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Clarins mid-winter makeover

Sarah Tierney tries out the Clarins makeover package and predicts a Christmas rush

Published on January 4th 2011.

Clarins mid-winter makeover

It could be that they're swept up in the spirit of Christmas giving. Or more likely they want a guaranteed rush in the vital weeks surrounding the holidays. Either way Clarins is doing a bargain makeover package at the moment that gives you £140 worth of treatments and products for a giddy £65.

They invited me along to give it a go. Three hours later I emerged to be met by comments such as 'Look at you!' and 'Doesn't she look pretty!' and 'I might go and have that done myself'. It was a shame it was 11.30am on a Tuesday rather than 7pm on a Friday. The most glamorous I've ever looked and only an afternoon at work and an evening trip to ASDA ahead of me.

The makeover took place in Clarins Skin Spa in the beauty hall of House of Fraser (Kendals to traditionalists). Secluded and sophisticated, it's the kind of place that makes you feel pampered even before the pampering begins. I was welcomed by Eleanor who would be performing the luxury manicure and pedicure, before I was to be given professional make-up and a bag of Clarins products to take home.

I've never had a pedicure or manicure before. They seem kind of extraneous and I was expecting to greet the experience with a silent 'but why?' repeating in my head.

The thing about Clarins is that they probably repeat that same question to themselves when they're creating these treatments. So when you ask 'why?' (or more politely, 'Hmm, that's very nice. What does it do?') there's a sensible answer waiting for you.

For example, the 10-step process of the luxury pedicure. As it progressed my feet gradually transform from neglected, dry, under-nourished, and tense into moisturised, softened, supple and sexy (particularly after the application of the fetching OPI Thrill of Brazil red nail varnish). It's not just a 'nice' experience while it's happening. You feel and look better afterwards.

This is partly down to the plant-based products Clarins makes. They favour natural over synthetic whenever possible and there's no passengers in their lotions and potions. They extract only the most 'active' part of the plant and use it in its most effective concentration.

Clarins is also one of the few big beauty brands still owned by its original founders, the Courtin family. Whereas many 'unique' brands are made by the same conglomerate with similar ingredients and similar research, Clarins have retained their independence. It means you get something intrinsically different rather than something packaged to look different.

Back to the pedicure. It was an epic experience that included soaking, exfoliation, hard skin removal, cuticle removal, application of numerous balms, masks and creams, massage, and a lotion that revives tired legs and feet (a favourite with the girls who stand behind the counter all day, apparently).

The manicure was equally focused. A detailed process that turns coarse claws into movie-star mitts over 40 very pleasant minutes.

Key products here included the deliciously scented Tonic Body Treatment Oil with 100 per cent pure plant extracts and the Hand and Nail Treatment Cream that gives you hard-as-nails nails and soft as snow skin.

Colour-wise, I went for the classic red again and the result brought me a disproportionate amount of happiness for the first day or so. Everyone knows that a bright red lipstick can do wonders for the psyche but nobody told me having your nails done has the same effect.

I had always believed that it's better not to draw attention to short nails with dramatic nail polish but Eleanor assured me that colour actually looks better this way. Also it's in fashion. Nail-biters rejoice.

The final step was the make-up. They do the three treatments in this order to ensure your toenails have time to dry properly before you re-boot. There's no need to trip through the snow in your pedicure-friendly flip-flops.

Alice, the make-up artist, questioned me about what kind of look I'd like and advised on what would suit my skin tone and hair colour. I went for an improvement on my normal going-out make-up of dark eyes and pale lips rather than a drastically different style.

The professional application made me realise that I'd only been doing half a job at home. Foundation, blusher, and carefully layered eye shadows aren't part of my cosmetics armoury but after the reaction I got, they may have to be introduced.

Although the make-up was wasted on a weekday, the inspiration will carry over to the weekend. And with 1950s-style red nails that'll last well into Christmas, the glow I got from this experience will hopefully carry over too.

The Clarins makeover package includes luxury pedicure (50 minute), luxury manicure (40 minute), make-up (30 minute) and cosmetics bag of travel-sized products (Hand and Nail Treatment Cream, Tonic Bath, Moisture-Rich Body Lotion and Smoothing Body Scrub).

The first 50 people to book this package pay £65. To book, click here.

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