Thursday, 31 May 2007

#28 Tom-Boy-Foolery

Growing up, I had several idols. All heroines, all ballsy belles, all... I suppose, 'tomboys'. Calamity Jane - she was SO cool (until she ditched her gun-slinging in favour of camel-coloured suede and a double-wedding.... ick!!); Wonder Woman; Little Women's Jo and my absolute favourite - George, from Enid Blyton's Famous Five... I loved them all. They made me climb trees, challenge the boys to fisticuffs, scare the 'delicate' girls in my year with vile ghost stories (I even made one girl throw up after a particularly gruesome tale), strut about in oversized tracksuits, with oversized trainers and a baseball cap to match. I was ten years old, and by god, I thought I was cool. I was a tomboy, through and through - but I never wanted to be a 'boy'. I could outrun them, outplay them, outwit them and outfight them. I hated dolls and dressing up. Having my hair plaited. I wanted an action man and a Ghostbusters car and a subscription to a bunch of macabre comics at my local store. I liked my hair cut short, with a 'boy' style fringe at the front (that I was convinced looked like 'curtains' - the coolest boy's look EVER when I hit secondary school). But I soon learned that arm wrestling boys and wearing baggy hoodies wasn't really going to snag me a man. And yes, I liked boys. No, LOVED boys. Perverse really, as being a tomboy meant I was always surrounded by them, but none of them ever fancied me because I'd kick their behinds during lunchtime footie games. Not very sexy.

A lot's changed since then. I still can't resist the odd kickabout. I wear flat shoes everyday as I abhorr that totty 'totter' you develop with stilettos and you'll never ever find me wearing pink (well, George would be disgusted) - but there are more than enough items of powder and paint to cater for a modern, rather glam girl, who still likes to give off a bit of attitude without ever looking cutesy or pouty.

My favourite tomboy trinkets?

Revlon Just Bitten Lip Stain - No need to pack a mirror + gloss for retouching as this liquid is satisfyingly and highly pigmented. It therefore stays put for longer and won't wash off with the first sip of wine. Leaves behind a deeper pink than the competitors, in an 'I've just eaten a punnet of raspberries' sort of way.

MAC Creme Colour in Hush - Multi-purpose - good for tomboys. A slash across eyelids, browbones and the top of cheekbones gives a nice, outdoorsy highlight to the face.

Shiseido Accentuating Colour Stick in Rouge Flush - a great, genuinely 'flushed' colour that you flick on without the hassle of brushes. Even the hamfisted can't go wrong as the colour is never overpowering and the creamy formula blends well.

17 Lash & Brow Mascara - big of brow as I am, I'm always careful to keep my caterpillars in check - with this. It's cheap, but very effective. I've tried almost everything else and nothing's as good - including the Giorgio Armani Eyebrow Gel that gave me a serious case of brow dandruff within hours. Flaky formulas are the WORST. This one is firm, but never rigid.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

#27 Witchcraft and the Wardrobe

I used to watch MTV’s Cribs for one specific reason – to get a look at just how large some of those walk-in closets were. Most of them were bigger than my bedroom. Some outsized my garden. A handful even surpassed the entire top floor of my house. My sister would get shoe envy; my brother, trainer rage… me? I’d be bedazzled, but never jealous, and after sitting goggle-eyed through the fiftieth or so show, I actually began to feel relief… relieved that my pedestrian, self-assembled cupboard (it really isn’t even glam enough to be classified as a wardrobe) was a normal ‘mortal’ size and therefore the perfect form of contraception – against ill-advised credit-card blowouts. I’ve never been able to go too loopy with the card in Zara – I mean, I’ve got nowhere to put any new purchases, so why buy them? The fact is, seeing all those rows, pegs, drawers, shelves and rails of shimmering, glittering, blinding pieces of leather and fabric, I’d be struck with one thought and one thought only – how on earth do these people choose what to wear in the morning?

