Friday, 30 April 2010

Scent of a woman

We are long-time admirers of Karyn Khoury, the Estée Lauder brands’ resident fragrance genius, so it was good to catch up when she breezed into London to showcase not one but two new Lauder scent launches. These are set to tantalize your noses in July (in the case of deep, sultry Estée Lauder Sensuous Noir) and early September (Pleasures Bloom). Beauty Bible has always had a soft spot for airy Pleasures – we were there when Elizabeth Hurley first launched it – and this is a truly pretty twist on the original: a permanent addition to the Pleasures collection, fruitier than the original (that’s down to raspberry, lychee, grapefruit – plus violet flower, green lily, musk, patchouli and creamy vanilla). But it’s really the intoxicating, sexy new spin on Estée Lauder Sensuous which has us excited – and it’s decidedly ‘naughtier’ than your typical Lauder fragrance. You’ll discover spiced lily, rose essence, a ‘crème noir’ accord (smells a bit like nuzzleable skin, to us). But what really seduced us are the ‘molten woods’ - in particular patchouli (verily we are suckers for patchouli), plus sexy amber, honey and vanilla. Spray Sensuous Noir, breathe in, close your eyes and imagine yourself – well, at the Guerlain counter, actually. (For us, that’s the highest scented praise we can heap on a fragrance.) We have just one word to sum it up. Mmmmmmm.

Beauty Bible blogtip: ‘One of the very best ways to enjoy your fragrance is to spray the air and walk through it. I do that every morning and it subtly fragrances my clothes, skin and hair – hair is a great “carrier” for fragrance – and I get wafts of my fragrance, through the day as I move.’ Karyn Khoury

Thursday, 29 April 2010

A Lille bit of loveliness

Just call us human pinballs, ricocheting between beauty pit-stops at the moment. Our latest stopover: Lille, where shopping in the Old Town doesn’t disappoint, and where we happened upon blue-shuttered Ombres Portées - one of the most glorious ‘beautiques’ we’ve ever discovered. (Actually, we’d quite like to move in.) Run by Sébastien Duchateau and Frédéric Bourre, the shop has a fireplace, tables, dressing tables and armoires making the most sympatique environment for browsing, and a great showcase for many of the most notable brands in skincare, make-up and fragrance. You'll find Diptyque, Penhaligon’s, Frederic Malle, as well as our home-grown Miller Harris and Penhaligon’s on the scent side; REN, Kiehl’s, the fabulous Aesop range, Dr. Hauschka and the capsule collection by Odile Lecoin which is the secret of many a smooth-complexioned French beauty, plus make-up by Paul & Joe, OPI (plus Ellis Faas, see below).
But here are our favourite discoveries: first, Astier di Villatte’s amazing candles and their Crème Suisse (which has rocketed to the top of our fave hand cream chart); AdV are known for their fragile-looking white china and this is our first encounter with their glorious scented goodies. Secondly: a range of make-up from Holland called Ellis Faas: silver pen-style applicators for everything for blusher to the most divine, super-long-lasting lipgloss (L303 is a sublime dark cherry shade). Wish we’d bought more, actually. And last but not least, we were able to stock up on what we personally feel is the greatest hair mask ever created, Christophe Robin’s Masque au Germe de Blé – the most strenghtening, shine-boosting treatment on the planet. (In our humble, and boy have we slathered our way through gallons of hair masks.) For shots of the interior, see their website below. With Lille only an hour and a half from St. Pancras on Eurostar, do you need much more of an excuse to check it out yourself…? (But like much of France, it’s closed Sunday!)

Ombres Portées, 4 Rue Masurel, Lille/00-33-3-20-31-71-90

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

It’s Tulipe time on St. Martin’s Lane

Do you know Byredo fragrances? This Swedish (yes, Swedish) fragrance line is a bit of a ‘cult’, right up there with Frederic Malle and Le Labo, and definitely worth a dalliance. Which just got easier because Byredo have opened a ‘pop-up’ shop just off the lobby of the St. Martin’s Lane Hotel, in Covent Garden: a cool white space perfect for showcasing their eight unisex fragrances, body lotions (we hadn’t tried these before and they have sublime textures), and scented candles (our favourite is Loose Lips, which smells a bit like lipstick, with its violet notes, which are woven with morello cherry and rose). The location gets its name (La Tulipe Store) from Byredo's latest fragrance creation, La Tulipe - which to us smells fresh, light, prettily floral and not terribly like tulips (which tend to be unscented), but lovely nonetheless. If you happen to be in the area, a pleasant way to indulge your senses for 10 minutes or so – and you’ve got until 31st May, when the pop-up shop disappears into the ether. Between now and then, it’s open from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., even on Sundays.

