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Guerlain Forever

Guerlain pic

A few of my favourite Guerlain things …

It’s 21 years since I first fell in love with the luxurious French beauty company Guerlain. This fact dawned on me last week, as I floated in and out of wakefulness during my first-ever experience of a Guerlain facial in my home country of Scotland – at the recently opened Guerlain Spa in The Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel, in Edinburgh.

My first encounters with Guerlain all took place in its home town – of Paris. Back in 1992, I was a student living and working in one of the more upmarket suburbs to the south of the city. Having worked initially as an “assistante” (language assistant) in a lycée, I had decided to stay on for the summer and, having  turned down offers of work at EuroDisney and  The Hard Rock Cafe (both of which would have done my French language skills no good whatsoever), I found a job in the Saint-Germain-en-Laye branch of the costume jewellery shop Agatha.

My friend, Anne-Sophie, was already a Saturday girl there and she helped me land a summer stint as a salesgirl. At the same time, she provided me with a basic education in French beauty rituals…. in particular, her must-have make-up – Guerlain’s Les Meteorites. I had never seen anything like these little shimmering balls of coloured, Parma violet-scented powder, but Anne-Sophie swore by them – and her luminous complexion certainly made Les Meteorites seem like a worthwhile investment.

Once I was aware of Guerlain – brand-aware as the 20-year-olds of today might say – it seemed to become a recurring theme.. My boss, a feisty Spaniard who exuded a sultry sex appeal, always had a bottle of her signature scent, Jardins de Bagatelle, stashed behind the boutique’s counter; my first encounter with fake tan was Terracotta, as used by one of the other girls in the shop; evening strolls along the Champs-Elysees in the summer meant a chance to ogle the elegant Guerlain boutique at no68…. And so on. Guerlain was Paris. And Paris was Guerlain.

The summer after my stint in France ended, I returned to Paris for a holiday, but the year after that, I was working full-time as a journalist and couldn’t get away. In readiness for my first big assignment, I had my first-ever splurge in a department store beauty hall. I don’t remember planning it, but it was probably inevitable that I ended up at the Guerlain counter, buying a coral/red lipstick and matching nail varnish; a purchase which I now look back on as marking a sort of coming-of-age style-wise. It was the moment I started forging my own path – a path that has led me back time and again to Guerlain.

The house of Guerlain marks its 185th anniversary this year so to celebrate that, plus the recent opening of its first UK spa, at The Caledonian Waldorf Astoria in Edinburgh, I’ll be running a series of articles on Guerlain this week – and at the time of the anniversary celebrations, in the autumn.

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Guerlain: All About Beauty

1. Boutique ExteriorThe Arc de Triomphe is not the only cherished landmark on the magnificent Champs-Elysees. No.68 avenue des Champs-Elysees has, for generations, been a celebrated address for Parisians; an exquisitely elegant listed building which is a mecca for admirers of fine fragrance and lovers of luxury beauty products and treatments. This, you see, is the location of La Maison Guerlain, the oldest existing beauty house, which is currently celebrating its 185th anniversary.

For almost two centuries, Guerlain has been synonymous with the ideals of French beauty and allure. And it has retained its position as one of the leading perfume, cosmetics and skincare brands in the world without having the image of a fashion brand to bolster its identity. Unlike Chanel, Givenchy and Dior, Guerlain didn’t begin life as a couture house which diversified into beauty; it has been all about beauty – and, in particular, fragrance – from day one.

The founder of this French institution was Pierre-Francois-Pascal Guerlain, who was born in Picardy in 1798, during the final days of the revolution. His father was a spice merchant and pewter potter, but it was as a sales assistant in the perfume house Briard that the young Guerlain found employment when he left home at the age of 19. This first job involved demonstrating and selling cosmetic products (precursors to today’s blushers, lipsticks and foundations), and this apprenticeship continued in two further beauty companies before he left for three years to study botany, chemistry and soap-making in England, then a hotbed for research in the fields of perfume, beauty products and toiletries.

In 1828, when he was only 30 years of age, Guerlain opened his first boutique, at 42 rue de Rivoli, the arcade-lined street at the very heart of Paris. The site was shared with the Hotel Meurice, then a favourite of the British upper classes. Guerlain began his business by importing fashionable products from Britain, but he was soon developing his own, original formulas for toilet waters, soaps, creams, pomades, perfume oils and perfumed essences for handkerchiefs. These were very popular with the British aristocracy, not least Queen Victoria for whom the perfume Bouquet de la Reine Victoria was created.

Before long, the Guerlain boutique was the “in” place and no fashionable Parisienne’s dressing table was complete without a jar of Creme a la Fraise (Strawberry Creme) to lighten the complexion or Creme de Perse (Persian Creme) to soften the hands. Her maquillage would also have included one of Ne m'oubliez pasGuerlain’s innovative lip tints – Liquid Rose Extract, which was sold from the mid-19th century until 1958; Roselip, a solid lip colour in a porcelain pot, or, from the 1870s, the world’s first lipstick in a tube – Ne m’oubliez pas (Don’t Forget Me).

