Beauty Club

Making the most of my Little Black Book, I’ll be inviting industry experts and editors to discuss beauty buys old and new – as you would with books at a book club, that terribly chic social assemblage I still can’t bring myself to join. Capisce?



SS11 NAILS (January 2011) 

The calibre of Beauty Club members stays tip-top this month, as I’m joined by Beauty and Features Editor of Brides Magazine, Alice du Parcq. Not only is she in a position to try every nail polish out there, but she is also somewhat of a polish-addict, making her THE expert opinion to consult. And my absolute favourite manicurist and THE name in nails in 2010, David Barton. David has worked with Glamour, Elle and Vogue, among others, and this year he’s working on a divine selection of nail colours for Maybelline – cannot wait for those. 

Now, onto the products.

Chanel Le Vernis in Black Pearl £17

 GT: Chanel always has THE colour of the season, the colour that all other nail brands bring out in some form or another. So is this THE colour of SS11?

ADP: Yes, definitely. Goodbye boring pastels: time to do something different. As the clothes get lighter, the accessories get more prominent and nails follow the same rule for SS11.

GT: It’s quite dark for spring though isn’t it?

ADP: Yes I totally agree it’s dark for SS but I think I’m quite drawn to doing something different like that. A colour like this is a small gesture to the blah women out there saying you’re going against the grain and not doing prissy pastels like everyone else. I’ll be wearing this shade with white broderie anglaise tops or top-to-toe spring black. I wouldn’t wear it on my toes because people might think I dropped something very heavy on them. I do actually return to Chanel’s Particuliere (the silky Galaxy chocolate shade) once in a while – which, yes I know, was a micro-trend, but it’s quite neutral and not overly identifiable because those putty browns have become quite permanent now. It’s elegant and not a shouty statement.

GT: And let’s face it, it’s utterly beautiful. I’m not a fan of pearlised polish but even I was in love.

DB: It’s a really beautiful black pearlised finish – the colour in the bottle doesn’t do it justice – you’ve got gorgeous blue and green undertones in there.

ADP: I agree, the colour is stunning. When I was 16 my grandmother gave me a long string of black pearls that the designer Emilio Pucci gave to her as a Christmas present in the 70s. I piled it into the palm of my hands and I was transfixed by these weird metallic almost-green iridescent spheres. When I painted on this polish that memory rushed back: they have the ‘alien’ quality of the colour spot on. Plus, I’ve never seen this before. And it’s Chanel – honestly they could whip up a shade of bile yellow and I’d still fall helplessly in love with it.

GT: How about the quality of it? I found it applied very well.

DB: I could not fault it in the slightest – this was definitely my favourite of the three. The brush is nice, slim and gave precise painting with a smooth, easy-to-apply application. The first coat is quite transparent but with the second coat gave fantastic coverage.

ADP: I too found it surprisingly it painted on really well. I have other Chanel polishes that go on a bit uneven, especially the red shades. I painted one thin coat first, then waited half an hour and painted the second. Two coats were enough to get a really strong, full colour. The metallic sheen makes the nail bed look very smooth and ridge-free, and also makes the colour look really elegant (I think if they had used bigger glitter pigment it would have looked cheap). I love love love this. It’s like wearing jewellery on your nails because the finish is so realistic and beautiful. The gunmetal colour is really grown-up too, and just that little bit more ladylike than black.

GT: Might not be one for your Brides readers though?

ADP: You know what, I would still recommend it but only in a specific circumstance: at winter time (if you can still get hold of it by then), for a late afternoon wedding, with a white (not cream) ‘evening’ gown (or a grey dress/outfit if you’re a bit older and having a second wedding), with a beautiful vintage crystal wrist cuff and hair clip. And only if you are known to wear colours on your nails. Or wear to your engagement party, showing off not only your new bling ring but also your immaculate taste in nail polish.

DB: It’s a real fashionista shade – I think it’d be great on both olive and fair skin tones too.

GT: There’s going to be a thousand copycat shades from other brands. But this is so Chanel isn’t it?

ADP: Yes and the big downside is that Chanel colours are micro-trends in their own right (just like Jade) so it’s sad to think that three weeks after this goes on sale it won’t be cool anymore. But I don’t care – I’ll have been sent the hot new A/W shade by the press office by that time! Still, with the parsimonious reluctance as Craig Revel Horwood in Strictly Come Dancing, I’d say: daaarling, it’s FA-BU-LOUS!   

DB: I doubt the copycats will achieve such a long-lasting colour either – I found it lasted a whole 6 days chip-free!

GT: So it’s a great, dark colour but does it end up staining the nail and cuticles?

ADP: No, it was actually very, very easy to remove, which surprised me. I thought I’d be going at this for ages. Perhaps it’s because the colour isn’t actually that dense – it’s only made rich by the heavy amount of fine shimmer.