That was several years ago and now, ironically, I face a similar dilemma on a daily basis. Not what to wear – I’m a simple dress & trench kinda girl – but what to put on my face and body. It’s ever-changing – it has to be, or I’d have nothing valid to write. At the moment I’m doing an oil-free thing. So I’m using Avene’s new Soothing Hydrating Serum, which I adore, followed by Clinique Moisture Surge. I am using Bliss Steep Clean Cleanser (not oil-free) – which I really like because it provides me with a thorough cleanse (to the point where my nose looked like a polished coin), but then I got a spot on my forehead and a couple of little bumps on my cheeks and had a beauty-ed-style panic, so decided to try Vaishaly Facial Wash in the morning (as it has an anti-bacterial action, but isn’t drying) and stick with Bliss at night (because it makes light work of daily grime and make-up). I had been using The Sanctuary Perfectly Polished Hot Cloth Cleanser. It made my skin feel lovely and soft, but unfortunately, as someone who’s prone to the odd spot and some serious oiliness, it wasn’t doing the trick. Too many oils and emollients in there for my liking – but working wonders on my mum’s dry, mature complexion.

Base-wise, I’m now rotating Clinique Moisture Sheer Tint with Murad Sunblock Sheer Tint during the day – both give a very subtle, but healthy, pinch of colour and are oil-free + SPF. Good news for me and my ever-shiny skin. At night, when I know I should be packing more anti-oxidants onto my skin, well, I’m not. I’m simply sticking with the same Avene + Clinique combo. I’m tempted to start using DCL’s C-Scape Serum. Or go back to Estee Lauder’s Night Repair. Or try Chantecaille Vital Essence. There’s something that lands on the desk everyday, that in truth, I’m tempted to pat onto my long-suffering, testing ground of a visage. Ooh, this will alleviate dark circles. This will give me even, ivory, yes I could be Mischa Barton’s sister type skin. That will hoover out the contents of any unsightly pores and leave me glowing like a scrubbed peach. Except, I’m not me of yesteryear – or of ten years ago. Now I know that there is no point in ‘the claim’. The proof is in the product. Yes, the item behind door number one might make my nose less shiny, but it won’t make me any less hardnosed. Skin saviours are not unearthed overnight. It takes weeks to work out what’s working and what isn’t. The cosmetic closet might be bursting at the seams – those Cribs hoochies ain’t got nothing on me – but I’m taking my time. And taking my regime one step at a time. Just as the dermatologist intended.

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

#26 Touche-y Subject

The statistic - one Touche Eclat wand is sold every twenty seconds. I can see why. I used to love this little lightning rod - I'd swipe it everywhere - over eye bags, red patches, cheekbones, browbones, down the side of the nose. I went through one a month. Then, out of nowhere, I started to get red, itchy, swollen patches under my eyes and the minute I tried to cover the rashes up with more Touche Eclat - Kapow! Ouch ouch ouch. It stung like hell. So, I cut out the T.E. and within a week the eczema had cleared up completely. I asked around. I didn't want to think that I was the only person out there who had an allergic reaction, so I went on the search for kindred spirits. And there they were. A cousin. A work colleague. Another beauty editor. I certainly wasn't the first and I won't be the last. All of us, grouped together by our unfortunate sensitivity, had been brought out in eczema (most commonly around the eyes) after using the wand and, bizarrely, most of us had experienced the reaction after several hiccup-free months of faithful fellowship.

I've used myriad undereye concealers since - my eyes certainly know a good concealer when they see one. My test? An inadvisable look into the magnifying mirror - if lines, flakes, cracks, ridges form after application, it's binned. I found Laura Mericer's Secret Concealer too heavy; Estee Lauder's Ideal Light too 'silicone-y'; Jane Iredale's Active Light was a pain in the a*** to blend and Pout's Eyewander was not discernible enough for my liking (though, in fairness, it does not parade itself as a 'concealer', but as an 'illuminator'). Dior's Skinflash is my new staple. It brightens and blends beautifully. Plus, it's a handsome little devil that lasts all night and won't leave you with a rash in the morning... swoon.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

#25 Trip Up

There have been several short travels of late – yep, I know, can’t complain – that have helped me hone the art of packing. Current affairs shy as I am, I was unaware that you’re still not allowed to fly with liquids over 100ml, unless they’re in a clear, sealable plastic bag. It’s a tough choice – check the suitcase (along with the washbag) or compromise on the washbag, shift all it’s contents to an unattractive ‘freezer’ bag and carry on – which allows you to skip the frustrating baggage reclaim wait at the other end. This time, I was determined to do the latter, so I spent a week rifling through the best minis out there and because this is high-season in beauty journalism, there are legions to choose from. What did I like most?