By the time the Guerlain boutique had relocated to the rue de la Paix in the 1840s, royal commissions were beginning to flood in and Pierre-Francois-Pascal’s fragrances were all the rage in many of the European courts.

One of Guerlain’s greatest coups was being appointed official perfumer to the Empress Eugenie, the wife of Napoleon III, in 1853. He had impressed the empress with the zesty Eau de Cologne Imperiale which he had made specially for her. Legend has it that it gave her unhoped-for relief from the migraines that troubled her. The cologne is still sold today, and in the same distinctive bee-embossed bottle (the bee being a reference to the imperial coat of arms).

The founder of the house of Guerlain died in 1864 and his eldest son Aime took over as the firm’s perfumer. He continued in his father’s pioneering footsteps, creating, in 1889, the perfume which is generally credited with ushering in the age of modern perfumery. Jicky broke ground by blending synthetic materials with natural ingredients. Its fresh top notes of lavender, bergamot and rosemary, its spicy heart and creamy, warm base (which is where the new synthetic vanilla made its impact) were different to anything that had gone before and it was men who tended to buy it in its early years.

FROM THE CREATION of Jicky onwards, the history of Guerlain is also the history of modern perfumery. Aime’s nephew, Jacques, was responsible for almost 400 scents, among them an incredible succession of legendary fragrances regarded as wonders of the perfume world. These included the fresh yet heady L’Heure Bleue (1912), Mitsouko (1919), which is one of the most celebrated and influential early examples of the chypre genre, and Shalimar (1925), the exotic perfume which sired the entire oriental family of fragrances.

Jacques’s grandson, Jean-Paul, who retired in 2002, continued the Guerlain tradition of innovation with such gems as the archetypal fresh, green scent La Maison Guerlain Heritage VisualChamade (1969), which was the first perfume to make use of blackcurrant buds, and the sensuous oriental Samsara (1989).

Like its home city of Paris, Guerlain treats its heritage with the greatest of respect. With its Art Deco counters and original marble walls, the ground floor boutique on the Champas-Elysees has changed little in the 94 years since it opened and the third floor spa is as discreet and luxurious as when it began catering to Parisiennes’ “soins de beaute” in 1938.

But, since 2005, no visit to 68 avenue des Champs-Elysees would be complete without a trip up the luminous, gold-tiled stairway to the revamped first floor where the very contemporary Espace Parfum offers the chance to explore just about the entire back catalogue of Guerlain greatest hits as well as such current chart-toppers as La Petite Robe Noire, Idylle and Insolence – and even, for true perfume obsessives, the opportunity to have your own signature scent created just for you. If luxury is timeless, Guerlain will have no trouble notching up another 185 years.

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My Week in Beauty

SATURDAY

A last-minute invitation to attend a black tie charity dinner on Saturday night was the perfect occasion for me to get a second wear out of my bargain evening gown (bought last May for my first-ever formal jazz event) and a first wear out of some fab new Dior make-up I’d been sent.

I’d come across this photo of the lovely January Jones amongst the publicity for the new series of Mad Men, which got underway last week, and once more she proved to be a great inspiration – though at the last minute I switched to dark pink lips (Dior’s Rouge d’Or in Nocturne, from their limited edition Christmas collection, since you ask) as I just looked too washed out…

Anyway, my take on the 1966 Mad Men look involved using the paler shades in the classic Dior 5 Couleurs in Greige (£40), which has become my favourite palette lately, and the fabulous Dior 360 degrees Revolving Mascara (£29.50), an extremely easy-to-use mascara which does a terrific job of curling the lashes for a dramatic effect.

MONDAY

Since running out of my Chanel skincare a few weeks ago, I have been using some new products from another of my favourite French beauty brands – Guerlain. They have just relaunched their Super Aqua range of hydrating skincare and I’ve been enjoying getting reacquainted with their lovely textures and, especially, their distinctive, rose, scent. The fact that I’ve had more than a few compliments on my skin is a bonus.. I’ve been using the new Guerlain Super Aqua-Lotion (£30), a softening and hydrating toner, and the newly reformulated Guerlain Super Acqua-Serum (£65.50), which was already one of my favourite serums and is now better than ever..

The 2012 version of Super Aqua-Lotion harnesses Guerlain’s newfound awareness of the ageing effects of water pollution on the skin’s cells. The result is a serum which simultaneously hydrates and plumps up the skin, as the product reactivates the skin’s natural water purification process, thus allowing the flow of cell life to continue without disruption – ie, less chance of wrinkle outbreaks!

