Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Winning formulas: Cosmopolitan names its favourite beauty products for 2010

When it comes to product awards run by magazines, I'm often quite dubious about the authenticity of the winners - especially when those with the biggest advertising budgets often reign supreme. However, when Cosmopolitan announced the victors of its eighth Beauty Awards this morning at Kensington Roof Gardens, I was pleasantly surprised to see David and Goliath-sized brands enjoying success side by side.

Cosmo’s awards are not yet as influential as Instyle magazine’s (the one every manufacturer is dying to be recognised in). But with an expert panel including hairdresser Michael Douglas, make-up artist Lisa Eldridge and House of Fraser beauty buyer Tracy Van Heusden, you know that many of its winners are going to be this year’s must-haves.

Thousands of products were tested by the experts and voted for by thousands of readers to result in 82 awards ranging in 13 categories. My favourites include Mac Lipstick for Ultimate Lipstick; Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation for Best Tinted Moisturiser; Aromatherapy Associates Fine Line Face Oil for Best Green Skincare; Liz Earle Superskin Body Cream for Best Body Moisturiser; Tangle Tweeze for Best Hairbrush; Hi-Shi Express Tan Liquid for Best Body Self-Tan; Xen-Tan Transform Luxe for Best Gradual Tan; and Fudge Matte Hed for Best Men’s Hair Texturiser. 

After having the chance to view the trophies and winning products on plinths, attendees were given a speech from Cosmo editor Louise Court and publisher Justine Southall who unveiled the magazine’s future plans. Initiatives to grow the Cosmo brand include a heavy focus on its website – www.cosmopolitan.co.uk - as well as a revamped design. It will also be launching a free edition of the magazine for students where 250,000 copies will go out to university campuses this September. Finally, the magazine will also be announcing the winners of its Fragrance Awards in July.

And it's nice to know that it’s not just fashionistas who will benefit from bulging September issues of glossy magazines this year: beauty junkies will be treated too when Cosmo reveals the full list of its winners in a big bumper fashion and beauty issue. Better still, one lucky reader will have the chance to snap up every single product for free in a special competition. I’m told that details will be announced very soon…

Monday, 28 June 2010

Spray tan review: Celebrity Secrets

When it comes to spray tans, I haven’t exactly been lucky. One time I booked an appointment in preparation for a wedding, asked the therapist to make me as dark as possible, and ended up attending the church with a streaky Ronseal Wood Stain finish. Another time I arrived at a different salon wearing make-up, but instead of giving me something to remove it with, the therapist explained that she could simply spray over the top. I decided to follow her advice – another big mistake – and ended up with a sticky film of almost-neon orange all over my face.

So when it comes to having spray tans now, I’ve lived and learned. The product or brand you opt for is only partly of importance to the finished result; it’s actually the therapist that delivers the spray tan who holds key to whether you’ll receive a decent outcome.

When I was invited to try out a Celebrity Secrets tan at The Beauty Centre in St John’s Wood, I wasn’t expecting big things. In fact, given all my past experiences, I was a little bit apprehensive. But it turns out that I needn’t have worried.

Firstly my therapist was great at putting me at ease. I’ve never been a fan of getting nearly naked in front of a stranger, but she made me feel so comfortable that I nearly took her up on her offer of going commando so I didn’t get any pant lines. No therapist has ever suggested that before, and next time I might just take her up on it.

I’ve also realised that it’s not practical to go overboard on the colour – being of typical British complexion, asking the therapist for a natural shade rather than an all-out tan is always going to look better. So my therapist suggested using the solution that contained the lowest percentage of DHA. Subtly, as ever, is key.

The ingredients in Celebrity Secrets’ solutions are quite unique and this is the reason the owners of the Beauty Centre chose the brand over other big names on the market. It’s created using 100 per cent natural active ingredients including aloe vera and vitamins to try and counterbalance the drying effects of DHA. It’s also free from parabens, alcohol and oils. 

The first thing I noticed is that it dries very quickly. I’ve had spray tans in the past that take an age to dry and you end up with a streaky result simply because you couldn’t wait any long to get dressed. Secondly, the smell was next to completely absent. There was a slight aroma, but it was nothing like the stale biscuit scent I’ve become accustomed to – even when certain companies have claimed they’ve removed the odour – and my boyfriend never uttered a word about it (he normally complains for four days after the tan). Finally, the colour was completely natural. There wasn’t one single streak on me and my skin remained a sun-kissed hue for several days afterwards.

