Tag: Financial Times
The following article was published in the Financial Times on 7th February 2009.
As wildcat strikes loomed large across Britain last week and world leaders gathered for a global recession summit in Davos, the Bank of England was debating a different topic … high heels and lipstick.
“Always wear a heel and some sort of make-up, even if it’s just lipstick,” female employees of the Bank were advised by image consultants at the Dress for Success event held at its City headquarters. Also included in the advice was a list of items not to wear such as ankle chains, double-pierced ears and “an overload of rings”.
The theme of the seminar – as well as the timing – ruffled a few significant feathers. Katherine Rake, director of women’s rights group the Fawcett Society, complained that setting down such codes for women contravened equal opportunities practice.
Yet despite the potential for controversy, companies such as the Bank of England, as well as several British law firms, evidently take the image of their staff seriously. As a topic it may stick in the throat and incur accusations of sexism, but evidence suggests that many firms have good grounds to invest in appearance.
A 2006 study by Buckinghamshire Chilterns University College and L’Oréal Recherche found that when 152 men and 171 women were asked to assess photographs of four women with and without make-up, their responses suggested that women who were presented wearing make-up were perceived to be more confident, and thought to have a greater earning potential and more prestigious jobs than those without make-up.
And Bank of England is certainly not the first institution to advise its employees on dress. Last November Ernst & Young, the professional services firm, sent 400 female employees on a course to learn how to dress, while in January the law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer advised female staff to wear stiletto heels with skirts, rather than with trousers, to embrace their femininity and to improve posture.
Such an approach may seem extraordinary in the post-feminist, post-Thatcher, Michelle Obama-groomed 21st century, but in some ways attitudes haven’t changed at all. “People move on in their careers because of communication, influencing skills, being able to create the impact that conveys leadership and authority, and that comes from a range of things including grooming,” says personal branding coach Mary Spillane, a partner in the London office of executive search firm Whitehead Mann. “It diminishes the age issue: by the time you are in your late 30s and 40s your skin has discoloration and you get dark circles; make-up takes that away,” she says. International make-up artist Bobbi Brown agrees. “In any situation make-up can be a great way for women to look and feel like themselves, only prettier and more confident,” she says.
Caution is needed, however, in order to strike the right balance between sexy and severe. “People want to look feminine but not vampish,” says a female co-director of one PR firm. “As a woman, you are often in the minority in a meeting, and you want to be remembered for the point you made, or for changing the course of a debate, not for the colour of your lipstick,” she says.
Even so, women in significant working roles, make-up can be crucial in overall appearance and perception. “Learn how to do it,” says Spillane. “Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier and MAC do [work make-up] makeovers. Tell them that you are high-powered, you don’t know how to do it, you want it to be quick, easy, effective and not disappear and they will teach you.”
The following article was published in the Financial Times on 2nd June 2007:
The acceptability (if not necessity) for bare legs to be on show in summer city dressing has resulted in a spate of dedicated tanning products. The easiest formulas to use on legs are the tinted gels, lotions and mousses because they are easier to control during application and the bronze tint shows where the product has been applied, which helps ensure an even application.
Most leg-specific products tend to include a shimmer finish, which is deemed to be flattering on limbs. Top marks in this category go to Lancôme’s Self Tanning Leg Gel, (£19.50), which develops into a natural-looking tan, and California Tan Bronzing and Firming Sunless Moisturiser (£20) which gives a lighter final colour and is also ideal for prolonging a tan. “Market research shows that it’s a look people are happy to have on their legs, yet they don’t want the same look on their stomach or arms,” explains Lina Ghazal, Lancôme’s UK Product Manager for Suncare, though she says some women use the products on the rest of the body.
