Very Handy

Very Handy

It was all hands on deck (literally) at the recent Brides' brainstorming day, held at the rather fabulous Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. Read more »

Make-up Shopping: Trial, No Error!

Make-up Shopping: Trial, No Error!

I was in a department store yesterday skulking around a big-brand beauty counter listening in on a conversation between a shopper and a member of staff (call it eavesdropping, I say homework!). It went a little something like this:

Shopper: 'I saw this lipstick in a magazine but I'm not 100% sure the colour suits me. Can I try some on?'
Staff: 'Sorry madam we don't have a tester in that shade: you can always buy it and if you don't like it you can give it to a friend.'
Shopper: 'Oh, erm, not to worry. Thanks.' [wanders off in bewildered embarrassment]

SERIOUSLY?! There are so many levels of wrong here I don't even know where to begin. I was reminded that it takes a big commitment for someone to invest in a lipstick, blusher or eyeshadow: at £14+ a pop you want to get it right and it can be so off-putting if you have a bad experience like this.

In my dream world one could buy miniature versions of everything that would give you 2 or 3 doses of product so you can trial it out before buying. It happens with foundations and moisturisers - why can't it happen with lipsticks and eye liners? Unfortunately it's probably too expensive to create Sylvanian Family-sized make-up, so another suggestion would be to try out the same type of product in the same(ish) shade but from a cheaper brand. For instance, if you're toying with the idea of pillar-box red lips, silver eyeshadow or navy blue eyeliner on your wedding day, have a go with a less expensive version and if you like it, then invest in the big luxe brand.

When I received a press release about Poundland's new make-up collection a couple of weeks ago I practically laughed out loud, but after my experience at the weekend I take that back and shouldn't have been so dismissive and snobby. Whilst it's not really the place to buy your ultimate make-up wardrobe it does offer a perfect opportunity to experiment with colour and practice a few looks you've always wanted to try but haven't been able to afford. It's a great way to build up your confidence and technique in applying, judging and buying make-up to suit you, so that next time you're faced with a predicament like the shopper above you can visualise the product on your skin and make an assured decision.

It doesn't matter how much you earn: all hard-working women understand the value of things whether it's a £400 pair of shoes or a £16 blusher. So give yourself a break from the beauty aisle pressure and play around with cheap and cheerful versions first. I for one will be buying their black liquid eyeliner (£1) to test out feline flicks at home before moving onto Guerlain's stunning version (£22.50) which I won't want to waste a single drop of.
As well as Poundland, check out the impressive Evie Glam make-up range at Peacocks store (£2 to £4), Primark Make-up (from £1) and if you want to experiment with nail art and fashiony polishes head to Superdrug for Andrea Fulerton's Nail Boutique range (nail colours £4.99 each).

Who knows, plum lipstick might really suit you and look gorgeous on your autumnal wedding day, but it's not worth risking £18 to find out!

Pictured: Vitamin Enriched Lipsticks, £1 each, by Chit Chat at

Steel Gaze

Steel Gaze

I don't remember having even a minute on my wedding day to re-perfume, re-juuj my hair or re-apply make-up, but I can see how some brides might want to, especially if you're having a wedding at this time of the year when evening equals glam and everyone gets into party mode a lot faster than in the summer.

I have a string of work Christmas parties this week and my failsafe, super-quick day-to-evening beauty trick requires only one product: a soft steel grey kohl eyeliner (YSL's, Chanel's and Dior's are my current faves and are either in my drawer at work or in my handbag!).

I pull my upper eyelid upwards and gently line the inner flesh rim of my lashes, rubbing the pencil into the lash roots too. If it's an extra special party, I'll do the bottom inner lash-rim too. It literally takes 30 seconds. Grey seems to give a less dramatic look than black and doesn't make the eyes look so small either. Plus, the metallic sheen adds a fun third dimension. But overall the effect makes a huge difference without going over the top. So, Christmas brides, have a little trick up your sleeve (or in your purse) and play up your peepers for that first dance!

Winter Tanning 101

Winter Tanning 101

I can't harp on about James Read enough. He's the spray-tanner that all the beauty editors turn to when we need a pre-party (actually, a pre-whenever) booster. Never have we had a patch, streak or grubby ankle, even after our tan begins to fade. In fact, James' tans fade so well that if you were to jump into a bikini on honeymoon after your wedding-day tan you wouldn't have those nasty tell-tale marks left behind.

He's also the go-to guy for the A-list, from supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whitely to Lady Gaga and Mariah Carey.

This season, James is spraying us with his 'Winter Tan'. It's the perfect shade of warm peach to wear at your winter wedding without looking like an Oompah Loompah. Here's how to get the look:

Describe the 'winter tan'. How is it different from a normal tan?
'It's all about subtle-looking colour and just having a light glow. Think 'Caramel', which was a hit skin colour of the autumn/winter catwalks: natural but healthy looking. At my salon at Agua [see below for details] I custom design the tans for each client so that it looks real. I don't do fake, especially with brides! I recommend you test products first to find the right one for you skintone. The tanning look changes with each season (next spring it's all about a deep retro Seventies tan to go with the Seventies-inspired clothing). Right now, Emma Watson is a fine example of the Winter Tan - have a look at the front cover of December's Vogue - her skin is glowing.'

Can you wash off a normal tan a bit sooner than seven hours to make it look 'wintery'?
I recommend you leave it on for four-five hours and the colour will be very natural. The trick to tanning is for people not to even guess you have had a tan.

What are the best at-home products to achieve a winter tan?
Gradual tanners are great for the winter months as they just give the skin a hint of colour but the trick is to not overuse them. I recommend you only apply twice a week, anymore and you will get build up. Go for Xen-Tan Transform Luxe or mix a small amount of self tan with your moisturiser. I would also go for normal liquid tan left on for about four hours: He-Shi Liquid Express is wicked and looks really natural; it suits all Tantones, which is important when using a self-tanning product. If you prefer using a spray, go L'Oreal Paris Sublime Express Pro spray in Fair: this gives a light colour and it's a great product to have handy on the wedding morning in case you see a white patch.

What make-up would you use to enhance a winter tan without making it look too tropical?
Self-tanning has now become part of everyone's beauty regime, and just like with your hair and make-up you should make sure they all complement each other. Go for subtle make-up, although I must say the Chanel red lips are hot right now and look great with a light tan. You can also brush a bronzer onto a tanning mitt and then rub on your skin to add some colour. I love Guerlain and Chanel for bronzers. Pick the right shade for your skintone and remember, less is more, so don't over-apply bronzer or it'll look too orange.

What are your golden tanning rules?
- Wax 48-hours and shave 24-hours before tanning.
- Exfoliate 24-hours before tanning to remove dead skin and unwanted self tan.
- Rub your face with an ice cube before applying your self tan; this will stop your pores from blocking.
- Before tanning, moisturise the dry areas on your body like hands, feet, knees, elbows and any dry areas.
- With your tanning product, start at the face, then map out your body in stages so you don't miss bits, leave hands and feet till last.
- For a light tan wash off after five-six hours. If you want to go even lighter wash off after two-three hours.
- Moisturise daily to make your tan last longer.
- Exfoliate after three days so your tan fades evenly.

To book a tan with James, contact the Agua Spa at The Sanderson Hotel on 020 7300 1414.