BEAUTY THERAPY: Straight talk in the beauty hall? At last!

Recent important beauty business took me to Leeds, which is where John Lewis has launched its latest concept, The Beauty Studio, at one of its newest beauty halls.

The idea is simple: honest, impartial advice on skincare and make-up from a crack team with in-depth training on products across the floor, from premium offerings on fancy counters to more economical options. The experts are free to mix and match brands to find the best option for each client and budget. It’s a much-needed service; beauty halls are confusing places with vast choice and often intimidating counters. Plus, brands like to upsell – you go for a mascara but leave with an eyeshadow and moisturiser you don’t need. Sometimes that’s fun, but often you feel stung.

To rectify this, the Studio offers various options: Beauty Fix is a free 20-minute advice slot for a specific issue, such as finding the right foundation; Masterclass (£15) is an hour-long group tutorial teaching tricks such as a statement lip (the table you sit at, above, has two wheelchair-friendly spaces), and Beauty Confidential (£35), also an hour long, offers one-to-one advice on everything from skincare needs to a make-up refresh (with both fee-paying options the price is redeemable against products purchased). I chose Confidential as I wanted to play with eyeliner again – I used to be wedded to Bobbi Brown Ink Liner but, with age, it no longer works on me.

My consultant Olivia suggested Chanel Stylo Yeux Waterproof Eyeliner (£22), ‘better because you can smudge it and create a smoky eye’, before showing me how to create a flick. As well as listening to what I wanted, she looked at my face to see what I needed.

For instance, noticing that my lips were super dry, she applied lip balm Dior Addict Lip Glow (£26) – for a lower-budget option Caudalíe Lip Conditioner (£8) – topped with Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Pillow Talk (£16). For foundation, I wanted a minimal look so Olivia advised against matt options to add light on my face – and we both liked YSL Teint Touche Eclat (£35) and Benefit Hello Happy Soft Blur Foundation (from £8.50).

She gave me application tips, too: don’t smile when applying blush (it will end up too low); apply mascara by grabbing lashes at the root and really telling them where to go – in my case, outwards to open up my eyes; for even coverage and less product waste always use a foundation brush and, for a modern look, don’t take eyeshadow above the crease.

The next Studio is due to open in Cambridge. If that’s not local, I’d petition your nearest John Lewis now to get in on the action.

How I use primers

The other week I wrote about how I don’t really get on with make-up primers. The exception is on my eyelids. When I do wear eyeshadow – not every day – a dash of primer helps to smooth out lids first and keep the powder in place. I love Nars Tinted Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base (£20, and even wear it alone as a sort of foundation to brighten and even out my eye area. It’s available in four shades. For a cheaper alternative, you could try Elf Shadow Lock Eyelid Primer (£3,

An amazing wake-up tip

At this time of year I become an avid skin brusher. It’s great for getting the blood pumping first thing and exfoliates, too – plus it stops you neglecting body care as it gets chillier. I like the Elemis Body Detox Skin Brush (£21, – it has a detachable long handle which means I can reach my back.

Feature by Edwina Ings-Chambers