Friday, 30 April 2010

Tending to the Lady Garden

I would never normally mix business and blogging - but in honour of the Official roll-out of 'all for eve' this week and in place of the usual 'beauty' posts - I wanted to share some information made available to us through both The Eve Appeal and also by Dr Tim Mould - Oncologist Gynaecologist at UCLH here in London.                                                                                                             
I feel very privileged  to be a part of something so unique from its inception and feel especially passionate about this cause as I lost my grandmother to gynaecological cancer  when she was far too young.

'all for eve' is a stand alone beauty and lifestyle brand whose sole purpose is to generate much needed funds and awareness for gynaecological cancers.  Products go on sale this weekend across most big retail channels.

All net profits generated by the sale of these products go to The Eve Appeal - which in turn funds research into gynaecological cancers at UCLH in London.

Please read, feel free to copy, pass on and do what you can to create more awareness of this horrifying disease.

Firstly a few shocking statistics:

•    50 women a day are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer in the UK

•    20 women a day die of a gynaecological cancer in the UK

•    1,000,000 a year are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer worldwide

•    Of these over 720,000 will die

•    9/10 women do not know how many gynaecological cancers there are

•    3/4 of women cannot name any symptoms of ovarian cancer

•    Ovarian cancer takes the lives of 72% of sufferers every year – a figure that has barely changed since 1972

•    85% of sufferers of ovarian cancer present at Stage 3 (out of 4) – at which point the survival rate is 15%

•    85% of sufferers of breast cancer survive (based on a 5 year survival rate)

The Facts:

There are 5 types of gynaecological cancer:

Ovarian, endometrial/uterine (womb), vulval, cervical, vaginal

•    Ovarian cancer is the most common form - although cancer of the womb has the highest rate of increases which are believed to be related to weight increase post-menopause.
•    Average age for ovarian cancer is 59 – average age of cervical cancer is 35
•    90% of cases are sporadic
•    10% are inherited genes

Your risk of sporadic cancer is greatly reduced if you:
•    Have 3 or more children
•    Have been taking the combined pill for more than 10 years as the pill suppresses ovulation – thereby ostensibly giving the ovaries ‘a rest’
•    Have had tubal sterilisation
•    A hysterectomy
•    The marina coil will ‘probably’ reduce your risk of womb cancer

Increased risks
•    If you carry the BRCA gene you have an increased risk of both breast and ovarian cancers – as high as 80% for breast and 40% for ovarian
•    IVF over-stimulates the ovaries and can cause tiny little cysts which are then more likely to turn cancerous
•    Familial risk – only increases by 5% if you have a primary (mother, sister) relative with the disease

The other problem is that the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be diagnosed for numerous other illnesses – especially IBS.
•    Abdominal distension
•    Bloating
•    Lower back pain
•    Bowel obstruction
•    Urinary symptoms
•    Breathlessness
An undetected cancer on the ovary can and will spread to every other internal organ due to their proximity in the body cavity

The main problem with ovarian cancer is that most women present at Stage 3 or 4.
85% of all sufferers are at this stage when diagnosed.
If caught at Stage 1 the survival rate is 90% - this lowers to 15% at Stages 3 and 4.
Ultrasound is the best way for diagnosis. It will show up anything that should not be there – and in the doctor’s words – ‘any cyst showing up after menopause should NOT be there’.
There is also a CA125 blood test which registers when protein levels go up in the blood – a sign of ovarian cancer – the problem with this is that other viruses can cause the levels to rise and proteins will not rise with ALL cancers.
If you are in the very high risk group you should have the blood test every 4 months.
If you are post-menopausal you should have a scan and blood test every year.
Ideally, everyone else should alternate blood test/scan every other year.

Stage 1 – curable with surgery
Stage 2 – curable with surgery and (sometimes) chemotherapy
Stage 3 and 4 – 15% survival rate with surgery and chemotherapy
Stages 3 and 4, once cured, can be treated as a ‘chronic illness’ similar to diabetes because it can come back.

Thanks to the support of The Eve Appeal, UCLH is currently undertaking the largest medical trial on ovarian cancer in history. It finishes in 2011 and the results will be announced in 2015.
It is based on 3 separate groups of women and the aim is to conclusively prove that testing/screening lowers incidences of ovarian cancer and thus force the government to introduce scanning and testing across the country for women in all risk groups.

Please take care of your Lady Garden Ladies.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Biologique Recherche

Those two words fill my heart with joy.  Not only did I do some of my advanced facial training here (brilliant memories of hazy Paris days and nights!) but this renowned Parisian establishment is also home to my favourite beauty product of all time. P50.

