Monday, 28 February 2011

Size Matters

Size Matters..

They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are short, some are long. There are thick ones, thin ones and sometimes even curvy ones. But the general consensus on the subject of size, is that bigger is better.

This seems to be very much the hot topic at Estee Lauder, with the launch of their Sumptuos Extreme Lash Multiplying Mascara. Just like men, this fabulous mascara comes in an assortment of colours; black, brown, indigo and violet so there's one for everyone.

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. We look into them when we converse, we get lost in them when we're in love, we cry with them when our hearts get broken. But we also flirt and seduce with them.

Not an episode of America's Next Top Model goes by without Tyra Banks instructing the aspiring models to "smize with their eyes". In the Memoirs of a Geisha film, the geisha-in-training was taught the art of stopping a man in his tracks with a mere glance. Eyes are a major focal point, so it makes sense to emphasise them.

Though I don't wear coloured mascara, I do love a clear lash and brow gel. Being on the larger side myself (on the lash front), I like to make the most of mine. If I looked like Britain's leading male supermodel, David Gandy, I would most probably live my life in my underwear. We all have our stronger physical assets, one of mine happens to be my eyes. I always encourage my clients and friends to rock what they have. If you've got it flaunt it, and if you don't have it, fake it!

To create the fullest lash effect, and to achieve the truest colour pay off, I suggest priming lashes with a lash primer. Not only will this double the drama of your chosen mascara, it will ensure a coloured mascara truly "pops".

Start by curling your lashes (I like Suqqu and Shu Uemura eye lash curlers), then apply a coat of the Estee Lauder Lash Primer Plus. If like me, you're obsessed with groomed brows, this doubles as a fabulous brow gel. I suggest brushing the brows upwards and outwards with a brow brush, clean mascara wand, or a clean toothbrush, then downwards at the edges to create a sculpted, arched effect. Next, lightly fill in brows with either a powder or pencil, a shade or two lighter than your natural brow colour. Avoid going too dark as this looks harsh and unnatural. Finish by brushing the Lash Primer Plus through the brows to set them and keep them in place.

So what makes this mascara so special? For one, the texture is gloriously creamy and smooth, definitely a clump-free-zone. It also contains Panthenol (Vitamin B5) to nourish and antioxidant Rosemary extract to protect from environmental aggressors (great for chic smog-avoiding city girls). As with all mascara, for the best effects, I suggest curling lashes first, then working the wand in a "zig-zag" motion at the root of the lashes, working out towards the tips. This ensures the entire lash is coated from root to tip and also enhances the lift/curl effect, which dramatically opens the eye, creating a fresh and captivating look. For the lower lashes and for individual definition, try holding the wand vertically, using the tip of the wand to coat individual lashes, again, starting at the roots, and flicking out towards the tips. For added drama, build the mascara to create the desired volume.

I have dabbled with Estee Lauder mascara in the past but it has never been an essential for my make-up kit, at least not in the arena of volume. In all honesty, to date I've preferred Lancome Hypnose, Diorshow and the MaxFactor Masterpiece mascara, the mainstay of most professional artists. Although, in fairness, when clients ask me to recommend a coloured mascara, it has been Estee Lauder that I've recommended, as the other options available on the market lack Lauder's pigment intensity. Not many companies do coloured mascara well, but kudos to Lauder for excelling in this area.

In terms of colours, I've never been a huge fan of brown mascara. As colours go, it is as safe and uninspiring as it gets. The entire point of mascara is to enhance the eyes. A good mascara will not only lengthen and add volume to lashes, it will also have the intensity to enhance your eye colour.

Black is the everyday go-to shade for universally flattering depth and intensity. If you really want to enhance the iris, black is the only colour that will create extreme intensity. Like the little black dress, it is the perfect long term investment, it never dates.

However, a truly vibrant colour can do wonders, not only for shaking up your regular make-up look, but also for enhancing your natural eye colour. The key to great colour, is sufficient pigment content, combined with a subtle sparkle. Flat colour is dull, but Lauder's Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Mascara contains "illuminatrix pearls" (very fine shimmer), that really succeeds in enhancing each of the colours with flattering luminescence (see photo above). On the left you can see the subtle brown shade, flanked by the stunning violet shade on the right.

