Tag Archives: Laura Mercier

Paris Comes to Polmont

macdonald_incharya_21667Last year I reported on a fabulous spa experience I had at the Macdonald Inchyra Hotel & Spa, halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Well, I’ve been back for a second helping of the heavenly spa treatments on offer there – but this time I fulfilled a long-held ambition to try out a facial created by the Carita sisters, Rosy and Maria, who established the celebrated Carita Maison de Beaute on the rue du Faubourg St Honore in Paris back in the 1950s. The sisters started their beauty career as hairdressers, but broadened their remit out so that their “house of beauty” was a complete beauty destination, where skincare, bodycare, make-up and hair needs were catered for. Carita is a now a venerable French institution: the products are famous and the actual beauty house, where the sisters set themselves up as “artisans of beauty”, has seen everyone from Hollywood and European movie stars to royalty pass through its doors.

Over the course of my career, I’ve interviewed beauty gurus who have spoken about the Carita sisters with the sort of reverence that is reserved for Carita sisters 2the true greats in any business. The siblings not only kept abreast of hair and make-up fashions by working with young avant-garde designers of their age, the future greats of haute couture, but they also established a school where their protégées included the likes of Laura Mercier and Terry de Gunzburg – renowned make-up artists who are now known the world over for their very user-friendly make-up brands.

At the heart of Carita, however, are its Haute Couture Beauty treatments which are the ultimate in luxurious skincare. At the Inchyra last month, I was treated to the Carita Renovateur, an iconic facial which the sisters developed in 1956. It was so relaxing that I, of course, spent the 70 minutes in a state of bliss and could not possibly begin to tell you the many steps of this treatment since I was on another planet throughout… What I can tell you, however, is that the results were amazing: my complexion was completely refreshed and revived, and I felt that the facial – which used a signature blend of sunflower seeds and essential oils – was still producing a radiant effect for days afterwards. (Thankfully, the sunflower seeds stopped turning up behind my ears and in my hair after the first night!) The key aspect of the Renovateur is the way in which its initially wet texture transforms into a powder when it’s slowly massage into the skin, leaving a vitamin-infused veil on the complexion.

I hope to get back  to the Inchyra and work my way through some of the other treatments (Carita and Decleor) that are available in its sumptuous spa. For an escape from the city, this is a great location – easily reached by train from both Glasgow and Edinburgh – and the hotel has a top-rated restaurant (five-star steaks) and lovely chilled-out bar. One night merely whets the appetite for further indulgence …

* Rooms at the Macdonald Inchrya Hotel & Spa cost from £225 per night. Currently, there is a summer spa break offer available here.
Macdonald_Inchyra_Hotel_&_Spa_Relaxation_Room

Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty

My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Aaahh!!! Monday was what the French call La Rentree – back to school day – so I was up with the larks, or at least with two very excitable six-year-olds, despite having gone to bed at my usual ridiculously late hour.

So, how to deal with the resulting tired eyes? Well, luckily, I had just started using the new Jurlique Herbal Recovery Eye Cream (£33; www.jurlique.co.uk), a gorgeous botanical cream which is soothing and refreshing – and helps to counter those dark circles and morning puffiness..

TUESDAY

Tuesday morning was a struggle – thanks to a late-night viewing of the glorious Woody Allen comedy Annie Hall, which I hadn’t watched in ages. While  Annie (Diane Keaton in her most stylish role) favours black soap for her complexion (“Say, are you joining a minstrel show?” asks a bewildered Alvy), I have found that both complexion-wise and wake-up-call-wise, the best face wash on the block just now is Origins Zero Oil Deep Pore Cleanser (£15; www.origins.co.uk). Thanks to the saw palmetto extracts and mint which are key ingredients, it is incredibly thorough and gives the skin a tingling, awakened feeling ..

WEDNESDAY

The combination of this strange, changeable weather and the arrival of autumn/winter clothes in the shops made my Wednesday play date with the new season’s cosmetics very timely.  There are some stunningly beautiful new products being launched but few as exquisite as Lancome’s La Rose Deco compact (£32; from Harvey Nichols stores now, and other Lancome counters from September 1), which is one of the stars of the lovely French Coquettes collection. In fact, it’s so exquisite that I can’t actually bear to use it and spoil the pretty picture…  I’ll be writing more about the French Coquettes collection – it’s very inspiring, and was itself inspired by three icons of Parisian life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries: Sarah Bernhardt, Edith Wharton and Kiki de Montparnasse. Chapeaux off to Aaron De Mey for his most covetable collection to date.

