Monday, 12 February 2007

Under Pressure

Its valentine’s day soon and even though I’m spoken for and therefore can’t join the ranks of single woman who boycott this romantic occasion me and Mr J have never really marked it. However, I like to celebrate it myself with a bit of pampering. This year I didn’t even have to think about it, the choice was obvious. Daily Candy were doing a deal with Clinique at Harrods and celebrity make-up artist Alex Babsky. For £10 you had an hour long session with Alex and one of the Clinique make-up artists and your money back against any purchases. I booked myself in after work yesterday as an end of the week pre-valentine’s treat, fully aware that as soon as saw the products I would hand over money I couldn’t spare. But I was sure it would be worth it.


And it was. It’s pretty intimidating to sit in the middle of probably the busiest shop in London and have all your make-up removed before trusting a stranger to re-apply it (although Kylie had been in the day before – now that would be competition!). Harrods is a glam environment and as I sat down I realised I wasn’t quite mentally prepared for what could be public humiliation. Would Alex take one look at my bare face and laugh until he had to be removed from the premises, would I react to one of the products and explode in a mass of redness? However, the Clinique make-up artist who was looking after me was so lovely she immediately made me feel so at ease that I didn’t mind her getting her trowel out to remove my war paint.

Whilst removing all my make-up Sam told me more about Clinique. All products are fragrance free and are often recommended by doctors for people with dry or difficult skin. Their products are tested and re-tested and if any of the tests cause a reaction then the product is not produced. I was further re-assured when looking at their website later to find a section where you can ask their lab questions and they will tell you the best treatments for all types of skin. The Clinique CX range is a great range of products for more unusual but common problems offering solutions for stretch marks (Stretch Mark Cream), redness (Redness Relief Cream) and discoloured and damaged skin (New Colour Corrector) among other things. Clinique’s most popular range is their 3-step care routine: Cleansing with non-drying facial soap, exfoliating clarifying lotion, and moisturising with lotion or gel (the website will tell you which products are best for your skin type).

Sam used Liquid Facial Soap to remove my foundation and the top layer of dirt. There is no point in using the clarifying lotion without getting your make-up off properly first otherwClinique Clarifying Lotion 2ise you will never get all the dust and grime off your skin that can build up during the day. I rarely use soap on my face. As someone with naturally dry skin when I think of soap I can feel the skin on my face tightening and dehydrating but the Clinique Facial Soap feels more like proper make-up remover.

Next was the Clinique Clarifying Lotion 2. This works better the more you use it. It gently exfoliates without being abrasive on the skin. The third step is to moisturise which is not an unusual way to end a beauty routine but rather than slapping on a thick moisturising cream we used their Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion which doesn’t just pump in moisture but corrects the balance of moisture in your skin – so this is a great purchase even for those who, like me, are dedicated to one or two makes of moisturiser. This one is not like all the others.

My skin care complete, it was time to meet Alex and discuss what make-up we should do. Clinique Turnaround 15 Minute FacialWhile we waited Sam applied some Turnaround 15-minute Facial to the back of my hand. Apparently I would see the difference; even on my hand (I was dubious). Then Alex appeared and was totally different to how I expected. He was calm and friendly, really interested in what you wanted from your make-up and keen to find something slightly different to show you rather than playing safe and going with something not dissimilar to your usual look. For someone who has done such famous faces as the Beckhams and Naomi Campbell he didn’t seem at all appalled when presented with my naked face. I’m pretty stuck in my ways with regard to my daily make-up and I won’t deny that this involves black eyeliner (complete with flicks) and the most volumising black mascara I can get my hands on. I think Alex had noted this on my arrival and when told I also had trouble creating the perfect smoky eye look, he very calmly decided that he’d like to try reds. I have to say I was not sure. I imagined my washed out face with pillar box streaks round my piggy eyes but reminded myself that I had yet to see this look feature on Victoria (or David) Beckham so I was probably going to be alright.

So we got to it. Sam got to work with Gentle Light Make Up (04 Nude Glow) which was applied with a great brush (Foundation Brush £20). I had been naughty and after my foundation brush broke I resorted to sponges which are not at all hygienic but I could tell the difference in the application with this brush. I recommend getting one. Although this is a great foundation I still found it a bit un-smooth on the dry patch in betwClinique Airbrush Concealereen my eyebrows so I don’t think I would apply it there. It does illuminate your skin nicely giving a change from the usual matte look. Next came my one regret of the hour. I didn’t buy the Airbrush Concealer. I’m running out of Bo-oing and this light concealer really works well under the eyes covering dark circles and fine lines. A loose dusting of powder meant I was ready for the red!!

Sam worked with Colour Surge Eyeshadow Soft Shimmer in Cider building up with the layers around the eye and going further up onto the eye socket than I’ve ever had the guts to do. She also built up fine layers of cider along my lower eyelashes using a thin shadow brush. Rather than my usual black we chose Quickliner in Roast Coffee which was is really easy to apply and smudgy so you don’t get to severe a line. Rather than eyeliner or mascara on the lower lashes Sam built up the colour using the Cider eyeshadow on a fine brush right under the lashes. She continued to build up the smoky lookClnique Quickliner in Roast Coffee with shadow and liner adding a small application of black liner right next to the top lashes and then Alex came to curl my eyelashes. I can never do this without taking half the skin off my nose – having someone else do it for you is fantastic. Then one application of mascara which looked so subtle against the browny red of the cider but added some great definition. Alex chose Blushing Blush powder in Innocent Peach a colour I would never have chosen myself. I don’t think I’d even considered using blusher that wasn’t a light pink but this peachier colour suited my skin tone so much better.

Throughout the makeover Alex and Sam just seemed so calm that even though I had no idea what I looked like I really wasn’t dreading looking at myself at all. I was reassured when Alex decided the first choice of lip gloss made the overall look too ‘natural’ and so chose another. He wasn’t afraid to change his mind. We went for Colour Surge Impossibly Glossy in Beach Bunny. I had to shove my hands in my pocket when I left to stop me adding it to my ever growing list of purchases. For the grand finale Sam removed the Turnaround Cream from my hand and I really could see the difference. The skin looked clearer, less red and dry and felt so smooth and moisturised.

When I looked in the mirror I was really surprised. It was completely different to what I expected and what I usually go for. The eyes were defined but subtle and really effective. The colours made my eyes look properly blue green and my skin looked bright and healthy and the further application of the eyeshadow really looked great. Nothing looked too over-the-top but I felt ‘glammed’. I was really pleased and very impressed. I hadn’t expected the people to Clinique Blushing Blush Powderbe so friendly and genuinely interested in me and Alex and Sam both talked me through what they were doing while they were doing it. The products were really good and I had to stop myself spending my entire monthly wage. But will I be able to re-create the effect? I’ll have to let you know but I’m quietly confident.

I would recommend anyone to go online and find when the next celebrity make-up artist is coming to town. If you want to pamper yourself this is a really good way to do it. It was a real treat. Beware £10 seems like a great deal but if the make-over is good this will turn into a pretty expensive outing.
So what could I not leave without?
N.B. I've been using Clarifying Lotion for 5 days now and it is amazing. Worth getting when you are feeling a little flush! xx
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