 Scores out of 10:

ADP: 10

GT: 9

DB: 9

Leighton Denny Sundae Girl (launching March’11) £11

GT: I thought this looked very pretty in the bottle – I think it would look great on tanned toes, even better on black and Asian skin. What did you think David?

DB: Yes, it’s a lovely pastel colour. I liked it in the bottle and so was glad it ended up being exactly the same on the nail – sometimes the bottle’s colour is misleading. I think you’re both right about it suiting to darker skin tones too.

GT: Alice, what were your first impressions?

ADP: Not good to be honest! It’s not a clean pale pink nor is it a fun hot pink. It’s Pepto-Bismol meets lavender guest soap meets Disney Princess meets Claudia Winkleman’s lips. It’s not at all a colour I’d gravitate towards. Sorry Leighton, I love you dearly!

GT: See I love both Disney Princesses and Claudia Winkleman’s lips, but I see what you mean! Did it improve for you when you applied it?

ADP: Just by looking at the colour I knew it would go streaky on the first coating, which it did. But not as streaky as some dense pastels so actually it wasn’t as bad as I thought, but you still couldn’t get away with one sheer coating of this because there’s too much opaque white pigment. I left it for 20 minutes then painted a second coat.

DB: Yes, I think improvements could be made with the brush, there were about 5 sprayed out hairs and the bristles didn’t splay out for ease of application so my first coat was very streaky too.

ADP: Solid is right. After the second coat: WOAH! Hello Kitty! Now I feel like a Japanese schoolgirl. Also, my hands and fingers look immediately grubby – a colour like this, which has no transparency and is lighter than the shade of my skin, brings out the blue/grey tones in one’s hands especially round the cuticles.

DB: If you do like the colour though, like Grace, it does give a good solid colour on the second coat.

ADP: Yes, it was very easy to apply and didn’t streak on the second coating – it looks really even and that’s obviously a sign of good quality. It’s not too thin, not too thick. Those are some real popping colour pigments. It’s also very easy to remove and it’s a generous bottle. And I actually liked the brush – no fanning bristles for me, and the wand is quite long which meant I could grip it really well and still have enough wand to freely apply the polish in sweepy strokes.

GT: OK, so some positives even if it’s not your favourite! And I think as the ultimate pink polish obsessive, your opinion is king really. I agree it might be a bit ‘young’ for us to be wearing on our fingers (no offence, but I take it you’re both over 16) but I still like it for toes.

ADP: Yes this is a bit young – for teenagers making a quirky mini statement at school. It’s a bold colour and needs to be worn with purpose. So yes, I would recommend it for toes too because you need a bit more oomph down there if you’re going to go down the pale pink route and I reckon this shade could just about work. Fickle little me – I’m slightly warming to it as we discuss: it appeals to my inner rebel. I’m going to try on my toes too.

DB: You can get a good 4 days out of it before a couple of chips appeared too.

GT: Yes, it’s clearly a good quality formula.

ADP: You just need nail confidence if you’re going to wear it – it’s as subtle as a brick to the face. If Barbie went to school this would be her version of Tippex.  

Scores out of 10:

ADP: 6

GT: 7

DB: 6



OPI Nail Lacquer in Big Hair Big Nails £10.50

GT: This was my favourite – juicy colour and perfect for achieving the jelly effect in SS11. I’m a fan of a new statement that’s so easy to achieve. Alice, did you like the colour? I should point out to readers that it’s more of a coral-red than this image suggests.

ADP: In the bottle it looks really fun, vibrant and fresh and more interesting than coral. The moment I saw this I thought: happy holiday toes! I can see this working with gold leather flip-flops or sandals, a tan and a cocktail. I really hate the jelly effect though. It looks cheap and teenagery. That makes me sound SO OLD!

DB: It’s true it looks like such a full-bodied orange in the bottle but more translucent when you apply. On the first coat it seemed very watery and then with the second coat there was no difference in appearance making the colour look like it was missing pigment from the product.

ADP: That said, the colour improves the more layers you paint and it eventually matched the wow-factor of the bottle colour. It’s really glossy and juicy, which I love, but the jelly transparency makes the nails look dirty underneath so I’m going to keep painting until it’s totally opaque! This might take a while!

GT: But you like sheer so I have faith I’ll see you wearing this yet! How many coats did you apply then?

ADP: 5! Initially for the first two coats it was more pink and lighter than the bottle’s shade. After 5 it was fab. It is super easy to paint on and it dries really quickly as it’s so thin. I suppose this really is meant to be worn transparently then – not for me! I’d wear it on toes, with a creamy-coloured opaque base coat so I didn’t need to do a dozen layers. But seriously – does anyone like jelly textures?

GT: Me me me! Except when I have one of those white marks from cuticle damage. But otherwise, I like it as a twist on the traditional coral theme. And if you really hate it, you could apply a white base coat first?

