Kate Shapland's Beauty Diary

November 28th: Last week I wrote about exfoliators and how to get the most out of them without upsetting your skin.

This week I’m onto face masks – a good staple to have in your bathroom cabinet in winter when skin can need a little extra TLC beyond cleanser and moisturiser.  A face mask can really transform your skin when it’s got the right ingredients – if you’re looking for extra moisturiser, you want a face mask which is rich in vitamin E, marine collagen or nourishing essential oils; if you want radiance, look for masks which contain properties like ginkgo, algae and mulberry extracts; and for deep cleansing seek out masks with either kaolin clay or Dead Sea mud.  

All of these ingredients are well known for their effectiveness at boosting skin in different ways – some masks combine them to offer various benefits.  If your skin needs it, treat it to a mask once a week after buffing.  

You can always make your own too: the one I think works best (and is easiest to make) is to beat an egg and add a dash of cooking oil to it, then apply it to your face with a cotton wool bud, before rinsing off with warm water after 10 minutes.  You’ll find your skin is so soft you won’t need moisturiser, and it will glow with health.  


  • Body Shop Warming Mineral Mask – contains kaolin and essential oils to draw impurities out from the skin and leave it bright and fresh.  £9, thebodyshop.co.uk.
  • Yes To Carrots C The Difference Exfoliating & Soothing Mud Mask – this gentle face pack detoxifies, smoothes and soothes skin.  £12.35, victoriahealth.com.

November 21st: It often amazes me that exfoliation has got to be such a habitual part of our facial routines. At best exfoliating is a gentle boost to your skin’s natural renewal process, at worst it’s like polishing your face with a Brillo Pad.  

Don’t get me wrong, buffing can play a valuable role, making skin smoother and ready for treatment – moisturisers and masks often absorb more quickly after skin has had a light polish. But there is wisdom in doing this carefully, and here’s why.  

First, your skin is designed to protect you – it’s your body’s natural coat, if you like – and it has its own process of self renewal.  Skin is also more fragile than you think – it can be easily aggravated (especially in winter when the chill makes skin dry and vulnerable), and this can lead to premature ageing.  

So the key with exfoliation is to be measured about it.  Don’t allow yourself to be talked into daily abrasion – the best place for cleansers with exfoliating grains, no matter how fine or smooth, is in the bin.  Use soft, creamy buffers with grains as fine as marble dust as little as once or twice a week on your face, or use a hot flannel with your cleanser.  You will be doing your skin a greater service in the long run. 

Three workhorses to try:

  • Clinique Exfoliating Scrub – fresh (it contains menthol) with fine abrasive grains.  £17, clinique.co.uk.
  • Aveda Exfoliant – best for sensitive skins, this grain-free lotion removes dead skin cells without abrasion.  £17, aveda.co.uk.
  • Elemis Gentle Rose Exfoliator – enriched with tiny jojoba beads; perfect for a once-weekly buff.  £25.50, lookfantastic.com.

November 14th: I don’t know about you but I am a big fan of baths. Given the choice I will always choose a bath over a shower, especially in winter; and while time isn’t often on our sides I think baths are one of the best ways to relax and let the days troubles drift away.

This works especially well if you have the right bubbles, salts or oils to add to the bath and I’m pretty picky about these, tending to use salts and oils more than straight bubble baths because they offer a treatment angle which makes me feel like I’m getting something more valuable out of the bath (not to mention more value for money!)  The important thing about a therapeutic bath though is that it’s YOU time.  In other words there is no point adding some relaxing oils to the water if you’re going to get interrupted every five minutes by the kids or a phone ringing.  Run the bath (not too hot or you won’t be able to stay in it for very long), stick a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door, shut it (firmly), light a couple of little candles, climb in and soak. These additives are worth every penny:

  • Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax Bath & Shower Oil – a mix of calming plant oils to help you sleep more soundly.  £37, aromatherapyassociates.com.
  • Molton Brown Bracing Silverbirch Thermal Muscle Soak – the business after a work out, it soothes tense muscles effortlessly.  £18.50, moltonbrown.co.uk.

November 7th: When it comes to home fragrancing few things are better than scented candles – they beat room spray and a bit of pot pourri hands down!  Apart from anything candles give a room ambience, with their warming little flame flickering away in the background. 

But all scented candles are not equal – some of them really are pretty awful, either because they smell overpoweringly synthetic (it’s amazing how wrong you can get lavender or grapefruit), or don’t smell at all, or don’t burn well because the wick disappears into the wax which means you can only use them a couple of times before they are useless.  Which isn’t ideal when you have forked out for one – some of the expensive ones are surprisingly poorly made.  Candle-making is an art, especially when it involves perfume – the beauty editor recently saw some candles being made at a factory and was amazed at how time-consuming it is: imagine 500 glass jars being hand-filled with wax poured from a jug by one person at exactly the right temperature. 

The best candles are hand-poured and filled with 100% pure fragrance oils, which distribute a clean scent right through the wax so the candle still smells when you are burning it near the end.  

You won’t go wrong with these:

  • Diptyque Limited Edition Epinette Christmas Candle – the smell of spruce tree.  Just magic and very festive.  £45, spacenk.co.uk.
  •  The White Company Winter Botanical Candle – seasonal cinnamon, orange and red berries, and it looks as good as it smells.  £20, thewhitecompany.com.

October 23rd: The beauty editor was lucky enough to be invited to the Women of the Year event last week, an annual lunch and awards ceremony to recognise women’s achievements and their personal contributions to society.

Among the 400 handpicked guests was Hetty Bower, a 106-year-old ex-suffragette – who not surprisingly got a standing ovation, newsreader Mary Nightingale and Bianca Jagger.  A handful of women, including Katie Piper – who rebuilt her life after an acid attack in 2008, Jackie Millerchip – who has dedicated her life to looking after able-bodied and disabled children, and six medical experts who treat injured military personnel in war zones, were honoured with special awards for their outstanding contributions. 

And taking time off from her Strictly Come Dancing appearances, Lulu received a Women of the Year Lifetime Achievement Award. To say the event was moving is an understatement – it was humbling to be in the same room as these high achievers. 