It’s now six days since I had my spray tan and while I’m not as white as I usually am, the colour has faded dramatically. However, I’m happy to report that the colour has come off evenly.

My skin doesn’t look dirty, it’s just faintly coloured and I’m starting to feel distinctively pale once more. Having been anti-fake tan for quite a while, this positive experience may well have put on the road to tanorexia. But if I stick to Celebrity Secrets, I know I will be OK.

Celebrity Secrets is available at over 1,000 salons nationwide. Visit Celebritysecrets.co.uk for more information.

Meanwhile, if you live in London, The Beauty Centre comes highly recommended. Visit The-beautycentre.com for more information.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Sneak peek: Darphin Predermine Firming Wrinkle Repair Serum

Parisian skincare house Darphin is launching a new serum boasting a dual action formula that promises to ‘fill wrinkles from within’ and firm the skin.

Created for women aged 40 plus in mind, it includes the brand’s latest innovation – a new patent pending Smart Firming System – which has been in the making for the past four years. I’m told that the new technology is a mixture of dill extract and a new generation of smart peptides. The formula has then be enriched with natural active ingredients including iris, padina pavonica, soy protein, algae, cucumber, sunflower and barley extracts combined with hyaluronic acid sphere and peptides.

It's literally hot-off-the-press so I haven't had the chance to test it yet. However, according to the brand's marketing department, trials have found that daily application can reduce wrinkles by up to 31 per cent while firmness increases by 30 per cent after eight weeks.

The serum, priced at £112, will be available from September.


Thursday, 24 June 2010

London's luxe budget blow-dry

If you’re looking for an affordable treat this week then hotfoot to Covent Garden’s award-winning salon, Karin Jackson, for a budget blow-dry.

The salon usually charges around £30 for the service with its stylists or graduate stylists. However, for a limited time, it’s slashing the price to just £15.

The cost includes a wash with luxe Kerastase or Organic Care Systems products, a head massage and then a blow-dry, while you tuck into a choice of complementary wine and soft drinks accompanied by crisps or hot drinks with posh biscuits.  

My advice is not to bother asking how they can offer such a cost-crunching deal – just book in and take advantage...

The salon is open from Monday to Saturday and offers late appointments from Tuesday to Thursday.  

Tel: 0207 836 0300 Karinejackson.co.uk

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Heaven scent

If you’re a bit fed up of mass-produced scents from fashion houses, celebrities and the like, then London’s Ormonde Jayne luxury perfumery could be just the company you’ve been looking for.

I was surprised to read that Katie Price’s fragrances have been pulled because of ‘ethical reasons’; likewise, to hear elsewhere that celebrity scents can cost mere pennies to produce. So discovering Ormonde Jayne, which creates its products in London using speciality oils that aren’t widely used in the industry today, couldn’t have come at a better time.

The range includes 12 scents – three of which are for men – that fall into floral, floral oriental and woody categories. Exotic flowers have been collected from all over the world including Japan, the Philippines, Arabia, India and Morocco then mixed with decadent essential oils to create a line-up of truly beautiful fragrances. 

If I had to choose a favourite, I personally love Tolu, which with its ingredient list of pure Tolu resin, golden frankincense, amber, orange blossom and clary sage, is velvety and deeply decadent.  

The prices aren’t as expensive as you might expect: 50ml Parfum is around £180, while Eau de Parfum is £68 – which is actually cheaper than many of its fashion house counterparts. But I think the best option is the Discovery Set, which contains one sample of each fragrance in a 2ml mini spray for £42. That way, you’ll hopefully get a good idea of which one to invest in. 

Monday, 21 June 2010

London's best shampoo experience

If you’re anything like me, having your hair washed at the hairdressers will be closely associated with discomfort. Because unfortunately, no matter how many fancy functions the salon’s backwash chairs have, a sore neck is inevitable.

That was until I visited Gielly Green in Marylebone last week.

The salon has Japanese imported loungers that electronically recline until you’re completely horizontal at the sink. The back of your head then rests on top of a comfy headrest while your head is turned from side to side as it is shampooed.

Combined with a scalp massage, the shampoo and conditioning experience is more like a spa treatment – and for me, a complete revolution in the usual in-salon washing procedure.

Prices start at £60 for a ladies cut and finish.


