Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Here comes the sun - so lighten up!

With summer creeping around the corner and blue skies becoming more of a regular feature, everyone around me seems to be right on cue, brightening up their hair with sunshine loving highlights.

The best thing about summer is that for blonds, it really is their season to come into the spot light and work that sunkissed beauty look aka Brigitte Bardot. In Paris, blond femmes are seen strutting importantly with pastel Furla handbags, and beige Phobe Philo skirts, with a waterfall of silky natural looking blond, shimmering over their designer clad backs.
Over here, if your highlights aren't well maintained, and at least somewhat natural looking, it truly is a cardinal sin. Especially so now that Toni & Guy are in the neighbourhood; no one is going to forgive you for brassy highlights, haystack ends or chunky roots. Of course, in Paris, traditionalist as ever, the blond is still seen as something to be approached with caution. They are associated with all the usual blond stereotypes: the man-eater, air head, or femme fatale. Because of this, French blonds take extra care to emulate classy light haired lovelies such as Vanessa Paradis and Gwynth Paltrow. Subtle is the buzz word.
Fortunately, in Paris, the blond brigade are offered a lot of extra caring products to keep the bleached to death look at bay. The Poodle may not be blond, but according to my fair headed friends, and hairdressers in the know, the best things to use to protect your summer barnet are as follows:
Shampooing Blond Lumière Dessange

This blonding shampoo uses light reflective mother of pearl extract to give blond locks more lustre and shine, whilst the secret formula of nutritional agents helps to ensure hair is kept soft, and the colour fresh looking. Dessange are a reliable French brand who excel in affordable hair care- a 250ml bottle is only 4,93 euros.
Voile Nuit Kérastase Noctogenist
An intensive night time treatment should be used on coloured blond hair once a week to stop it from drying out. Night Veil by Kerastase is deeply nourishing and can be a great pick me up treatment for holiday frazzled hair too. Rich in vitamin E, after a night time together, your hair will be shiny, soft and satisfied. 32,50 € for 100 ml.
Frizz-Ease 100% Shine Glossing Mist

On a day to day basis, finish styling your goldilocks with a small dose of shine enhancing Frizz-Ease 100% Shine Glossing Mist. This way your hair can glisten with health and flyaway ends are kept under control.

With these key three products, you have everything you need to avoid looking like Cousin It! Blondettes from London to Paris can get ready to have the thick summer lovin', shiny locks they dream of! Even the Poodle is thinking it could be time to lighten up!

What are your blond perfecting must haves?

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Vote for a brighter future! For the country - and your skin!

The Poodle must make an important decision.

There's an election on, and all across England men and women are talking about what they believe in, which policies they agree with and who they'll be voting for. Little known parties have started posting leaflets through letterboxes with programs and manifestos whilst the men in white shirts all promise results that will change the face of the country.

Call me hopeless, but as I have been researching the different policies and listening to the various election arguments, I couldn't help but draw a similarity between this, and the way in which women choose their cosmetics.

Each beauty brand has a different perspective and philosophy whether it is a dedication to ethical, animal friendly products (Body Shop), a dislike of all things preservative (The Organic Pharmacy) or a passion for science (Skinceuticals). Each one promises radical results and change (Botox), or promises to make you feel differently (Aromatherapy Associates). They are all campaigning against each other, promoting their ingredients policies as the most failsafe (Liz Earle) or their figures the most reliable (Boots Protect and Perfect anyone?). But who are we to believe when it comes to the state of our skin?

There are so many conflicting points of view, whether you believe in the power of plant oils, or prefer results proven formulas developed in the lab. Whether you prefer your skincare to be straightforward or fancy or expensive or cheap. Some women believe that, like the 3 main parties in England, that all the skincare creams and brands are practically the same thing, just in different packaging. It's no wonder we spend so long trying to figure out what makes one bottle of serum better than another. They all promise to fight against the signs of aging, free radicals and fine lines (which are probably all caused by high taxes, pollution and not enough holidays), and equip themselves with the tools required for the job - antioxidants, dermatologist jargon and celebrity supporters.

Of course, the only way to find out what works best, is to try. Which is where choosing a skincare system becomes a lot easier. Unlike political elections, when you choose a certain skincare brand over another, you don't run the risk of having to commit to it for 5 years to see if anything will really change. You can simply keep trying different products until you find your winner who you can stand behind with confidence, knowing that your chosen brand perfectly delivers the results you are looking for. Here's a hint - it's probably Botox!

As for the Poodle, I am still looking for my perfect match in skincare, but aside from that, I know who I'm voting for come May 6th. Do you?

Who would you vote for when it comes to your skin? Tell the Poodle!