If you want to dabble with coloured mascara, but are unsure which shade to go for, violet is definitely a brilliant option. Any indigo or violet shade will make the whites of your eyes appear whiter. It will also enhance all eye colours, especially hazel, green and brown eyes.

Rihanna's make-up artist, Karin Darnell suggests:

"A modern way to wear this is to colour-match the mascara to your eyeshadow. Go for a dark blue, green or purple and team with a similar eyeshadow shade. It's a great look for a night out".

Why not pick your favourite coloured Estee Lauder mascara, and compliment it with one of the sumptuous Pure Colour Eyeshadow shades for maximum impact.

Wild Sable would work well with the brown mascara.

Untamed Violet would compliment the violet mascara beautifully.

Midnight Star would work fabulously with the indigo mascara.

Black Crystals would create the perfect rock chick eye when worn with the black mascara.

If you prefer to mix things up, why not harmonise your coloured mascara with several complimentary eyeshadow shades, as seen on the model above. The edge of the eye and the crease of the lids have been shaded with a brown shadow to create intensity (try the Pure Colour Eyeshadow in Sable again, a fabulous matte shade), while a shimmering sea green has been washed over the lids and smudged beneath the lower lashes (the Pure Colour Eyeshadow in Enchanted Forest would work well). Finish by lining the waterline with the Estee Lauder Automatic Eye Pencil Duo in Hyacinth Sky, an intense blue shade. Coat lashes with the Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Mascara in Violet and prepare to dazzle.

Lash Primer Plus - £16.50
Sumptuous Extreme Lash Mascara - £22
Pure Colour Eyeshadow - £15
Automatic Eye Pencil Duo - £16.50

Friday, 25 February 2011

I Heard It Through The Grapevine

I Heard It Through The Grapevine..

It was an early start today, I was booked in to attend the blogger brunch for Caudalie's new Premier Cru Eye Cream (on the London Eye no less). Given my fondness for writing at night (it's quieter), I'm not always bright eyed and bushy tailed first thing in the morning. But I was up at 7am sharp today. Apparently it took at least £10,000 to get the 90's supermodels out of bed in the morning (according to Linda Evangelista). However, I'm not so greedy, I was perfectly content with the prospect of getting my paws on Caudalie's latest anti-ageing wonder product (some things are just worth waking up for).

I've been a huge fan of this quintessentially French brand since my days as a style & beauty editor. Leaders in the field of natural luxury skincare (hence the attraction), the entire range is built around the miraculous anti-ageing properties of grapes and vines.

Many an A-List glamazon turns to Caudalie to enhance and preserve their beauty (which gives the impression that their products must be pretty fabulous):

Supermodel Helena Christensen

Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow

Pop princess Kylie Minogue

The uber-luxurious Caudalie spas across the globe are frequented by some of the world's most discerning clientele (leading beauty editors included). I once had the pleasure of having a guided tour of their spa in Spain's Rioja region. Ostensibly, I was in Spain as a guest of a leading Spanish fashion brand, but given the fact the trip's schedule included lunch at a Caudalie spa, I couldn't help but be curious. I wasn't disappointed. The staff were beyond courteous and took the time to show me around (actually having a treatment at a Caudalie Spa is most certainly on my list of things to do before I die). Caudalie's Vinotherapie spa in France's Bordeaux wine region recently won Runner Up (Favourite Overseas Spa Retreat) in the Conde Nast Traveller 2011 Reader's Spa Awards, which only serves to deepen my longing to visit and indulge myself.

Pictured above, a shot of the Vinotherapie Spa in Bordeaux. How idyllic does it look?




So off I went to the London Eye to see what all the fuss was about.

Stepping onto the pod was like something out of a James Bond film. I couldn't believe it was my first time on the London Eye (but then again, what a fabulous way to celebrate one's maiden voyage).

Brunch was a healthy continental affair consisting of bagels, granola bars, fresh fruit and beverages. I love that beauty brands (unlike fashion ones) actually consider the dietary needs of their guests (fashion party attendees invariably survive on nothing more than champagne and oxygen).

