmacies  and over here, is available in John Lewis and online. But watch out for a dedicated store opening in Covent Garden in November.

WEDNESDAY

I seem to be having a bit of a Hitchcock Blonde obsession at the moment… and I’m not just talking about Grace Kelly. While I’m not bowled over by any of the individual outfits that Kim Novak (left) wears in Hitch’s 1958 classic Vertigo, I love the line of her clothes and the way she marries ladylike with sexy.

On Wednesday, I tried on a 1950s-style wide-collared, knee-length, bracelet- sleeved, leopard print coat in Topshop (having just posted a celebration of leopard print on this blog, I thought I’d better check out what was available), and I fell in love. What swung it wasn’t the cosiness of the fake fur, the gorgeous print, or anything remotely practical about the coat; it was the fact that when I tried it on, with my hair pinned back with a bit of a quiff on top, the look was pure Vertigo-era Novak.

Now, you can’t do the Novak look without an impressive pair of eyebrows, so the recent arrival of not one but two eyebrow pencils was very timely. Both the brand-new Lancome Le Crayon Sourcils Pro (£14.50) and Sisley Phyto-Sourcils Perfect (£29) are great for grooming brows – thanks to the little brush they have at one end – and both come in an ideal shade for blondes (Hitchock or otherwise…).

THURSDAY

A night at the theatre with my fiercest beauty critic – AKA Mum – was the occasion for the first public outing of my new Tom Ford Private Blend Lip Color in Pink Dusk (£35), which is apparently the most popular shade in the collection of luxury lipsticks.

Being a Monday’s child (“fair of face”), I have always tended to go for brightish reddy-pinks but since a beauty epiphany at Space NK a couple of years ago, I’ve always had a flesh-toned, paler pink in my collection – for use with a strong, smoky purple eye and a 1960s look.

This Pink Dusk shade is perfect for that, and, on Thursday, worked beautifully with a smoky eye made up with a couple of the light shades from the Guerlain Ecrin 6 Couleurs in rue de Passy, plus the eyeshadow that has become an essential in recent months – Estee Lauder Pure Color Eyeshadow in Tempting Mocha (£15; www.esteelauder.co.uk). Put it this way, not once on Thursday evening did Mum ask if I was feeling alright – the usual question I’m asked by family members who are tricked into thinking I look pale if they see me without a bright lipstick.

FRIDAY

I’m thrilled that there are so many purple options out there again for autumn and winter 2010, and I’m certainly going to be making full use of them.

I was sorting through all the purple possibilities on Friday and came to the conclusion that my two favourite nail varnishes of the moment are Chanel Le Vernis in Paradoxal (£16.50), a pewtery shade of purple, perfect for evening wear, and Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Surreal Violet (£12; www.esteelauder.co.uk) which has turned out to be the polish that I’ve worn most over the last couple of months. I particularly like the fact that it dries fast, lasts well and – as a near-neutral – goes with just about everything.

Of the purple make-up for the face, I love the new shades of lipstick from Dior (the Serum de Rouge  in Smoky Pink Serum would be lovely on a sallow skin) – though purplish lipsticks don’t work on me – and the two Dior 5 Couleurs compacts (£39), Pink Design and Misty Mauve. Mum had her own beauty epiphany recently, and it also revolved around the colour purple. She is now a convert to purple eye makeup, and I sent her off on her trip to Paris on Friday with two treats: Clinique Color Surge Eye Shadow Duo in Blackberry Frost (£18.50; www.clinique.co.uk) and the gorgeous new Sisley Phyto Khol Star in Dark Amethyst (£29), which has a subtle sparkle.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I was in Edinburgh last week, staying in a friend’s flat on and off while I covered the jazz festival. Knowing that I was going to be out and about a lot – and out late into the wee small hours on the odd occasion – I had to make sure I had a make-up bag full of only the most reliable basics.