WEDNESDAY

I didn’t get round to trying out the new Benefit High Brow Glow (£14) in time to use it at the charity dinner on Saturday but I would probably have avoided it anyway: I’m not a big fan of the shimmering brow bone look, though I can appreciate the way a highlighter can enhance the bone structure. This easy-to-use, creamy pencil certainly does that and offers a champagne coloured alternative to the original, cult classic – the linen-pink shade of High Brow. Mind you, £14 seems quite a lot to pay for something that comes – albeit in powder form – in most eye shadow palettes.

THURSDAY


I finally got round to trying out the latest body treatment from Clarins on Thursday. The Clarins Melting Hone Hot Stone Massage (from £60) is not the most relaxing treatment I’ve had – but it was certainly extremely effective at ironing out the myriad knots in my muscles. It turns out that not only do I carry a load of tension in my neck, shoulders and back (which I knew) but also in my right foot. Go figure.

The therapist uses nine stones, in four different shapes, to carry out a deep and very precise massage – the shape of the stone and the amount of heat it can carry determines where it is used. Unlike some hot stone treatments, where the stones are placed on particular spots on the body; these ones are designed to be an extension of the therapist’s hands. The honey massage gel – available in two formulas, one for relaxing and one for invigorating – is massaged on initially as a barrier for the heat, and it melts into an oil as the massage unfolds before transforming into a very moisturising milky emulsion.

The effects were still evident several days later – though I do now crave a facial with back massage where I can completely switch off and not be flipped over half-way through as happens in a body treatment….

FRIDAY

A low-key dinner with a friend in Edinburgh seemed just the right occasion to try out the Incognito shade of  Dior Vernis Extreme Wear Nail Lacquer (£17.50). It’s very appropriately named, this shade which looks sort of putty-like on first application but then takes on a slightly lilac hue with a second coat. In fact, it’s very reminiscent of Chanel’s Rose Cache and Rose Confidentiel – and the name is inkeeping too!

The corresponding Dior Addict Extreme lipstick (£24) would have been perfect for the January Jones look (above), but I need just a bit more colour to prevent me from looking pale and of interest only to a mortician …

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My Week in Beauty

Meryl - and her seldom-washed hair - in the wonderful 1979 film Manhattan

MONDAY 
I love Meryl Streep – and was delighted that she won her Golden Globe on Sunday night. I wasn’t sure about the country ‘n’ western lapels on the dress she was wearing on Sunday night but loved the Margo Channing-style dress complete with pockets – which I adore on dresses and skirts.

Apart from her exquisite looks (those cheekbones! that radiant complexion! the intelligent sexiness she exudes!), what I like about our Meryl is the fact that she comes across as quite human and fallible – and completely unthreatened by all the younger actresses. And she seems to be surprisingly down-to-earth.

Once asked by a journalist for one of her beauty secrets, she replied: “I don’t wash my hair often. My record was three weeks.”

TUESDAY 

Weirdly, I was reminded of Ms Streep on Tuesday when I met with two of the PR team from Guerlain – Helen, with her long fair hair could easily have passed for one of Meryl’s daughters, or Meryl herself, circa Manhattan.

The Guerlain girls were in Edinburgh to show the beauty press some of the French company’s latest launches – though the guys at the table next to us could have been forgiven for thinking that I was being recruited as a secret agent, and being shown the latest spy gadget. Why? Because the tantalising item of beauty hardware which was being demonstrated was Guerlain G Noir (£35; available from Harrods now, and nationwide on Feb 1), the new, refillable, mascara inspired by their phenomenally successful Rouge G lipstick which comes in a bullet-style case complete with pop-up mirror.

The G Girls took me by surprise by presenting me with a belated birthday present – of three of my favourite Guerlain staples: Orchidee Imperiale Exceptional Complete Care Cream, Meteorites and Precious Light, the best eraser of signs of tiredness under the eyes that I have come across – and believe me, in recent months, insomnia has guaranteed me plenty of opportunities to test them out!

WEDNESDAY

Apart from going to see Grease at the King’s Theatre in the evening (brilliant, escapist fun – just the antidote to the January blues), the highlight of Wednesday was lunch with the Estee Lauder girls at Le Chardon d’Or in Glasgow to hear about their latest launches. These include a gorgeous, light, anti-ageing foundation – Estee Lauder Invisible Fluid Makeup - which I’ll be trying nearer its February on-counter date, and some beautiful-looking new blushers, Pure Color Blush, which are due out in the spring.

But first comes their jewel-like Estee Lauder Pure Color Cyber Eyes (£19; www.esteelauder.co.uk), extremely shimmery and vibrant shades of individual eye shadows – which would have been perfect for Christmas. Luckily, I have a glamorous, 1930s Shanghai-themed banquet to attend this weekend –  here’s hoping I end up with pretty Cyber Eyes and not messy panda ones….