Trilogy Everything Balm. It’s not a unique concept – there are lots of balms out there that are popular for the same reason e.g. Nuxe Reve de Miel Family Balm; Eight Hour Cream; The Sanctuary Skin Comforting Balm; Liz Earle Superbalm – but this one comes in a humungous 95ml pot that really allows you to scoop it up and rub it all over the body, without running out just two days into the holiday. It also smells good, is 100% natural and botanical and there are no mineral nasties anywhere is sight.

The REN Travel Set. As far as carrying on is concerned the slick black pouch is useless. Nice though. Products – some of which I’d never used before – were good too. It’s a handy, hassle-omitting selection – face cream, wash, serum, nourisher and body wash and cream.

Korres Little Natural Products (from London Flagship Store). I was lucky enough to get a batch of these for free and fell hard for the Citrus Body Milk. You know the sort of thing – it’s sunny, you’ve had a pedicure, you take a fresh, invigorating shower and then you coat yourself in a layer of light, but very hydrating, silky cream that leaves you smelling like fresh lemonade. Smile.

Clinique Moisture Surge Extra Thirsty Skin Relief. I had cabin-face (pruney, patchy, overly sensitive) – but I’m prone to oiliness too (just for fun). So, this baby is my little saviour. It’s oil-free and packs water into the skin instead, which after a few hours of recycled tumbleweed waftage, is a very welcome tonic.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

#24 Miss Misinformation...

If only this world of ours traded in fact. The blacks and the whites - the truth, without falsification, misinformation or exaggeration. I get that voice in my head - the Big Daddy voice from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - 'Mendacity!' - about a hundred times a day. Overhearing conversations, watching the news, scouring websites and yes, reading magazines. Fashion's one thing - I'm sick to the back teeth of misshaped morsels of fur, plastic, feather or leather being proclaimed 'IT' or 'MUST-HAVE' - but it's the beauty pages that really rub me up the wrong way. I read an article last week with so many horrendous howlers in it that I assumed it was a case of the editor-in-chief filling in the product 'blanks' - with little, or no, research (but a lot of ad. revenue) behind the choices. An oil-free foundation was recommended - except, it wasn't oil-free; an oil-free concealer was mentioned - except, ahem, once again, it had an oil-rich formula and the article even stated that one should 'use a tinted moisturiser as they all contain oil to leave a dewy glow.' Er, hello? I can name at least three tinted moisturisers that do not contain oil - including Clinique's fabulous Moisture Sheer Tints. Perhaps it's unfair to zoom in on this one article, but I'm simply using it as a case in point. I know the beauty ed. who wrote the piece (she's wonderful and one of the best in the biz) which is why it got me thinking about all the recycled misinformation that passes through the beauty pages every year. It also gets me angry as it's letting the readers down. Plain and simple. I used to scour the beauty pages as a teenager, hungry for the thing to fix my spots, brighten my complexion, erase my dark circles... did I ever find the answer I was looking for? Occassionally, rarely. Admittedly, a cream that works wonders on one complexion might be disastrous on another and there's no denying that this beauty biz of mine is deeply objective and therefore trades in inherently unreliable information. But, there are a lot of facts out there. Not spouted, spin-doctored statistics, but real, true hard ingredient lists and test results, alongside reliable recommendations and expert advice. So, why do we still find ourselves with magazines that miss the mark? Because, unfortunately, the truth is in the eye of the advertiser - and though the halls of magazine houses may be filled with the scent of perfume, there's also the unmistakable 'powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in the room' too, with the big bucks behind the entire operation shifting the focus from fact, to fact-imitating fiction. Ain't that right Big Daddy?