Here comes the science (Part 1)

Here comes the science (Part 2)

Even the sun came out of hiding for the event

The views were spectacular. I actually loathe heights, but it's amazing how much safer one feels in a pod (it's the only way to travel darling).

I was drawn to leading make-up artist Emma White Turle ( like a moth to a flame. We looked like the two resident rockers, her bedecked in All Saints and me rocking my £18 vintage black leather biker jacket from Portobello Market (loving that it's mild enough to wear it again - roll on summer). I was obsessing over her Monica Vinader labradorite cocktail ring and Miu Miu bag.

This girl stopped me in my tracks with her patent brick print Chanel bag (tres chic). The minimal lines of her navy mohair coat complimented the bag to perfection. The epitome of stylish restraint. After all, Chanel said; "elegance is refusal".

Love this girl's take on Marianne Faithfull's 60's style. The leopard print faux fur coat and edgy black leather lace up boots with studded strap detail were a fabulous combo, especially when combined with minimal make-up and hair.

This girl was clearly channelling Kate Hudson in Almost Famous with this fur-trimmed mustard suede coat, tumbling blonde waves and oversized tinted shades. Rachel Zoe would "die" for this slice of 70's rock chick fabulousness.

This girl is cute as a button. The Julie Christie-esque fur hat, shearling coat, pussybow blouse, trophy bag and shoo-boot combo is a definite win. From Russia with love!

"Le Swag" consisted of not one, not two, not three, not four, but FIVE luxury skincare products (merci beaucoup Caudalie, vous etes tres gentil).

First we have the product the entire event was created in honour of, Caudalie's Premier Cru Eye Cream. Having read heaps about this in all the January press, I was so excited to finally try it. When it launched (two days early) at Space NK in January, Caudalie had to send more stock, as Space NK's customers literally bought their entire launch stock (as if we needed further proof that it's a new season must have). The range launched with the anti-ageing miracle that is Caudalie's Premier Cru The Cream, which (after seven years of clinical research) was so good, it went on to win French Marie Claire's Prix de Excellence Award 2010.

Once safely in our pod on the London Eye, with our morning appetites satiated, we were treated to a mini quiz and informative discussion about the brand's ethos and products. We were told that the number 3 is representative of Caudalie. Signifying 1/3 grapes, 1/3 science and 1/3 glamour = 100% Caudalie (I love them already, that's my kind of maths). We all had a play with the eye cream and I have to say, the first thing that hits you (apart from the astoundingly luxurious gold and silver bottle), is the divine texture. It literally feels like velvet on the skin. The sort of sensual, tactile sensation you'd get from stroking a peach (and let's face it, who doesn't want peachy-soft skin).

As for the active ingredients, it's another case of "good things comes in 3's":

Grapevine Resveratrol has been clinically proven (Harvard University) to extend the life of mice and fruit flies. It prolongs the life of cells, and this is exactly the function it performs in the eye cream, helping to ensure the skin remains healthier for longer. If the fountain of youth truly exists, Resveratrol is surely it.

Vineferine from Vine Sap is renowned for its efficacy in treating age spots and pigmentation marks (there's nothing more aesthetically ageing than liver spots). Twice as effective as Kojic Acid and 17 times more effective than Vitamin C, Caudalie cottoned on to its complexion enhancing properties when they came across research from the last century. Legend has it that the women who used to harvest the grapes in France's vine fields had truly beautiful, ageless skin. It seems they were able to turn back time by massaging the sap from the grape vines into their necks and faces. Natural beauty doesn't get much more natural than that.

Grape-seed Polyphenols are the most powerful antioxidants in the plant kingdom (say goodbye to your blueberries, goji berries and acai). Not only do they block 100% of free radicals (environmental aggressors that cause cell deterioration and dysfunction), they are 10,000 times more effective as a cosmetic antioxidant than Vitamin E.

Hyaluronic acid (another key ingredient) is without doubt one of the hottest "of the moment" cosmetic ingredients on the market right now. It holds more than 1000 times its own weight in water, making it an unparalleled source of hydration for the skin.

Iridescent pearl, silver and copper particles instantly correct dark circles, making it an ideal base for eye make-up. If you are feeling particularly scandalous, you could even use it as a primer. The silky texture would make it the perfect base for foundation (how decadent).