Never before has a product been so unknown by so many and so beloved by those that have had the privilege/honour/joy of using it. I was introduced to P50 by Sylvie and Olivia Chantecaille - and when these two ladies recommend something - you pay attention.

Situated in a lovely courtyard off the Champs Elysee - no. 32 - Biologique Recherche is the home of the renowned Alloche family.

 Yvan and Josette Alloche founded BR 30 years ago when its main purpose was to devise formulations for companies tired of the same old products.  If you have ever had a Carita Lifting facial - the machine they use was originally developed by  the late Monsieur Alloche -a biologist passionate about providing skin care that gave immediate and lasting results.
His wife, Madame Alloche (recently deceased Jan 2014) - was a physiotherapist and professor of osteopathy obsessed with improving the skin through external manipulation (clearly a woman after my own heart - and a fearsome woman to train under!).  Their son, Philippe, runs the U.S. leg of the business and is a doctor providing the knowledge for a range of products that are truly medicinal.

P50 is the backbone of the BR range and comes in 3 strengths.  All BR skin care treatments start with P50 - although newbies should start with the P50V or P50W - the original may be too much to begin with.

P50 contains (amongst others) Glycerin, Lactic Acid, Usnic Acid, Witch Hazel extract, Myrrh extract, Myrtle extract , Onion extract, Sage extract, Ascorbic Acid,  Sulphur,  and Phenol. Personally, I think it's a mixture of the acids - not the usual mixture - and the phenol. 
It's really all about the Phenol for me. Slightly acidic, Phenol is a disinfectant, bacteria killer and get this - the best part - a slight anaestethic. It does temporarily, slightly numb after application and the smell is so distinctive that I switched the usual family Germolene for the one that contains Phenol just so I could smell it. 
Sad I know.

Applied morning and evening the P50 (not the Germolene!) gently exfoliates, regulates excessive sebum secretion, moisturises and helps maintain the epidermis' acid PH.
That all sounds lovely I know - but what it actually does is make your skin look BRAND NEW, feel like SILK and make everything you put on top of it work ten times better.
It was number 1 in Allure magazine's Top 50 Products of All Time a few years ago - and yet still is a bit of an industry secret.

For more info on P50 and distributors in your country look here:

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Loving a little Liberty!

I moved to London when I was 17.  My very first retail job was in Liberty - an amazing place to work - primarily because you felt like an extra in a film about Henry VIII.

The floors creaked and every nook and cranny was taken up with product from renowned names and hard-to-find brands - all of them fitted perfectly within the old Tudor walls.

Last week I had to pop into Liberty for business reasons - made even more pleasurable by Banana Republic moving in across the street (don't even get me started) and my trusty old favourite did not disappoint.

I had to go through the Beauty Room - which although tightly packed as always DOES now have Anne Semonin - MA.J.O.R. S.C.O.R.E. (more to follow at a later date) and then drifted into the fragrance section.

Dear. God.

The fragrance section in Liberty is enough to make grown women weep.

Every corner is covered in all the best fragrances from far and wide...

L'Artisan Parfumeur - Amber and Rose - preferably mixed

Le Labo - Jasmine, Rose, Vetiver - who cares - pick one!

 Diptyque - Do Son - If I didn't know better I'd say it was French for 'divine'

Quelques Fleur - soft, floral and aahhhhh

Prada - Tubereuse- yes - I'm beginning to see a pattern also...

And then - you turn the corner thinking - I'll get to handbags - much safer (??!!)

and there in the distance lies the Holy Grail.

Frederic. Bloody. Malle.

And one of my all-time favourite scents: Lys Mediterranee

Ginger Lilies, Orange Blossom, Musk, Vanilla.... 'tis an olfactory orgasm. Yes. You heard me. Olfactory orgasm.

After making sure that every part of my body was covered in said perfume (along with all of the above - yes - I sprayed them ALL) I made my way through the middle atrium to the lifts and headed for the 4th Floor - the bath and body shop.

Lord. Have. Mercy.

The window was open and the entrance is downwind. The smell hit me in the face like a warm fuzzy haze of fruit. And soap. Fruity Soap. Beautifully packaged warm fruity soap.  This was their main display:

The Italian brand Il Frutteto had a huge table full to the brim of every flavour imaginable for soap. Fig, and Almond, Citrus and Bergamot, Peach and Melon - all divine. But I came away with

the divine Pomegranate and Blackcurrant. 

God it smells good.