For the last few weeks I’ve been using the new Laura Mercier Full Blown Volume Mascara (£18) and I’ve decided that, along with Lancome’s Hypnose Precious Cells, it is my favourite new mascara of the year so far.

It’s perfect for creating fuller, longer and more voluminous-looking lashes – ideal for someone like me, who is somewhat challenged in the luscious lash department. (Long, Bambi-style, lashes seem to be the preserve of the men in my family!) Not only that but it conditions the lashes at the same time.

Anyway, the new Laura Mercier mascara proved its reliability and it was only the day when I tried another brand that I ended up with panda eyes..

TUESDAY

I may have been playing it safe with tried and tested basics but I managed to fit in a little improvisation on the make-up front while at the jazz festival. I spent a few days (it lasted remarkably well, even through the typing of around five concert reviews, one beauty article and numerous emails) falling in love with the Estee Lauder Pure Color Nail Lacquer in Surreal Violet (£12; www.esteelauder.co.uk). A slightly opalescent, lilacy take on the putty shade that’s all the rage, it’s a great summer-to-autumn colour – not too wintry and not too pastelly. Love it!

WEDNESDAY

Disaster struck on Tuesday when my then-current liquid eyeliner fell apart – the brush came out of the lid. Luckily I had a spare – although I hadn’t used it before, having been put off by the old-fashioned bottle (when I was sent it, I was hooked on the pen-brush style of liner).

Anyway, Guerlain Eye-Liner in Encre Brun (£22.50) – a simple name for a sophisticated-looking cosmetic – saved the day and won my heart in the process: I am now totally smitten. It draws an elegant, even and smooth line and is just the job for creating a flicked-up fifties look or a Cleopatra-style cat’s eye.

It served me well through the last few days of the jazz festival though I’m still trying to establish whether it was guilty of causing said panda eyes on the last night, or whether that was the mascara. The late night session in the wine bar didn’t help mascara matters.. …

I’m off to dig out the other shades of Guerlain Eye-Liner which I have, including last season’s midnight blue colour, bound to look stunning with some of the new season’s navy, teal and kingfisher blue shades.

THURSDAY

Purple is big news once again this autumn/winter – how many years is that then? – and one of the loveliest of the new products that I’ve been sent so far is the limited edition Dior 5 Couleurs in Misty Mauve (£39) which I played about with on Wednesday and Thursday.

The colours are shimmeringly beautiful – opal white and pink highlighters, mauve and plummy-beige mid-tones and a dark aubergine shade perfect for creating a smoky eye look. These are classic colours which are worth investing in, if you’re in need of a new palette.

FRIDAY

Yuck. Woke up on Friday feeling hideous. Sore throat, runny nose and period pain – a triple whammy and one which left me looking totally washed out.

I’m pale at the best of times and usually need to have a bit of colour on my face to give me a lift. I especially wanted to look my best as I was escaping the jazz for half an hour in order to meet two of the lovely girls from the Clinique PR team for an update on the next few launches.

Thankfully, I had taken a new blusher to try out in Edinburgh and it saved me from looking like a ghost of my usual self. Just a light dusting of Chanel Joues Contraste in Pink Explosion (£29) gave me enough colour to make me look human again. And its slight shimmer added a hint of much-needed radiance.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY


Dear beauty diary, I’ve been on holiday so apologies for the lack of entries. However, I must tell you about my holiday beauty crisis – or near-crisis. Thankfully, I had just the right products with me to avert a disaster.

We were in St Andrews, the picturesque Scottish seaside town and we enjoyed a typical Scottish seaside holiday – with weather a mixture of gorgeous sunshine, drizzle, torrential rain and wind. Even on the warm days, the wind was a nuisance, not least to my hair and skin. Using not one but two Ojon conditioners (a rinse-off and a stay-in) sorted out the drying effects of the wind on my hair (which I took to tying up as the windswept look just doesn’t do it for long, fine, poker-straight hair),  and the new Chanel Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask (£34; from August 13) successfully tackled my weather-beaten face, but it wasn’t till I remembered to start using my Clinique Deep Comfort Hand and Cuticle Cream (£14.50; www.clinique.co.uk) that my hands began to feel more like themselves.  This is a rich but easily absorbed cream which sorts out dry skin quickly. I’ve yet to find a lotion that cut the mustard in this department.