For an easy, all-over, fake tan Johnson & Johnson created a stir last year with its Holiday Skin, (£4.99), essentially a body lotion that includes a small amount of DHA, the tanning ingredient in fake tans. The idea is to apply it every day to slowly build up a light, golden tan. It doesn’t streak and is pretty much foolproof, but beauty therapist Nichola Joss, whose clients include Cate Blanchett and Scarlett Johansson, says there is one caveat with products like this. “The colour tends to be a little more yellow than the reddy-brown of fake tan,” she says. She advises that they’re most effective when used for a couple of weeks at a time. Still, fans of the Johnson & Johnson product swear by its quality. Also noteworthy in this category are the new St Tropez Everyday, (£13), Estée Lauder Golden Naturally Radiant Moisturiser, which includes shimmer pigments (£21), and Crabtree & Evelyn La Source Moisturising Body Glow, (£12), all of which provide a good base colour.
Spray tans, even those in an aerosol, are best left to the experienced to apply. The inclination is to spray too close to the skin and then rub it in – the opposite to how they should be used and why they often result in streaky, patchy colour. Those determined to go it alone could try Dior’s new Self Tanning Natural Glow Spray which gives a believable, dark tan which is better suited to darker skin tones. Bliss’s A Tan For All Seasons, (£26), is also worth the risk and gives a good golden glow.
For a deeper leg colour, consider full-strength self tan. Keep your skin tone in mind when choosing one as some give a darker result than others. To make choices easier brands including Piz Buin and Garnier have introduced a colour grading system which ranges from pale, to medium to dark. This means that varying concentrations of DHA have been included to give varying degrees of end colour, so a pale skin would be best suited to a lighter formula and so on. Palmer Cutler Self Tanning Milk in light-medium is a good all-rounder, (£15).
As for application, the basics are simple but important. Joss recommends exfoliating and moisturising legs for four or five days prior. “It will take more than a day to slough off the dead cells. Dry skin is porous, so will drink up anything applied to it; the fake tan will go straight to dry areas and cluster.” That means streaks.
Smooth a dollop of fake tan about the size of a 50p piece between your palms and rub over the top of the foot lightly, avoiding heel and ankles. Move up the leg “using large, circular, sweeping motions,” advises Joss. Avoid the knee and work up to the bikini line then across the bottom. Pat knees, ankles, toes and heels lightly with palms – the residue will give them enough colour. Latex gloves or a special mitt will protect hands and ease application; otherwise remember to wash hands thoroughly after the process.
If disaster strikes, there are corrector products such as St Tropez Self Tan Remover, but these need to be used within four hours of application.
The following article was published in the Financial Times on 11th April 2007:
When High Definition Television first launched in the US in the mid-1990, the paranoia it caused among the resident LA actress population was almost palpable.
“I would work with actresses where we would do press junkets. Someone would come in [to interview them] with hi-def [cameras] and they’d say they’re not going to do it. They were so nervous about it,” recalls Karen Kawahara, make-up artist for TV show The New Adventures Of Old Christine (which stars Seinfeld‘s Julia Louis-Dreyfus).
The stars knew, of course, that the technology would reveal them in such fine detail that every blemish, line, pore and pock-mark would become clearly visible. This is because HDTV has four times as many pixels as conventional TV, something akin to the difference between a standard and a magnifying mirror.
But, for all the angst it caused initially, the new filming technique had fortuitous knock-on effects in the cosmetic industry: it not only brought into sharper focus what was required from make-up for film and television but also demanded newly formulated products to do the job.
The main need that arose was for make-up that looked natural and flawless – suddenly the demands of a spotlit actress were the same as those of a working woman.
“I always say, if it looks good to me in person, it will look good on TV,” says Kawahara. A lighter application was necessary. So, where once a warm tint had been required to compensate for the lighting used for normal filming, now a foundation has to match skin tone perfectly.
Application also needs to be meticulous. “You literally have to pin-point any tiny blemish,” explains British make-up artist Lee Pycroft who has worked with actresses including Naomi Watts and Cate Blanchett.
Ultimately, of course, what was developed for starlets in Tinseltown has filtered into retail options for real women and cosmetic technologies designed for this new film format are set to benefit the consumer. First up, foundation: for the screen, this needs to appear invisible.
