Beauty, Betsy Loves, Culture, Fashion

Not another Xmas gift guide

Well, I guess that’s exactly what this is, but hopefully it’ll also be quite helpful! Buying presents for multiple people can be really tough, and more than a little bewildering, so while I might not be able to help you with the men in your life, I might be able to shed some light for the women.

The Red Lipstick

First of all, does the woman (wife/girlfriend/daughter/sister/mother) in your life wear red lipstick? Yes? Then, you’re sorted. Buy her Chanel’s Rouge Coco in Gabrielle, £25. Chanel is a great gift, the packaging is insanely glamorous, the colour is flattering on everyone, and the formula is silky but also strongly pigmented.

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The Cashmere Beanie

Does your lady wear hats? Not a fedora, but beanies? Then go for COS’ cashmere beanie; a steal at £29. Everyone loves cashmere and it’s ridiculously soft. The colour ranges are lovely, and it’s at least half the price of most other cashmere beanies.

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The Expert Tool Kit (no; not that kind!)

Does she enjoy make-up? I mean actively enjoy, as opposed to just wearing it. Then hop on to Space NK’s website, and get a pair of Shu Uemura’s eyelash curlers for £20. These are the best in the business, and will give a lovely curl to lashes.

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The Luxury Make-Up

Another option is to dive into Charlotte Tilbury’s new make-up range. This selection is utterly glamorous and totally lust-worthy. Her Filmstars On The Go (£42) palettes look divine, and are pretty easy to choose from. If you’re scared about picking the wrong colours, jump over to her eye crayons where you can buy individual ones according to eye colour (£19) or buy a selection pack for £75.

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The Silver Bangle

Does she wear jewellery? And is that jewellery delicate? Then look no further than Links of London’s karabiner bangle. Yes, it’s a bit more pricey for £140, but it is stunning.

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The Designer Candle

Is she house proud? Does she lust over elegant interiors? Then go for a decadent scented candle from Jo Malone (£40). Far from being a naff present, scented candles are great, and Jo Malone is pretty high up there. Diptyque candles are super duper pricey, but these look amazing and save you some pennies. Every fragrance they do is delicious, but ask one of the lovely saleswomen to guide you between fruity and floral if you need.

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The Coffee Table Book

Does photography rock her boat? Or perhaps Kate Moss? Or fashion? Easy peasy – Kate: The Kate Moss Book (£32.50).

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The Beauty Must Have

Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream (£26). Until you’ve tried it, you don’t know why you’d need it, once you have, you don’t know how you lived without it. Trust me.

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The Glam Watch

Large faced watches are all the rage at the moment, and Olivia Burton does some of the best for a really good price. My personal favourite is the large white face with black leather strap (£75).

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Hope some of this helps! And if it does nothing else, it means I might be getting a cracking stocking from my nearest and dearest this year. Hint hint.

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Beauty

On the scent

I have the ultimate First World dilemma. Let me introduce you to women and perfume. This relationship can go one of two ways – either you’re an ardent supporter of a single scent and wear it all day, every day; or you’re fickle and flutter from one perfume to another depending on your mood, season, etc.

Until recently, I’ve been the signature scent kind of gal since falling in love with Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir about ten years ago. Every now and then I had a spritz of something else but I mostly remained faithful, and it’s what people associated with me. But then, suddenly, one morning, I woke up and wasn’t in love any more, at all. (And no, I wasn’t pregnant.)

Since then, I’ve toyed semi-seriously with another Jo Malone – Vetyver – but that’s being discontinued (sigh) and Liz Earle’s Botanical Essence No.15 which, while delicious, sadly lacks staying power; more recently I’ve dabbled all over the shop – from Chanel to Chloé – but I’m not head over heels for any of them.

Shopping for a new perfume is an olfactory minefield: what smells lovely on paper, can smell completely different on your skin, and then, after you’ve tried several scents, you can’t distinguish between them all anyway. After a couple of years of searching, I got so desperate recently I went back to Pomegranate Noir just to see if I’d changed my mind again. I haven’t.