THURSDAY

After the success of its initial, core, range of make-up, Topshop is launching a seasonal collection named Heavy Duty in late September. Inspired by the grunge aesthetic of such LA “boho” girls as the Olsen twins, it features inky, murky shades on the eyes, crumbly black kohl eyeliner, and a “bitten lip”. One essential component, to which I’m already devoted, is the thick black mascara, Topshop Mascara in Carbon (price TBC but under a tenner; www.topshop.com, from late September) which does a brilliant job of creating that dramatic, heavy lash look that sixties beauties like Brigitte Bardot (right) perfected when they combined it with layers of kohl eyeliner. Watch out for it going on sale and buy yours while you can as this limited edition mascara is going to fly off the shelves.

FRIDAY

When the latest foundation from Laura Mercier – Creme Smooth Foundation (£40; from September) arrived in the post, I dismissed it. It looked too old-fashioned, too heavy and, even in the Warm Ivory shade (one of 12), too dark. How wrong I was! When I gave it its first proper outing on Friday, I found that appearances can be deceptive. This is actually an incredibly light-feeling foundation which glides on to the skin (as opposed to having to be dragged across it – which is what I was expecting) and provides good coverage. It leaves the complexion looking naturally radiant, and much fresher than most medium coverage foundations, and its optical diffusers help to reduce the obviousness of fine lines and wrinkles.


Leave a comment

Filed under Beauty, Uncategorized

French Beauty Ideals

I’m in a French frame of mind today – what with it being Bastille Day. So I thought I’d share some of the words of beauty wisdom that I’ve received from two leading French make-up gurus whom I’ve interviewed in the last couple of years.

Both Laura Mercier and Terry de Gunzburg are charming, vivacious and sexy older women who graduated from the legendary Carita beauty school, and made their names as top make-up artists in the 1980s before launching their own lines of cosmetics. (Of course, for de Gunzburg, there was also the small matter of her creation of a “magic wand” called Touche Eclat at YSL ..)

It’s perhaps unsurprising then to discover that they share a similar beauty aesthetic – one which really highlights the difference between how French women and their British and/or American cousins view themselves, their looks and their sex appeal, as they go through life.

Asked to name the movie actresses whose looks she most admired, Laura Mercier said:  “I’ve always had a fascination for people who are not obviously beautiful … Obviously beautiful women like Catherine Deneuve absolutely don’t move me. Yes, she’s gorgeous in Belle de Jour but she has never moved me. However,  I am completely fascinated by the Italian actress Anna Magnani (right; 1908-1973) who can be gorgeous. Sometimes she can be not so beautiful but she’s always so intense. The personality is to die for – I mean, big dark circles, the nose and the teeth. I’m fascinated by that, by all faces. Everybody has the potential to be beautiful.”

Another of Mercier’s beauty heroines is the stylish, but not conventionally beautiful, octogenarian interior designer Andree Putman.  “She looks odd – she has adopted, completely adopted, a make-up and a hairstyle that’s always asymmetrical. I mean, she really goes for it. She imposes a personality. It’s not just about being perfect and symmetrical – it’s also her talent and her personality. Thank God! Beauty’s not like that. Paloma Picasso (below)  is another example. Even if you take Jackie Kennedy (left), yeah she was beautiful but she was not obviously beautiful. Her eyes were very far apart. If you look into the details, you see that they’re not perfect but that’s what makes us all unique. The defect can often become an asset.”

Terry de Gunzburg agrees. “I’ve always said: ‘ J’aime les defaults dans les grands oeuvres. ‘ [I like the flaws in the masterpieces.] I think that some wrinkles and fine lines can give you an internal beauty.”  She named as one of her favourite beauty heroines, whose face she had made-up while she was at Carita, the grande dame of American cinema Lauren Bacall. “I prefer the face of the older Lauren Bacall to the face of the older Goldie Hawn,” she said, recalling Bacall’s own view that she had “earned every one of her wrinkles”.

Laura Mercier sums up by saying:  “No-one can say Catherine Deneuve and Grace Kelly are not beautiful but, to me, they’re slightly boring, they’re a little bland. I like a little more hot pepper..”

* Laura Mercier’s range is widely available. Visit www.lauramercier.com to view her products. By Terry is available in Space NK stores in the UK. Visit www.spacenk.co.uk

1 Comment

Filed under Beauty