I bought it, took it home and said to my husband, 'God you HAVE to smell this soap I bought in Liberty today!'
He smelt it, handed it back to me and said 'Excellent - you can use it to wash with now - you smell like a brothel.'

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Advertising v Allocation

We all know the power of beauty advertising in the glossy mags - and the pressure then put on the journalists to write about the advertisers products in their beauty pages.
So much so that if like me, you are a beauty product AND a glossy mag junkie - you will know what is going to be inside simply from reading the headline on the cover..e.g.

'Top 5 Products you MUST own!' - I know what you're thinking!
'Top 5 Facials you MUST have!' - I know who you're thinking of!
'5 Products to get you in to shape for the Summer!' - you get the picture...

Bit repetitive?


It occurred to me that these lists very rarely contain one thing - what the staff ACTUALLY use!

All companies give their staff an 'allocation' - some very generous - some less so (one very famous MU line cut the entire allocation for their UK staff last year due to the economic crisis in the US - B.A.D. move - B.A.D. - upsetting the people who have to SELL your product - genius).

 So, from the girls (and some boys!) - the REAL products you should own!

Advertising v Allocation!

Waiting lists for: Nail Polishes/Lipsticks

Staff swear by: 
'the best colours and packaging'
HydraMax Serum
'LOVE it!'

Renowned for: Future/Real/Just Skin
What you NEED?:
Talc Free Loose Powder
'Oh my God - you don't realise what a loose powder IS until you have used this'
Mascara Faux Cils
'Permanently sold out for a reason'

Biggest Sellers: Hand Cream, Beauty Flash Balm, Multi-Active Day Cream
What do the staff say you SHOULD be using?:
Tonic Oil
'Not just for pregnant women - I go insane if I am low on this'
Generation 6
'Everything in one bottle - can't live without it'
Hydra Quench Mask
'Fixes my face in 5 minutes' 

Estee Lauder
Best known product: Advanced Night Repair Serum (quelle surprise)
What do the staff swear by?:
Lash Primer Plus
'Does EXACTLY what is says on the tube' 
'Cannot live without it'
'Would pay for it if I didn't work for the company!' 

Laura Mercier
Best-sellers: Tinted moisturiser
Everyone should own:
Hydratint SPF15 in Berry, Rose and Nude
'Perfect for every skin colour'

Renowned for: Spice Lip Liner
Must have:
Lip Glass - all variations - especially clear
'Anyone can use - on its own or over other product'

Renowned for: Orgasm blush, Laguna bronzer, Body Glow
What the team use?:
Mekong Eyeshadow
'The BEST no-red,no-orange brown'
Dragon Girl Velvet Matt Lip Pencil
Check these testers instore - they are always a stub
'the perfect grab-it-and-go red'
'obsessed with it'

Shu Uemura 
Obviously!: Eyelash Curler
Staff were adamant on this one: 
'can be used wet or dry and the best pigment' 
Drawing Pencil Eye Liner in matt black 
'I can do a full smoky eye with this one product in 3 minutes'

Best Sellers: Sisleya, Express Flower gel
The staff order: 
Ecological Compound 
'our best-kept secret' 
All Day All Year
'an unbelievable moisturiser'

Trish McEvoy 
Renowned for: planners
Staff use:
Finish Line
'especially for jobbing make-up artists  - weddings etc - makes everything waterproof'

So - the next time you're at a counter  - say to the staff - 'what do you order on your allocation?'

You may be pleasantly surprised!

Part 1 of 2!

Pictures courtesy of Michelle George

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

A Family Affair

I have been in the beauty biz a long time - but thanks to the women in these two pictures below - my earliest memories are ALL beauty related...

The above is my Nana on her Coty counter in 1966.  She went on to work for Guerlain for years - leaving me with a beautiful collection of antique Guerlain perfume bottles along with all of her old certificates and mementos. She always looked immaculate and smelled fabulous.

And the big hair on the left belongs to my Mum - 1966. She went on to work for Helena Rubinstein among others right through to the 80's.  Our hallway at home was always filled with their tester units at the weekends when Mum was doing wedding make-ups. Only one of which I was allowed to sneak in to and watch. Bah.

And then we have my daughter.  Who, although she loves make-up and advises her teenage brothers on skincare - assures me that she.....

has 'no interest in doing anything except riding her Harley, marrying a Jonas Brother and getting a full sleeve on her arm' as per:

What can you do?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Cheat Sheet - Facial Massage for Cleansing/Post-Cleansing

If you are one of those people who splodges a bit of cleansing milk on - rubs it into your eyes frantically - and then splashes it off with a sink full of water or worse, use a couple of wipes every night and think your face is clean - fear not - help is at hand. No doubt your skin does not look its best - and you may not even be aware of the fact.