Cosmetic Executive Women (CEW) also held their annual Achiever’s Awards recently and presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to the eternally glam and groomed Joan Collins.  Joan, looking incredible in an emerald green Roland Mouret dress, revealed she had been taught how to apply makeup by Marilyn Monroe’s personal makeup artist when she first went to Hollywood.  And up close I can reveal that she is every bit as youthful and mesmerising as you would expect her to be.

October 14th:
The beauty editor found herself, her suitcase and a bottle of champagne on Eurostar last weekend bound for Paris.

Time for some much needed time out, so away we went – me and three friends – for some sightseeing, shopping and serious pampering. Our first stop was Cafe de Flore on Boulevard Saint-Germain, our second – following a Croque Monsieur and an espresso – was the Plaza Athenee Hotel, home to the Dior Institute. 

I first went to the Institute a few years ago and had one of the best deep tissue massages I’ve ever had: after it I went straight to bed and slept like a baby for 12 hours.  This time I went for the leg reviver treatment which I thought would stand my pins in good stead before a couple of days pounding Paris’ pavements and museums.

I was right: my legs felt light as air after being massaged with a cooling gel/oil, then covered in a special algae mask which encouraged deep drainage and set hard so had to be peeled off afterwards. After the treatment I lay in the Institute’s relaxation room for an hour, reading glossy magazines and sipping tea. 

It was the most restorative treat I’ve had in months and I urge you to make a date there yourself on your next visit.  The Leg Reviver costs e190 for 75 minutes (visit www.spaplazaathenee.com for more info).  You’ll come out feeling human again.  Or, for similarly good leggy treatments, try:

  • Reduce Cellulite Treatment – detoxes, reduces fluid retention and tones using a refreshing blend of citrus gel, cleansing mud and aromatherapy oils like grapefruit, juniper berry and energising rosemary.  Leaves your legs feeling so light you could fly.  £71 for 70 minutes at The Treatment Rooms in Brighton.  Call 01273 818444.
  • Leg Reviver Treatment – uses aromatic oils and deep tissue massage to drain and lighten legs.  £75 for 40 minutes at The Corinthian Spa.  Call 020 7321 3050.

October 10th:

Too cool for school? CoolBrands, the hot list of hippest, most wanted brands put together by The Centre for Brand Analysis, announced their 2011 winners last week and two beauty brands were up there for prizes.

Step forward Dermalogica and GHD, the hair straighteners. The competition is judged by 36 'gurus of cool', a panel which included Lisa Snowdon along with interior designer to the stars Kelly Hoppen, fashion designer Ben de Lisi and Sadie Frost. 

They judged of shortlist of 1500 brands from a long list of 10,000, then they asked the rest of us to vote on our favourites.  Both beauty wins are well deserved as far as I’m concerned: Dermalogica, which has been going for 25 years (that’s an achievement when you look at how many beauty brands there are weighing beauty counters down these days), offers no-nonsense skincare (the beauty editor urges you to try their Daily Microfoliant for some seriously good skin-smoothing benefits). 

GHD, which stands for Good Hair Day, came into being on the back of a revolutionary hair straightening iron from Japan and now has a whole range of styling products behind it.  A big clap then for both brands.  Now try them .. 

  • Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – super-fine rice-based exfoliating powder.  £27.99, beautyflash.co.uk.
  • GHD Gold Classic Styler – straightens hair as easily as cutting through butter.  £119, lookfantastic.com.

October 3rd: The beauty editor is having a nail moment this week.  Having spotted the gorgeous kitsch nail wraps Nail Rock designed specially for Meadham Kirchhoff’s s/s 12 catwalk show (see last week’s Power of 5) I then spied some new retro talons designed by the super-glam Dita von Teese. 

These are even easier to use than the nail wraps: you get a pack of 24 and you just choose the ones that fit your nails best and stick them on.  Couldn’t be easier really.  They come in one colour – red (what else did you expect?), but what makes these nails stand out in a sea of very samey others is that they are leave the half moons bare.  The style, Dita explains, is very similar to that worn by movie stars like Marlene Dietrich in the 1930s and 1940’s.  She’s worn her nails like this for years – she used to get her mother, a manicurist, to do them for her. 

I love their old-style glamour, it smacks of good grooming, which of course is what Dita is famous for as a burlesque artist.  It’s refreshing to see someone do something grown-up with nails.  I do wonder if I’m the only beauty editor in the world who is bored with shock colours and gimmicks.  Magnetic nail varnish?  Scented polish?  Lacquer made to look like it’s peeling off?  Oh please make it stop.  The following should sort out your seasonal varnish wardrobe:

  • Dita von Teese by Kiss Nails, £6.30, www.dita.net.
  • Chanel Nail Colour in shades Ballerina, Dragon, Fantastic and Vendetta, £17.50, selfridges.com.
  • OPI Lincoln Park After Dark, £10.50, lenawhite.co.uk.

September 22nd:
London Fashion Week is at full tilt as I write this and as ever I’ve been loving the creativity of the top hair stylists and makeup artists. 

Runway beauty has been getting more imaginative every season and that always amazes me because not very long ago beauty barely figured on the catwalks – makeup and hair was kept very minimal, with hair pulled tightly back into a chignon and makeup almost non-existent.  At it’s most dramatic catwalk makeup featured red lips. 

It's a different story now.  Barely an hour goes by without an email arriving to announce the backstage confidential – the latest looks – from London, New York, Milan and Paris: here is Charles Worthington’s master stylist Marc Trinder’s ‘young Kate Moss meets Kurt Cobain’ hair at Roksanda Ilincic’s s/s 12 show, there is Neil Moodie and Wendy Rowe’s clever ‘we-did-the-hair-and-makeup-but-we-don’t-want-it-to-look-like-any-of-it’s-been-done’ for Burberry Prorsum and James Kaliardos’ darkly kohled eyes for Rodarte.  Hundreds of looks flash up on my computer screen for leaving me with the task of interpreting the more memorable ones for us mere mortals to wear.  These are my highlights so far – get ready to work these looks ladies:

  • The rosebud lips at Giles Deacon – berry stains that looked so natural and pretty, and worked perfectly with the designer’s swan-printed garments.
  • The nail wraps Nail Rocks created for models in Meadham Kirchhoff show – front row guests got a set too. See our Power of 5 feature for how to get yours.
  • The sky blue lips at Mary Katrantzou – crazy fab!
  • The smoky cat’s eyes at Gucci – teamed with stunning 1950’s-style beehives.