If all these facts and figures weren't enough of an incentive to invest in this pioneering skincare brand, they also have fabulously green credentials (a huge thumbs up from me). I try and avoid skin nasties such as parabens and SLS where possible. Plastering one's skin in potential carcinogens is never a good thing. I'm pleased to report that Caudalie is proudly free of them all. So not only is this product resolutely green, it firms the skin, banishes fine lines and wrinkles and eradicates pigmentation marks (is there anything it can't do).

If your eyes tend to be sore or puffy in the mornings, keep the eye cream in the fridge, the cold temperature on contact with the skin will shrink the capillaries, helping to soothe and tighten in a flash. I suggest applying with the tip of the ring finger, massaging in circular motions around the eye with the softest touch. To aid lymphatic drainage (the drainage of toxins) and to tighten the under eye area, I suggest gently tapping around the orbital bone. Do this twice daily and you will soon reap the rewards.

"Le Swag" also contained the glow-enhancing Beauty Elixir, inspired by the ancient "elixir of youth" created especially for Queen Isabelle of Hungary (this centuries old recipe also inspired Hungary's Omorovicza luxury skincare line). Queen Isabelle was no spring chicken, but legend has it that her elixir had men a fraction of her age banging at her door. I'm not sure what the implications of this are for a chap who's going to hit 30 this year (perhaps it would be safer to re-gift this one to someone slightly more advanced in years, I'd rather not get arrested). Come Summer, I shall be keeping this in the fridge, which will only enhance its inherent skin-soothing properties.

The Anti-Wrinkle Fluid is best applied after the elixir. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles whilst nourishing and protecting. These last two products would be especially great in Summer (especially when refrigerated), when heavier serums and creams are just too rich. Packed full of vitamins, this should definitely be part of your "five a day" (my kind of diet).

The Vine Body Butter came in a super-handy 25ml travel size tube. Ostensibly designed for softening the skin on your body, I shall be toting this around in my Chris & Tibor man bag. I know it's going to double as a superb hand and nail treatment (even with weekly manicures, my hands need extra care at this time of year. I'm obsessed with body butters and body oils throughout Winter and Spring. They're the only things rich enough to keep my skin soft and supple during London's never ending cold front. If you suffer from dry skin, I suggest massaging this in after a bath or shower, while your skin is still slightly damp, then pat dry. This will seal in essential moisture. It's also worth investing in Caudalie's divine body scrub, there's nothing better for keeping rough skin at bay.

The Hand and Nail Cream is going to be another essential for my man bag. There's nothing like a great hand cream for prolonging the life of your manicure and ensuring your skin and cuticles are in tip top condition. It's also worth noting that the neck and hands are two areas that so many people seem to gloss over when taking care of their skin. Nothing screams "granny" more than a turkey neck and gnarled hands peppered with liver spots. For the neck I suggest massaging in Caudalie's award-winning Premier Cru Cream, while this Hand and Nail Cream will be indispensable in your battle to keep your mitts baby soft. I've always been a firm believer in the old adage "prevention is better than the cure". Invest in your skin from a young age and you will reap the rewards later in life. Fine wines get better with age, and so should you.

Why have sour grapes when you can have Caudalie?

Premier Cru Eye Cream - £49
Beauty Elixir - £32
Anti-Wrinkle Fluid - £35
Vine Body Butter - £19
Hand and Nail Cream - £11.50

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

L'Eau My God

L'Eau My God..

When I first saw the visual for Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua foundation, I was stunned. Lagerfeld's latest muse, Monika "Jac" Jagaciak, has more than an air of a 90's era Vanessa Paradis. The porcelain skin, piercing green eyes and flowing mane of brown hair, are all reminiscent of Paradis in the 90's Chanel Coco fragrance advert, directed by the legendary Jean-Paul Goude. In this TV and print campaign, Goude envisaged Paradis as an exotic caged bird. She swung suggestively, clad in Chanel couture, a dazzling vision of black feathers and sheer black diamante encrusted nylons (well this was Paradis in her prime). A work of conceptual genius, perhaps Goude was alluding to those privileged and beautiful women in society whom inhabit a gilded cage. Their prison may be crafted from gold, but what use is opulence to them without freedom?