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

#23 In Pulchra Veritas...

Having been suckered into the Facebook boom several months ago, I have to say it's put more than a few smiles on my face. Old school mates, uni friends, work colleagues and long-lost acquaintances all in one bustling, social cyberspace that's far more fun than the clinical climate of Friends Reunited. Poking, gifting, messaging and scrawling overly emotional messages on a sibling's wall space are what it's all about and I check in at least once a week to see what's going on. My favourite bit so far? The inexplicable popularity of the cult community Caecilius est in horto, which not only reminded me of my wonderful, inimitable Latin teacher, but also the doomed lives of the Pompeian family, Metella, Quintus, Clemens, Grumio and the mischievous little dog, Cerberus, painted so vividly by the Cambridge Latin Course. Ah, it's nice to reminisce. But once you begin, you just can't stop, which is where I currently find myself...

The first item of make-up I bought? A clear, colourless mascara from Boots 17. Then a shimmering, nude pink from Boots Natural Collection and a little bottle of scent - once again from Boots - in a triangular bottle, with a black plastic lid, that was called something like Infinity, or Inspiration, or my sister thinks it might even have been called Atmosphere. I can't remember the name because it rubbed off within months of my buying it, but whatever it was called, it was fresh and icy with a sweet heart and I loved it so much that it went through three house moves with me - until I finally lost it about five years ago. Boots was my teenage make-up Mecca. I remember the slightly breathless feeling I would get on reaching the top of the escalator. My cousin and I would spend hours, utterly engrossed, smelling, testing, pouting and preening into the distorted foil mirrors that used to be stuck on the in-store display units and blow the majority of our pocket money there every Saturday afternoon.

A year later and I'd graduated onto eyeliner. Rimmel was my first - an unflattering minky brown that was too light for my complexion - followed by bronzing pearls from The Body Shop - a real extravagance at the time. The Body Shop was also where I had my first skincare experience. My mum noticed that I'd started to get spots - on the nose and forehead - so she coerced me into my nearest store, where I sat atop a stool, and had astringent, stinging solutions tried out on my pimples. I remember a brown, watery emulsion - with oats in it – with which I was advised to wash my face every morning, but it brought my skin out in heat rashes. I tried Clearasil too and used it for a month or so, before graduating onto a fruity, fragrance-free face wash from Holland & Barrett, followed by Oil of Ulay - as it was known back then. Eventually, I was a fully-fledged face painter and I wouldn't leave the house without painted nails, mascara, a white shimmery eyeshadow from Rimmel, a dusting of bronzer and a slick of edible strawberry lipgloss. I even had a set of brassy highlights put in by a family friend - how I loved them! - until a boy I fancied told me I looked much better without them and should consider prosecuting my hairdresser. First love snuck even more tricks up the sleeve - peppermint scented balm, tinted moisturiser (I used Botanics, which was an utterly fantastic formula, but sadly discontinued) and enough kohl to sketch canvases with. The joy of those first buys and the communal cosmetic summits we'd have in the school bathroom, exchanging face scrubs, lipsticks, mascara - dreading the end-of-lunch bell, when we'd have to run back to our form rooms for afternoon registration - once with a stubborn wax strip still stuck to my thigh.

That's what school was all about. Laughing till my sides split, experimenting on our faces until detention struck and (secretly) loving to learn about everything from Grumio's kitchen to Lady Macbeth's lost child. The classical crossed with the cosmetic. Aw, memories....

