Tag Archives: Beauty

Because you're worth it

Is it too late for the Olay do you think?

The Ugly Duchess




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Changing faces

madonna1986Madonna has always been a bit of a chameleon but perhaps never more so than just lately.  At 50 I fully accept that the youthful bloom will have gone from her face – we none of us can hold back the march of time, try as we might – but, as someone who is close to the same age as her, I’ve been saying for years now that she actually needed to pile on a few pounds in order to look better. Perceived wisdom is that as nature has a way of stripping fat from our ageing faces, in order to remain youthful looking we must allow ourselves to gain a little weight for each decade that passes.  

As Madonna has aged she has fought hard to keep her svelte figure and good for her, but she has paid the price on her face which in recent years has become sunken-cheeked, bony and, dare I say it, haggard.  The overall effect has been to actually make her look (facially) older than she really is. 

What a difference a few months can make in the life of a celebrity.  Here is a sequence of photos I’ve put together, beginning with last Summer, when she was undoubtedly under considerable strain. (It also has to be said that it’s a brutally honest ‘pap’ photo of the type that makes you realise that she is, after all, human like the rest of us).  I think the other two images are in sequence, although you never can tell with celeb photos what was taken when.  In the second, to me at least, she looks a good 10-15 years older than her actual age.  In the third she’s back to the polished but bony look we’ve become accustomed to.   madonna, jul08, 1madonna2madonna-3 


Then today I came across the photo below.  Oh wow.  This is so radically different that I actually initially wondered whether it was someone else impersonating her.  Has she put on that much needed weight?  Or has she had a date with a surgeon and a syringe?  If it’s the latter (which I strongly suspect, looking at those ‘Jolie-esque’ lips), then I wish she’d give herself a break and just try eating a bit more for a change.  At 50, I think she has earned the right to be a bit kinder to herself.

Madonna – the latest incarnation:



Filed under media, modern life, People watching

Home facial

Facial maskHaving a facial at a beauty salon is a wonderful experience – the luxury to lie back feeling pampered and pretty under the hands of an expert in the art of beauty care.  Sadly, most of us can’t afford to do this more than very occasionally, but there is no reason why we need to forego the benefits of a facial.  You can easily do your own at home and if you make an occasion of it, by setting aside some time  just for you, in a warm and comfortable atmosphere, perhaps with some gentle music and a scented candle or two, you can not only pamper your skin but also pamper your soul.

I’m going to give you the basic run-down of what to do and when, but the products you use will depend on your own skin type, budget and what are simply your favourites.  What I mention here are only suggestions therefore, or they may be products that I myself use.  

Before you begin, this is what you will need:Homebeauty care

A face cleanser to remove make-up (I tend to use Olay cleansing wipes)

An exfoliating cream – Simple Cleansing Scrub & Clinique Exfoliating Scrub are both effective but, importantly, gentle 

Skin toner – such as l’Oreal Visible Radiance or Clarins Toning Lotion

A face mask – very dependant on skin type, so check what it says on the packet.   (I often use Clarins ‘Beauty Flash Balm’ as a face pack as its not too drying on my skin)

Moisturisers – one for the eye area and one for the face and neck (For me it’s a l’Oreal product for the area around my eyes and a Dior creme on my face)

A nice, big fluffy towel for drying your face and to create a ‘tent’ to trap steam over a basin or bowl.

A kitchen timer or watch

Some cotton wool or cotton pads

Facial tissues


The facial:

First, clean your face to remove any makeup or grime.

Gently exfoliate using your favourite product.  Remove the cream following the product instructions then finish by using toner (this helps to remove any last traces of cream)

Fill a bowl or basin with hot water.  Put the timer on for 5 minutes and bend over the water, tenting the towel over your head.  Don’t get too close to the water – the aim is to simply have your face in a steamy atmosphere for a few minutes in order to open up the skin’s pores (this will allow the next stage to give maximum benefit).

Apply the face packAfter 5 minutes, gently dab your face dry and apply your face pack.  Sit back or lie down and relax for the recommended amount of time.

Remove the face pack, blot the skin dry and apply your favourite moisturisers.  After a few minutes, finish your facial by blotting your skin with a tissue to remove any excess moisturiser. 

That’s it.  It hasn’t cost you a fortune and you should now be feeling pampered and pretty with soft, healthy looking skin.  A weekly facial like this improves the look of, and helps to keep the skin in tip top condition.

Home Spa


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In the right light

Applying lipstickPhotographers understand that the light cast at differing times of day greatly alters the way colours look.  Artists know that the best, consistent, light to paint by is that cast from a north facing window.  Equally, crafters realise that in order to see ‘true’ colours they need to work  by the light of a north facing window or to purchase special ‘blue light’ crafters’ bulbs. 

In exactly the same way, you are the artist of your own face when you apply your make-up, so if you have the option, for best results work in natural light, facing a north aspect window.


Filed under Beauty

All about scent

Little Pink Rose

Here are some facts, pointers and advice about one of my favourite subjects – perfume.