September 19th: Bit of an event this week: the beauty editor actually stopped writing and left her desk for long enough to have her hair done.  Normally, highlights aren’t something I’d bother to report on here, but the circumstances under which these highlights were done was quite exceptional.

Let me explain. Josh Wood is probably the most sought-after hair colourist in the world – he flies all over the globe tending the hair of A-listers and many women who are not famous but who hold him in such high regard to fly him to their homes for highlights.  Cost is not an issue when it comes to Josh's special highlighting technique – it's called halo-ing and it gives hair graduated highlights which are brighter around your hairline making you look like you have just spent a month in St Tropez (I wish) with your hair tied back. 

So when I got a call asking me if I’d like to see Josh’s new salon and try halo-ing I was out of the house in the flick of a lamb’s tail. Josh has opened salon in a private house in London – an atelier, which is without doubt the coolest place to get your hair done this beauty editor has ever been. 

You are ushered down a mirrored corridor and through swing doors into a huge room – the only room on the ground floor – with a living wall of plants on one end, a mirror that stretches the whole of one wall, and some serious art (I'm talking Tracey Emin).  It's in this palace that Josh gets to grips with my barnet, and when I emerge, an hour or so later, I have the most glorious blonde bonce – graduated, natural, tawny: no one, but no one, would know that I was born with dull brown hair.  This midlife beauty editor feels as if she has been completely reinvented – the man is a genius, and if you feel the need for a mega makeover ping him an email – reservations@joshwood.com – seeing is believing.

September 12th: Despite the fact that I'm writing this on one of the worst days of the year weather-wise – with the wind and rain lashing against my office window – and we’re barely out of the Great British Summer(!) – I still love the change of seasons, especially going into autumn.

The beauty business goes a bit practical in summer – it’s all about sunscreens and portability; in winter everything goes a bit more luxe – new mysterious fragrances, glam makeup palettes and compacts with jewel-like colours for lips, eyes and nails, super-rich moisturisers, masks and body creams for dry skin, not to mention bath salts and bubbles to soak in – the counters start to creak under the weight of it all and it can be even harder than normal to decide which product to splash out on. 

My advice is to buy key makeup to update your look (this season you’ll need charcoal, navy or black for your eyes and deep plum for your lips and nails – I’ll reveal the best of these in coming weeks), get yourself a great foundation (again, watch this space), a daring new scent, a sparkly powder for your decolletee (it’s party season remember) and moisturisers which nourish without making you sticky.  

Three seasonal gems I’ve already got my mitts on and recommend you do too:

  • Clinique Aromatics Elixir Special Reserve – a limited edition of this very gorgeous scent that was first created in 1971 and smells of verbena, coriander, rose and vetiver.  Trust me, you will smell delicious.  £80, Harrods.com.
  • The Body Shop Sparkler – a shimmery body powder in Boudoir Pink: puff it onto upper arms, decolletee and even your face.  £12, thebodyshop.co.uk.
  • YSL Mascara Vibrant Plum or Violet Singulier Nuit Blanche – yummy mauve mascara, works wonders on the brightness of blue eyes.  £22, selfridges.com.

September 1st: September is Organic Month, a celebration of all things organic led by The Soil Association, the organisation that promotes planet-friendly products – including beauty.

Natural beauty makes sense from the point of view that your skin is the largest organ of your body and what you put on it can be absorbed in tiny amounts.  But I’ve always been a tad wary of beauty products that claim to be organic because while there are no legal standards for organic beauty, it’s possible for companies to label products ‘organic’ when they only have 1% organic ingredients in them. 

There are some genuine brands though (see below for the best of these), and if you want to keep your beauty regime as pure as possible look for The Soil Association stamp on packets – they have developed their own guidelines for organic beauty which include using at least 95% organic ingredients and having super-clear labelling so you can see what you’re buying.  Visit The Soil Association’s site for further info or try my pick of organic brands here:

  • Pai – a skin and body care line with strict organic formulas.  Their Chamomile & Rosehip Organic Moisturiser (£22, paiskincare.com) is brilliant for sensitive skins.  
  • Balm Balm – created by an aromatherapist and her husband, this organic range manages to be budget too.  Try their Hibiscus Face Mask (£8.15, balmbalm.com).
  • Green People – started in 1994, this includes a wonderful Rejuvenating Cleansing Balm (£19.99, greenpeople.co.uk) which is as soft as butter.

August 18th: As summer comes to an end skin and hair can start to look a bit parched after exposure to sun, sea and chlorinated water. 

It's especially worth keeping skin hydrated because if you managed to get a tan it will stay with you for longer if supple and moisturised. I've been trying some new super-replenishing skin treatments recently and found some real gems, but the trick is to use the right one for your skin – too often we choose skin tonic treatments that are developed with more mature skin in mind and they can be overly potent. 

If you’re just looking for extra moisture, choose emollients with hyaluronic acid in them – this ingredient is a real workhorse at attracting and trapping moisture in the skin; and if you want skin-softening benefits too, choose products with non-abrasive smoothing qualities like salicylic or lactic acid.  Here are some hard-workers to try:

  • Orba Originals Goat’s Milk Relief Cream – brilliant at relieving dry patches and chronic skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.  £11.99, orbaoriginals.com.
  • Molton Brown Celestial Maracuja Body Souffle – light as a beaten egg white but amazingly effective at soothing and nourishing parched limbs.  £36, moltonbrown.co.uk.
  • Nivea Express Hydration Body Lotion – absorbs super fast to soften and moisturise skin. £3, boots.com

August 15th: The year goes fast when you are a beauty editor because you are always working ahead of yourself.  Over the past few weeks emails on products launching this autumn – and for Christmas – have been dropping into my inbox and I can reveal that there are some gorgeous little treats coming your way.

New make-up colours?  Dark and mysterious!  You’re going to be wearing ‘black’ lipstick and nail polish (don’t worry, it’s not really black, more plum and berry shades and surprisingly wearable), and your lashes are going to be super-sweepy as everyone is going to be hooked on the new lash extension treatments.  I tried this last week and I’m so pleased with the fluttery results. 