Paradis' make-up in the Coco advert is like a Polaroid from the Supermodel era. That definitive cultural moment when Vogue put Christy Turlington, Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Naomi Campbell and Tatjana Patitz on their cover. George Michael cast the same girls to appear in his Freedom video, and (with the exception of Patitz) they were photographed striding down the catwalk together, arm in arm for Gianni Versace. And so the supermodel was born. The antithesis of the modern waif, the supermodels were all suggestive curves, big hair, doe eyes, Bardot lips and a strictly matte, maximalist approach to make-up.

The "more is more" beauty maxim may have worked back in 1990, but for Spring / Summer 2011, there's a strong trend towards sheer, translucent dewiness. Gone are the heavy powders and bases that defined early 90's beauty. In their place, we have super-lightweight, silky, "barely there" textures. The difference between the old fashioned souffle and velvet textures and the new super-sheer formulations, is like the difference between opaque wool tights and the finest silk denier stockings. The former completely obscures the skin, masking it rather than enhancing it. While the latter offers a whisper of coverage, whilst allowing the skin to shine through. This is the essence of Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua's allure, only, what it lacks in viscosity, it more than compensates for in pigment content.

As with all things Chanel, this new wonder-product has already earned a loyal celebrity fan base (not to mention selling out pretty much everywhere). Hollywood starlet Anne Hathaway may have worn Balmain for the cover of ELLE UK's December 2010 issue, but it was with Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua that make-up supremo Kay Montano adorned her face.

To wear this look well, it is best to adhere to the beauty mantra "beautiful make-up begins with beautiful skin". Investing in a gentle facial exfoliant will do wonders for the surface texture of your skin, imbuing you with a perfectly smooth canvas. The gentle jojoba microbeads in Chanel's Maximum Radiance Exfoliating Gel will slough off dull dead skin cells, smoothing the texture of your skin and revealing the fresh "virgin" skin beneath. The massaging action itself will do a world of good, stimulating micro-circulation, bringing life to the complexion. Don't forget to exfoliate your lips, after all, a fabulous lip colour or gloss is pointless with a parched pout. With the dead cells gone, the skin is ready to be nourished.

I suggest incorporating a facial serum into your skin regime. Applied post cleanser / face wash, and before moisturiser, a good serum will nourish the skin, boosting the effects of the moisturiser. Nothing evokes youth and vitality more than plump skin. Massage Chanel's Hydramax + Active Moisture Boost Serum into the skin in firm circular motions, starting from the neck, working up behind the ears, taking care to massage the back of the neck, and finally up to the face and temples. I can't stress enough how much good a little regular daily facial massage will do for your complexion and skin health. Stimulating blood flow will allow the active ingredients to penetrate deeper into the skin.

They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Like the neck and hands, they are also one of the biggest indicators of our age. Banish fine lines and dark circles with Chanel's Energising Multi-Protection Eye Gel. For a truly soothing treat, keep this in the fridge. The coldness on application will shrink capillaries, reducing puffiness and shadows. I suggest massaging gently around the eye, using the lightest pressure with the tip of the ring finger. Finish by tapping lightly around the orbital bone, this will stimulate lymphatic drainage, easing the flow of toxins away from the eye area.

For people of my generation, I'd suggest hydrating the skin with Chanel's Hydramax + Active Moisture Fluid. If you have a more mature skin type, I'd suggest upgrading to something richer, as our skin tends to lose moisture as we advance in years, necessitating increased nourishment. Massage the moisturiser into your skin in the same manner as the serum, allowing a few minutes to dry before applying your primer.

The cold weather can wreak havoc with the skin's moisture levels. A great make-up artist trick for giving skin a hasty boost, is to apply an intensive hydrating mask prior to a special occasion. Chanel's Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask is a fantastic option. Layer over skin after cleansing, leave for 15 minutes then tissue or rinse off as desired. I often take this approach when a client's skin is looking a little parched, or when a model turns up for a shoot, fresh off the plane, with the lacklustre skin to prove it. This handy little trick is the perfect pre-party pick me up.