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

#22 Head Mistress

I’ve been trialling a couple of new Shampoo/Conditioner combos of late. The first is the new Frederic Fekkai offering – the Ageless range. First things first – the shampoo and conditioner are VERY pricey. That’s the biggest problem with Fekkai – his entire range comes with a premium – often prohibitive – tag. On the merits of this particular product though, I feel that it’s almost worth it. But £56 for both… mmm?…. Nah…forgeddaboutit. The upside? The shampoo is thick and nourishing. It lathers well and rinses clean away. Limp hair feels instantly fuller to the touch – even when wet. It also cleanses very thoroughly, despite having a nourishing formula. That’s my pet peeve with shampoos – formulas for dry or coarse hair tend to leave the strands with a residual, silicone sensation. This one doesn’t. The conditioner is good too. It’s creamy and strengthening, as opposed to heavy and softening – an unusual feat. My hair always feels very clean, strong and bouncy afterwards. The other combo is the new Crabtree & Evelyn La Source products. The Volumising Seaweed Shampoo is a bit of a Jekyll&Hyde. On first usage, it did give my barnet a noticeable boost, but on repeated use, it started to flounder as my hair became progressively flatter. Having said that, for those who want a daily hydrating shampoo this would score better. I could feel the avocado oil and shea butter in it – my hair and scalp loved it – but after a couple of days, it failed to create billowing bounce. The PRO column does, however, get a tick for smell. Not fruity or cutesy or sweet. It has a men’s-deodorant, salty sea freshness and keeps hair clean-scented for days. The Revitalizing Conditioner is nothing special. It’s a passable bog-standard texture that can be used every day, but it is neither particularly nourishing nor especially rejuvenating. As a buffer and to prevent the flatness brought on by the C&E Shampoo, I often went back to Bumble and Bumble Sunday Shampoo as it always leaves my hair thick and residue-free. I therefore rotate C&E with FF and B&B and also use Kevin Murphy Born.Again, Label M Repairing Conditioner and Phytojoba when my ends are feeling brittle. It’s a complex equation, yes, and it hasn’t given me hair that’s swishy enough for a shampoo ad, but it has kept it shiny, healthy and strong for some time. Which is just about good enough for me and my mane… until, that is, something else comes along and turns my head...

Monday, 14 May 2007

#21 Allo Allo...

So, the weekend was cold and soggy-socked, but the bed was big and the tub generous and Mr M and I had nothing on our hands, but time. Oh, and food. Large, rustic portions, molten soufflés, oven-fresh bread. Yum yum yum. The same can be said for the Korres Fig Body Butter I packed. It’s for very dry skin – I think I have moderately dry skin – but it was a real treat. Full absorption requires dedicated rubbing, but it’s worth it. A great winter cream – which lets face it, given our current inside-of-a-washing-machine weather, is a grudging necessity. Also good for soles, elbows and scaly arms. The smell is unusual. I can’t say that I really know what a fig smells like as I’ve always been frightened of their worm-textured flesh, but the cream has a sweet, not sugary, whiff that didn’t compete with my perfume. Another buttery treat came in the form of the new Phytojoba. It's got the sort of thick, gloopy texture that reminded me of the mud pies I made as a child, but is a creamy colour with a sweet orange scent. I coated my hair from root to tip, sank into a hot bath and rinsed ten minutes later. I got silky, smooth, shiny hair. If you’re prone to flatness or greasy roots, add it to the tips of your tresses only. Whatever you do, it will really diminish dryness. Then there was the Chanel Inimitable Mascara. I’ve got very long, very straight lashes, so wearing the black stuff tends to weigh them down and undo the work of my heated curlers. I tried it. The brush is one of those odd plasticky porcupine designs that purportedly coats the lash from root to tip. I think this would be better for shorter lashes – I can imagine the stiffness of the elastomer bristles working well when worked down to the root of the lashline, but for my spiders’ legs, it delivered nothing more than a nice, deep coat of colour and decent separation. Nothing groundbreaking in that. All in all, it wasn’t a bad weekend’s work. Two buttery thumbs up, one so-so hand shake. Not to mention enough lunching, loving and loafing to keep Mr M and I going till next May… come what may.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

#20 Adieu Adieu...