It's so easy to have done: the lash artist fixes individual lashes to your existing ones to bulk up and lengthen what nature gave you, and they grow out with your natural lashes, so you need to go for infills every month or so.  The incredible thing about lash extensions is the way they make you look so much younger, and if you’re someone who likes their makeup to be easy – ie you’re too busy getting to work in the morning to worry about mascara – lash extension were made for you, because you don’t have to bother with eye makeup for your eyes to really pop.

Definitely something I’ll be maintaining along with my highlights.  If you’re ready for a flutter check out the following lash artists:

  • Lash In Bloom Extensions, from £40, at Browhaus, 19a Floral St, London W2.  Appointments 020 7240 8408.
  • Flutter Couture Lashes, from £135 for a full upper set at Urban Retreat at Harrods.  Appointments 020 7893 8333.
  • Extensions by Daxita Vaghela, from £95, at Atherton Cox.  Appointments 020 7487 4048

August 5th: An email arrived from Boots this week with the results of a suncare study which revealed that the British are at risk of longterm skin damage because we don’t fully understand what to look for in our sun protection.

Their research apparently found that nearly three quarters of us don’t know the difference between UVA and UVB, and that UVA protection isn’t really something we need to worry about. 

To help clarify this for us – and spread the word about the importance of suncare – Boots have teamed up with ex-weather girl Andrea McLean and the national lifeguard charity SurfLife Saving GB (SLSGB) to give suncare tips and daily UV forecasts all summer on the SLSGM Facebook page. 

Part of the problem with suncare is that different companies offer different kinds of protection, when all you really need to know is that you need a sunscreen which protects you from both UVA and UVB rays – look for word broad-spectrum on the packaging, that’s what it means – and a high sun protection factor (SPF).  You will still get a tan, just a bit more slowly, and it will last longer because you won’t burn.  Both UVA and UVB rays tan your skin, but each have another role to play – this is the easiest way to remember why you need broadspectrum protection from UVA and UVB rays:

  • UVA – the Ageing rays: these are the rays which go deep into your skin and make it age prematurely.
  • UVB – the Burning rays: these are the rays which burn your skin, so in turn they will also age it (because burning ages skin).

And if, like me, you find sunscreens prohibitively expensive (sorry, got to say it – it blows me away every time I look at the suncare shelves), you might be interested to hear that Boots are offering sunscreens from their Soltan range at half price till 4 October.  Get down there!

August 1st: The previews of next season’s makeup palettes are starting to find their way to the beauty editor’s office, and the best way to describe the make-up you'll be wearing this autumn is darkly mysterious.

Smoky eyes (all charcoal grey, deep mauve and navy shadows), loads of black mascara and a dark lip – it's time to brush up on your lip-painting skills because the most popular lip-colour on the catwalks was deep purple to match dark nails.  As soon as the colours go on-counter I’ll reveal which I think are worth spending your hard-earned cash on – and which are the easiest to wear. 

Meantime I’ve got something rather special lined up for Heart beauty lovers: Elemis have created a limited edition collection of their anti-ageing products to care for your eyes.  It’s called All About Eyes, and it includes Pro-Radiance Cream Cleanser, Absolute Eye Serum and Pro-Intense Eye & Lip Contour Cream, all of which contain natural plant and marine extracts to cleanse, hydrate, soothe and protect.  Skin around your eyes is the thinnest of anywhere else on your body, so you need to keep the area well hydrated, especially if you’ve been out in the sun to keep crow’s feet at bay.  Here are the details – but hurry, the offer is only available till the end of August ..:

  • Elemis’ 3-step All About Eyes collection, £58 (that’s a 30% saving on the usual price for the products).  Visit www.timetospa.co.uk or call 0117 316 1888 to get yours.


July 25th:

Down to Brighton last week to visit one of my favourite beauty salons, The Treatment Rooms: ladies of the south coast, if you haven’t discovered Clare Rogers’ oasis in New Street yet I urge you to do so!

Somehow (can’t think how!) I was persuaded to try Aromatherapy Associates Cellulite Reducer, a wake-up treatment for thighs, bums and tums and general system sluggishness.  It involves being rubbed with with warm and cold (very cold) mitts, then massaged with cleansing aromatic oils like grapefruit, juniper berry and rosemary – which help to eke out trapped fluids making you feel less puffy, then wrapped up in a cocooon to absorb the oils.  The treatment is so invigorating you feel like leaping up off the couch at the end of it – and you feel considerably slimmer and more confident to boost.  Ready, even, to don a swimsuit.  And that’s a minor miracle in my book.  I also met Julieanne Coates, owner of ‘the other’ Brighton beauty salon, The Lanes Health & Beauty Salon in Market Street.  Julie specialises in nails – the whole of the ground floor of her salon is a nail bar in the style of Hollywood, complete with massaging pedi chairs!  Over to you ladies ..

  • Aromatherapy Associates Cellulite Reducer costs £71 for 70 minutes treatment at The Treatment Rooms; call 01273 818444 or visit www.thetreatmentrooms.co.uk for more info.
  • A Spa Manicure (with heated mittens) costs £35 at The Lanes salon; call 01273 725572or visit www.thelaneshealthandbeauty.com for more info.

July 18th: Seeing pictures this week of lovely Emma Watson at the last Harry Potter premiere in New York made me think about eye makeup – especially the smoky eye, and how good it looks if you get it right.

I’m won’t spoil the surprise, but I’ve seen some of next season’s new make-up palettes and the best way to describe them is darkly mysterious. So you do need to brush up your smoky eye skills for autumn/winter. 

The main thing to remember about the smoky eye is that there are no halfway measures with this look: you have to commit to it in its full glory – as Emma did – or it looks dated and ageing. The Duchess of Cambridge could look amazing with a smoky eye, but she only does half of it – a trace of black liner – so it’s never as impactful as it can be. 

Emma’s darkly shadowed eyes were note-perfect for the premiere – in fact they went beyond smoky, they were on fire.  Her makeup artist had layered dark charcoal shadow on, then used a black eyeliner on her upper and lower lash-line to ramp-up the vamp look, and added lashings of mascara.  Then she added gold pigment to the outer corners to bring the black to life and make Emma’s eyes flash, like magic, when they caught the light. 

The rest of her makeup was perfect too: low-key lip-colour and a hint of blusher – that’s all you need to keep the balance.  These are the cosmetics that will create the look now – there will be plenty more come September ..