To achieve this, M.A.C. worked with micronised pigments (reduced to microscopic size – between 3 and 6 microns – by pulverising in a process called jet milling) in order to develop a texture that is ultra-fine and sheer.The result blends seamlessly onto the skin, such as Mineralize Satinfinish Foundation (£18.50). Prescriptives, Chanel and Laura Mercier have also worked to create foundation that looks as good as skin. For example Laura Mercier Oil-Free Foundation (£30) is sheer but can be layered for increased coverage where needed, and the light-reflective pigments in Chanel Vitalumiere (£25) give skin added luminosity without too much sheen.
Although not specifically designed for HD, the latest concealer pens, a consumer-friendly product inspired by professionals’ concealer brushes, are an invaluable HD make-up tool. They also work well in real life. Guerlain’s illuminating, Precious Light (£24) and By Terry Light Expert (£38), a foundation and concealer brush in one, are both worth noting, while Clinique’s CX Red Colour Corrector (£28) also hides redness, a common HD trouble spot.
Blusher and eye shadow are likewise improving in texture to give a more natural, flattering result. “Shimmer shows up on HDTV,” says M.A.C make-up expert Dean Rudd. M.A.C. uses the same jet milling process on colour pigments to create Sheertone Blush (£13.50) and Velux Eyeshadow (£10) – both add lustre rather than glitter or heavy colour. Plus, eye-shadow doesn’t sink into lines and wrinkles as noticeably as before because it adheres more evenly. “It looks much more realistic and flattering,” says Rudd.
- Laura Mercier at www.spacenk.co.uk
- www.byterry.com – in the UK at www.spacenk.co.uk
The following article was published in the Financial Times on 6th April 2007:
In a nutritionally challenged world where an eight-year-old boy in the UK can weigh more than 14 stones and a Hollywood actress half that, it is clear that some people need to be rescued – but is this really a job for so-called “superfoods”?
This banner, which covers exotic fruits including the pomegranate, goji berry, acai berry and, to a lesser extent, the kimchi, describess those nutritionally rich foods that help us feel better and even age better. Little surprise, then, that these fruits are now cropping up in skincare.
Dermatologist Dr Howard Murad started to study pomegranate for its antioxidant benefits in the late 1990s. “It has the highest concentration [of polyphenols] of any fruit,” he says. Murad was interested in seeing whether pomegranate extract would improve sunscreen when applied topically; he says it improved the effect by 20 per cent. Consequently Murad’s Age Proof Suncare line is formulated with polyphenol-rich pomegranate extract.
Dr Frederic Brandt, another US dermatologist, says the body of research supporting pomegranate’s benefits is growing. “A study from the University of Michigan Medical School, published in February 2006, shows that pomegranate promotes regeneration of the epidermis,” he says. Brandt uses its antioxidant benefits in Water Booster, his skin supplement in liquid form.
In China people have long consumed the goji berry because they believe it has cleansing and purifying benefits and holds the key to a longer life. Recent scientific research is exploring this wisdom. Murad says the berry “is one of the most nutritionally dense foods and has amino acids, trace elements, B vitamins, anti-inflammatory benefits, some essential fatty acids”, all of which are recognised for their beneficial role to hydrate, protect and revive skin.
Goji is beginning to crop up in new creams rather than just on the shelves of health food shops. “It improves the [skin’s] barrier function, helps trap water on the surface and prevent water loss from below,” says Murad, who uses the berry in his Redness Therapy for the face-flushing condition of rosacea.
Also attracting interest from the beauty industry are a range of exotic fruits used by local cultures for their therapeutic and medicinal properties. Their application to modern skincare is known as “ethnocosmetics”. French skincare company Carita, for instance, first interested in the hydrating properties of the mineral-rich lagoon water in French Polynesia, heard about the local noni fruit, another “superfood”.
“[We] saw the leaves of the Morinda Citrifolia tree [which bears the noni fruit] used in South Pacific pharmacopoeia,” says Denise Le Marquande, Carita’s head of research of development. Carita uses extracts from the leaves (for their energising and moisturising action) in its Ideal Hydration line, which tackles, as the name suggests, dehydration of the skin.
Slipping a superfood into a cosmetic cannot be done on a whim. Interest and heritage alone are not enough to ensure an ingredient’s efficacy. “It is very difficult when you start with nothing,” says Le Marquande. “You have to explore how you can use it, which extract you can obtain, which molecule is interesting. You have a lot to see before you use it in a product.”