TUESDAY

The night before our trip, I should probably have been packing but instead I was at a dinner hosted by the glamorous Estee Lauder PR girls who were in Glasgow to show off the first colour collection by Tom Pecheux.  Forgetting to pack my favourite jeans was a small price to pay for the  sneak peak at the Pecheux goodies …

To be honest, I was sold on Pecheux’s collection before I’d even seen it – thanks to its exotic name, Blue Dahlia – the title of a film noir starring one of my favourite 1940s actresses, Veronica Lake.  I took the gorgeous Pure Color Five Color Eyeshadow Palette in Blue Dahlia (£34; www.esteelauder.co.uk; in Selfridges and Brown Thomas now and the rest of the country in August) with me to St Andrews and experimented with the more subtle possibilities it offers.  There’s a lovely dove-grey shade which looks fab with a wash of one of the three deep blue tones – particularly the teal one. I’ll report back anon on my attempts at the full, Blue Dahlia, monty – as seen on the model pictured above.

WEDNESDAY

I know that as a beauty writer, it’s time to get excited about the autumn collections but I’m still finding gems in the summer ones… Having been hooked on Dior Addict Lipcolors (£21.50)  in Coral Craze and  for much of the summer, I just stumbled across Pop Red on Wednesday and am completely smitten. It’s a perfect pinky, cherry red – and since it’s glossy and extremely moist, it doesn’t have the harshness of many other reds out there. Which means it’s perfect for red wimps; those of us who are too fair or too afraid to go for full-blown red…. Okay, it’s red- lite but who cares if it makes you feel like Veronica Lake? And, yes, it goes a treat with a subtle wash of Blue Dahlia on the eyes.

THURSDAY

On Thursday I finally got round to experimenting with a new-fangled hair accessory that I was sent. Goody’s Modern Updo Pin (£4.99; available from Asda from August 18) looks like a giant, malformed kirby grip and like the kirby, it can do wonders for the hair. Once you’ve mastered it, there’s no need for any hair pins or other tricks of the pinning-up trade. It is ideal for creating chignon styles, whether tidy, formal affairs, or loose, relaxed ones, and keeps its hold even on the finest, most unco-operative hair. Mine would have been with me on holiday – but was another casualty of the champagne-quaffing the night before the trip …

FRIDAY

I don’t normally get excited about toner but I’ve just about finished my bottle of Origins Zero Oil Pore Purifying Toner (£15; www.origins.co.uk) and I feel quite sad at the prospect of being without it.. Tragic eh? But this is a really great toner which refreshes the skin while removing any last vestiges of make-up or dirt. It really makes your skin feel like it’s sparkling – and a bonus, in St Andrews, was its ability to sniff out tiny traces of sand which my cleanser had missed …

It has quite a strong fragrance, which did send off alarm bells for me initially as I have a very sensitive skin, but I would happily use it again – in fact, I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get to!


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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I’ve been recovering from my recent jaunt to Norwich for the annual “jazz party”. Jazz and parties are, as you know, both late-night affairs – organisers of this jamboree don’t take that into account when planning their concert schedule, which starts BEFORE LUNCHTIME! I should really have taken a bottle of Guerlain Midnight Secret (£58) with me – since it makes your skin look like it’s had its beauty sleep – but I was too excited at the prospect of three days of wall-to-wall jazz.

Thank goodness I did have two key weapons from my Clinique skincare arsenal with me, to help with my skin’s recovery from over-indulgence at the bar. Clinique Redness Solutions Soothing Cleanser (£15; www.clinique.co.uk) and their Redness Solutions Daily Protective Base SPF15 (£14) are both top choices for countering the effects of Gin Night, White Wine Night and, especially, Red Wine Night …  I am prone to flushed cheeks and can vouch for the fact that the cleanser takes the sting out of nippy skin, while the green-coloured base evens out the red and doubles as a great primer for the rest of your make-up.