ADP: I love the freshness of the jelly shades, but I really can’t bear seeing the nail underneath – it looks dirty and un-groomed. I am SOOOO out of touch aren’t I?! I’ll be the only one amongst all the beauty editors not to wear this trend and I’ll feel like a total loser! I like the idea of a white base coat so I’m going to try that out. It would look good with an opposing block colour, like an intense violet or apple green shift dress. 

GT: So it’s fair to say then, that not everyone’s ready for this jelly? Sorry, had to. I applaud the innovative approach to texture, but agree it totally requires healthy-looking nails.

DB: And if you do like the ‘jellied’ look then this is ideal for both fair and olive skin tones. The OPI brush is amazing too – it contoured round the nail beautifully – perfect polishing!

ADP: And frankly, good for them for making a texture like this because they have a million non-jelly options and I guess this is something different and fun. I do love its juiciness. It’s so glossy and the colour stays really vibrant.

GT: And doesn’t it last well? I usually have to reapply fairly swiftly as I’m a bit of a klutz in general and chip easily, but this lasted me a week with no top coat! I guess that’s due to its sheer consistency. I had the same results with Houston We Have A Purple, the mauve shade in the same jelly story.

DB: Me too, I got 6 days with this, like the Chanel.

GT: So Alice, will you recommend it to readers for SS11?

ADP: Yes definitely, especially for honeymooners. I’m a huge OPI fan and have hundreds of their polishes because the textures and brush shapes are brilliant. I mean, picture the scene: Caribbean beach resort, 6pm, after a day of poolside sunbathing (reading magazines and getting inspired to wear something fabulous and put loads of mascara on), sea-water tousled hair, jangly jewellery, covered in Dior Monoi Oil aftersun balm, waiting for your sexy new husband to come back from diving/fishing/tennis/whatever at the cocktail bar with a mad drink in hand. That’s when this colour should be worn.

GT: Well I doubt I’ll make it to the Caribbean this summer, but in my eyes this is a winner – it lasted well, it’s a suitably uplifting colour and part of a really fresh trend for summer.

Scores out of 10:

ADP: 6

GT: 9

DB: 7  

David Barton’s top tips for a perfect manicure:

For the perfect shape, mirror your cuticle area when filing. This will give you the shape that compliments your hands and achieve an elongated look.

Don’t cut skin around the nails – this is not cuticle, it is living skin and cutting will result in scar tissue making the skin grow back thicker

Always apply a base coat. The basecoat helps polish anchor to the nail and prevents staining of the nail.

Two thin coats of polish are better than one thick coat. Allow 2 minutes between applying polish.

Apply a topcoat every couple of days to protect and freshen up polish, remember to swipe the brush along the free edge to seal in the colour.

Hands are one of the first signs of ageing; use a hand cream with an SPF to protect from sun damage.

Apply almond oil to your nails twice daily to condition and moisturise the nails.


I’m beyond thrilled to invite two beauty heavyweights into my second Beauty Club meet-up: Kate Shapland is Beauty Editor at The Telegraph and Kirstie Garrett is aromatherapist extraordinaire, with clients like Gwyneth Paltrow adding her to their speed-dial, and an extraordinary French retreat, Prendsletemps offering her amazing treatments to us lesser mortals. Since they are both body experts and Kate’s own blog, focuses on (you’ve guessed it) legs, we’ve rounded up a selection of pin-perfecting products to review and discuss.

GT: Kate, what do you look for in a leg and body product?

KS: Personally, I look for qualities that help with my circulation and areas of puffiness. My legs are my body weak spot if you like: when I’m tired or stressed I feel it there most – that’s where my body clings onto water (ankles, feet, knees, thighs), where my circulation stops (my feet and legs are always cold, even in summer) and where the effects of over-eating/drinking end up.  Dryness is also a problem; so I like products that offer good hydration, but I want that product to absorb quickly.

GT: So like me, your pet-hate is sticky, greasy textures, right?

KS: Exactly – there’s nothing worse than a body lotion or cream that won’t disappear (especially when you want to get dressed) – and that has a strong scent.  I can’t bear it when a scent follows you around all day: I don’t want to be a walking advert for a beauty company!

GT: Yes, free advertising is not in your job description. What about your readers, what do you think they’re looking for?

KS: Until recently I’d have said that readers of my blog and column were most interested in leg care products that tackled cellulite.  This is still true – anti-cellulite products will always prick the imagination in the same way as anti-ageing products – but depleting sales of cellulite products suggest that consumers are disenchanted with the way they are developed and marketed.  I think women are wising up to the fact that as fat ‘erasers’ (which is how most are marketed) they don’t work, and that cellulite (which undoubtedly exists) is best managed with a holistic approach.  That said, I think savvy consumers are looking for leg products which help (either specifically or as a whole) with the myriad of issues that contribute to cellulite and its appearance – anything from a sluggish circulation to fluid retention, dry or slack skin – and trying to eat in a way that discourages it.  Cellulite isn’t just about fat and leg care isn’t just about cellulite – both are about managing and maximising what you have, and you need to look at your lifestyle to improve things. 