  • Illamasqua False Eyelashes, £12, illamasqua.com
  • Illamasqua Pure Black Liquid Eye Liner, £16.
  • Cosmetics a la Carte Sable and Black Matt Eye Define Shadows, £16 each, cosmeticsalacarte.com
  • MAC Old Gold Pigment, £15.50, maccosmetics.co.uk
  • Dior Black DiorShow Backstage Mascara, £22, houseoffraser.co.uk

July 11th: One look at Cheryl Cole’s gorgeous new highlights was enough to send the beauty editor scuttling off to the salon this week to get her own crummy lights revitalised. 

While there I quizzed my colourist on the technique used on Cole’s tresses and found out that the method is called ‘haloing’, when hair on the crown of the head and – importantly – around the hair-line are taken shades lighter to lift the face and make it look younger and fresher. 

Josh, who does my hair, calls it a ‘premium blonding’ treatment because most of its done by hand: the colourist applies a combination of straight highlights and balliage (when sections of hair are painted freehand) to build up a concentrate of halo layers. 

Personally, I love the look – it’s the best thing Cheryl has done to her hair (and definitely better than that awful red Goth look she had last year), but even though it was apparently done with home colourants it’s definitely not something to try at home.  If you like it, take a picture of Cheryl to the salon and ask them to use either Koleston Perfect Special Blonde (a Wella treatment), or L’Oreal Paris Perfect Blonde with L’Oreal Paris Casting Creme Gloss on top.  Colour effects vary from hair to hair, but ask for shade 8304 to get as close to Cheryl’s colour as possible.  Then get yourself the following staples to maintain the colour and polish:

  • Kerastase Bain Chroma Riche – one of the best blonde-boosting shampoos you can buy.  £15.60, lookfantastic.com.
  • Redken Colour Extend Conditioner – works well with the above: apply it and allow it a few minutes to work its magic.  £11.16, salonskincare.co.uk
  • Aveda Brilliant Pomade – makes hair shine like glass which brings out its colour.  £17, aveda.co.uk.

July 4th: Blimey, talk about weather extremes: one minute we’re flaking all over the place from the heat, the next we’re nearly drowning in rain and hail.

I’m amazed we haven’t had snow yet – surely that’s to come after the next heatwave?  Where beauty goes the gloves are off when it gets so hot you can barely breathe: personally I don’t want any strong scent, sticky creams or suffocating makeup anywhere near me, and I’ve got a refined cache of hot weather helpers that I dig out when the temperature soars.  It doesn’t matter when you’re on holiday because you don’t have to do anything, but if you’re stuck in the city in the boiling heat the best way to keep your energy up is to drink lots of mineral water (aim for at least a 1.5 litre bottle), keep coffees to a minimum (they’re diuretic), eat light and often – so snack on raw veg and dips, cold soups and salads.  Keep these hot weather helpers close by:

  • Evian Facial Spray – mist this all over your face whenever you need to cool down.  £3.57, johnlewis.com.
  • Nivea Visage Refreshing Facial Cleansing Wipes – the coollest of all the face wipes, use this to cleanse when you feel sticky, then reapply a touch of makeup.  £3.36, boots.com.
  • 4711 Eau de Cologne Cooling Stick – the easiest way to freshen up, this cools skin on impact and leaves a very subtle, clean scent.  £5.65, victoriahealth.com.

June 27th: Summer breeze, makes me feel fine – well, for those odd moments that it actually feels like summer it makes me feel fine. 

In the absence of any real warmth or temperate breeziness I’ve turned to the products that remind me of summer at least and reviewed the season’s best body sprays, cosmetics and fragrances.  It’s my virtual summer!

There’s an art to choosing beauty products that work really well in the summer – or on holiday: perfume can change the way it smells in the heat, makeup can run, sunscreen doesn’t filter properly because it melts in the heat, and body lotions and creams can go sticky. 

A survey conducted recently revealed that having to constantly reapply sunscreen is one of the most annoying thing about holidays (wierd survey to choose to do but there you go) – alongside a delayed flight and an uncomfortable bed. I experienced both of the latter last year (our bed was so hard you couldn’t lie on your side for longer than five minutes), but the sunscreen issue isn’t my problem because I’ve done enough road-testing to know which products do exactly what they say on the tin regardless of whether its boiling hot or freezing cold.  Here are four:

  • eaudemademoiselle Body Mist – a body spray which turns to milk on contact with skin, hydrating and scenting it.  So you don’t need extra fragrance and your body is nicely supple, not slimey or sticky.  £29.50, John Lewis (from August).
  • Riemann P20 Once A Day Sunscreen – says it all in the name really, and it lives up to its promise: this stuff stays put no matter how hot you get or how many times you go in the pool.  The only downside is that it’s quite thick.  £12.50, blockshop.co.uk
  • By Terry Aqualip Tint – looks very red but turns out to be a shade darker than natural lip colour (so ideal for a bare-faced beach look) and tints lips with its high pigment content, so doesn’t come off.  £22, spacenk.co.uk.
  • 4711 Eau de Cologne – if you love fragrance but find it a bit overpowering in the heat try a cologne, it’s lighter and more refreshing.  This is the original and still the best. Keep it in the Fridge and slosh on with abandon.  £11.30, victoriahealth.com.

June 20th:

It’s not often that you have a pedicure named after you – well, named after your blogging alter ego anyway, but Aveda have gone and done that very thing having worked with me to develop a Leg Room Luxe Pedicure.  As a beauty writer my passion is leg and foot care and in my quest to discover the best leg/foot treatments as The Legologist I’ve tried it all, from having my thighs caked in mud and wrapped in cellophane, to wading through freezing water and having my legs sprayed with seawater – not to mention just about every pedicure in the book.