TUESDAY

It may look as if jazz singer Annie Ross is applying nail varnish in this photo from the 1950s – and that would be entirely apt.

When I met the great lady – still a vision of glamorous chic at the age of 79 – in Norwich last week, I was impressed by her bold make-up, not least her shocking pink lipstick which looked terrific with her flaming red hair. (What is it about stylish old dames and hot pink lipstick? When I met King Kong star Fay Wray back in 1998, the 92-year-old wouldn’t start the interview until she had applied some lipstick in that colour..) So I gave her my bottle of hot pink nail polish – the now unavailable Estee Lauder Michael Kors Nail Lacquer in Bungalow Pink – to complement the look.

Anyway, inspired by Annie, I have been on a bit of a quest to find a shocking pink lipstick for myself and it turned up on Tuesday, in the shape of one of the new Dior Addict Lipcolours (£21.50) which come out at the end of May.

The Ravishing Rose shade (left) is a brilliant choice if you fancy a slash of neon colour. And, unlike many shocking pinks, it’s not flat and matte, but moist, glossy and very, very comfy.

WEDNESDAY

The promised goody bags may not have materialised but my trip into the sleek and spacious new beauty hall at Boots in Glasgow’s Buchanan Galleries was not entirely wasted. I was given a very educational makeover by one of the ladies at the Lancome counter – though “zone” is probably a more apt word.

I may write about beauty but I’m still learning tips and techniques and Jackie helped me overcome my aversion to kohl eyeliner (love it on other people; find it gives me panda eyes) by using a waterproof eyeliner pencil – Lancome Crayon Khol Waterproof (£17.50; www.lancome.co.uk), and giving me a 1960s look. Not only did it look great but it lasted till bedtime – and came off easily with a bi-phase eye make-up remover.

THURSDAY

After the success of the Dior Addict Lipcolor in Ravishing Rose, I was keen to give the new Dior 5 Couleurs Iridescent Eyeshadow palette in Ready-to-Glow (£39; available May 17) an evening outing.

A book launch on Thursday provided the perfect opportunity to experiment. And I was thrilled with the results.

These colours are fantastic – they blend easily and last fabulously – and it’s not very often I can say that about eye make-up. The gorgeous shimmering shades flatter and emphasise the bone structure and add a bit of colour at the same time ..  and they look great with Ravishing Rose lips. Summer nights here we come!

FRIDAY

I finally made my mind up today about Guerlain’s new mascara, Le 2 de Guerlain Volume Mascara (£24). I love it – but only for the first couple of hours it’s on.

The latest in the French beauty house’s collection of two-wand mascaras, this one is different because its second step is painting on a glossy top coat for the lashes: after you’ve brushed on your volumising mascara and teased your lashes into the desired curve, you are supposed to go over them with the lacquer.

While the traditional first step does indeed add oomph to lashes and is perfect for creating a lash-heavy look a la Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, I found that this mascara didn’t stay put on my lashes and I ended up with smudges below and above my eyes. Maybe, as with the kohl pencil, I need to hold out for the waterproof version…



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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

An afternoon involving the school run and a children’s sports class meant that nothing too adventurous could be tested.. So I was happy to stick to my favourite new neutral eyeshadow, the Elegant Taupe shade of Givenchy Le Prisme Yeux Mono (£19).

Being a beauty writer who tries gazillions of new cosmetics every year, I can’t remember the last time I actually wore an eyeshadow compact down so that the base shone through..

But I’ve managed it with this Givenchy eyeshadow quartet which contains four variations on the same shade: a matte powder, a shimmery one, a sparkly one and an iridescent one.