GT: And what about your massage clients, Kirstie?

KG: Let’s just say I don’t know many women who are particularly happy with their legs – all shapes and sizes find something to moan about. Knobbly knees, cankles, and the dreaded CELLULITE! They ask me for things that will tone and firm. Water retention is another common concern, as are puffiness, colour and flaky or dry skin. Hence, there are all sorts of products promising all sorts of results. But my clients just want something that delivers results – I think their concern for natural ingredients would come 2nd place.


Bliss FatGirlSleep £32

 GT: So firstly, how have you been using this product?

KG: I actually used it morning and night, massaging it up my legs and around my hips and bottom.

KS: For this post, nightly for 10 days.  Prior to that I’ve used BFGS intermittently over the past couple of years.

GT: So you like it then, Kate?

KS: I would recommend it to readers who suffer with fluid retention, need a fast fix to feel slimmer, like to use a product at night (i.e. not wear an active treatment during the day), and are not concerned over whether its ingredients are natural or not. 

KG: I would recommend it for someone who wanted more of a fun, kick-start product! A good little pampering cream.

GT: I really liked the texture of this one, and how quickly it was absorbed.

KG: Me too, the cream itself IS a great consistency, not too gloopy or runny. It’s very manageable, easy to apply and it’s not at all greasy.

GT: Was there anything you didn’t like about it?

KG: I found the colour a bit off-putting. I believe they are trying to convey the use of lavender. Lavender is not that colour. That cream is the colour of some hair salon hair bleach from the 70’s.
GT: I see what you mean but purple’s my favourite colour so I was all ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’! I was less sure about the lavender scent myself. I did think it smelt a little like old-fashioned Immac, which obviously freaked me out the first time I spread it all the way up to my hips!

KS: Yes, its lavender scent is a little stronger than I’d ideally like to wear at night.

KG: Oh I liked it – a good nighttime smell.

GT: Not unpleasant, just strong. But anyway, the important thing is: did you see results?

KS: I’ve had results from this product overnight.  I think it’s an excellent quick-fix when you feel a bit puffy – perhaps one of the best. It definitely reduces PUFF, by which I mean it makes skin look smoother and less knobbled.  Combine it with exercise and you feel 100% more confident quite quickly.

KG: I agree, I really felt a difference after the first application. It gives an immediate improvement in the feel of skin particularly around cellulite areas. It nourishes well for a long-lasting moisturized, baby-smooth feeling. And it’s pleasantly cooling – a real treat to use. However I do not believe this one pot can breakdown fat, reduce fat storage and counteract slackened skin. But the product’s direction to ‘massage for 20 seconds nightly’ can only aid circulation and toxin elimination.

GT: Yes, I hold water around my hips and muffin top, and found the very motion of massaging the product in for 30 seconds seemed to reduce the puff. Over the first week it had no discernable effect on the cellulite on my (ahem) butt, but my skin got softer and softer, so I’ve made it a part of my nightly ritual nonetheless.

KS: And what an easy addition to make to your routine – just massage in quickly before bed.  I like the fact that you use it at night – seems logical to me because you don’t have to get dressed over it, which sometimes isn’t convenient.

KG: I confess I’m suspicious of the ‘use whilst your sleeping’ claims, although I agree the lavender is well applied before bed. But I would use morning and evening to maximise effect.

KS: The important thing really is that like all cellulite products – and body moisturisers actually – it’s best used after body brushing (or exfoliating) and showering, so when skin is warm and slightly damp, because the uptake in circulation – from the abrasion and water temperature – encourages the product to absorb and ingredients are taken more quickly into the bloodstream. 

GT: Are their any other tricks to maximise its effects?

KS: Well, although it claims not to need massaging in I really believe all anti-cellulite products need to be properly massaged in for at least five minutes because massage helps to promote circulation and push out trapped toxic fluid.  Apply it to your entire leg – not just thighs (where cellulite is usually concentrated), from heel to knee, then knee to buttocks and muffin top.  Push your thumbs up the backs of your calves and into the backs of your knees (you hold fluid there), knead the backs and inside fleshy bits of your knees; pinch and massage your thighs with a thumb and finger.  It’s really important to do this and always in a ‘heartward’ direction. When you have applied it drink a tall glass of water or a cup of hot water with lemon in to help flush the system. 

KG: I use my ‘soft fist knuckle rotate technique’ – make the hand into a loose fist and massage with your knuckles, continually circling at the wrist.

GT: So with the right directions it’s definitely a winner then?

KG: It’s a treat to use, but I actually think in today’s economic climate, it’s a little extravagant to have a product purely for use whilst you are sleeping. I know they advise you use together with their ‘Fat Girl Slim’ and ‘Love Handler’ products, but who has the money, time and discipline to use 3 different body products like that?

GT: I suppose though if the one product works as we found it to then it’s not so important you get the others in the range. So that said, you’d still recommend it though?

