Tag Archives: beauty tips

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More French Beauty Secrets: Two Lipsticks And A Lover, By Helena Frith Powell

May 22, 2013

Two Lipsticks And A Lover is a book written by Helena Frith Powell.

It’s a guide to help you “unlock your inner French woman.” Another version of this book was published under the title “All You Need To Be Impossibly French.”

Helena Frith Powell is a British writer and journalist who lived in France at the time of writing this book. In this book, she set out to investigate what exactly makes French women so elegant, glamorous, chic and super thin?

But are they really?

Again, as with my other article on 5 Classic French Beauty Tips, I have to start out with a caveat. These stereotypes of French women are just that. Stereotypes. And during her investigation, Helena mainly talks to illustrious, upper class and super wealthy french women to reinforce these stereotypes.

I would safely bet that the majority of french women do not live according to these stereotypes.

Nevertheless, the book is an entertaining read.

And there are a lot of cultural and lifestyle observations here that we can learn from and perhaps, even adapt into our own lives. 

Two Lipsticks And A Lover By Helen Frith Powell

Personally, I’m a big fan of the zen approach that french women have towards exercise.

The gym culture and the marathon culture really hasn’t taken off in France as it has in the U.S. Instead, women prefer more serene forms of exercise. Like walking, cycling, ballet floor barre exercises, yoga, playing with their children, and especially making love!

As Helena put it, french women “treat exercise rather like they do food; a little everyday.”

When it comes to food, they never deprive themselves. But the key is that they eat some kind of fruit and vegetable everyday, they eat small portions and they stop when they’re no longer hungry.

In order to maintain their figure, they also make use of slimming creams and gels. I’ve seen these a lot in the pharmacies and parfumeries. While I’m here I probably ought to just try one.

If you’re curious as to which slimming creams to try, Helena cites a study that rank L’Oréal’s Plénitude Perfect Slim and Elancyl’s Concentré-Lissant Chrono-Actif as the top two most effective creams. Both are available in the UK.

Vintage Lipstick Ad

Another admirable french characteristic is their positive attitude towards aging.

Older women in France are still looked upon as sexy and desirable. In fact, lots of older women past their 50s still take very good care of themselves and even take on younger men as lovers.

The absolute key to the French way of ageing? Staying natural. French women don’t fearfully cling on to their youthfulness or try to completely eradicate the passage of time. Also, they see beauty as something to work on.

If you want to age gracefully, start early by protecting your skin from the sun and eating well.

The book focused a lot on french women’s obsession with sexy, matching lingerie.

There was also a chapter on fashion and observations about how french fashion has adapted to modern times. These days, it’s quite normal to pair a Chanel jacket with jeans and a t-shirt. Ironically, although haute couture originated in France, french people these days can no longer afford them. Haute couture is now made mainly for the delight of foreigners with money

There were many other cultural observations in the book that I found fascinating, but not really having to do much with beauty or style. Things like cattiness among french women and work ethics (or lack thereof).

It would be interesting to hear what french women have to say upon reading these observations about themselves.

Many times I found myself laughing out loud while reading some of the observations about french people. Especially because I personally have had the pleasure of experiencing the truth behind them. For example, the stereotypes about horrible french customer service? I’d say 75 percent of the time, it’s true.

Vintage Poster

The part that made me laugh the most though were Helena’s observations on the french tolerance for taking on lovers and extra-marital affairs.

While Americans and Brits have puritan and rigid attitudes towards marriage, french people see fidelity as “arbitrary and sterile”. To the french, love (or lust) excuses everything.

French men and women can have lovers outside of their marriage. Provided that they keep things on the DL, of course.

While writing this book, Helena herself flirts with the idea of having an affair with a mysterious french man, who she anonymously refers to as B.

And do their flirtatious games turn into something more serious?

Well, you’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Find The Book: Two Lipsticks And a Lover On Amazon.
About The Author: Helena Frith Powell’s Website.