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Power of a (French) Woman

It seems that there are two types of French women: those who groom their hair and those who just let it grow, the latter forming the majority. Of course, there exists the hairy arm-pitted stereotype of a French girl, who despite her waify figure, hazel eyes and seductive lingerie, unfortunately has hair sprouting from beneath her arms, making her instantly unattractive to red blooded men across the Channel. But in France, men don't seem to mind their women highly sexual even if they do have secret hairs in the intimate caverns of their armpits...
Perhaps it is the fact that French women are already so utterly seductive with the way their lips have to move to pronounce and annunciate each musical word of the French language, or the way that they insist on wearing stockings as part of usual underwear protocol? French women ooze sexiness. They eat well, they drink well, they think well. They are petite powerful dominatrices who speak with unquestionable self assurance. Some even have very dark expressive eyebrows that can silence any man with the roar of their silent thunder, whereas others have several pairs of stilettos which have the sole purpose of intimidating men whilst simultaneously turning them into quivering horn dogs.

Like this one:

Even those French ladies with pinched sharp noses, slick pony tails and obnoxious oversized handbags share the same secret with those same French women with fuzzy moustaches and frizzy manes of untameable curls...that unmentioned secret that French women are the ones who really hold the cards. At least, when it comes to hair management, it is the women who make the final decision on what has to go.

Yes, the French woman is a very powerful force to be reckoned with. French men get what they are given, their opinions on armpit hair are not given so much as a nanoseconds' thought. My friend encapsulated it perfectly the other day when I asked her about it, "I shave if I want to shave, if I don't want to, then tough. My decision."
Can you smell the poison with which that sentence was laced? I could! That is the subtle scare factor of French women. You can see it in Sarkozy's eyes when he looks up at Carla Bruni - her smile may be sweet, but like all French women, she knows she has the power.

She's already wearing flat shoes for you Sarkozy - you have no right to ask her to shave!

Despite being a Paris Poodle, I am of course, still undeniably English. And for that I have never allowed myself to see my armpit hairs, as I employ the Daily Shave Prevention Measure. Nonetheless, with my musings on the power that armpit hair has given to French women, I am for the first time tempted to grow wild and free and try to cultivate the advantages of the French Ladies Power Pit...

So here's the question - to shave or not to shave...?

Images from:

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Eggstra Special Easter

Painted to perfection!

The Poodle has survived a Paris Pacques! Thank God Cadburys doesnt exist over here- every time it's Easter in England I can't help but eat multiple mini eggs, cream eggs and all sorts of chocolate rabbits until I feel like vomiting. Luckily in Paris, greed and chocolate don't go together - it's a much more classy affair, where chocolate eggs in all their french finery are purchased to be enjoyed visually. The egg is a work of art and you have to admire the chocolate egg for much longer than this Poodle is used to...It's almost used as a dining table center piece, except that my dining table is a coffee table and that due to the ongoing Paris space shortage the egg was promoted to sitting on top of the television.

Nonetheless my magnificent easter egg from Maison Boissier which I was lucky enough to be bought by the Lapin de Pacques - that's Easter Bunny to you and I, was so beautiful that destroying it for chocolately consumption didn't even enter my head for a good couple of hours! Of course temptation took over when my cup of tea needed a sweet companion and by the time I thought to photograph it for my blog, there really wasnt enough left to picture! However, these French chocolate easter bells resound with the echo of my chocolate Boissier egg!

As much as I love to hate eating delicious chocolate Easter eggs for a good 2 or 3 days solid, without them it really wouldn't be Easter and along with many other fabulous things in life (champagne, wine, brie) we also have the French to thank for the delicacy that is the Easter egg- it was their idea orginally to use egg shells as moulds and fill them with chocolate, probably completely unaware of how popular they would become! So today, I would like to say, merci, la France, for another of life's little pleasures! Vive la France!

Top 3 Paris novels!

It's time for another top 3 Poodle list and this time, I'm recommending my top 3 Paris books! Whilst on holiday I had plenty of time for that traditional holiday past time - sunbathing and reading! There's nothing that illuminates and animates the city around you more than reading literature which has been set in the very streets that you walk through every day.

I discovered the Paris of the 1870's, the 1920's and the secret Paris stories of today, via the following 3 novels which I lapped up with the enthusiasm that is exclusive to Paris lovers everywhere. So although I may have been in Sri Lanka, I was still there in Paris with Henry James and Hemmingway having a wonderful winey, thinky, writey time through the books I was reading.

I can thoroughly recommend the following 3 novels but do tell me which Paris books get it right for you?

1. Ernest Hemmingway - The Moveable Feast

This short read details Hemmingways life as a young struggling writer in Paris in the 1920's and his days and nights socialising with the literary greats of the last century, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis to name but a few. The wonderful thing about this book is the attention to detail. Writing in his wry, dry and simplistic style, Hemmingway effortlessly transports you into his every day life of the 1920's. I have to visit a fair few bars now where he used to put pen to paper, starting with Cafe des Amateurs.