Ah, the joy of the dirty… ahem… long weekend. A few days without beeping inboxes, vibrating phones, growing paper-piles… just me, Mr M and the sea. Admittedly, it’s only the English sea and the weather is predictably dire, but I am not disappointed in the least. I have a large tub, a king-sized room and 24 hour room service at my disposal and Mr M and I intend to make the most of it. Packing for this trip has been a guilty pleasure. I’ve been rooting around in my newly acquired Muji storage system, pulling out those samples I’ve not yet had time to test and packing them into three different beauty bags – one for skincare, one for body and hair, one for make-up. I’m excited and shall dutifully report back on the performance of this trip’s travel kit. Every journey requires a different selection. Summer is all about bronzers, highlighters, after-sun and deep conditioners. Winter ski: lip protection, hydrators, foot cream and eye balm. The UK mini-break, well, you need a bag to ward off the grey of the sea and sky. This time, I have taken at least one new thing for each category –the new Körner Face Mist, Korres Fig Body Butter and the Chanel Inimitable Mascara. I’ve also stashed Phyto’s Phytojoba Conditioner, which I’ve not yet tried, despite the range having been recommended to me for years. Rainy days may await, but as long as there is experimentation on the bathroom agenda, I'm happy.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

#19 The Fairer Sex...

I’ve not had much experience with men as Mr Malcontent was pretty much my first love. We met when we were still young in mind and body, fresh of face and hopeful of heart. Many years have passed and things are still pretty darn good. The inevitable things have changed – nowadays I rarely bother with the good underwear, he wears a pair of pyjama bottoms with more holes than fabric – in fact, wardrobe-wise, Mr Malcontent is not too bothered. I don’t mind – he has a good eye, skilfully skirting the line between scruffy and sexy and besides, I’ve never really wanted him to be a Hugo Boss man. I’d rather have a H&M boy any day of the week. In fact, the only fine-tuning that Mr M has proved susceptible to is not of the sartorial variety. The change has, in fact, taken place within his cosmetic closet instead. Sod’s Law dictates that Mr M has impeccable, beautiful skin. Clear and temperate with an outdoorsy smattering of freckles across his nose and cheeks – boyish and youthful. He does not look his age. Sod’s Law also dictates that he had never taken an ounce of care with his complexion – when we first met, he was using shampoo as a face and body wash. I think it was Vosene. He was prone to dryness, a bit of eczema and as I entered the beauty arena, my knowledge and access to information filtered down to him. As did my continual product passover. You see, he would never spend more than a couple of quid on himself, but his eyes light up like fireflies when I hand him a bag of new booty. He gets face creams, self-tans, firming gels, eye lotions, lip balms… he has become my official male tester. There have been a few hiccups along the way. He’d been using self-tan as an everyday moisturiser, rubbing it into his eyes and wondering why his hands had turned a bizarre burnt-ochre colour overnight. So now, along with pricey products, I also pass on foolproof instructions first. When something’s good, he’s eager to tell me about it. He really liked Lush Afterlife – a cream that I hadn’t high hopes for. He said it made his dry skin feel comfortable and improved it within days. He also loves Nickel Morning After Rescue Gel. He uses it after a night when he’s struggled to sleep and insists that it makes him look fresher. He’s currently using The Sanctuary Cleansing Facial Wash and Protective 24 Hour Moisture Lotion SPF 15. Sneaky of me to give him an SPF-laden lotion, as he’s loath to apply suncare during the day, but the combination is working well. His skin has been clear and blemish-free for a couple of months now – he used to get the odd spot almost fortnightly. He also favours Caudalie Lip Conditioner (having tried Clarins, Chapstick and Neutrogena) and liked Lancôme’s men’s range too – in particular the face wash. New likes include Kiehl’s Eye Alert, which he’s been patting on in the mornings and the Shu Uemura Depsea Moisture Replenishing Cream – which he went through at an alarming rate. If it weren’t so expensive, I’d have bought him a new pot. At bathtime, believe it or not, he’s cleaned me out of MOP Basil + Mint Shampoo and Conditioner. It’s a great formula for his fine hair and he likes the herby smell (that’s his stifled chef talking), even if I’m not too fond of it. That’s another bonus, not only does he provide me with valuable male insights, but he also Pac Man’s his way through my growing giftbags – clearing space for future finds. And though these insignificant scenarios do not form the core of a stable relationship, it is certainly a flawless foundation for a marriage of cosmetic convenience. A-men.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