Firstly - a moment on cleansing - get thee to an oil-based cleanser - NOW.  Like attracts like - oil in your cleanser will attract all of the oil/dirt/excess sebum on your skin and will carry it away with it when you wipe it off.  And I am (always) talking about a non-mineral oil cleanser.  Mineral oil is (ridiculously) cheap, nasty, has no benefits to the skin and no place in skincare in this day and age and you should not be wiping it all over your best asset.

Use a fresh cloth that has been held under a running tap to wipe away the cleanser - rinse and repeat until all traces of make-up are gone and you can see no product on your face. I have a cupboard full of muslin cloths but never use them - buy some flannels/washcloths. Cheap, can handle being washed at high temperatures thus killing any bacteria and very affordable.
If you still use a jar of cold cream - 1956 rang - it would like its cleanser back.
If you only 'cleanse' with wipes - stop it. That's not cleansing - that's moving all the dirt around your face.

You can do this either as part of your cleanse or when you've already cleansed and are applying an oil or balm before bed.  Don't use too much product for the massage - remember always - GRIP not SLIP!
Snippets of this will also come in very handy when you are suffering from hayfever or getting over a cold etc...see below..

  • Assume the position below - with both hands!

  •  Place both hands onto your face at the chubbiest part of your cheeks like SO:

No it's not attractive (have you SEEN my nose) - but I'm not asking you to do it on the No.7 bus so get with it.

To get your skin in the mood and to acclimatise the pressure:
  • move your fingers in a circular motion WITHOUT lifting them off the skin - if you are doing this properly you should be making (quite rude) squelching noises involuntarily AND it should be slightly uncomfortable. Do this until you feel like it is doing something but aim for a minute - it will start to feel easier and less painful.
  • Move up the face and repeat at the sides of your ears, sides of your nose - knead (gently) like there is no tomorrow. In an ideal world do this for 30 seconds as your minimum.

Sidebar: The only round muscles on the face circle the eyes (orbicularis oculi) and the mouth (orbicularis oris - mouth - technically four separate parts that form like a circle as opposed to an actual circle) yet too many brands/facials spend their time advising round circular motions (there are a few notable exceptions). Massaging the face using only circular action is a tad like trying to iron using only circles.

  • Place your first 2 fingers in the hollow under your cheekbone and massage gently. This will be really painful if you are suffering from a cold/hayfever - but will equally ease the blocked nose/throat symptoms if you gently persevere.  

  • Apply your fingertips just below the hollow of your cheeks at the side of your mouth and apply pressure while slowly and firmly lifting your hands up the face, over the cheekbones and to your temples. It helps you find the hollow if you open your mouth when you apply your fingers.
  • Repeat 10 times firmly and slightly quicker - note: lift off when you reach the temple and start again at the sides of the mouth - don't drag your hands down the face - Mother Nature does that for us all eventually - let's not help her out
  • Moving up to your eyes - place the pads of fingers 1, 2 and 3 underneath your eyebrows and push upwards and outwards (similar to what you would do if you had a migraine/hangover depending on whether you have 4 kids/some sort of social life.. ) and hold and push down for a repeat of about the same fingers underneath the eye on the orbital bone and smooth outwards and up so that all fingers are resting on the temple - and push down for a repeat of 3-4. yu can be firm but do not apply too much pressure. The eye is a delicate area.

For shifting the toxins that gather on your face (and that you have just woken up with all of the above) - try the below - ideally you should do this every night with your cleanse - think of your chin and jaw as the dustbin of your face - all of your toxins will be sitting here just minding their own business - making you look dull and most importantly droopy! - time to send them on their merry way (be very gentle if you are suffering from an auto-immune disease, any kind of cancer or simply feel like you are coming down with the flu. Your Doctor will advise if you cannot have any massage of any kind).

  • Place your fingers on your jaw like so:
  • Grip the underside and topside of your chin/jawline firmly and DDDRRRAAAGGGGGG your fingers backwards towards the underside of your ear like so:

  • Keep your grip tight. The pressure should move the cheeks out of the way as shown.

  • When your fingers reach the end of your jawline and drop into the hollow under your earlobe (your lymph node) - pump gently for a count of 3-4.
  • Repeat until you start to feel heat generating - you will go pink - which is the whole point - stimulating the blood flow to get things moving....

This can all be done in 5 minutes flat or over the course of your favourite TV show whilst making cups of tea in-between. The point is: make it a habit - your face will thank you for it.