Perfume is a carefully balanced blend of oil, combined with alcohol, essential oils and often chemical scents.   Sometimes described as having  ‘top notes’ of certain plants, this simply means that these are the scents that hit you first.  For example, Chanel No. 5 has, amongst others, top notes of ylang-yang and neroli but then gives way to ‘middle notes’ of rose and jasmine before revealing the woody ‘base notes’ of sandalwood and vanilla.  These layers are present in all good perfumes and it’s why, when buying a new perfume, you should always spray on a sample and then walk away for 10 minutes or so.  What you smell initially may delight you.  What is left after that initial spritz may be less appealing!  It’s also important to do this as perfume reacts differently on different skin.  What is great on your friend might be truly horrible on you.  (There is, for example, a perfume that I really like on other people that always, genuinely, smells like cat pee on me)!

Getting an idea of these ‘notes’ in your favourite perfumes will help guide you to new scents that you might like because fragrance falls into categories: Florals (rose, gardenia, lilac, jasmine etc.), Exotic (musk, ylang, ylang, vanilla), Spice (cinnamon, ginger, cloves), Wood (pine, sandalwood, cedar), Fruit (lemon, orange, peach) and Herbal (lavender, bay, sage).  Suppliers of perfume on the web often list the scent ingredients that make up a fragrance.  If you look up your favourite perfumes you may spot a common trend!

The purest form of your favourite scent you are likely to find available for sale will be ‘Eau de Parfum’ (EDP).  This is because the blend in its original form (Parfum) is so highly concentrated that it may actually cause allergic skin reactions.  To produce Eau de Parfum the scent has been diluted with ethanol, water or a neutral smelling oil or wax.  EDP is obviously the most expensive form of a scent because it contains, in proportion, more of the original blend of ingredients (approx. 30%) that make it smell so attractive. 

When the original scent has been diluted further it becomes Eau de Toilette (EDT) and occasionally you will find available Eau de Cologne or ‘Splash’, the weakest form of the perfume, often only containing 1-3% of its original scented compounds. 

Quite obviously these different versions smell very different and it may well be that you prefer the lighter fragrance of an Eau de Toilette.  However, if you really like a scent don’t be put off by the expense of a bottle of Eau de Parfum.  The greater concentration of the fragrant ingredients means that you can apply less to produce the same result and the scent is likely to last longer on your skin.    

Here are a few tips for applying and wearing perfume:

No perfume will last more than a few hours and so will have to be topped up during the day if you want to maintain the effect.  Pretty handbag sprays are often available of favourite perfumes.

Layering is the best way to make your scent last longer.  Use something like shower gel and then body lotion in the same range, finishing with a light spray of perfume, highlighting the pulse points.  

Pulse points on your body are areas where blood flow is closest to the surface of the skin, meaning that they stay warm – wrists, temples, backs of knees, inside elbows, behind the earlobes.  Perfume reacts to warmth by releasing more of its aroma.

For a more subtle effect, spray your perfume just in front of you and immediately walk through the mist so that it is dispersed all over you.

If you tend to stick with one perfume you can scent non-delicate, natural fabrics like cotton and linen, giving your clothes your signature scent.  Spray from a distance of 12-15 inches.  (Be very careful with this: perfume will stain silk and many synthetic fabrics).   This is not something I personally recommend by the way, simply because of the possibility of damaging my clothes and the fact that I tend to change my perfume depending on my mood and the time of year.

Last pointer, and it’s an important one.  Don’t ‘ladle’ on perfume.  Subtlety is the key. You want to drift by, leaving a delicate and enticing trail of loveliness behind you, not move along,  leaving in your wake a trail of poor asthmatics gasping for air and the noses of others kicking and screaming for mercy.

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Filed under Beauty, General tips

An apple a day…protects your hair

Think beautifulEating a healthy diet containing a good variety of fresh fruit and vegetables is not only good for our bodies internally, our better health will be reflected in our skin, teeth, nails and hair. 

We have all heard that phrase ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but scientists now think that apples may be more beneficial to us than we at first realised.  Apples contain polyphenols, one of which has been found to be particularly good for our hair.  It is thought that it may even help to slow down hair loss in male pattern baldness.  

We all want luscious locks, male and female, so whether it’s the fruit or pure apple juice, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to regularly include apples in our diet.

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Filed under Beauty, General Health, Herbal alternatives


Celestial SignsYesterday I described some simple eye exercises to keep the muscles around your eyes in tip top condition, finishing with a type of ‘palming’. 

Palming developed in yoga and has been around for many years.  Sometimes used to improve eyesight, it is also a useful tool for de-stressing and relaxation.  You can lie down if you wish but I’m going to describe the technique that I think is particularly useful – because it can be practised at your desk.   

Sit at your desk and lean your elbows on the desk top – you can rest your elbows on a cushion or something like a jacket if it makes you more comfortable.  Now bring your palms to your eyes and gently cup the eye socket area (do not press at your eyes.).  You may find that slightly overlapping or interlocking your fingers on your forehead is helpful.  Open your eyes into the darkness that your cupped hands have created.  If you see any slivers of light, adjust your hands so that you are plunged into total darkness.  Close your eyes again and relax, breathing deeply.  How long you stay like this is up to you (this is all about making you feel better not achieving a goal) and, only if you want to,  you can use this time to employ visualisation techniques to mentally transport you to your favourite quiet location.

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Filed under Beauty, General Health