THURSDAY

I had my first treatment of the year at the Clarins Spa in Frasers, Glasgow, on Thursday and it was just what the doctor ordered. I slept like a baby for the first time in weeks – not, unsually, during the “chill-out massage” itself, but later on. At bedtime..

While I was in the spa, I sussed out some great promotions that they’re currently running. One is the Clarins Moisture-Rich Body Lotion is currently on sale in a 400ml size (double the normal size) for the 200ml price of £29 – while stocks last. Also, until February 5, you will receive a special size night cream plus a mini mascara when you buy any Clarins Face Treatment
Oil (the praises of which I was singing last week) or day cream.

FRIDAY

I’m having a domestic day today – gutting my study (I feel such a sense of accomplishment whenever I throw something out – or reclaim a bit of floor space) and pondering the sartorial possibilities for Sunday’s 1930s Shanghai banquet… Since we’ve been asked to wear frocks with a Chinese flavour, I figure this dress code should extend to the beauty choices I make too.  So it’s lucky that Helen and Sophie from Guerlain gave me a bottle of Guerlain Shalimar Parfum Initial L’Eau (from £37, available from Feb 5) a new, light and refreshing twist on one of the original orientals (from 1925). I’ll try it out over the next couple of days and if I don’t take to it, then I may give its younger sister, Vol de Nuit (from 1933) an outing – as she is a longstanding favourite of mine … and was probably all the rage in 1930s Shanghai.

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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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The Lipstick Renaissance

This is the year of the lipstick. After all, so far this spring we’ve seen new lipsticks being launched by Estee Lauder (Pure Color), No7 (their new Poppy King range), Clarins (Rouge Hydra Nude), Dior Addict and Guerlain (Rouge Automatique). Chanel’s creative director of make-up, Peter Philips, continued on his mission to convert girls to the lipstick cause by launching the glossy Rouge Coco Shine…. Lipstick is having a moment, as they say in fashion-ville; though for many of us it’s never gone out of style.

After all, it’s difficult to resist the way a slick of lipstick can lift the spirits by brightening the smile. Not only that, but lipstick is a shortcut to glamour and can instantly transform the appearance in a way that no other single item can. Gwyneth Paltrow summed up the powerful effect of lipstick when she said: “Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick.”

For the millions of women who have bought Chanel lipsticks since they were first sold in 1924, owning one of those little black tubes is an affordable way of sharing in the luxury and elegance of the brand – and of keeping up with the latest trends. The same goes for Dior, Tom Ford, Armani and the other beauty brands which belong to fashion houses.

The history of the lipstick as a staple of our beauty routine stretches back to the ancient civilsations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, when both sexes painted their lips using such natural dyes as carmine, which is made from ground-up insects, or sheep’s blood. By the 16th century, women were following Queen Elizabeth I’s penchant for prettifying her pout by colouring her lips with cochineal paint (made from beetles), while their great-great-grand-daughters, a hundred years later, favoured creams that were made with black grape juice.

But it wasn’t always a smooth ride for the early incarnations of lipstick. In the 18th century, it was banned – along with other cosmetics – by Parliament (which associated it with witches), and it was dismissed as “impolite” by Queen Victoria in the 19th.

Of course, back then, lip colour came in little pots or, in the case of Liquid Bloom of Roses, which was imported from England by the founder of the Parisian beauty house Guerlain, in a little bottle. Monsieur Guerlain soon changed its formula and created Liquid Rose Extract “for lip colour with great staying power that lasts through meals”. It continued to sell until 1958.

Guerlain was also responsible for the very first modern-day lipstick, made with a wax base in 1870. Ne m’oubliez pas was its name and it came in a refillable container with a “push-up” mechanism. The first swivel-up tube was patented in 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee, and 13 years later Guerlain created the Rouge Automatique – which it has recently revived – a lipstick with no cap, that can be applied using just one hand: perfect for the girl on the go, who can’t take her eyes or fingers off her phone as she does her lippie.

And it’s not just the design of the containers and the formulation of the lipsticks that have changed over the years; the colours have come in and gone out of fashion. The most enduringly popular lipstick colour is undoubtedly red, since it’s a dramatic variation on the natural colour of the lips.

Deep, dark red became popular in the late teens and early 1920s when such sexy silent movie stars as the “It” Girl, Clara Bow  and the vampy seductress Theda Bara (right, as Cleopatra in 1917) wore it – anything lighter wouldn’t have shown up in black and white. Not only did they kick off the fashion for red and scarlet lips, but Clara Bow also ignited the trend for “bee-stung” lips, the style of applying the lipstick so that it exaggerates the centre of the lips.

During the 1940s, lipstick was harder to come by because essential ingredients, such as petroleum were unavailable. In Britain, production of cosmetics almost completely ground to a halt and women swapped tips on how to make their own lip tints using beetroot juice or by melting down the stubs of old lipsticks. No7 lipsticks, many of which hadn’t been available during the war, made a comeback in 1949 with a range that included several variations on red.