The outlet for my passion is The Leg Room, my blog, and The Leg Room Luxe Pedicure, developed by myself and Aveda, is the best foot treatment you can have because it takes all the best aspects of the pedis I’ve had over the years and applies them with Aveda’s high performance products to give you a bespoke treatment.  You also get a glass of antioxidant-rich carrot, apple, pear and parsley juice to enjoy while Aveda’s pedicurist works her magic.  Here’s the procedure:
1. Treatment begins with a Chakra Sensory journey in which you choose your own mix of Ayurvedic chakra-balancing aromas to add to the pedicure products.  There are 7 aromas – I like number 1, a grounding blend of esssential oils olbanum, patchouli and vetiver – and their scents rebalance you through your root (feet) Chakra.
2.  This is followed by a foot buff with Aveda Tourmaline Exfoliating Cleanser mixed with Aveda Soothing Aqua Salt Scrub to give it extra clout around tough skin on the soles.
3.  Next your feet get the mask treatment – Aveda Tourmaline Radiance Mask goes on top of your feet and Caribbean Seaweed Mask on the soles.  Serious luxury!
4.  If your feet need it the pedicurist then eases off more hard skin and massages Aveda Foot Relief Cream (personalised with your Chakra scent) into your feet.
5.  The finish is an application of polish (of course!) in dark berry Lincoln Park After Dark to make your feet and toes look slimmer and fully groomed for summer sandals.

The Leg Room Luxe Pedicure at the Aveda Institute costs £45 for a 60 minute treatment.  Call 020 7759 7355 for an appointment or email institute.london@aveda.co.uk .

June 11th: One of the questions I often get asked – along with 'do anti-ageing creams really work' – is how to deal with veins, especially at this time of year when we’ve got more leg on show and perhaps getting ready for pool-side exposure.

I know it’s a bit of a grim subject, but as 20% of us get varicose veins, and we worry about them and broken veins almost as much as cellulite, it’s important the beauty editor investigates it on your behalf. 

What I know, from talking to my mates, is that as much as we worry about veins, we hate the idea of having them removed even more – which isn’t really surprising: even I can hardly type the words 'vein stripping' without wincing. 

Until recently though, this gruesome sounding treatment was the only option if you wanted varicose veins gone.  Recently though I met a very clever man with as much of a passion for the health and beauty of legs as myself and who has come up with a totally different way of getting rid of veins – for good, which stripping does not. 

And last week I found myself on Dr Mark Whiteley’s couch learning more about the keyhole surgery he combines with radio frequency to seal veins and destroy them with no pain and no downtime – in other words you can have treatment and go back to work.  Very occasionally in my business you meet people who genuinely offer something different and brilliant – usually borne out of a passion: Mark – aka Dr Legs – is one of those people and if you want to deal with those niggly bits on your legs (or any other issue – be it stretch marks or cellulite), he’s your man. 

Meantime you’ll get instant results from these summer staples:

  • Covermark Leg Magic Cover Cream – the business for camouflaging veins, blemishes and stretch marks.  £26, garden.co.uk.
  • Guerlain Jambes de Gazelle Cooling Bronzing Mist – excellent subtle tan, evens up leg tone, washes off and cools down skin.  £36, houseoffraser.co.uk.
  • Mrs White’s Legs In The Air – if you’re prone to heavy legs (which varicose veins sometimes contribute to), try this mix of peppermint oil and Vodka – it will really lighten the load.  £10, roullierwhite.com

Contact Dr Mark Whiteley at The Whiteley Clinic at www.thewhiteleyclinic.co.uk or 01483 477180.

Monday June 6th:

The sun's out and the beauty editor has been busy looking for shape-boosting cheats – in other words products which help you feel more confident and sylph-like when faced with body-exposing garments such as shorts and swimsuits.

Summer tends to creep up on us in the UK: we get lulled into believing that it’s going to be wet and cold because summer takes so long to get here, then whoosh it’s arrived overnight with soaring temperatures, leaving many of us scrabbling around looking for a self tan that works fast, wedge sandals in the right size and a strong desire to shed several inches.  This year I’m worshipping at the altar of the maxi dress/skirt, but I’ll still be keeping my legs fuzz-free and self-tanned. 

I’ll also be painting my toenails regularly with different neon lacquers – I’m loving those hot pinks and metallic golds – and knocking back bottles of mineral water to stop trapped fluid making me feel bloated in flimsy summer clothes.  One year I’ll be ready for summer on the fashion front, but until then I know what beauty products are best at easing us into summer with the least hassle and most confidence.  These are the standby staples I recommend having:

  • Bodyism Body Serenity Calming/Soothing Skinny Drink – developed by James Duigan, Elle MacPherson’s trainer, this shifts pounds fast.  £30, bodyism.com.
  • Models Own Neon Brights Nail Polish – check out shades Lemon Sherbert and Pink Punch: love, love, love.  £5, asos.com.
  • Elemis Cellutox Activ Body Concentrate – full of slimming aromatic oils and herbs, this detoxifies and making you feel lighter.  £30.70, lookfantastic.com.
  • Spa Magic Dead Sea Bath Salts – helps release trapped fluid and improves skin tone and condition (it’s excellent for eczema sufferers).  £6.08, shopforspa.com.
  • Veet In Shower Hair Removal Cream – apply before you shower, remove (with hairs) in the shower.  What could be easier?  £11.02, boots.com.

Monday 30th May:

Since I managed to wangle a press pass to Chelsea Flower Show last week, and spent a glorious few hours meandering around the gardens and poking my nose in the scented blooms, I’ve come over all floral with work – appreciating the scent of roses, lavender and jasmine in creams and lotions more than usual.Truth be known I’m an old fashioned girl at heart.  I love a good traditional floral scent.  I’m picky mind – there aren’t many that really rock my boat and I’ll sniff out a decent one at a hundred paces.  The same can be said for floral hand and body creams: too many smell like loo cleaner.  The secret to choosing floral scented products well?  Subtlety and freshness.  You don’t want a floral to cling and overpower you; just to have a discreet presence.  And you don’t want it to be too sweet; look for ones which have citrus and green notes in them – so lemon, grapefruit or bergamot; they’re uplifting and better suited to summer.  Here are four of my favourite floral things:

  • Floris Night Scented Jasmine Bath Essence – you won’t get a better sense of a hot summer evening than this.  Add to a bath and enjoy the soak.  £45, florislondon.com.
  • L’Occitane Pivoine Flora Eau de Parfum – blends notes of peony, magnolia and violet petals with bergamot and grapefruit.  £39, uk.loccitane.com.
  • Crabtree & Evelyn Lily Body Cream – as rich as whipped cream with a fresh, green scent.  £16, crabtree-evelyn.co.uk.
  • Rose & Co Strawberry Crush Glossy Lip Balm – fruity but floral too, this has hints of rose in it and isn’t too bubblegum-sweet. £5, houseoffraser.co.uk.