KG: I would have to say yes – I do love the consistency, it’s quite addictive!

Scores out of 10:

KS: 7/10

GT: 7/10

KG: 7/10


Perfekt Body Perfection Gel £40


GT: THIS is my kind of leg product – an instant burst of colour and gloss.

KS: It’s surprisingly easy for a tinted gel.  It looks worryingly dark when you squeeze it out of the tube, but it coats really evenly – I was amazed at how easy it went on.  It has ceramides in it which I think enhance its glide factor, and it seems to work really well on highly creased areas like knees and ankles. I really love its subtlety – it gives pale skin the perfect hint of temporary colour, not too much, not too little.  There is a faint shimmer to it, but again, this is just enough to make a difference.

GT: So easy and so gorgeous. It might replace my much-loved Rimmel Sun Shimmer actually as it washed off my hands so easily and smelled lovely.

KG: See, I found this quite a bizarre product to use! The colour as it comes out the tube is a little alarming, and made me think of the ageing sun-worshipper in There’s Something About Mary but then it transforms into a powder when you apply it. I felt like it just seemed to ‘sit’ on the skin but with very little visible effect.

GT: But then Kirstie, you live in Biarritz and are a lot darker all year round so it won’t have such an effect – you’re perfectly tanned already, you lucky thing! I’m very fair, so it provides a perfect glow. That’s why I liked it – far subtler once it’s on pale pins like mine.

KS: And since it’s not a self-tan so you don’t need to exfoliate or anything – easy. That said you should still apply a light moisturiser beforehand, it gives the pigment something to cling to and makes application even smoother. Skin needs to be supple, not dry – that’s the most important thing.

GT: Anything you didn’t like about it, Kate?

KS: I didn’t find it that easy to build on layers. One application works brilliantly, another layer tends to be harder to get as smooth and can look a bit patchy.

GT: I love the fragrance too.

KS: Yes, it says it’s got an exotic scent but it’s barely discernible. 

KG: That was a positive for me – I quite liked the subtle orange smell!

GT: None of that stale-biscuit stench you get from self-tan. It does purport to have long-term effects – did you see any? My legs looked better but I don’t think it had a lasting effect on the firmness.

KS: No. It does what it says on the tin in that it enhances leg tone/colour and evenness of skin, but it’s a real cosmetic product in that it doesn’t treat skin. I don’t think it really covers bruises, red marks or dry patches either.  And I didn’t notice any real difference to skin firmness, elasticity or suppleness.  I would use it again though. The texture is fine – very light and gel-like, like an emulsion really because it’s an opaque gel.

KG: I think it’s a bit confused as a product… so left me confused as a consumer. It mentions ’Hyaluronic filling spheres…help firm, tone and improve the skins elasticity’, but I didn’t find that at all. It does give a very subtle shimmer effect though.

GT: I do agree that’s questionable but I loved what it did do! Who do you think it’s best for, other than me?

KS: It’s a great option for people who are a little nervous of self-tan (it washes off easily) but want a little colour.  It really does airbrush skin but it doesn’t mask blemishes, so it’s best for people who have good clarity to their skin already and are just looking for a hint of colour.  I’d recommend it to those with younger, firmer skin – I’m not sure how well it would work on drier, more mature legs.

GT: As a 20-something that’s exactly right – I really engaged with this product, I like something with instant results. As long as we can have something with a treatment potency overnight! 

Scores out of 10:

GT: 8/10

KS: 6/10

KG: 3/10


Kate Logan Fennel Nourish Oil £19.99

GT: My mother was an aromatherapist while I was growing up, so I’m fairly well versed in the use of oils for such things and love using them – this is a really great product in that specific market. Kirstie, would you recommend it as an aromatherapist?

KG: Yes – I found very easy to use – but perhaps that is particularly for me because I am very used to handling oils. I would advise my clients to pour a small amount in the palm of the hand then rub the hands vigorously together. This warms and expands the oils releasing their lovely aroma and you can then use both hands flat to apply to oil evenly. These instructions were not provided and I can imagine maybe it would be a little scary (big bottle neck, quick flow, very runny) for oil ‘virgins’! But it’s great – a really light oil, a little went a long way and it absorbed into the skin fabulously leaving a dewy sheen.

KS: I discovered Kate Logan and am her number 1 fan.  She is a talented aromatherapist.  I keep this oil in my bathroom cabinet; I can’t imagine not having it there because it works brilliantly to combat fluid retention.

GT: It’s so simple too – nothing mysterious about its ingredients or properties – it’s just good old-fashioned nature at work!

KS: Yes, so simple – extract of fennel oil, one of the most effective diuretics you can use.  It aims to reduce fluid retention, not specifically cellulite (although the two can go hand in hand).