Indeed, red remained the lipstick shade of choice for Hollywood stars and would-be glamour pusses well into the 1950s, the decade when Revlon launched its iconic Fire and Ice shade, which returned to shops late last year. As the 1950s went on, the pinks and corals shades introduced by Christian Dior also became popular across the world. But the biggest, most radical change in lipstick fashions took place in the early 1960s – and it was all down to one woman: Elizabeth Taylor, who died last month.

Elizabeth Taylor’s services to lipstick should have earned her an award. Not only did she show, in the famous lipstick-on-the-mirror sequence in her movie Butterfield 8, how handy the cosmetic could be in those moments when you find yourself without pen and paper and have to leave an urgent message for your lover, but she also set a new trend in make-up fashion when she starred in the infamous and extravagant epic Cleopatra, which finally came out in 1963 after being in production for two years.

Liz Taylor’s exotic make-up when she played the Egyptian queen may have borne some resemblance – at least in terms of the elaborate eye decoration – to images of the real Cleopatra, but it was also designed to show off her exquisitely beautiful face, and in particular those famous almond-shaped, violet-coloured eyes. All emphasis was placed on the eyes, and her lips were kept light-coloured – in pale corals and pinks – throughout the film.

The effect of this bold eyed, pale-lipped look was sensational. Revlon picked up on it immediately and launched the Cleopatra collection (including “Sphinx Pink” lipstick), which offered a watered-down version of the Liz-as-Cleo look. Andy Warhol later said that Cleopatra was the single-most influential film in terms of style in the 1960s: it certainly launched the make-up trend which defined the 1960s – and it’s a look which is still popular today.

Of course, these days, anything goes lipstick wise – you can work a 1960s, Cleopatra-inspired look one day; a shiny red 1950s Hollywood pout the next and a vampy dark 1920s one at night – and there are any amount of colours, textures and finishes to choose from.

There is a lipstick for everyone – for those who want a signature colour to see them through the ups and downs of life to those who want to stay bang on trend and are currently replacing nude shades with brights for summer. After all, changing you lipstick is the cheapest way to immediately update your look.. Not for nothing did Max Factor advertise its Color Fast lipsticks, way back in the 1950s, with the strapline: “High fashion for every woman’s lips.”

But the last word on lipstick in the 2010s should really go to the American comic Jerry Seinfeld, who once said: “Where lipstick is concerned, the important thing is not colour, but to accept God’s final word on where your lips end.”

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I couldn’t help but think of the lovely 1940s bombshell Rita Hayworth when I opened my bottle of this summer’s most unusual product so far: Benefit Cha Cha Tint (£24.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk, from June 1).

Rita was a terrific dancer (Fred Astaire once named her his favourite of all his many dance partners) and was well versed in every style from the Charleston to the Cha Cha Cha. With her colouring – auburn red hair and olive skin – she would have been a natural for this lovely sibling to the original Benetint. But whereas Benetint was a rose-coloured tint (scarlet in the bottle, but sheer pink on the skin), Cha Cha Tint is a coral version which is less sheer but equally wearable – especially on sun-kissed or naturally sallow skins.

All you do is brush three (or fewer) strokes of the tint on the cheeks to create a gentle flush. It is strange to use as it seems as if you’re painting on your nail varnish. (Don’t
keep the bottle too near your coral nail polishes – or you might make that mistake!) I would avoid it if your skin is sensitive: I am prone to red cheeks and did have mini flare-up after using this as a blusher. Personally, I was particularly impressed with the results when I used it as a lip stain as the colour was lovely, and it was very comfortable on my normally dry lips.

Not only that but it seemed to last pretty well.

TUESDAY

I was packing for an overnight trip on Tuesday and was delighted to have an excuse to try out the “gift with purchase” which Lancome is launching on June 1.

For the second time, the French beauty company has teamed up with fashion label Temperley London – and the result is a very covetable clutch-style cosmetics or wash bag, stuffed with such favourite Lancome goodies as a travel size Hypnose Mascara and my favourite toner, Tonique Douceur.

To get your free gift, buy two Lancome products (including at least one skincare item) – but watch out, stocks are limited..

WEDNESDAY


I was fortunate enough to have a tete-a-tete with Chanel’s make-up supremo Peter Philips on Wednesday, when he unveiled the gorgeous Autumn-Winter colours (which launch here on August 19). More about them nearer the time – though I’m starting wearing them right now! I had to take the opportunity to grill Peter about the star nail polish in the currentLes Fleurs de Chanel summer collection: Chanel Le Vernis in Mimosa (£17.50; for stockists call 020-7493 3836). How on earth did he come up with this unusual sparkling canary yellow shade?