Monday 23rd May:

What makes you feel good about life?  It’s the small things for me – blue sky, a walk by the sea, a good bottle of wine, that sort of thing.  Luckily though, I work in a business which is all about making people feel good, so I get a regular fix as part of my job.

I'm a bit of a scented candle addict – they can certainly lift your spirits, and this week I’ve been stockpiling them to work out which ones I like best. 

My top 5 include: Aveda Lavender Light The Way (£16, aveda.co.uk), Capri Blue Jar Candle (£24, anthropologie.eu) and Neom French Lavender Geranium & Juniper Relax Home Candle (£37.50, neomorganics.com). And if you haven’t discovered Neom yet now is the moment to do so – they know how to brighten your mood: since the company was founded they have sent out little feel good ditties with their products and now, inspired by American artist Frank Warren’s Post Secret project, they have decided to gather quotes, ditties and sayings that make us happy.  And they want us to help them gather these.  All you have to do is find a postcard you particularly like (if you’re anything like me you’ll have a few squirrelled away in a drawer somewhere), scribble a quote, saying or happy thought on it and send it to Neom by snail mail or email.  They will display the best on their website and you get a £5 voucher by way of thanks.

Meantime, here are some more feelgood beauty treats – take this as a reminder to treat yourself!

  • a new lippie – and it’s got to be Givenchy Gelees D’Interdit, juicy new lipglosses which look good enough to eat.  £18, houseoffraser.co.uk.
  • a long hot aromatherapy bath – have you tried Molton Brown Sleep Cedrus Bathing Infusion?  To. Be. Believed.  £22.50, moltonbrown.co.uk.
  • a manicure – get yourself to your nearest Nails Inc concession for a 15-minute Special.  From £28, nailsinco.com.
  • a new fragrance – let me guide you to Jo Malone Sakura Cherry Blossom Cologne, the prettiest, most subtle scent I’ve found in ages.  £32, jomalone.com.

Monday 2nd May: If you’re anything like me you will have, um, indulged yourself over the past week in the easter fest that is chocolate – you may still be spoiling yourself – and starting to feel a bit sugar bombed-out.

At this point I usually start downing bottles of water to stop me feeling like a complete slug, and try to stay off the lattes in order to stop myself sliding into total system meltdown. Over the holiday break I experienced something else that helped on the old congestion front too: an Aromatherapy Salt Glow and a Detoxifying Body Booster – treatments I had back-to-back at The Treatment Rooms in Brighton. Never been? 

Ladies of Brighton and the south coast I urge you to discover this oasis!  The Salt Glow is the most luxurious body exfoliation I’ve ever had – you get massaged all over with pure mineralised salt mixed with scent and your choice of oil for 25 minutes (£35) and it’s out of this world; the Booster is a 70-minute treatment (£77) which includes a stimulating massage to encourage your body to release toxins and the therapist uses citrussy gels and oils like pink grapefruit, pine, juniper berry and rosemary.  Who knew detoxifying could be so agreeable? If you’re on a budget, dip a toe in and try the Salt Glow first – trust me, you’ll feel the benefits.  Or pop a Treatment Room voucher down on your gift wish-list and meantime check out these DIY detoxifiers – they all work really well to restore equilibrium:    

YSL_100 BathOil_100 YSL_100 BathOil_100

  • Epsom Bath Salts BP – cheap as chips and they work a treat at depuffing a congested body.  Tip a handful in a hot bath and soak for 10 minutes.  £1.55, boots.com.
  • Neals Yard Create Bath Oil – prefer a moisturising bath?  Try adding a few drops of cleansing pine or lemon aromatherapy oil to this and adding to your bath instead.  It hits the counters this week: call 0845 2623145 or visit nealsyardremedies.com.
  • Pukka Cleanse & Detox Tea – surprisingly tasty and helpful to your system.  £4.18 each, pukkaherbs.com.
  • YSL Candy Volupte – sugar-free candy: these limited edition glosses are flavoured with grapefruit, cherry and coconut and look good enough to eat.  £21, Harrods.com.
  • The Treatment Rooms contact details: thetreatmentrooms.co.uk and 01273 818444.

Monday 25th April

The beauty editor’s week:

My office is still shambolic but at least it’s sunny – the sun is pouring in through the window as I write this, and I’m sitting with my (bare) legs up resting against the desk while another vital roadtest takes place: this time it’s self tan – the fifth I’ve tried this week.  

So will it be magic or the stuff of nightmares? If I sound a little cavalier I can afford to be because I have the beauty weapon of the summer at my disposal: tanGO is a brand new chemical-free cloth which wipes self tan streaks and botch-jobs off with one swipe. It appeared in a box last week, having travelled all the way from Australia, and it is the shizzle. It’s made from a special polyamide fabric, and all you have to do is dampen it and stroke it over your skin – no rubbing required – whereupon it removes all trace of tanning pigment.  

You can see why the beauty editors have gone mental over it; details on getting one for yourself are below. Back to the self-tan: I’m looking for one which gives light, realistic colour, lasts well (fading is fine, streaking and migrating pigment that ends up around my ankles is not), doesn’t smell horrible (because let’s face it, they do all still have a distinctive aroma to them) and works even when used by a nervous novice.  See the one I rate most from five newbies I’ve tested this week below.  You’ll also find some recommendations for your newly exposed pins – all rigorously tested by me and followers of my blog The Leg Room:

  • SunBelievable Tan Me Self Tan Mousse – ticks all the boxes above; comes in medium and dark.  £30.  Cleverly, there is a Try Me kit which includes this with Scrub Me Body Exfoliator and Cream Me Body Moisturiser.  £35, sun-believable.com.
  • KIT Cosmetics Body Buffer – another beauty newbie from Oz, this gives parched legs a buttery burst of hydration.  Available next month (inquiries 020 7518 0680).
  • Body Shop Peppermint Intensive Foot Rescue – brilliant after exfoliating to make the hard skin around the soles of your feet supple again.  £9, thebodyshop.co.uk.
  • Antistax Cooling Leg Gel – smooth it on at the end of a hot day and lie down on the floor with your feet up against the wall to ease puffiness.  £5.65, victoriahealth.com.
  • tanGO Self Tan Remover – go to victoriahealth.com. £21.95.