When hydrating the skin, it's important not to forget your lips. I always suggest applying a conditioning balm to the lips after moisturising the face, as it allows sufficient time for the product to sink in prior to the application of lip colour. Chanel's Hydramax + Lip Care is a handbag / manbag essential. I can't live without lip balm, especially at this time of year.

The key to replicating the ethereal dewiness so loved by the A-List is to invest in a good cream / liquid highlighter. Chanel's Le Blanc De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base can either be applied to skin prior to foundation, mixed in with the foundation, or applied over foundation (on cheekbones and temples) to achieve an incandescently radiant complexion. Experiment to find the best option for you, though I suggest investing in Chanel's superb foundation brush, as this will assist you in achieving that airbrushed Hollywood finish. The shorter hairs in this brush make it fabulous for buffing. Of all the professional brushes I've tested, this is without doubt one of my all time favourites. A "must have" for anyone who is serious about flawless foundation.

With your skin buffed, plumped, primed and illuminated, it is time to perfect your base. Using the Chanel Foundation Brush, I suggest buffing Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua foundation down the central panel of the face, blending softly outwards the hair line and temples. When you look at someone or converse, you tend to focus on this area of the face, hence focusing the denser coverage in these areas. Water-based, this foundation delivers sheer-to-medium, buildable coverage, with ease of texture of a tinted moisturiser.

The pigment content is the highest of any of the similar products I've tested from competitors on the market. The subtle, fresh oceanic scent further intensifies the sensuality of this product, making it a true delight to use. It is quite literally a breath of fresh air for the skin. Lotus water extract boosts micro-circulation, while hyaluronic acid hydrates and brown seaweed revitalises (and all in such a tiny portable plastic bottle).

Like some of the other notable "next generation" foundations, Chanel's Vitalumiere Aqua contains silicone. This ingredient not only assists in waterproofing (and therefore extending the wear of) your foundation, it also imbues it with a liquid silk texture, creating the smoothest of canvases. Meanwhile, the Radiance Light Diffusing Complex creates a halo of soft light, imparting an ethereal and highly flattering glow. The SPF 15 provides sufficient protection from the ageing effects of sun exposure and environmental aggressors, negating the need for an additional SPF product.

To keep this look fresh, it is best to stick to liquid concealers. Anything heavier will take away from the dewiness. Chanel's Eclat Lumiere Highlighter Face Pen is the perfect option. I suggest blending under the eyes, on the brow bone, lightly along the cheekbones, down the bridge of the nose, along the cupid's bow and around the sides of the nose (anywhere prone to shadows and redness).

With your face highlighted to perfection, it is time to sculpt. Chanel's Soleil Tan Sheer Illuminating Fluid is a delightfully sheer and pearly cream bronzer. I love to apply this with Chanel's Foundation Brush for a truly flawless finish. I suggest blending along the cheekbones, up towards the hairline. Or for a more elaborately scultped look, blending along the hairline and temples, down the sides of the bridge of the nose, beneath the cheekbones, along the chin and under the jaw line. My skin looks especially sallow at this time of year, so I rely on tricks like this to add some subtle warmth to my complexion.

Too much powder would really kill this look. Using the accompanying powder puff, I suggest gently patting / rolling the faintest whisper of Chanel's Natural Finish Loose Powder down the T-Zone. Minimising shine here is fine, but avoid powdering the cheeks and the edge of the temples, as shine in these areas has a beautiful lifting effect on the face.

I shall leave you with some words of wisdom. Never accept gifts from strangers (with the sole exception of licensed couriers hand-delivering Chanel).

Maximum Radiance Exfoliating Gel - £32
Hydramax + Active Moisture Boost Serum - £52.50
Energising Multi-Protection Eye Gel - £40
Hydramax + Active Moisture Fluid - £44
Hydramax + Active Moisture Mask - £35
Hydramax + Lip Care - £27
Le Blanc De Chanel Sheer Illuminating Base - £29
Vitalumiere Aqua Skin Perfecting Make-Up - £31.50
Eclat Lumiere Highlighter Face Pen - £26
Soleil Tan Sheer Illuminating Fluid - £31
Natural Finish Loose Powder - £31