And the little pamphlet which suggests different looks that can be created is well worth experimenting with! As I said, the one I’ve worn out is the very easy-to-wear, suits-all shade of Elegant Taupe, but I’m dying to try one of the vibrant purple or blue shades…

TUESDAY

A totally indulgent lunchtime trip to the cinema to watch Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell light up the screen in the classic 1953 musical comedy Gentlemen Prefer Blondes proved inspirational. Their ruby red lips look fantastic in this sparkling new print, and inspired me to try out the new Lancome gloss, L’Absolu Creme de Brillance (£18; www.lancome.co.uk), I was recently sent. My shade, Rose Mythique, wasn’t ruby red like Lorelei or Dorothy’s pouts, but it was red enough for me: a lovely, coral colour which lasts well, moisturises the lips and isn’t remotely tacky.

WEDNESDAY

It always happens: you’ve got an important meeting or a night out, and you wake up with a giant spot – or a “plook” (as we, ever so poetically, put it here in Scotland) – on your chin. What can you do?

Well, Clinique’s Anti-Blemish Solutions Liquid Makeup (£20 ; available April 1, www.clinique.co.uk ) is the answer. I turned to it on Tuesday when a big PMT-fuelled plook popped up on my face. I think it was it fate because who was I meeting that day? Two of the glamorous (and spot-free) girls from the Clinique team..

I can report that not only did the foundation, which is not for anyone who prefers light coverage, conceal the plook very skilfully….

THURSDAY

… but it also cleared it up: by Thursday morning, there was only a very slight, pink hint that it had ever been there.

The highlight of Thursday was dinner with friends at my favourite restaurant in Glasgow, Rogano.  Time to get out my evening wear for the eyes. The basics for me are Clarins Eye Liner (£18;www.clarins.com), which is the best liquid eyeliner in pen form that I’ve found, and Bobbi Brown Party Wear Mascara (£17.50; www.bobbibrown.co.uk), which is the ultimate mascara for transforming short, stumpy lashes into luscious ones. My other night-out staple at the moment is the gorgeous, but almost unavailable now (it was a limited edition, launched back in January), Bungalow Pink shade of the Estee Lauder Michael Kors Very Hollywood Nail Lacquer (£12; www.esteelauder.co.uk). I’m thinking of snapping up all remaining bottles of this deep  pink polish which has the intensity of a cherry red but suits me much better.

FRIDAY

Friday morning was wet and wintry, so my cheery pink nails from the night before would have been the perfect antidote to the gloom but I had already resolved to switch over to my other current favourite: Chanel Nail Colour (£17) in Inattendu (on the right in the picture). For the non-pink days, it has to be this chic nude polish which suits me better than the mushroom or so-called “greige” shade of Particuliere (pictured far left) that came out in the same spring collection or the bubblegum pink shade Tendresse.

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Scarlet Woman

 

Estee Lauder has a range of ravishing reds for Christmas 2009.

Whether it’s danger, drama or street cred you’re after, only one lipstick shade will do for 2009: red. The most classic of lipstick colours often pops up in the Christmas collections but this year it’s making a proper comeback for autumn and, with more shades and formulations available now than ever, there’s no excuse for not finding your perfect red.

Just as fashions in clothes go in cycles, so do trends in make-up – and red lipstick is one of the oldest trends there is. In ancient times, women painted their pouts with sheep’s blood. No doubt this vogue was inspired by the erotic appeal of red lips to the opposite sex; an appeal said to stem from the resemblance of the painted mouth to another part of the female anatomy.

In the Victorian era, woman pinched their cheeks and bit their lips in order to look flushed. Early in the 20th century, red lipstick came to represent more than a state of sexual excitement; it became a symbol of liberation. Red lipsticks were first marketed in the 1920s, just after American women were granted the vote, and were dabbed on to the centre of the lips to create the “bee-stung” effect made famous by movie star Clara Bow.