The rest of Les Fleurs de Chanel collection

“Well, ” he said, “actually there was a large demand because the frst thing I ever did for Chanel was a limited edition mini collection created for the opening of a boutique on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. The collection was called the Robertson Collection and it was  four nail polishes – one a lavender, a shocking pink, a coral and a yellow (LA Sunrise). Shortly afterwards I did the make-up on a Japanese actress and I used the nail polishes. The pictures appeared in a magazine in Tokyo and everyone went crazy. The colours were being sold in Tokyo and they sold out in an instant. And people kept asking me: “I’ve seen a yellow nail polish somewhere – and I can’t find it!” I’d just done it as a limited edition and I feel that when you present somethng as a limited edition, and they queue for it, they’re buying it because it’s something unique – because it’s limited. I don’t want to go the next season and bring out the same colour because then they’ve been queueing for nothing.”

Three and a half years later, Philips felt the time was right to bring out a similar yellow – a fraction stronger than the original one. (Click here to compare and contrast.) So, which skin tone does he think wears it best? “Yellow is not so easy. Yellow is best on a sun-kissed, holiday skin tone. If you’re olive-skinned it might be tricky – but that’s why I have a beautiful pink in the collection. It’s best on the toes, you can wear Morning Rose on the hands and a cute bikini – and voila! – holiday!”

THURSDAY

The most fabulous facials I’ve had in my entire 15 years of writing about beauty were in the Guerlain Institut de Beaute on the Champs-Elysees in Paris. Why? Because they were the longest, most indulgent, most opulent – and most effective I’ve ever had. I think the last one I had, about four years ago, lasted about three hours all-in.

So I was thrilled, on Thursday, to be able to take up the invitation of trying a Guerlain Facial when the French beauty brand was operating out of the airy beauty rooms downstairs in Frasers, Glasgow. Okay, it wasn’t on a par with the ones I’ve had in Paris but, then, you have to make some allowances when you’re in a department store’s beauty room. It was a relaxing, extremely pleasant experience (strangely, the most striking aspect was that there was no exfoliation stage) – and I loved having my beloved Orchidee Imperiale professionally massaged into my grateful pores..  My skin looked and felt great afterwards.

Guerlain facials are available regularly at your nearest department store, so keep an eye out.

FRIDAY

Kirsten Dunst won the Best Actress prize at the Cannes Film Festival on Friday –  but it wasn’t just her acting talents which were worthy of recognition; her sartorial skills were faultless.  In the past some of her choices have been a bit hit or miss, but she seems to have recently upped her game in the style stakes.

She wore Chanel throughout the festival – either couture or make-up, or both. In this picture, she’s a poster girl for the cult Chanel red – Chanel Rouge Allure in Enthusiast (£23) – which, with the vibrant mustard yellow gown, gives her a fabulous old Hollywood look.


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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Like many of my friends, I spent Monday mourning the end of the best TV crime series since The Killing (which preceded it!) – Spiral, the French drama which (much more stylish than Law and Order) concerns itself not just with the cops, but also with the investigating judges, the prosecutors and the defence lawyers. There may be some damned good-looking actors in the cast (personally, I have a soft-spot for bad-boy Gilou) but the character who keeps me glued to the screen is the flame-haired bad girl lawyer Josephine Karlsson (Audrey Fleurot), whose wardrobe and look are always striking – and not at all your run-of-the-mill Parisian professional.  I’m sure I’m not the only viewer who’s been considering dyeing her hair red as a result of a girl crush on JK.

TUESDAY

When it comes to perfumes that are quintessentially Parisian, the house of Guerlain’s collection springs instantly to mind – and no wonder: it’s been on the go for over 150 years.

The Aqua Allegoria range may be quite a bit younger – it was introduced in 1999 – but it is steeped in the Guerlain tradition. The bottle is a classic – inspired by the original 19th century Eau de Cologne Imperiale flacon – and the fragrances are fresh and summery but very classical. This summer’s addition, Aqua Allegoria Jasminora (£35.50; from www.houseoffraser.co.uk from June 1) is a lovely fresh scent which was created by Guerlain’s Thierry Wasser using Calabrian jasmine, a lighter jasmine than is found in most perfumes. Its freshness is complemented by white flowers with green tones, along with cyclamen and lily of the valley. The bottom line? It’s a very feminine, classy summer scent.

WEDNESDAY

I’d been looking forward to my Wednesday afternoon catch-up with the Ojon PR girl for ages.. Why? Because I’d been tipped off that this fabulous haircare range was finally going to sort out the one problem that its fans have identified: the dodgy bottles.

Not only have the bottles been redesigned (no more broken lids – hurrah!) but the collection has been refined and revamped. I tried the Ojon Color Sustain (from £18; available from John Lewis from May 21) almost immediately and found it to be a worthy, possibly even superior, replacement for the old Shine & Protect products. I especially liked the Ojon Color Sustain Color Protecting Cream (£22) which protects the hair from the damaging effects of blow-drying.