Audrey Hepburn

Book Review: How To Be Adored by Caroline Cox

March 8, 2013

How To Be Adored by Caroline Cox

As a book that touts being “A Girl’s Guide To Hollywood Glamour,” How To Be Adored by Carol Cox is a book geared towards helping you achieve that glitzy va va voom.

It is an entertaining read, filled with numerous anecdotal tidbits of hollywood celebrities (past and present) and lots of great beauty tips.

The book begins by tackling the question of glamour. What is glamour? It’s not about having the prettiest face. According to the book, glamour is a certain kind of magical magnetism. It must originate first from belief in your own attractiveness. And is then bolstered by the right combination of artifice… such as “make-up, hair design and all the frills and furbelows of fashion.”

The focus then shifts to how to dress best for your body shape. The shapes are categorized as Ballerinas like Audrey Hepburn, Hourglasses like Marilyn Monroe, “Balconies” like Elizabeth Hurly (big busted and slender-hipped), “Pocket Rockets” like Kylie Minogue (short but well-proportioned) and “Adorably Big and Beautiful” like Mae West. There are tips on figuring out your body shape and how to emphasize your best assets.

The rest of the book goes on to focus on fashion, make-up, hair care, as well as advice on developing an “adorable personality,” modifying your voice to bring out its charm, advice on relationships, how to descend a staircase movie-star-style as well as a list of hotels around the world where you can pose and have your photo taken.

Ok, to be honest, there was a lot of stuff in this book that I found rather silly.

Especially when it came to the do’s and don’ts. Like DON’T swig out of a bottle or a can. You should always drink from a glass with an olive. Or, DON’T date footballers because they will make you look cheap. I mean, who’s laying down these rules? If someone offers me a bottle of Brooklyn Lager I’m definitely going to drink out of it. And what if your footballer boyfriend happens to be a genuinely awesome person?

But anyway, there were some tips that can ring true for anyone and any time.

For example, I pretty much agreed with everything in the “How To Have An Adorable Personality” section.  Who can argue with advice like: Be good at listening. Don’t laugh at others’ mistakes. Be relaxed. And just be nice.

There were also some really interesting makeup and hair care tips. I pored over the sections about how Marilyn Monroe did her makeup, how to achieve Marlene Dietrich’s well-defined cheekbones and how Beyoncé gets her diva glow.

As for haircare, there are tips on how to color your hair if you want to go platinum blonde like Jean Harlow or Gwen Stefani. Or if you want to get highlights like Penelope Cruz without that obviously highlighted streaked look. There are also simple tips on maintaining the quality of your hair and why Mason Pearson brushes are the best hairbrushes in the world.

Unfortunately, there was very little that was said about skincare. The only part dedicated to skincare is a brief explanation of how Audrey Hepburn washed her face with hot water and a solid black cleansing bar fashioned from concentrated minerals. Personally, I don’t advice the use of hot water on your face, or the use of just any old bar of soap.

Despite being so small, the book does a great job of touching on a various range of topics. I especially enjoyed the stories and examples based on hollywood movie stars, especially the old time movie stars like Audrey Hepburn. There are some sections that I think could have been skipped (like the hotels section). I would have preferred it if the author had dedicated more time instead to elaborate on the makeup and hair sections, which I really enjoyed.

Overall, “How To Be Adored” by Caroline Cox is entertaining enough and filled with enough beauty tips and tricks to make it worth your while.


How To Be Adored by Caroline Cox

Glamour Secrets by Marilyn Monroe

Sophia Loren

Audrey Hepburn

The Book: How To Be Adored by Caroline Cox. 2009 Quadrille Publishing Ltd.
Find It: W.H. Smith bookstore in Paris. Or Amazon.com.

Ms. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Camera

November 22, 2012

Speaking of photogenic-ness….