Korner, the Australian skincare line, has made interesting advances with the pomegranate. “We’re the first to be using pomegranate biotechnology not in antioxidant form,” says Rebecca Korner, the company’s founder. Cue its new moisturiser for older skin, Loaded. It utilises a protein which has, says Korner, “the capacity to preserve the skin’s hydrous capital”. According to Korner, it plumps up the water channels within the skin, helping them to regulate themselves and bring the skin back to its youthful self.
As with diet, superfoods in skincare are never going to be a magic cure-all. “These superfoods can all be put into creams and added to elements of what creams will do, but the health of your skin has to work from the inside,” says Vicki Edgeson, a nutritionist. “The epidermis, the outermost layer of skin is there to protect you and unlikely to take elements from the superfood into the body. The only elements that can seep through are essential oils.”
What these extracts do is work on the skin’s surface, performing the job of the cosmetic. “Fruits are very moisturising, high in vitamins and also flavonoids which are very anti-ageing,” says Korner. Where they work best is in combination with ingredients, from high-tech peptides to plant and flower extracts.
Nicky Kinnaird, founder of Space N.K, believes “there is enormous potential” for superfoods in skincare. Murad, for instance, is investigating the Durian fruit from south-east Asia, which, he says, “has a rich amount of lipids that help with the barrier function of the skin”.
This project has some way to to but, in the meantime, a superfood-packed, youth-enhancing scent is here, courtesy of Lavanila Laboratories, infused with the goji berry, kakadu plum and beta carotene. Skincare verdict aside, it smells great.
Understanding superfoods: a glossary
- Amino acids: the body’s “building blocks”, what proteins are made of. They are used to smooth and strengthen the skin.
- Antioxidant: naturally occurring ingredients including vitamins A, C and E that help disarm ageing free radicals.
- Flavonoids: another group of potent antioxidants valued for their anti-ageing benefits.
- Free radicals: unstable molecules created by the metabolism and environmental factors such as pollution, UV rays and sunlight. They damage cells and lead to premature ageing and, at worst, cancer.
- Lipids: fats within the skin that keep it supple. They are also found in fruit.
- Peptides: chains of amino acids which make up collagen in the skin. Latest thinking suggests they have a collagen- boosting effect when applied topically.
- Polyphenols: a potent group of antioxidants found in fruits and superfruits, valued for their protective benefits as well as their ability to “zap” free radicals.
- Water channels: or aquaporins, first discovered in 1992 by Peter Agre who was then jointly awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Roderick MacKinnon. Membrane water channels enable the circulation of water within the skin.
Where to find it
The following article was published in the Financial Times on 2nd March 2007:
The organic beauty industry is hotting up. Last year three big players entered the market. Clarins invested in the new company Kibio, YSL Beauté developed its first organic skincare line with Stella McCartney and L’Oréal purchased Sanoflore, the French organic cosmetic maker and supplier.
Today, organic products account for just 1 per cent of the market. Yet a 2005 report from Euromonitor International suggested this sector would rise by about 9 per cent between 2003 and 2008. The cosmetics and toiletries market, as a so-called “mature market”, has an estimated growth potential of no more than 1 per cent.
Last year, the French organic cosmetic certification board, Ecocert, certified about 4,000 beauty products, more than double the number certified in 2005, providing more evidence that organic is on the up. “The trend is no longer niche.] Organic skincare has an established consumer base,” says cosmetics and toiletries senior industry analyst Diana Dodson. And it’s one the multinationals cannot ignore.
That means we can expect organic products to become less expensive and more widely available, and that “there will be more money going into R&D, which means more innovation and the introduction of more high-tech organic products”, says Dodson. However, organic skincare laced with the advances of science is still some way off.
Stéphane Richard, president and chief executive of Sanoflore, acknowledges that there is still progressto be made: “The ingredients we use are all active, there is a lot of data on them, and the science is already in there. Now, when you mix these [together] and have the final cosmetic, is it better? That is thebig challenge.”