THURSDAY

If there’s one company that knows how to do things in style it’s Chanel which chose Frasers in Glasgow as the site for its first Chanel Espace Parfums outside London, and invited journalists along to visit it on Thursday. Not only does this beautifully kitted-out boutique (everything about its look derives from Coco Chanel’s signature style and from aspects of her life) sell the Les Exclusifs collection of fragrances created or revived by house “nose” Jacques Polge, but it also offers customers the chance to discover the world of Chanel perfumes (48 in all) through its unique olfactive bar where concentrates of all the fragrances are sniffable on ceramic blotters. Fragrance expert Joanna Norman guided me through the Chanel perfumes on Thursday and it was a fascinating tour. What makes the ceramic blotter idea so useful is the fact that there’s no need to scoosh any perfumes – and therefore less likelihood of what industry people call “nasal confusion”. It’s much easier to identify what you like – and eliminate what you don’t. Anyone contemplating changing their perfume, or simply interested in how fragrance works should pop in and ask for a consultation.

FRIDAY

Unlike Kim Novak (pictured here, with the swoonsome Cary Grant), who showed hers off at every opportunity, my back has never really had any attention. But all that changed on Friday when I accepted an invitation to have a back treatment Clarins Spa in Frasers (0141 221 5760).

Clarins Neck, Back & Shoulder Massage (£33) proved to be just what the doctor ordered. Using the Renew Body Serum and the Smoothing Body Scrub, Lindsay, my therapist, untangled the knots of tension in my neck and shoulders and gave my back a thorough going-over, both in terms of massage and treating the usually neglected skin. The serum is great for hydrating, but doesn’t leave the skin feeling overloaded with product – perfect if congestion is an issue.

If you fancy getting your back in Cary-worthy condition, you can try out the Neck, Back & Shoulder Massage for free, if you book a Clarins Professional Face or Body Treatment at any Clarins Spa between now and May 31. To be redeemed by July 26.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

I love the strong lips and slinky eyes of old Hollywood movie stars and you can always rely on Dolce & Gabbana (from Harrods) to create a collection that allows you to wear this style but still look bang up to date – just check out D&G poster girl Scarlett Johansson, above.

Their Italian Summertime range, which I received on Monday, is no exception. The lip colours include a beautiful orangey-red (Dolce & Gabbana Classic Cream Lipstick in Venere, £22) and a gorgeous purpley-pink (Dolce & Gabbana Shine Lipstick in Violet, £22), which is a close match for the season’s new nail colour, Dolce & Gabbana Intense Nail Lacquer in Passione (£17). I was less struck on the eye shadows, a mix of violets and rusts which were a perfect match for the colours my skin goes when it’s bruised and made me look like a battered woman … However, on the darker-skinned Scarlett  - as we saw at the Oscars – they looked much more glam!

TUESDAY

I threw a party on Saturday night, and I was still paying for it in terms of sleep by Tuesday. There was only one thing for it: dig out the secret weapon for dealing with tired eyes.

My Guerlain Precious Light (£28; www.houseoffraser.co.uk) pen hasn’t seen that much action in the past, as I often find that the more products I put on my skin, the less youthful it appears, but it now looks set to become a staple of my daily routine.

Why? Well, because it blurs fine lines under the eyes, bounces the light off the skin and adds a touch of radiance. I have no idea if that’s what it claims to do, but it’s been doing those tricks on me all week, and I’m planning to keep it handy – and ready for all mornings-after. And as for the problem of having too many layers of product, I found this week that if I used it under my eyes and kept everything else away from that area, it looked fine.

WEDNESDAY

By coincidence, I’ve decided that my favourite item in the new Benefit b.right skincare range is the eye cream – Benefit It’s Potent! (£23.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk). I found the scent of some of the other products got in the way of my enjoyment of using them, but this cream, which helps eradicate dark circles while hydrating and firming the skin, is a pleasure to use and it does have an instant effect. It brightens and refreshes the eye area. Since it’s not as portable as the Guerlain pen, I’ll not be stashing it in my bag for on-the-go pick-me-up purposes, but it’s set to become an essential whenever I’ve had a late night or two.

THURSDAY

A civilised lunch took place on Thursday – and, a few days into the children’s school holidays, it was a treat to eat with other adults .. It was a particular treat because lunch – at the Blythswood – was hosted by the beauty PR I’ve probably known longest, my friend Sarah who works for Sisley.