KG: I loved the ‘honesty’ of this product and that is something that I personally look for. It’s not making any outrageous claims. A handmade product lovingly created and presented. The packaging was not wasteful or excessive but showed attention to detail and a personal touch with a little ribbon around the bottleneck. Simple natural ingredients synergizing to create a potent natural product. It really did nourish, even the notorious dry shin area! I particularly liked using this in the morning – it made my legs feel lighter and glistening smooth.

KS: And it’s easy to use in that it only requires you to massage it into skin as with Bliss FatGirlSleep, but you have to give it a proper massage (see above). It’s also effective when you apply it before and after a sauna as a super-detoxifier for eking out trapped fluids.  Take it to your massage therapist too and ask her to use it on your thighs, buttocks and muffin top – you will see results immediately.

KG: I agree – I felt its effects immediately. It’s a powerful concoction, and being a natural aromatherapy product obviously works effortlessly with the body’s own chemistry.

KS: Yes, I’m a real sucker for a well-blended aromatherapy oil, and this is one. 

GT: The smell is great too, isn’t it?

KS: The smell is OK, not what you would imagine.

KG: I agree but even for the biggest Aromatherapy fan in the world, this is a strong smell! I admire Kate Logan for ‘going for it’ though – I was always fighting Fennel’s corner when formulating Balance Me products as it does have such fantastic properties. But it’s a bit of a ‘marmite’ when it comes to smell – you either love it or hate it.

GT: So it’s safe to say we all loved this product. But it’s not for everyone, right?

KS: Well, some people find oil a little greasy and the smell a little strong.  This is a product for aromatherapy connoisseurs – people who are seasoned oil-lovers.

KG: Yes, I am used to handling oils so the product was not scary to me, but I would need to offer clients additional application advice when recommending it. It’s good for people suffering from dry skin or puffiness looking for a powerful natural product who don’t mind a strong aroma!

KS: True. I think it helps to be a seasoned aromatherapy user – you’ve got to understand how aromatic oils work. They can be very potent but are not necessarily efficacious like a very commercial cream (like FatGirlSleep).  I’d recommend it to professional aromatherapists and independent massage therapists too. If you use it yourself at home it’s best used every other day for maximum results. It does what it promises and providing it’s massaged well into skin it does make skin much more supple.

 Scores out of 10:

KS: 8/10

KG: 8/10

GT: 9/10

Thank you to Beauty Editor, Kate Shapland and Kirstie Garrett of Prendsletemps. Now go try them for yourself and let me know how you get on, using Kirstie’s leg-perfecting routine.

Kirstie Garrett’s Leg Tips:

Dry body-brushing – it works. It improves circulation – FACT!

Massage – aids elimination of toxins and lactic acid, encourages lymphatic flow and improves circulation. Most products claiming to help reduce signs of cellulite insist on massage being an integral part of the product application.

Diet – over the years I’ve found a strong link between clients with cellulite problems and a high intake of salt and caffeine. Try pink Himalayan salt and cut out caffeine, bearing in mind fizzy drinks often contain caffeine and are definitely the enemy!

Exercise – there’s no escaping it. Just find something you enjoy.

Water – eliminates toxins and keeps your energy levels up. If you don’t drink enough water then when your body gets it, it holds onto it and that’s basically water retention!

Sleep – the time when our bodies get to repair and rejuvenate. I’ve read endless research supporting the idea that every hour of sleep before midnight is the equivalent of two after midnight.

Retreat – I have seen great results on our 4-day pamper retreats. We work with individuals to tailor the all-inclusive treatments to their specific needs, with the kick start and confidence you need to stick to a manageable body beauty routine.



Welcome to the first Beauty Club at The Three Graces. This first session will be looking at self-tan products on the market. Myself, beauty editor Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith and tanning expert, James Read will be discussing our favourite products, much as you would a new book at a book club – but with a nice golden glow at the end of it.

GT: James, who do you think is an example of great tanning at the moment?

JR: Emma Watson. Her skin is always fashionably glowing – she doesn’t hide her fair complexion but always has a hint of colour. Flawless. Rosie Huntington-Whitely is another one who always gets her look right, although it’s a darker look of course. As a Victoria Secret model you have to!

GT: What about you, Sarah-Jane?

SJ: I always use Jennifer Aniston as my tanning comparison – she has the perfect Californian girl tan that I aim to get for myself.

GT: What do you find your readers worry about most when it comes to tanning, what issues do you have in mind when judging a new product?

SJ: I always find readers are worried about going orange and ending up streaky. Unless you choose a tan shade that is too dark for your skin or apply far too much of it, it’s very rare to go truly orange. And as for the streaks, the more you tan yourself the better you get. Practice always makes perfect.

GT: And what about you with your clients, James?

JR: The main concerns are always the same: they will miss bits when applying themselves; that they’ll look orange and fake, and that the tan will go patchy. But if you match the right tan with the right skin tone, then you won’t go wrong. So products that suit a variety of skin tones always appeal to me, and a foolproof application.

GT: Let’s look at the first product.