La Tulipe Store, St. Martin’s Lane Hotel, 45 St. Martin’s Lane, London WC2N 4HX

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Une make-up will be huge. (Naturally).

OK, so the last time Beauty Bible was this excited about a make-up line was when Hubert de Givenchy launched his signature range. (And actually, we were pretty thrilled by Paul & Joe when that came out, too.) But Une – unveiled at teatime today by the same folk who make Bourjois - is something very special indeed: a range which could well inspire the wannabe-natural beauty to throw out her entire kit and start again, but might just also give mainstream brands like Bobbi Brown a run for its money. The shade range, you see, is natural in both ways: 13 out of 16 Une creations are Ecocert-certified natural/organic (so no parabens/petrochemicals and packed with plant/mineral ingredients), with the most wearable colours imaginable. And the textures are so goof-proof that even when applied with fingers it is literally impossible to make a mistake. (We tried. We really tried. All of which raised a few eyebrows on the train home this evening.) It’s a huge collection – 175 different items altogether. We pretty much want them all, but particular favourites include softly blendable Nude Eyes Shadow and Breezy Cheeks Blush (and we just love the stubby brush for stippling on the cream formulation), plus Sheer Lips Balm – a hint of colour (and a hint of green tomato fragrance – all-natural, since there are no synthetic scents in Une). The Absolute Blacks Kohl is ideal for that rock-chick eye, and blondes in particular will love the lightest shade of Eye Brow Pencils. We can't even decide which foundation we prefer: Skin-Glow (deliciously dewy) or Skin-Matt (as it sounds), while the Soft Minerals Powder Foundation is a must-try for mineral make-up-lovers. We could go on (you may have noticed this is our longest-ever blog posting) and we’ll ‘tweet’ when we’ve tried the mascaras, as mascara is the ultimate natural make-up challenge). But just to say: anyone whose heart was broken when Origins withdrew their entire make-up line a couple of years ago – well, Une will piece it back together. Naturally (in every way), our testers for The Green Beauty Bible will be putting it through its paces – but we can’t think of Une good reason why they won’t fall for it just as we have… Astonishingly it's priced from just £7.99-13.99 tops. Where to find it? By September, Une will be in 205 Boots stores – and apparently, it’s already quietly on sale in Huddersfied. Lucky Huddersfield… (the site gives a great, animated run-down of the products and you can sign up for the newsletter here too).

Monday, 26 April 2010

Full of the Gioias of summer…

'Gioia' is 'joy'. In Italian. And actually, want to introduce you to Acqua di Gioia ('joyous water', we guess), which we’ve just seen unveiled at The Soho Hotel. There is a trend for gorgeous 'green' fragrances (we also love Martin Margiela's new scent, which fits this category): beautiful, ungimmicky, wearable. And this is definitely so light and pretty, with a tingly little Mojito-esque topnote of crushed mint leaves, hints of pink pepper and jasmine Sambac in the heart, layered on a sweetly delectable base of soft cedarwood and caramel-y brown sugar. It was worked on by no less than three of the leading names in perfumery: Dominique Ropion (think Ysatis/Amarige), Anne Flipo (L'Artisan Parfumeur's Fleurs d'Oranger) and Loc Dong (Calvin Klein Euphoria) - so we shouldn't be surprised it's a masterpiece. We admit: somehow, we hadn’t quite realised that Armani fragrances are the second biggest fragrance brand in the UK and that Acqua di Gio is the No. 1 men’s fragrance here. But we do know this: they've got another classic on their hands, which you'll be able to spritz to your heart's summery content, from the beginning of July. (Here's our shot of the sultry visual, too, from a commercial directed by graphic design genius Fabien Baron in Hawaii.)

Monday, 19 April 2010

Stranded in Paris...?

... Or hoping to get there soon, volcano permitting? Well, you'll want to know about this petite boutique Beauty Bible stumbled upon last week, part of a new natural bodycare chain from the South of France. (This one's just down from legendary Berthillon ices on the Ile-St-Louis. Guess why we were in the area.) All chic greys and bunches of lavender, it is a breath of Provencale air, with gorgeous colognes, great soaps, scented candles, organically-certified bodycare, even gentle laundry detergents to infuse your sheets with a whisper of lavender. Our favourite finds, though, were the handbag-sized tube of heavenly rose-scented hand cream, and these very clever guest soap 'mosaics' which apparently became an instant bestseller the second they went on sale a couple of weeks ago. The perfect 'hostess gift', they contain teensy cubes of organic olive oil soap - so that each guest can enjoy a new, fresh square of their own. We stocked up, to give to friends (also available on the website, price €7.90). Could Durance be the new L'Occitane? We're thinking, 'Oui...'. You read it here first.