Friday, 18 June 2010

The beauty barometer

Cleansing ritual: the new mitt that removes make-up with tap water

When I was sent a cleansing mitt that promised to remove make-up with tap water alone, I’ll admit I was very sceptical. But after using Poreclens last night to remove several layers of liquid foundation, concealer, powder foundation, blusher and mascara, I’m happy to report that it took the lot off (I even swiped my face with toner afterwards and there were mere traces left).

Designed by two independent beauty experts, the mitt is made with a special micro-fibre that breaks down the surface tension of oils that bond make-up onto the skin. You simply run it under a warm tap and use it like a face cloth to remove all your make-up – then finish the job off with your usual moisturiser.

I have to say I’m a little unsure about using this to replace an everyday cleanser, but for festivals, weekends away, and those evenings when you just can’t be bothered – I think it's a winner.  

The Poreclens costs £9.99 – buy it Departmentstoreonline.co.uk

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Affordable summertime skin treats

The sun is out and I’m loving these new purse-friendly skin treats from Beautifully Delicious. The Honey and Almond body scrub is infused with grains of walnut shell – unlike many plastic-riddled exfoliators - that won’t harm tiny sea creatures when they’re washed down the plug hole and eventually end up in the sea. Meanwhile, the Coconut and Shea body butter is richer than many products I’ve tried that cost triple the price and it smells that Malibu in tub. All I need now is a cocktail…     

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bored games

A new survey has claimed that two thirds of British women are ‘completely bored’ with their lives. And, out of all the changes they could make, the 3,000 women questioned ranked ‘getting a dramatic hair cut’ as number five in their top 10 list of ‘things they wish they could do’.

Now, as someone who is always thinking about which hairstyle I’m going to ask my hairdresser for next, I urge these women to book an appointment with the best stylist they can afford. Pronto.   

The survey, conducted by salad firm Florette, found that many women get fed up with the monotonous cycle of everyday life, have a inadequate social life, wish they could take more holidays, dream of packing their bags and emigrating – or all of the above.

Take it from me: a dramatic new hairstyle is a relatively cheap and very effective pathway to instant gratification. And if you find the right stylist, it can be an ongoing route to an empire state of mind. 

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Sneak peek: P&G’s forthcoming hair launches

Some of the country’s top hairdressers were on the top floor of Centre Point today for Proctor and Gamble’s summer open day event.

The company owns a barrage of well-known brands from Wella Professionals to Shockwaves – making it the ideal place to discover some of the industry’s best forthcoming launches all under one roof…

Fashionistas keep your eyes peeled next month for Sebastian’s product collaboration with the House of Holland. Largely thanks to session hairstylist Dom Capel (pictured above, centre), the hair care brand has been a firm favourite of designer Henry Holland’s for the past few seasons. Now it has packaged three of its hero products – Potion 9 Lite, Shine Define Spray and Volupt Spray –in cool limited edition HoH bottles. (Prices from £17.25, available July 5 from salons only).  

For those who want big bouncy hair without a hard hairspray finish, SP has created two products in conjunction with hairstylist Simon Bryer (pictured, top right). The hairdresser, who is a lead stylist for Wella Professionals and also international styling director at Michael Van Clarke, was inspired by 60s sex kitten styles. His products - Delicate Volume volumising foam and Perfect Hair finishing cream - can be mixed together to create a bespoke formula before styling the hair. The results are run-your-fingers-through soft locks that last all day long. (Prices TBC, available from October).

Lastly, high-flying colourist Josh Wood (pictured, bottom left) also told me about a new Wella colour range he’s co-created with session superstar Euugene Souleiman. The salon-only colours offer a series of multi-faceted tones inspired by catwalk trends and the duo has created a beautiful image collection which will be unveiled as part of its advertising campaign this autumn. 

BB exclusive: hot gossip from hairdresser Rachel White's boss

Those of you who share one of my many guilty pleasures – Big Brother – will be well acquainted with Beyoncé’s uncanny doppelgänger, Rachael White. Being a hairdresser, I naturally wanted to find out more about her, so I tracked down her boss this morning to try to get some gossip.

Rachel has worked at Derby’s Bonds Hair since June 2006 for owner Barry Yoemans. She’s apparently one of the salon’s most successful stylists, and told her employer she was off to Ibiza for the summer instead of joining the final 80 contestants battling for a place in the house. “Many of her clients have been quite surprised to see her on the show – including us,” says Barry. “But many have posted good luck wishes on our Facebook page and are also telling friends that their hairdresser is on BB. It’s quite a talking point on Facebook and in the salon.”