By the 1940s, the red lipped look also represented power, and it’s no coincidence that the strongest, feistiest women on the big screen were the ones best known for their full, red pouts. Celebrated screen bitch Joan Crawford exaggerated her lips with lip liner and blood red lipstick – a shade which, along with her trademark shoulder pads, enjoyed a major revival in the power-mad 1980s. Both the lip colour and the shoulder pads are back in vogue again just now.

In the 1950s, red lipstick – corally reds, scarlets, tomato reds, cherry – was every Hollywood starlet’s essential make-up item but by the 1960s, it had fallen from favour; replaced by the pale, frosted lip look or no lipstick at all.

These days, anything goes and some style icons have become known for their signature scarlet: accessories designer Lulu Guinness and burlesque star Dita Von Teese are two of today’s most influential poster girls for painted red pouts. And they’ve been joined recently by such A-listers as Angelina Jolie, Sienna Miller and Cameron Diaz in sporting 1940s-inspired lips on the red carpet.

So, how to pick the right red? After all, it’s not just a case of which shade matches your favourite top/dress/coat. Choose the wrong red and you could well pass for a clown, an Elizabeth I impersonator, a drag queen or a wee girl playing with her mum’s make-up.

We’ve asked various experts and the common consensus is that the first step is to identify your skin tone – because it is the key to whittling down the range of reds to the one which suits you. If you’re pale, prone to flushing and find it difficult to get a tan, then – like red lippie-fans Diane Kruger, Gwyneth Paltrow and the afore-mentioned Dita Von Teese – you have a cool skin tone, and should stick to cherry reds which have a blue or pink undertone, and blood reds for a dramatic look, especially with dark hair and pale skin.

Women with warmer-toned complexions – honey blondes with sun-kissed skin and brunettes with Mediterranean colouring – can pull off the orangey shades better; the classic tomato reds, rusts and brick tones. Think Cameron Diaz, Catherine Zeta-Jones or Scarlett Johanssen. Girls with dark skin should opt for deep reds, berry reds and burgundies for a touch of Hollywood glamour – as Naomi Campbell often does.

But, alas, once you’ve got a fix on which shades should suit you, there is still the question of texture. Alan Pan, Estee Lauder’s make-up artist, says: “Choosing which texture of red you want is crucial. You have to choose whether you want a matte, satin or glossy finish. For smaller lips it is best to go with a glossy finish as this gives the illusion of a fuller pout.”

Matte red is notoriously tricky to wear as it can emphasise thin lips and have an ageing effect. It can also be very uncomfortable for dry lips. Generally, the drier your lips, the shinier you should go with your lipstick, and if you’re really stuck for one that’s comfortable, then follow international beauty guru Bobbi Brown’s advice.

She suggests: “Don’t feel constrained to wear red found in a lipstick tube – create your own customised lipstick by combining a red you like with a favourite neutral or brown lipstick”

Of course, there’s always the option of ditching the lipstick entirely, and opting for one of the new, richly pigmented glosses that are around this season. Just as long as it’s red.

BEST FOR PALE SKINS

* No7 Wild Volume lipstick in Forever Cherry (£9.50)

* Dior Addict Ultra Gloss Perfect in Red Stockings (£17.50)

* Estee Lauder Limited Edition Signature Lipstick in Simply Red (£16)

* Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-in-Place Lipstick in Stay Scarlet (£16)

BEST FOR FAIR-MEDIUM WARM SKINS

* Chanel Rouge Allure in Enthusiast (£21.50)

* No7 Stay Perfect Lip Lacquer in Flamenco Red (£9.50)

* Bobbi Brown Rich Color Gloss in Ruby Red (£14)

* Guerlain Rouge G in Greta (£25)

BEST FOR MEDIUM & DARK SKINS

* Revlon Matte Lipstick in Really Red (£7.29)

* Dior Rouge Dior in Celebrity Red (£21)

* Bobbi Brown Rich Color Gloss in Merlot (£14)

* Chanel Rouge Allure Laque in Dragon (£23)

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