Yet perhaps we are expecting too much and too soon from an organic moisturiser. Yes, some fairly good preparations, in terms of scent, feel and efficacy, are already available. Yes, they will do for the skin what a good, basic moisturiser is designed to. What they won’t do is act like the cutting-edge, highly active products that line the shelves of the medi-spa or the high-end department store. Neither will theyhave the light, sophisticated textures or scents of the skincare produced by the L’Oréals or the Estée Lauders of this world. In addition, the truly organic cosmetics have a very short shelf-life.
It’s hardly surprising that it is so difficult to produce a 100 per cent organic cosmetic that the consumer is going to like. With soaps and oils it’s easier because their make-up is simple but with creams, lotions and shampoos, it’s a different matter. “What people like now is a beautiful, smooth texture that has been refined. You can only get that in sophisticated emulsifiers,” says Kathy Phillips, founder of beauty brand This Works.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that one of the reasons women buy organic skincare is because their skin is sensitive. They think that they will automatically get something without synthetic perfume, chemicals, mineral oils, SLRs (the foaming agent) and parabens (preservative). Yet this isn’t always the case. “Even ifa product is 95 per cent organic, the crucial thing is, what about the other 5 per cent?” says Phillips.
It’s down to the consumer to check the ingredient list every time. Brands to consider include Green Mama from France because its products are free of synthetic chemicals and perfumes, parabens or other preservatives. Trilogy, anatural line from New Zealand, contains some organic ingredients and sells certified organic rosehip oil, an intensive face oil. Neal’s Yard Remedies has several organic lines and Spiezia Organics and Farmacia skincare are certified organic and offer some good, simple products. For body, there’s Jo Wood Organics (her Usiku Organic Body Lotion absorbs easily) and Jatamami, the new line from L’Artisan Parfumeur. All-Over Body Cream is luxurious and beautifully scented.
Then there’s The Organic Pharmacy. “The majority of our products are 96-100 per cent organic with the exception of shampoos, which are 86 per cent organic,” says founder Margo Marrone. As for the remaining percentages, she explains that they are “non-toxic, plant derived detergents” as are the essential oil- and plant-based preservatives. These are less effective than parabensso the products do go off more quickly. She has also addressed the increasingly relevant issue of air travel and carbon imprint by sourcing ingredients locally: “We succeed for around 70 per cent of our raw materials,” she says.
What the consumer needs to expect and know how to find is honest, organic skincare. Beauty companies’ jumping on the bandwagon has caused misleading labelling and confusion for the shopper. “It is very difficult for the consumer to be sure that a product is really organic because of the lack of industry regulations,” says Veronique Halbrey, a spokesperson for the trend forecasting agency Carlin International.
There are now a number of associations that will certify truly organic products. Certification gives the consumer something concrete on which to base a choice, and the stamp of one of the following will help clarify the organic status of a product: the French Ecocert, Britain’s The Soil Association, Italy’s AIAB and Germany’s BDIH. The criteria set down by each of the associations will be different so look at their websites. They are, says Ecocert’s Emilie Cherhal, “working together to establish common European standards”. Still, a final system agreed by all is some way off, and there is no legislation regarding organic classification.
So far, the US is lagging behind on the organics trend. “Europe is leaps and bounds ahead of the US in terms of awareness and of standards for organic personal care items,” says Marilyn Dale, whole body buyer for the Whole Foods Market’s North Atlantic region. Whole Foods Market itself is leading the way in the US in terms of natural foods and products, and it arrives soon to London. Nude, a new line launching in Whole Foods Market this summer, shows signs of resetting the pace for the organic – and “natural” – skincare sector, with eco-aware packaging, chemical-free results-driven formulas and ingredient provenance featuring strongly.
Critics have had difficulty with the terms “organic” and “natural” for some time, and exactly how beneficial to the consumer organic skincare is remains a moot point. What is certain is that times have changed and so has the consumer, who has an increasing knowledge about the contents of face creams or shampoos and requires transparency about those ingredients. Organic and eco-surety are becoming beauty’s new absolutes.