It seems that certain people are just born with a preternatural gift of looking sensational in photographs. As I mentioned in the previous post, I am in awe of how extraordinarily photogenic Marilyn Monroe was. Yes, you could point out the fact that she worked a lot on perfecting her look. But apart from that, I think she was already an unusually photogenic person to begin with.

What about the rest of us who were not endowed with such qualities? How do we channel our mojo onto our photos? I have met numerous people (myself included) who have a love/hate relationship with the camera. Actually, sometimes it’s more like a hate/hate relationship: they don’t like being photographed because they always look terrible in photographs! The ironic part is that this distaste for bad photos of themselves gets reflected back in their photos. It’s kind of like a feedback loop.

Any tension, grumpiness or awkwardness, no matter how slight, gets picked up by the camera. And is then frozen in time. Forever.

Luckily enough, we do have a handy tool called a delete button. That’s the beautiful thing about technology… we can take and re-take photos of ourselves, scrutinize over each one, delete them and repeat until we get that one perfect one. But it still doesn’t resolve the tension that comes up whenever someone brings out a camera. Even the most beautiful people in the world can look ridiculously goofy in a photo. Being naturally beautiful and attractive does not necessarily translate to being photogenic in photos.

So how would you even begin to make the camera love you?

After reading up on some of the tips and tricks found on the internet on how to be photogenic, you could try: “Turning to the side and sticking your butt out.” Or wait, someone else is saying you need to “Squeeze your butt cheeks together.” Then to “Stick out your neck like a turkey!” Also, don’t forget to “Drop your chin forward, while dipping your forehead to the side” and “Stand on your tippy toes” whilst “crossing your eyes together.”

Alright, I may have exaggerated/invented a few of those.

My point is, those little tricks will probably just end up making you look like a contortionist.

So… what next? Well, in my humble experience, there really has been only one essential key to getting a great photo of yourself. And that’s to relax. 

Relax, Baby, Relax

Children always look great in photos because they’re at ease with themselves and the camera. They’re never worried about how the photo will turn out. We as adults however, grow up and start developing all these weird ideas in our heads. Sometimes we confuse what we look like with how we want to look like. And how we want to be seen by others. We twist our facial expressions and tense our bodies in order to align this image that we have of ourselves in our heads with the one in the photos.

But remember that the camera picks up on any little tension.

The secret is to relax. Just chill out. Stop worrying so much. And love the camera as if it were an old friend you’re trading jokes with. Or a sexy person you just met with whom you’re exchanging flirtatious looks.

Take a deep breath, and right before the camera snaps, let it all go. All the tension, all the worries and desires over how you’d like that photo to turn out. Let them go.

Relax when the photo is taken. And stay relaxed when you see the results. Because whatever the outcome, it’s really no biggie. 

Of course, this does not perfectly guarantee that the photo will turn out exactly the way you would have liked. But staying relaxed like this around cameras is an easy breezy stress-free way to make the camera love you. And increase your chances of getting favorable self-portraits.

Also, these are a few other timeless tips for achieving a great photo:

  • Think pleasant thoughts. Pull up a pleasant memory of something or someone that warms your heart. The result is a natural radiance in your eyes that cannot be faked.
  • Excellent Posture. Working on improving your posture in your everyday life can go a long way to ensuring your health. But excellent posture also helps to make you look incredibly attractive in photos. Whether you’re sitting or standing, always be mindful of your posture.
  • Catch the good light. Natural lighting produces a gorgeous effect that studio lighting or digital editing cannot reproduce. You have to look for the good light, which usually depends on where you are and the time of the day. When you find the good light, turn your face towards it so that shadows are not cast over your features.
  • Have fun! Be confident in your own beauty. Remember that how you look in photos cannot capture the full fluidity and expressiveness of your natural self.

But! If you are still fretting about how you look in photos and how others will see you, then I would like to leave you with this brilliant quote by the brilliant Tina Fey:

“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares?” ~ Tina Fey (Bossypants)