He-Shi Express Liquid Tan £20

SJ: I love the colour it gives me, the fact that it’s so easy and quick to apply and that I don’t feel sticky and covered in fake tan afterwards. And the biggest plus is that it doesn’t smell. So many brands say they don’t have the ‘biscuit’ smell, but they do. This one really doesn’t.

JR: Yes, same for me – there is nothing bad I can say about it. If I was being picky I did notice a slight smell after wearing it out after 8-10 hours but that’s the same with most self-tanning products and once you wash it off it’s perfect.

GT: But it’s a bit explosive, isn’t it? I mean you have to be careful how you apply it so you don’t have suspicious-looking dribbles everywhere.

JR: You absolutely have to use a mitt to apply this product. Map out your body in stages so you don’t miss bits. Start from your face and work down the body, leaving hands and feet until last.

SJ: The first time I used it I didn’t use the mitt, I just poured the liquid into my hand and it literally went everywhere! My bathroom looked like I’d had a fake tan bloodbath!

GT: You should see mine when I use a spray tan – it’s like I’ve been force-feeding babies Indian food. How did you find the colour, since you’re fair like me?

SJ: I have to be very careful not to use too much and look WAG-like, so I’d say a mitt is key (there’s one included and it’s really good). But He-Shi gives me the most amazing natural-looking colour – I look like a golden Californian gal when I apply it…just without the surfer lifestyle, toned body and amazing Malibu beach house to go with.

GT: That’s a serious product flaw. But it’s versatile isn’t it? Colour-wise? Seems like darker skin tones can take more applications and with us pale girls it’s perfect after one go.

JR: Totally – it suits all Tantones –

GT: Wait, what’s that now?

JR: Skin tones for tanning – Tantones! Unlike some products on the market, it suits everyone. It’s obviously important for me to use the right product on my clients to suit their individual skin tone, but this is an all-rounder. If you want to go darker, you just apply a second layer.

SJ: Exactly. It’s a very flattering golden hue with a peachy undertone. Plus it has never streaked which is always a big fake tan bonus.

GT: You see I was a bit shaky with it as I hadn’t used it before and the liquidity takes some getting used to.

SJ: But with a mitt I think it’s so easy – even a fake-tanning virgin would feel confident with this product. It’s tinted so you can see where you’ve applied it as you go, and it glides over the skin really easily

GT: I should have spoken to you first to avoid the brown puddle that ended up at my feet. How did you do it?

SJ: Once I’ve applied it onto the mitt, I just wait a few seconds for the product to sink in a little before bringing it to my skin. Otherwise the product can slide off the mitt and you can end up with the aforementioned blood bath.

GT: Lesson learnt. What I liked about it is that it dries so quickly with an instant colour and no smell, so you can apply it in the morning rather than having to line your bed with towels and stink out your bedroom overnight.

JR: With most products, I usually advise clients have the tan 2 days before an event but the great thing about this product is you can get away with applying on the day of your party and just go. First-timers should use it the day before though to get a feel for the product and how it works.

SJ: I agree – I would usually apply the night before, but this develops within about 5 hours and you don’t have to wash it off before going out. 

GT: You sound like a rep for He Shi, I take it it’s your favourite?

SJ:  I know, but it’s so good! It’s perfect for people who want to look naturally tanned and can’t be bothered with the rigmarole of application that a lot of brands require.  This is the brand that I would always recommend to readers first.

JR: I love it. The way forward is the liquid tan.


SJ: 10

JR: 10

GT: 9


Fake Bake Airbrush Spray Tan £26.99

GT: This is my favourite fake tan. It’s just the right tone for pale types like me; it dries so quickly and gives you an immediate shot of colour. That said, I’ve taken to shutting myself in the shower cubicle to apply it, thereby keeping the colour off the furniture, and I am then prone to choking on the fumes. Then cleaning the shower straight afterwards is tricky without washing the tan off your hands and wrists. So it would lose half a mark there.

SJ: Yes and it marks your clothes and bed sheets.

GT: I’ve managed to get it out after a wash though – I have had to learn not to allow it within inches of my dry-clean-only pieces.

SJ: I always use this on a day when I’m staying in and I can just wear old tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt around the house. It doesn’t smell great either. It’s definitely not the worse one I’ve ever used, but I usually need a spritz of perfume afterwards. My boyfriend has often complained that I smell when I use this one…and for a boy to notice, that’s saying something!

JR: I think if you find it really hard, you can spray onto a mitt and then wipe over your skin. But the directional colour means you can immediately see where you need to buff or wipe – it makes it easy to get a streak free tan with an instant hit of colour. It’s a really natural colour, too – the great thing about this product is that you only need to apply one layer for a light glow. If you want to go darker apply second layer a few days layer but don’t apply more than twice a week, as you will get build-up.

GT: I love that it’s so quick!