#18 Cut to the Point

If I have to sit through that damned Gillette Venus advert one more time I fear I’m at risk of launching the remote control straight into the superficially smiley faces of those ridiculous, trampolining women (or myself off the balcony). For god’s sake. We’re talking about a razor here. That thing that gets left on the side of the bath, jarred with stubble and beginning to rust – the thing that we use to get rid of our underarm, leg and bikini bristles. It is not a glamorous affair. It is a necessary chore (and bore) and unlike the lasered legs in adverts, when I shave my pins, they’re not actually hairless to begin with. They’re uneven, furry and unsightly – nothing Goddessly about them. What is all this media crap being spouted all the time about every woman having an inner goddess? What bullshit. Inside every woman there is passion, mystery and power? Are they having a laugh? The ad’s producers should take a trip down to my local Wetherspoons on a Friday night to get a good glimpse of a real woman. She’s the one with a pint in her hand, wearing mismatched underwear, chanting the words to Robbie Williams' Angel with her best mate. Or she’s me, at home in the trackies and hubby’s T-shirt, watching Ugly Betty whilst snacking on peanut butter M&Ms. She’s not running along a beach, entering synchronised swimming contests or pirouetting through the air in a bikini. It gets my blood boiling to the point where I no longer care if it’s a good razor or not. It could be the Rolls Royce, the Dog’s, the crème de la crème... at the end of the day it’s still just a bundle of plastic and metal and I’m alchemist enough to know that even the Venus (along with every other mundane and ordinary device on the market) lacks the chemical componentry to turn a fleshy form into a golden goddess.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

#17 To those who wait...

The gradual tanning market has gone a leedle bit crazy. I was already aware of the popularity of the products – I’m being sent at least three new ones every week – but it wasn’t until I wandered around my local Boots in search of Hayfever tablets that I realised the extent to which the market has shifted. There were shelves and shelves of the stuff. They even had their own section. No longer lumped in with the body creams or lowly, bog-standard self-tanners, gradual tanners are being sold in pride of place, popping up on every end-of-row display with explanatory signs informing us that it’s time we gave our bodies a daily dose of sunshine. On top of the in-store information overload, I’m also getting regular emails from ‘The Marketeers’ – those people who send out statistics in the form of lengthy PDFs – telling me that the ‘ladies’ are going crazy for a daily dose of hydrating colour that won’t stain, won’t rub off and won’t stink their partners out of bed. I, like most women it seems, like the idea. You can’t really go wrong can you? You rub it on. It doesn’t do anything too drastic. It doesn’t smell too bad. You just get on with your day and voila, after a couple of weeks, you’ve got a convincing glow that looks impressively real. Or does it? Well, just to be superbly irritating – it depends. Texture? Garnier Summerbody was too light in texture for my skin. I needed to use a separate moisturiser beforehand, or my legs reverted to their scaly ways. Scent? Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Natural Bronze Body Lotion smells even sweeter (and more artificial) than the original – as though they’ve packed it with extra teeth-jarring sugariness in an effort to mask the customary self-tan stink. Not for me. Many people love Johnson’s Holiday Skin – the gradual tanner that got the ball rolling. I picked the wrong time to try it as it made a small patch of eczema flare up into a persistent rash. I’m currently trialling Shiseido Daily Bronze Moisturising Emulsion. It says it can be used on both the face and body. I’ve only tried it on my legs, but it’s done a darn good job. It doesn’t smell bad either – in fact, I can’t remember it smelling of anything – always a bonus with tanners. I still chase the colour with a shot of cream on drier days, but that’s OK. Two days in and my pins have lost their customary pallor - far speedier than the colour served up by the competition, but without any tell-tale marks or missed bits. Good stuff. No waiting. Who'd have thought it?