Barry is predicting that Rachel will be a popular housemate thanks to her bubbly – although sometimes fiery – personality. “Her training as a hairdresser with serve her well with people skills in the house,” he says. “She’s used to dealing with all sorts of people; as a hairdresser, you have to know your client and sometimes listen to their life story while you’re doing their hair. These skills are very valuable and will hopefully make Rachael very popular in the house.”

Meanwhile Rachel enlisted the hair extensions skills of her colleague, Jasmine Brown, last week to ensure she had the perfect ‘Beyoncé bounce’. “Rachel has a mixture of dark and mid brown hair extensions and wears 50cm length hair because she likes it longer,” says Jasmine. “She loves Great Lengths because they are superior and versatile, allowing her to change her style form wavy to straight when she wants.’ 

Monday, 14 June 2010

From Russia with love...

I was lucky enough to bag an appointment recently with the exceptionally talented manicurist, Tanya Grach. Now based in St John’s Wood, the award-winning tech underwent extensive beauty training in her native country of Russia before moving to Manhattan and servicing the notoriously hard to please women of New York.

Now, with over twenty years’ experience, her nail skills are quite phenomenal. 

Don’t let the ordinary-looking salon she works from fool you – Tanya meticulously trims away excess skin at the cuticles, files the nails into a natural shape and paints each one so perfectly close to the cuticle I found it quite hard to believe.

Her manicures are a steal at £30 while she charges £40 for pedicures. Go and see her now before she moves to a high-end salon and doubles her prices.

Tanya Grach is at Body and Soul, Cochrane Street, St John’s Wood Tel: 0207 722 8086 

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Why every girl needs the big 'O'

I was invited to the Pavilion suite at the Dorchester hotel this morning for a top-secret product launch from hair tools newbie Cloud Nine. And after meeting the brains behind the brand (who incidentally also invented the original ghd iron 13 years' ago), I soon discovered that the company has single-handedly revolutionised heated rollers. Forever.

Everyone loves a gadget and Cloud Nine's The O is essentially the iPhone of the hair world. Its small bucket-shaped pod heats up individual rollers to 130 degrees in under four seconds. You simply switch the device on, drop one roller in and wait until it beeps. 

Because of new technology that heats them from the inside, the rollers won’t burn your fingers or head. And if you put your hand inside the pod, it isn't hot either - making it incredibly safe. Even better, each roller is covered in soft grip material - a step on from velcro - so it can sit in the hair comfortably without any pins. But best of all, using them on your own hair is incredibly easy.

Although we've all come around to the fact that you can create curls and waves with irons, there's no way of copying Bridget Bardot with a pair of ghds, no matter how hard you try. And that's where The O comes in. It is a must-have grooming gadget for anyone that loves big, bouncy hair or wants to recreate a professional blow-dry at home.

Rollers for The O are sold separately and are available in five sizes so you can create any look - from volume to waves and curls – that your heart desires.

I think I’m in love.

The O costs £149 and packs of four rollers start from £16.99 


Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Shower heaven

I'm already a fan of Elemis, so when the company announced it was launching a shower cream based on its best-selling Skin Nourishing Bath Milk, I couldn't wait to try it out. Containing camellia, macadamia and jojoba oils, its formula doesn't strip the skin like shower gel can, but leaves it feeling satin smooth. It's my new favourite thing to take in the shower. 

£20, available soon from Timetospa.co.uk

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Aveda's new firm favourite hairspray

I’ve just finished sipping Aveda tea at the company’s Holborn HQ where I met up with vice president and creative director, Antoinette Beenders. The world-renowned hairstylist is in town for a flying visit as she juggles her mammoth job role (which includes overseeing the brand’s global creative direction and product development) to launch new hairspray, Controlforce.

Having been in the making for five years, the spray offers firm hold performance with net-zero impact on the environment, thanks to Aveda’s funding of renewable energy. And judging by the popularity of its sister spray - Airforce - it's set to become a firm favourite (pun intended) with session teams, salon professionals and consumers across the globe. 

Antoinette is predicting big hair will be quite literally huge this autumn and has used Controlforce to shape various voluminous looks on models in a US shoot set to be released this August.