JR: Yes, and although I would apply it the day before an event, it’s great for people on the go as you can apply the product and go straight out. It’s all about the tan-and-go!

SJ: Exactly. If you’re just a normal girl, tanning in your bathroom you can spray this all over, wait a few seconds for it to dry and get dressed again. There’s no need to be walking around John Wayne style for hours.

GT: What about the colour? I love that it’s not too dark or orange and yet is definite warmth on the first go.

SJ: I find it gives me quite a strong colour – I only ever apply a light coating of the product and that works for my ‘trying not to look fake tanned’ look. Goodness knows what I would look like if I used their intense range!

GT: See for me, the colour is spot-on. I only need one application and maybe a top-up on my legs, which seem to hold colour the least. It’s an easy top-up when you’re fading.

SJ: And you get a lot of product for your money so as far as fake tan’s go it’s fairly economical, especially if like you you’re using it as a top-up.

GT: So you would buy it then?

SJ: Yes. And I think Fake Bake will always have a loyal following because of its renowned cult celebrity clientele. The spray tan is easy and quick to use so would suit girls who like to get glammed up for a Saturday night out and regard tanning as an essential part of their regime.

GT: I’m not sure I’m that girl, but it’s definitely a staple of mine. I suppose it is primarily for when I know I’m going to be baring my legs more than usual – so around party season, fashion week and through the summer. I also love a Fake Bake professional spray tan before a holiday or an event.


SJ: 7

JR: 8

GT: 9.5

St Tropez Everyday (Light to Medium) £14

GT: This is my favourite of the gradual tanners – the colour is great, it doesn’t tend towards patchiness like some do and it keeps your skin soft and smooth unlike most instant fake tan products. I would tend towards this for winter, topping up with Fake Bake’s Airbrush for a party, but this is something you can use everyday.

SJ: I like that you can build up the colour – so on day 1 you are natural, day 2 – sun kissed, day 3 – glowing, day 4 – tanned.

GT: And you don’t ever get that gravy-stained look with it. Although I do tend to do a St Tropez Detox bath every Sunday to get it all off and start again – that way you don’t get any patchiness. Is there anything about it you’re less keen on?

SJ: The smell. I’m sure St Tropez said they reformulated the products so they smelt better but this smells like FAKE FAKE FAKE tan.

JR: I’d agree – it’s not really that noticeable but after 4-5 hours you do notice a slight smell.

GT: It’s a great foolproof product for low-maintenance tanners, since it’s a body lotion, and great for dry skin.

SJ: Definitely. It’s just like applying a moisturiser. You still have to be fairly careful about applying it evenly but because it contains less tanning agent there is less risk of streaking. You could use gloves though if you wanted to stop getting tan build-up between your fingers, but I just make sure I wash them really thoroughly.

JR: Yes you shouldn’t need mitts seeing as there’s no colour guide. And I don’t know that it’s that low maintenance as you do have to apply twice to notice a colour but you shouldn’t apply more than twice other wise you will get build up, so I guess that’s less effort than most tanner require.

GT: I use it to perk up winter’s pasty skin when I don’t want to do a full tan. It just takes the edge off and sort of preps my skin for more intense colour.

SJ: I tend to just use this on my legs now. My legs are the hardest part to tan, so need constant tanning attention! So I use this regularly on my legs and then when I need to match my top half to my bottom half I will use an instant fake tan to quickly get the rest of me matching.

JR: It’s great because it does give such a natural colour, and that’s what tanning is all about right now. But you’ll only notice a colour if you have a light skin tone. It’s great for those with fair colouring and a hectic life!

GT: Yes, a good one to take on holiday too. So the only flaw then, other than the smell is that the colour is light?

SJ: But then gradual tanners are great for people who want to maintain an all year round glow and easy to adopt into even the most basic of routines so I would say that this is an all round product suitable for everyone and anyone.

JR: True – I don’t use gradual tanners in my business, but I would recommend it to people who want a natural looking tan and don’t want to be too dark. 


SJ: 8

JR: 8

GT: 8

Thank you to Sarah-Jane Corfield-Smith, freelance Beauty Editor and James Read, The UK’s Leading Self Tanning Expert, Agua Spa, Sanderson hotel & Now go try them for yourself and let me know how you get on, using James’ pro-tanning tips.

James Read’s Tanning Tips:

1. Never over-apply self-tan – less is more.

2. Always prepare your skin before tanning as follows: wax 48 hours before, shave 24 hours before and exfoliate 24 hours before applying your self tan.

3. Remember to moisturise the hands, feet, knees, elbows or any dry areas on the body.

4. Don’t wash your hands for up to 6-8 hours, as you don’t want white hands at the end of brown arms

5. Leave your self-tan on for 8-12 hours or for better results, sleep with your tan on.

6. Moisturise daily to prolong your tan

7. Exfoliate after 3 days to help your tan fade evenly. Go for a product that contains AHAs as they are great to remove self-tan, like He-Shi Body Exfoliator.

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