Sarah always comes with a few treats up her sleeves and this time she was introducing the beauty press to the botanical beauty company’s latest cellulite-fighting cream (Phyto Svelt Global Intensive Anti-Cellulite Contouring Body Care) as well as to its new mascara, Sisley Phyto Mascara Ultra Stretch (£27; www.sisley-cosmetics.co.uk) It will be some time before I can pronounce a verdict on the cellulite-fighting capabilities of the cream, but I can safely say that the mascara is a winner and looks set to join Dior Extase, Lancome Hypnose Precious Cells, Laura Mercier Full Blown Volume, Revlon Double Twist and Estee Lauder Sumptuous as my favourites. It curls and lengthens the lashes – and, crucially for someone who’s prone to panda eyes, it doesn’t smudge. What more could you want?

FRIDAY

I ended the week by working on a feature on lipsticks for the Daily Record. There are so many new ones launching this spring that it seemed that the time was right for a piece celebrating this queen of cosmetics.

Anyway, one piece of lipstick news that I’ve not already mentioned on this blog is the collaboration between Australian lipstick guru Poppy King and No7. I’ll be writing more about Poppy King’s mission to inspire women to discover – or rediscover lipstick and, in particular, colourful lipsticks – but wanted to let you know that they’re worth seeking out, as the seven shades of No7 and Poppy King Lipsticks are all extremely pretty and very wearable. Not to mention reasonably priced – at £12 each.

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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Lilac is in the air – shades of lavender, violet and purple run through many of the new spring collections. My favourite is the gorgeous Ultra Lavande range by Aaron De Mey for Lancome.

Taking its inspiration from 1970s disco glamour, it’s a beautiful – and extensive – collection and I worked my way through it last week, starting on Monday with the eye palette I’d been sent – Lancome Ombre Absolue Minerale in Ultra-Lavande Warm Harmony (£32.50; www.lancome.co.uk), which contains a pearly white, a shimmering lilac, a warm violet and a sparkling purple. It may sound like it has “evening wear” written all over it but wearing just the lilac and violet shades, with a browny shade for emphasis, it provided a lovely day look. With the eyes a subtle variation on the lilac theme, I went for the Lancome French Touch Absolu in Berry Rose (£23.50), a gorgeous, intense bright pink on the lips. My new favourite!

TUESDAY


I’ve always been a fan of Estee Lauder DayWear – I love the refreshing cucumbery fragrance, the equally refreshing feel of the eau-de-nil coloured cream and the way it leaves the skin smooth to the touch and well-moisturised.

So I was thrilled, on Tuesday, to renew my acquaintance with the range – via the new Estee Lauder DayWear Advanced Multi-Protection Anti-Oxidant Creme SPF 15 (£35; www.esteelauder.co.uk), an updated version of the original cream which was ahead of its time in terms of protecting the skin from environmental damage.

It’s everything I remember from using DayWear in its earlier incarnations, and, although it’s got sun protection, it says you should use it at night too.

WEDNESDAY

Now that the snow and ice has gone, the beauty PRs are starting to make their way up to Glasgow for meetings to fill us beauty writers in on their companies’ latest offerings.

On Wednesday, it was the turn of Creme de la Mer – but what the two Charlottes who look after this range were particularly keen to remind the media about was the original Creme de la Mer Moisturizing Cream (£94 for 30ml or  £167 for 60ml; www.cremedelamer.co.uk) which has now been on sale in the UK for a decade and which was originally created by aerospace physicist Dr Max Huber as a treatment for the chemical burns he sustained during a horrific explosion in his lab. A side effect of the soothing and moisturising qualities of the cream was its ability to smooth fine lines. It may have a hefty price tag, but it seems like it’s going to take more than a recession to shake CDLM customers off their favourite cream.

THURSDAY

I’ve gone off using pressed powder in recent years, preferring to use a really good primer and foundation, plus a little bit of loose powder if necessary. I found that pressed powder often made my make-up look cakey.

But the new Guerlain Meteorites Compact (£34) just demanded to have an outing on Thursday. It’s so pretty and elegant .. Anyway, it turns out it lives up to its claim of being both “illuminating and mattifying” – phew, just the excuses I needed to pose with it!

FRIDAY

Friday was my night out with the girls for the birthday dinner which was postponed by snow, ice and frozen pipes in December.

Lizzy and I obviously had too much time on our hands as we got ready because we were both on Facebook and as we swapped snippets of info about what we were planning to wear, we evolved a glam dress code. So, Lizzy turned up at the taxi a vision of black and red, with a flower in her hair, and I decided to do the full make-up monty with the new Lancome colours. Which meant using the darkest purple shade in the afore-mentioned Lancome Ombre Absolue Minerale in Ultra-Lavande Warm Harmony for a smoky purple eye, and adding the vibrant violet Lancome Ombre Magnetique in Ultra-Lavande (£23.50) into the equation for a dab of the disco look.

Wearing such strong eye look gave me the perfect opportunity to try out one of the other new lipsticks – the pale rose pink shade of Lancome French Touch Absolu in Daisy Rose (£23.50) – for a real 1960s effect.  I’ve got a feeling this will be my default party make-up for the next few months…


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