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My Week in Beauty

MONDAY

Doris Day and I seem to be running into each other a lot just now. Everything I do at the moment seems to end up relating to Doris. I interviewed a jazz musician on Monday and his favourite singer turned out to be .. you know who. A couple of weekends ago, I stumbled across an evening’s worth of programmes about her – one of which I watched a further two times… Then I interviewed another jazzer – and she too turned out to be a DD fan.

She’s certainly not a bad icon to take as inspiration – style-wise and otherwise. A strong woman and a survivor, she endured a violent early marriage, and was left penniless (and in debt) when her long-term husband and manager died – just at the point when she was getting too old for the leading lady roles. Recently, she has had to endure the heartache of her only child pre-deceasing her. I’ll bet she’s still finding some reason to get up in the morning – when most of us would just have given in to sorrow.

Doris is also inspirational style-wise because she’s a lady who knows her own mind about what suits her – and what doesn’t.  In her 1975 memoir, Doris Day – Her Own Story, she wrote:  “Outdoorsy type that I am, I don’t like a lot of make-up…. I don’t want to look contrived. I can’t look slinky or femme fatale-ish, no matter what I do, so it’s silly to try.”

Very much a poster girl for the natural look (achieved through not using make-up rather than using cosmetics to create the natural effect!), Doris said: “All I do for my eyes is curl my eyelashes and use a soft-brown mascara to darken the tips. If I go out in the daytime with eye make-up on, I feel like I’m in some kind of carnival. And at night I feel like I’m pretending to be somebody else.”

I’m not the outdoorsy type – far from it! – but I admire Doris’s strong beauty ideals and love the look she sported in the 1950s (top picture); the hairstyle a sort of feminine version of the DA and the make-up very natural.

TUESDAY

Of course, if you’re going for the natural beauty aesthetic it’s essential to have good skin – and if you’re saving on cosmetics, then it’s worth spending more on the best skincare you can afford. These days, there are probably not many of us who could afford the latest face mask from the luxury French botanical skincare company Sisley but if you look at it as the equivalent price of a couple of express facials, then it takes on a different, er, complexion.

Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask (£88; www.johnlewis.com) is packed with active ingredients which are known for their anti-ageing properties. In just 15 minutes, they boost the appearance of the skin, making it look smoother, plumper and more radiant. The key ingredient is extract of Black Rose which tightens the skin while extract of Alkekengi Calyx (a Sisley exclusive) stimulates collagen production. Amino acids and vitamins revitalise the skin, while a cocktail of essential oils and shea butter moisturise and ensure comfort. I tried it on Tuesday, and there was definitely an improvement to my skin – both immediately and into the next day.

WEDNESDAY
Benefit Watt’s Up! (£24.50; www.benefitcosmetics.co.uk) is a cheat’s way to luminous skin – but it’s very effective if you’re on the go and want to add a bit of va-va-voom to your make-up. It’s a creamy, shimmering highlighter which turns to powder on application. Simply glide it along the top of your cheekbones and browbones and blend it, using the spongey applicator at the other end of the stick. The result? The sort of look that the great Hollywood photographers achieved by using shadows and light… as I found out after a make-up session in my bedroom on Wednesday..

THURSDAY

A night out with the girls was the perfect excuse to try one of the new Les Jeans de Chanel nail varnishes (£17.50) which are on sale exclusively in Chanel boutiques and Makeup Studios (in Harrods, Fenwicks in Newcastle and Frasers in Glasgow).

I sported Le Vernis in Blue Rebel, a dark petrol blue which, although admired, just doesn’t do it for me nearly as much as the midnight blue I fell in love with last month: Le Vernis in Blue Satin. It seems entirely fitting, given that after the excitement of my summer, I seem to be veering between the blues and the mean reds – both in terms of my mood, and my nails!

FRIDAY

Friday should have been a good hair day as I was having it cut and coloured but the colour has turned out to be exactly what I didn’t want – too dark around my face, and with too many chunky dark streaks.. Needless to say, I’m going back soon to have it corrected. There was some good hair news, however: the PR from my favourite haircare brand, Ojon, was in touch to tell me about a fantastic deal they’re doing in John Lewis on Thursday, September 29 (for one day only): take in an empty shampoo or conditioner FROM ANY BRAND and you’ll receive a full-size  Ojon Damage Reverse Shampoo and a Damage Reverse Conditioner (while stocks last) … I’ll be there: Damage Reverse is just the job for coloured hair that gets dried out and is prone to split ends!

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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

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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