2. Henry James - The American

I found a battered ancient Penguin copy of this book hidden amongst the Sri Lanka guides at one of the guest houses I was staying in and what a find it was! Henry James' protagonist Christopher Newman is a rich new money-ed American on a tour of Europe, with the side project to find the perfect wife. He comes across an aristocratic widow, Claire de Cintre who he courts and eventually becomes engaged to. I won't ruin the rest of the story for those who want to read it, but let's just say that the Poodle made short work of the 450 pages! It's also really insightful into the Paris of old, the little streets and beautiful facaded apartments with high ceilings, the beautiful Parisian ladies and the lazy days spent looking around the Louvre, doesn't sound all so different from the Paris of today. But that is the beautiful thing about this city, it is utterly timeless and hopelessly romantic!

3. Muriel Barbery - The Elegance of the Hedgehog

This award winning best seller is both philosophical and profound yet easy to read. Renee Michel - a 54 year old concierge who is a secret culture whore, and more intelligent than she herself even likes to admit, and Paloma Josse - a 12 year old genius who is plotting arson on her family home and eventual suicide on her 13th birthday, are more similar than they might have thought. Living in the same building, each with their own personal projects to enrich their cultural landscape and find meaning in life, these two ladies lives become mirror reflections of the other. Along with a platonic love story and an index of books to read and films to watch, the novel is exceptionally well written and achieves the authors aim to make philosophy applicable in the every day - a typically French preoccupation. Totally deserving of its multiple awards, the Poodle urges Paris lovers and Francophiles, concierges and all those who appreciate Japanese culture to buy this book immediately and get deep.
What are your favourite Paris stories? Tell the Poodle!

Sunshine survival

The Poodle is back! It’s been a while since I posted, but that is because the Paris Poodle has been off location and has been exploring the beautiful island that is Sri Lanka. A well deserved vacation is what every Poodle needs once in a while and the white sands of Sri Lanka were the perfect place to relax, unwind and get tanned – the L’Oreal Tinted Gel has been firmly pushed to the back of the bathroom cabinet for a while! Hurrrah!

Sooo... I’m sure you’re itching to know what I got up to and what perfecting beauty products I used to keep pristine in the extreme? Well, there were a great many things, and I shall be posting a few blogs with a holiday inspired theme in mind, after all, going on holiday highlights so many unforeseen beauty battles to be waged and won. A leisurely beach side lifestyle leads to fearless frizzy – as if that wasn’t problematic enough already! Dry skin, cracked nail varnish, mosquito bites and sun cream clogged pores? Not to mention staying on top of hair removal, tan lines, make up management and split ends. If I wasn’t a crusader to perfection it wouldn’t be a problem, but a Poodle I am and flawless I must be.

The key things which got me through on a daily basis were as follows – pack these with you on your next trip and reap the benefits of a Parisian Poodle’s trial and error!

Simple Radiance Brightening Eye Make Up Remover Pads (30 pads for £3.99) are little circles of eye heaven which not only swiftly removed my stubborn Big Fatty Urban Decay mascara, but they also soothe and hydrate skin whilst the tropical Mango extract brightens the eye area, making you look practically human after a whopping 20 hours of travelling! Suitable for sensitive skin too – which is always a bonus- thank you Simple!

An intense face moisturiser is essential for travelling, plane journeys and night times to protect against dehydrated skin. I chose french brand Terry’s Gelee de Rose Intensive Multi Action Moisturiser because it is the best! I am actually in love when it comes to Terry, and although I find it bank bustingly expensive, it’s of uttermost importance to treat oneself to luxury on occasion (as if a holiday weren’t enough)!

Sun Cream - an obvious beauty must have on holiday, but there are many choices and considerations... mineral or chemical, liquid or cream, spray or dispenser, factor 20 or factor 50? The sun protection that got me through weeks of intense Sri Lankan sunshine was Garnier’s Clear Protect Sun Spray Factor 20 because it’s not too low and not too high, it sprays on as a dry oil, doesn’t go sticky and is reliably waterproof. It was practical and didn’t leak and it wasn’t too expensive – have I sold it to you yet?

Juicy lips are great on holiday – and all you need is a half decent lip balm – I loved this Evolution of Smooth (EOS) one in sweet mint for its deliciously edgeless packaging and its fresh minty clean zing which was unbelievably refreshing in that tropical climate!

That’s it for now, but more to follow on my recent beauty adventures. It was utterly fabulous in Sri Lanka and if you haven’t been you must – you should head to the south in Hikkaduwa for a friendly chilled out vibe and cheap guest houses with incredible cuisine. It’s not only the French who know how to cook!

Here’s a shot of the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage in the centre of the country where you can watch the baby elephants at feeding time and see the whole herd of meander down the hill to the river for their daily heat relieving wash. Just magical!

It’s great to be back – tell me anything I missed out on whilst I was away!