I’ve grown up adhering to the first perfume principle that without my signature I’m all at sea; my perfume had almost become part of my personality and now I’m adrift. First World problem or not, any suggestions will be gratefully received. Until then, I’ll continue to sidle up to strangers, sniff deeply, ponder, before asking the all-important question, ‘What perfume are you wearing?’

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Beauty, Betsy Loves

The scent of a woman

When your latest perfume (or aftershave) has reached the dregs at the bottom of the bottle, I can not urge you enough to pay a trip to your local Jo Malone store.

Some say that a woman should find her signature scent and stick with it, so that whenever there is a waft of Shalimar or Poison, people will know she’s around, or be reminded of her. Other people swear by different scents for different seasons, moods, and outfits. I’m sort of a mix of the two. For years and years and years, I wore Jo Malone’s Pomegranate Noir and nothing else (well, apart from clothes, obviously…), and then one day I decided to branch out, but not far, to another of their perfumes, Vetyver. Every now and then I add another one to my repertoire but always Jo Malone. Always. Why?

Gosh, so many reasons! In the first instance, I was lucky enough to be treated to some vouchers for there many years ago, and purchased, after much consideration, sniffing and advice, a bottle of their Pomegranate Noir. It was my first proper grown up scent and I’ve always treasured it.

Then there’s the simple elegance and sophistication of their branding and packaging. Ok, maybe that’s shallow, but come on, most people buy into a brand, and I’d rather buy into gorgeous glass bottles that arrive nestled in scented black tissue paper encased in sturdy cream and black cardboard boxes (which are absolutely lovely to have around the house as well as being useful!) and tied with matching ribbons. You can keep Nicki Minaj’s latest ‘fragrance’, thank you very much. To sound like a snob, Jo’s range is simply incomparable to the synthetic vanilla, rose and chemical garbage that’s on display in Boots or Superdrug.

And finally, there’s the way I feel when I wear one of the perfumes – sexy or refined, refreshed or musky, invigorated or full of lust – quite simply, whatever my mood, they make me feel like a complex and sophisticated woman who can take on the world. And who wouldn’t want to feel like that, really?

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Pomegranate Noir has practically taken on cult status and was inspired by a red silk dress. It’s the sexiest perfume I’ve worn, and I love it. It’s described as ‘ruby-rich juices of pomegranate, raspberry and plum spiked with pink pepper and laced with Casablanca lily and spicy woods. A dark and enigmatic fragrance.’ How could you resist that? Every woman wants to be considered enigmatic.

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Vetyver is fresh and invigorating, and I love spritzing it on when I need to get my head down. The company describe it as a ‘harmonious blend of vetiver with bergamot, nutmeg and cedarwood. A contemporary interpretation of a spicy, aromatic classic. An elegant and enduring cologne.’ I feel elegant when I wear this; I really do.

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A few years later, I discovered their Cologne Intense range, and in particular – Dark Amber and Ginger Lily. Wowsers! I take back what I said about Pomegranate Noir; this is the SEXIEST scent I own. Comprising ‘black cardamom, ginger and water lily’ in packs an intense punch of pure sex and lust. This is a grown up perfume and used sparingly, I adore it.

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Most recently, I’ve been lusting after their Earl Grey and Cucumber, with ‘ a burst of bergamot, distinct to Earl Grey, and the cool succulence of crunchy cucumber. Counterpoised with a sweet base of beeswax, vanilla and musk. Reviving and refined.’ This is so light and refreshing, perfect for a spring day.

All of the Jo Malone fragrances are yummy, and there is something for every nose. I guess it sort of sounds like I’m writing a promo for them, but I’m not – I promise! Although if they’d like to send me a freebie, I’d be happy with that…

Honestly, pop in one day, have a spray, and if you don’t leave with one of their beautiful elegant cream and black embossed gift boxes, then I’ll eat my hat!

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