Beauty confidential: Can M&S change the face of High Street beauty?

Can M&S change the face of High Street beauty



09:37 GMT, 7 June 2012

Serious skincare and a ban on pushy sales assistants — this isn’t just any beauty counter . . . this is an M&S beauty counter. As the High Street favourite prepares to launch cosmetics concessions in its stores, we bring you a sneak preview.

How many times have you found yourself rushing away from a cosmetics counter empty-handed because you’ve been overwhelmed by the bewildering choice of products Or perhaps you have found yourself buying something you didn’t really want because you felt pushed into it by a shop assistant

I bet we all have at least one product (and I guess it will be foundation, it’s always foundation) that we’ve been persuaded to buy at a beauty counter in a department store which we discover doesn’t really suit us as soon as we get home.

Marks and Sparks launches High Street beauty counters

Marks and Sparks launches High Street beauty counters

This is why I think Marks & Spencer’s new beauty halls may be just what we have been waiting for. The High Street chain is launching concessions in shops nationwide and the first has just opened in London’s Kensington (the Duchess of Cambridge’s local store).

It’s a beautiful shopping experience — a clean, white, well-lit space with products displayed at eye level and helpful, fuss-free information on each shelf.

Best of all, there are no intimidating sales assistants circling like sharks. You are encouraged to try out products to see if you like make-up shades and can spend as long as you like sniffing the fragrances before buying.

The M&S beauty advisers, who stay discreetly in the background, have six months’ training in the brands on sale and are on hand to give advice should you need it.

Filorga mist

Filorga mist

St. Ives Apricot scrub

St. Ives Apricot scrub

M&S Autograph Ultimate Wear nail colour

M&S Autograph Ultimate Wear nail colour

M&S believe they are launching a new beauty concept on to our High Streets — and, in a way, they are. We don’t generally think of M&S as being the place to shop for serious skincare and cosmetics, but that could all be about to change.

The first selling point for this new beauty concept is that the chain has signed up lots of hard-working premium brands. Skincare range Filorga is one such line. Its products mimic clinical anti-ageing procedures — fillers and mesotherapy — without the pain or the vast expense. The hero product in the range is the Eau Anti Ageing Mist, 54, which is a light, toning mist applied after cleansing and before moisturiser.

Also on board is U.S. make-up brand Pur Minerals. Its multi-tasking Pur Mineral 4-in-1, 24, is a mineral powder which can be used as a concealer and a foundation, and provides a completely natural-looking base.

If you suffer from puffy eyes, then I recommend another M&S exclusive from Skyn Iceland, a skincare range derived from Icelandic waters and already a top seller in America. The Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels, 25 for eight pairs, really do de-puff eyes in seconds and I am sure they will fly off the shelves.

There will also be a new upmarket range of body products designed by Cotswolds spa Cowley Manor specially for M&S.


Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful Super Serum

I have tried the original best-selling Make Yourself Youthful serum and found it good, but slightly too drying, so always had to layer moisturiser on top of it.

This new formula has twice the hydrating power of the original, containing fast-absorbing moisturisers with hyaluronic acid to restore even the driest complexion.

Applied to freshly cleansed skin, this immediately makes your face look dewy, so you can wear it on its own.

Alternatively, use the serum as a primer underneath your foundation.

Soap & Glory Make Yourself Youthful Super Serum

20, available at Boots from June 18

M&S’s beauty concession launch coincides with the long-awaited return of their Autograph make-up collection, which will be available from the middle of this month. Like Autograph clothes, the make-up colours are classic, but with a modern twist; the monochrome-packaged products look expensive but don’t come with hefty price tags.

I’m sold on the Invisible Finish Loose Powder, 12, and the Dark Blue Ultimate Nail Polish, 6, which in the bottle looks not unlike Chanel’s Blue Satin, a celebrity favourite.

But one of the most exciting things about the new beauty hall is the introduction of an interactive ‘virtual makeover counter’, which allows customers to try out different make-up looks and have skin consultations without having to talk to a pushy sales assistant.

The computer can recommend looks to suit your personal style and will even save previous virtual makeovers, so you can take your time to choose the products you really want.
My one criticism is that M&S don’t yet supply samples to take away, but I am told this is something they are considering.

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The golden glow facial

Victoria Beckham is said to enjoy gold-leaf facials from Hollywood dermatologist Dr Harold Lancer. The 329-a-time facial also contains sheep placenta.

A cheaper — and less stomach- turning — alternative is Jamela Luxurious Gold Crystal Collagen Facial Masks, 37.50 for five (, which also contain gold leaf. Gold leaf is said to combine with plant collagen to tighten skin and remove toxins.

These ready-to-use masks also boost collagen production, reducing the appearance of fine lines after just 30 minutes.

Get your beauty sleep

We’re used to cosmetic companies trying to sell us expensive products, so it’s refreshing to discover that skincare guru Liz Earle believes the best thing you can do for your face is get a really good night’s rest.

My mother used to tell me that every hour of sleep before midnight is worth two hours after the clock strikes 12,’ says beauty guru Liz Earle. ‘Maybe she was just trying to get me to bed earlier, but I still find it to be true.

‘Beauty sleep is well named: it is an irreplaceable part of skincare. ‘After a good night’s rest, wrinkles and furrows are ironed out, leaving you refreshed and ready for the day ahead.’

mac zoom waterfast lash

Magnificant mascara

A good, waterproof mascara is an essential for holiday make-up bags. So we are glad the best-selling MAC Zoom Lash is back in a new and improved water-resistant formula that instantly combs and lifts lashes for incredible volume.

The mascara’s unique brush is also great for adding definition to small eyes, as it has three-sided fibres which hold and separate each lash, quickly coating lashes from root to tip.

What’s more, you won’t be stuck with crusty looking ‘spider’s leg’ lashes, as the formula is designed to make lashes feel light and flexible all day long.