Durance, 37 rue St Louis en l'Isle (Métro Pont Marie)
75004 Paris (where you can find other Paris and Marseilles locations)

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Be a Scarlet woman

We've seen a lot of hotels. Been there, peeled the lids off countless fiddly cartons of UHT. We've seen a lot of spas, too. (And there are only so many 'fusion' treatments combining aromatherapy, thalassotherapy and Ayurveda that a beauty editor can take.) But we are about to order to you to do something. If you can possibly manage it, book a break at The Scarlet, Cornwall's newest hotel, before it becomes the hottest ticket in travel. It's an 'eco-hotel'. What that means is blissfully silky Luma gazillion thread-count sheets, scrumptious local food, a wood-fired outdoor hot tub where you can enjoy your seaweed soak while watching the surfers, and a very clever no-waste policy, not to mention a 'swimming pond', which feels like you're in a lake, not a pool. And an absolutely gorgeous spa, with treatments by Tri-Dosha (truly Ayurvedic-inspired beauty) and seaweed-inspired Voya from Ireland. In the utter, picturesque silence of Mawgan Porth on the North coast, it's a place not just to unwind but almost to unravel. (OK, so children under 12 are banned. But for many a frazzled woman, that's just the ticket. And the lack of phone signal can be a blessing, once you get over your 21st Century panic.) A truly fabulous destination place for a girly spa getaway with friends (just remember to book your treatments well in advance), or an oh-I-remember-why-I-married-him trip with your partner. We're trying to work out how quickly we can justify going back. Like, next week...?

The Scarlet, Tredragon Road, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall, TR8 4DG/01637-861800

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Time for (a Miller Harris) tea

So: you find yourself in the West End of London with weary feet and in need of caffeine. Then you need to know that Lyn Harris - perfumer extraordinaire - has now installed a delightful, so-dainty tea room at the back of her flagship fragrance boutique on Bruton Street, serving the exquisite (and beautifully-packaged) teas that she now sells alongside fabulous fragrances like l'Air de Rien, Citron Citron and Fleurs de Bois. There's no sales pressure to buy a scent: simply relax in the pretty, fragrant quietitude, away from the madding crowds, enjoy a cup of Thé Violette or Thé Fumé (our favourite) plus a rose cupcake or a lavender shortbread. (Or two.) It's been open a few months, but we only just got round to visiting - and it's now a new favourite pit-stop on our map of Secret London Addresses.

Mller Harris, 21 Bruton Street, Mayfair, London W1J 6QD/020 7629 7750 (click here for tearoom info)

If you happen to be in Damascus...

Well, you never know! And oh, it's so worth a visit. If you're wondering why blog postings have been thin on the ground lately, Chief Blogger Jo actually took a holiday to this magical city, soaking up the sun, superb food - and the souk, which is one of the Great Shopping Wonders of the World. Case in point: this extraordinary soap store on the Street called Straight (so old, it's in the Bible! - the street not this particular shop...) Piled high with beautifully arrayed bars of skin-friendly olive-oil-based Aleppo soap, it's wonderfully aromatic - a feast for the senses. And if you've ever thought, 'I can't get my hands round a big square bar of soap like that' (as we have), then the secret is to use a strong knife and cut each bar in half. We are sorted, for soap. (For quite a long time.)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Bach symphony (of bodycare...)

At Beauty Bible, we completely rely on flower remedies for everything from adjusting to a new time-zone to dealing with deadline-related uber-stress or just life's 'dither' moments. So when we were offered the chance to be the veryveryvery first to try the new Les Fleurs de Bach skincare, bodycare (and matching treatments), it was a no-brainer that we'd be hot-footing to the Soho Hotel before you can say 'Rescue Remedy'. And you know what? From the first whoosh of Les Fleurs de Bach Anti-Stress Treatment Fragrance, with its lavender, sage, bergamot and eucalyptus blend, the blood pressure dropped, the city's angst melted away and we were instantly 'spookily relaxed', as Jo mumbled somewhat incoherently afterwards, while trying to 'tweet' her experience (find us @Beauty_Bible on Twitter). Les Fleurs de Bach's range already scooped the 2009 international Beauty Challenger Award and we aren't surprised in the least: we're particularly taken with Les Fleurs de Bach Organic Anti-Stress Night Cream, the mask (oh, we love a mask) and sugar scrub, all of which do have that - yes! - spookily relaxing effect, but are also pure skin bliss. (Organically certified by both Ecocert and Cosmebio, too). We skipped away with the entire collection (thereby queue-jumping the ever-lengthening waiting list at, where it lands soon). We'll keep you in the loop about where the treatments themselves will be available (there are all too few organically-certified spa options out there), but meanwhile: our bathroom shelves just got a whole lot more crowded, and we couldn't be happier. (That's flower remedies for you.)