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My Fortnight in Beauty

I was all set to start writing my beauty diary last Monday when I received news of the death of a friend from the jazz world. I couldn’t resume writing about beauty products; it didn’t feel right – and I wasn’t in the mood anyway. But, that said, frivolous though cosmetics can be – and though writing about them is hardly as important a job as news reporting – they do play an important function in many people’s lives. Looking your best boosts the confidence – and the spirits. Just ask the ladies who’ve benefitted from the Look Good, Feel Better organisation’s work for women who are battling or recovering from cancer… And often faking confidence can lead to genuine confidence.

As countless makeover shows have proved over the years, a change of image – even a slight tweak – can work wonders, not just on your confidence but on how others see you.  And that bounces back at you, and inspires self-confidence. I was reminded of the power of the makeover during a recent trip to the cinema to see the classic noir melodrama Gilda, which is currently touring cinemas.

Its star, Rita Hayworth – above (on set) and left (at the start of her career) –  wasn’t a chameleon on the scale of Joan Crawford, but she did undergo a couple of simple yet radical transformations during her career.

Her first occurred when she had the brainwave of having painful and intensive electrolysis to move her hairline back: before the treatments, her hairline was very low and unflattering. Post-electrolysis, her beautiful face was shown to best advantage – and a star was born.

During the 1940s as her studio experimented occasionally with Technicolor, Rita went red – it’s still the hair colour with which this beauty is most associated – but for the stylish film noir The Lady From Shanghai, made in 1946 by her then-husband Orson Welles, she not only had her hair cropped but hit the bottle and went platinum blonde (see right) for the first and only time. And that looked fab too!

Mind you, I don’t think Rita was too taken with it: she was never seen with short, uber-blonde hair again…

Of the new products I’ve experimented with over the last couple of weeks, No7 Lash Adapt Mascara (£12; www.boots.com) seems to me to be an essential for achieving movie star looks. The USP of this mascara is that you can add up to six layers without it clumping … though I found that my lashes did start getting lumpy before I got to layer five. Where this mascara really triumphed was in its ability to curl the lashes: after just a couple of coats, mine had been teased into a beautiful curve, with minimum effort.  And, as we all know, every femme worth her fatale tag has to have battable lashes. Lash Adapt looks terrific teamed with the beautiful eye shadow quartet from Lancome’s autumn collection: Lancome Les Oeillades in Blondette Fatale (£33; www.lancome.co.uk)

Skincare-wise, these last few weeks have been dedicated to trying out latest wonder serum. Lancome Visionnaire (£57) – yup, the one that the Middleton sisters were rumoured to be using – has certainly got some impressive claims to live up to. In independent tests, more than 50% of women tempted to undergo a dermatological procedure decided to postpone it in favour of continuing to use this skin-correcting serum. And 88% of women considering fillers, lasers or peels said that they noticed a visible improvement in their skin after using Visionnaire.

Actually, I can see where they’re coming from. I’ve noticed that the redness on my cheeks has calmed down considerably, that the lines on my forehead may be a little less pronounced, and that the texture of my skin is markedly improved.

Hair-wise, I had a brief dalliance with Aveda but found that the dry, split ends which often occur at this stage in the cycle of highlights only responded to help from Ojon, and, in particular the Ojon Damage Reverse Restorative Hair Treatment (£32.60; www.johnlewis.com) and Damage Reverse Restorative Smoothing Glaze ( £29).

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My Week in Beauty


I knew I could feel a femme fatale moment coming on …. Only a fortnight ago I was admiring Kim Basinger’s peek-a-boo, Veronica Lake-inspired, hair-do in LA Confidential; then on Monday, I was given a preview of the new make-up collection from Lancome. It’s entitled 29, Saint Honore (www.lancome.co.uk; available from September 1), but it was inspired by the femme fatale look of the 1940s (Lancome’s Global Make-up Director Aaron de Mey is clearly a fellow film noir fan!). With their slicked-back hair, models Elettra and Daria could equally be the stars of a remake of the Robert Palmer Addicted to Love video ..

I’ll be writing more about the individual items in the collection anon, but just wanted to give everyone a heads-up: start practising with the liquid eyeliners, and get ready for red lips and nails. Always a favourite for the winter, they are going to be massive this year …

Oh, and one other snippet of Lancome news: their exciting new serum, Lancome Visionnaire (£57) is going to be previewed at Frasers in Glasgow from August 24 – ahead of its nationwide launch on September 1.


I don’t go for ringing the eyes with heavy kohl, a la Kate Middleton, but I am addicted to eyeliner – and on Tuesday I tried Clarins Instant Liner (£19.50; www.clarins.co.uk), which looks identical to the new Estee Lauder Pure Color Liquid Eyeliner that I wrote about recently, but isn’t sticky. Liquid eyeliner has been my bag since I was a student – not just because I love the retro looks you can create with them but also because, generally, they don’t smudge as much on me.

I am terribly prone to panda eyes and recently resolved to only wear a new eyeliner or mascara out of the house if I’ve road-tested it indoors for a couple of days first. (Lancome’s new Hypnose Doll Eyes Mascara started out so promisingly…)

The Clarins one was fine – until I had a fit of the giggles at a Fringe show and my eyes started watering. So, perfect for femme fatales who seldom crack a smile.


I spent much of Wednesday getting ready for my trip down to London, where I was going to spend a night with my friend before heading to Mayfair to take part in a press trip – to be written up for a newspaper.

I always find the water in London plays havoc with my hair – it’s not as soft as our Scottish water – so I was very pleased to have travel sizes of some of my favourite haircare products in the Ojon Damage Reverse 4 Piece Starter Kit (£34.50; www.johnlewis.com), notably the Ojon Restorative Hair Treatment.


Getting ready for an evening out with my London-based pal, Siobhan, I finally got round to experimenting with some new eyeshadow palettes which launched earlier in the summer.

Estee Lauder Pure Color Five Color Eyeshadow Palettes (£35; http://www.esteelauder.co.uk) come in eight colourways – shown here are Velvet Orchids, Film Noir (are we sensing a theme yet?!) and Enchanted Berries.

I love the purples and taupes of the Velvet Orchid one for evening wear, and the Island Sands palette – beautiful peaches and browns – is a lovely one for everyday use.


Well, Friday was beauty a go-go in London.. After dumping my bags at my Mayfair hotel – the elegant Flemings on the whimsically named Half Moon Street – I checked into the Elemis Day Spa, a haven of calm and relaxation which I had not visited in almost a decade.

From there, with skin glowing thanks to the Visible Brilliance facial, I popped into the Chanel press office for a sneak preview of their Christmas make-up collection which had just arrived that morning…

I’m not at liberty to reveal much about it, except that it’s gorgeous (natch) and that you can expect to be co-ordinating your party outfits with red and gold make-up …

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