Thursday 14th April:

I call this the silly season in beauty. Traditionally it’s the busiest time of year for our business with shiny new launches for anything relating to the body and baring all popping up faster than champagne bubbles.

As a result, my desk looks very unbeauty editor-ish – you can’t actually see the surface for press releases and new products – and I’ve spent most of this week weeding through the good, the bad and the ugly to be able to tell you what’s going to be worth spending your hard-earned cash on. 

I'll be revealing all in the Power of 5 over the coming weeks, but for now I thought I’d share some winning secrets with you – things to keep your eyes skinned for on the beauty counters – see below.  Make a diary date too: Fenwick of Bond Street have confirmed that their Beauty Week will run from 7-14 May this year, so if you want great free advice from some of world’s top makeup artists and skin care experts this is the place to be. 

Experts already confirmed include Trevor O'Keefe, Laura Mercier’s national makeup artist, the girls from Clarins (they’re called the Red Army in the business) and Christophe Robin, Paris's finest hair colourist (he really does do all the celebrity’s hair, he just doesn’t talk about it), who is here to introduce his haircare range – it’s brilliant, most beauty editors have been bringing it back from Paris for years.  All the big beauty houses – from Chanel to YSL, Lancome and Shiseido – and boutique brands like Chantecaille and Paul & Joe take part in this event, so pop it in your diary.  I’ll see you there! Meantime, jot down these products – trust me, you’re going to LOVE THEM:

  • Givenchy Gelee D’Interdit – the most mouthwatering lipglosses ever: shades include Dazzling Caramel, Explosive Raspberry and Neon Orange.  £18, available 18 May from 01932 233824.
  • Dolce & Gabanna Limited Edition Animalier Bronzer (below) – so chic it hurts.  £31.50, harrods.com.
  • Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Creme – soothing, smells divine and there’s a lip balm to go with.  £9.99, chemists.
  • Mavala Select – the spring/summer 2011 collection of varnishes which includes subtle shades of Moon Grey, Rose Shell and Black Oyster.  £14.10, 01732 459412.
  • MAC Zoom Coloured Mascara – includes amazing shades of violet and emerald green.  £13.50, available in June from maccosmetics.co.uk


Thursday 7th April:

The new way to discuss business in beauty is over a manicure. This week I did just that - meeting and multitasking with Trudi Collister, a communications manager at Estee Lauder.

We had our nails Aroma Manicured (your hands are soaked in thermal minerals and essential oils – it is the shizzle) then shaped and polished at the Dorchester Spa  (where the walls are lined with nail polishes), all the while discussing Michael Kors new fragrance Island Eau de Parfum (inspired by Palm Beach – you get the picture) and the wonders of Good Skin Labs Exten-10 Youth Boosting Moisturizer SPF15. 

We got a couple of cappuccinos down too. – all in the name of research you understand? 

TrevorSorbieOn Wednesday night, Trevor Sorbie – the most recognised name in hair – hosted a dinner at the Langham Hotel, so I put my glad rags on and toddled off to meet him.  Sorbie told us about My New Hair (mynewhair.org), the charity he founded to support independent salons across the UK that provide a wig-styling service for people suffering from cancer and medical hair loss. 

Sorbie has won British Hairdresser of the Year four times – one for every ten years he has done in the business.  And of all the projects has has been involved with in that time this is the one he is most inspired by. 

Finally, I 'own' a bee – well I’m sponsoring one that lives in a hive on the roof of organic beauty boutique Melvita in Covent Garden.  Bernard Chevilliat, Melvita founder, says “bees are the guardians of the environment because they contribute to biodiversity”.  The Melvita Foundation he has set up aims to help protect them. You can find out more on the website and check out the following beauty gems while you’re at it:

  • Michael Kors Palm Beach Island Eau de Parfum – orange, jasmine and hints of black tea, very summery, very sexy .. 
  • Good Skin Labs Exten-10 Youth Boosting Moisturizer SPF15 – enhances firmness and radiance in one application.  £24, Boots.com.
  • Trevor Sorbie Ice Cool Platinum Shampoo – the stylist’s latest offering for blondes, this puts the summer back into post-winter highlights.  £5.10, trevorsorbie.com.
  • Melvita Lavender Honey – made with pollen from organic lavender.  £9, uk.melvita.com.  
  • Dorchester Spa Alpine Manicure – hands are massaged with lavender and melissa essential oils.  A treat to be had.  £55, appointments 020 7629 8888.


Monday 28th March:

It’s a week of firsts for me: in recent days I’ve had my nails Shellac-ed (this, ladies, is the ultimate manicure – it lasts two whole weeks without so much as a chip).

I’ve tried the Protein Skincare range by Mama Mio, Bourjois gorgeous Sweet Kiss Naturel Lipstick, Aromatherapy Associates Little Luxuries (tiny wee bottles of essential oils for your bath) and Soap & Glory’s first fragrance Eau de Original.

I’ve also had my hair salon conditioned with Moroccan Oil (shine results to be believed) and for the first time in 25 years as a beauty writer that I’ve had my legs waxed. Don’t gasp, I’ve just never got round to it. 

It’s also my first diary entrance as Heart's Beauty Editor: so hello Heart and welcome to my beauty pages!  Now some beady-eyed visitors to the site will have already noticed the new Power of 5 content that’s been popping up every week for the past few months. Well stand by because I’m about to bring you more of the same great stuff – personal recommendations every week on 5 cult products. 

Meanwhile, key these details into your memory bank:

  • Mama Mio Protein Skincare – check it out at www.mamamio.com.
  • Moroccan Oil – you don’t need to go to a salon for this; buy it yourself to use at home from www.theshinyhairshop.co.uk.
  • Bourjois Sweet Kiss Naturel Lipstick from their pretty new Ballerine line – get yourself down to Boots to check it out.
  • Aromatherapy Associates Little Luxuries – get to www.aromatherapyassociates.com to find out which oils beauty editors and salon owners love the most.
  • Soap & Glory Eau de Original – have a sniff down at your nearest Boots.  I think you’ll like ..
  • Shellac Manicure – I had mine done by top manicurist David Barton (follow him on twitter/@nailistasista) at Percy & Reed in Great Portland Street (020 7637 4634).