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Fit For Success

‘My desert island BEAUTY BAG’ (you could win it!)


Wondering what the beauty insiders can’t live without? Karena Callen former beauty director of Red Magazine and leading beauty expert has – with great difficulty – named the ten products she would absolutely have to have if she were stranded on a desert island  

As a self-confessed product obsessive, it’s not easy (in fact, I’d go as far to say it’s almost impossible) to select my ten can’t-survive-withouts. Suffice it to say that those that have made it through to this miniscule list are the best of the best of the best


Clarins Sun Care Milk-Lotion Spray Moderate Protection UVA/UVB SPF 20, £18

As soon as there is the teeniest ray of sunshine, I reach for Clarins. The moment I smell it, it says; “holidays, exotic trips, uber-golden models on white, sandy beaches” although nowadays, I’m more likely as not in my own back garden on the Kent coast, rather than on a Caribbean island. C’est la vie! I first discovered the luxury of Clarins sun tan lotion when I was a Beauty Editor at ELLE back in the, ahem, 80s – and just love the fact that I never, ever burn when I use it. Which is just as well as I do love the sun!


Phyto Phytoplage Hair Protection Hair Oil, £14

French hairstylist, Odile Gilbert, who creates the “dos” for the catwalk shows of Chanel, Dior and Marni, first introduced me to the wonders of Phytoplage on a shoot for ELLE in the Seychelles. It was at the height of the Supermodel era, and was the must-have hair product for anyone in “the know”. No Phyto, no backstage pass!  Not only does this olive wax-rich oil protect hair from the ravages of sun, sea and chlorine, but it creates desirable wet-look beachy waves in an instant. When I first discovered it, it came packaged in a little tin can (think WD40, if you’re familiar with DIY), but has now been repackaged in a slicker, easier-to-use spray.


Stila Convertible Colour, £16

Is it a blush? Is it a lip tint? Actually, it’s both – and being a bit of a low-maintenance girl, I do love a product that does double-duty. I recently interviewed Burberry Beauty Make-Up artist, Wendy Rowe, who is also a fan of this creamy do-it-all must-have. It blends beautifully into cheeks and glides onto lips to give you a fresh, outdoorsy look in seconds. I love all the shades, but Fuchsia brings me back to life if I’m looking a bit on the “over-worked and under-rested” side.


Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour The Original Cream, £25

I’d be lost without 8 Hour Cream, and I bet that most of the beauty industry would be too! When I find myself rummaging through other beauty aficionados make-up bags and kits (it’s part of my job to be nosy!), 9 out of 10 possess 8 Hour Cream. Created in the 1930s, there’s little this miracle-worker won’t tackle. From moisturising cuticles and chapped lips to alleviating cracked heels and nappy rash, it’s also a great eyelash conditioner and if you find yourself in need of a creamy eye colour, mix a bit of powder shadow with 8 Hour Cream, and Bob’s your uncle – gorgeous gleaming eyelids – very Gatsby. Arden has recently released a fragrance-free version, but personally, I love the original “old-fashioned” scent.


Benefit They’re Real! Mascara, £19.50, in Black

I can’t live without mascara. Along with blusher, it’s the one thing that I look “naked” without. And while I can weave a make-shift bikini out of a banana leaf or two on my desert-island, I would definitely not go mascara-free under any circumstances. Benefit They’re Real is no ordinary mascara, mind. A specially designed brush helps “grab” lashes close to the root to lengthen and thicken in one stroke. It won’t smudge, clump or dry out. Something I will definitely appreciate when I’m washed up.


John Frieda Sheer Blonde Go Blonder Controlled Lightening Spray, £5.99

I am a closet blonde – and I just can’t help it. Although my natural hair colour definitely verges on brunette, I’m in denial. And summer gives me the perfect excuse to go “blonder” and “beachier”. I spritz this on every day throughout the summer and there’s no need to book in for expensive highlights. Saves time, saves money.


This Works Skin Deep Dry Leg Oil, £39.50

When I opened Violetta, my own beauty apothecary and perfumery, This Works was the first skin care line that I stocked. The reason? Brilliant formulations, free from unnecessary ingredients, including parabens, and a no-nonsense approach. Created by former Vogue beauty director, Kathy Phillips, the products really do deliver. I swear by the multi-award winning Dry Leg Oil. It not only sorts out desert-dry shins, elbows and knees, but re-hydrates skin from top-to-toe. For an overnight hair treatment, apply a few drops on dry, or split ends. It works wonders.


Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Natural, £27

I probably couldn’t survive a summer or winter without bronzer. This new shade from Bobbi Brown gives a super-natural tanned look, without veering off into TOWIE territory. It’s matte, easy to apply and is best applied with a big, fluffy powder brush. Dust onto cheeks, temples, shoulders and décolleté for a gorgeous glow.


Nivea Daily Essentials BB Cream 5in1 Beautifying Moisturiser, £5.99

I’ve only just discovered Nivea’s BB Cream but it’s going to be on my must-have list for a very long time to come. There are few occasions where I would step out without some kind of make-up base, and what’s great about this BB cream is that it’s mid-way between foundation and skincare – and definitely offers more coverage and skin-enhancing benefits than a tinted moisturiser. What I love about this BB is the fact that it glides on, colour matches perfectly (I’ve been using the Light variation) and blends out any uneven skin tone imperceptibly, whilst giving that much sought after “dewy” look.  With Shea Butter and antioxidant Vitamins A and E, it’s honestly a brilliant beauty buy.


Ambre Solaire No Streaks Bronzer Dry Body Mist Light Glow Spray, £11.69 (Current offer, £7.79)

I’ve tried an awful lot of faux tanners in my time – and there have been some real “tango” moments. Thankfully, over the years, formulations have undergone a total transformation and rarely do I find a 21st century self-tan that has that acrid, burnt-biscuit smell or the hideous orange colour so prevalent in the past. I’ve slathered on creams and foams, buffed on lotions and donned throw-away knickers to be sprayed by the crème-de-la-crème of spray tanning gurus but I’ve never found anything better than Ambre Solaire No Streaks. I can spray it on before bed, dry myself with a hairdryer -my top tip for ensuring even colour and avoiding tell-tale stains – and wake up looking a whole lot less pale and pasty.


WANT TO BE IN WITH A CHANCE OF WINNING KARENA’S BAG? Share or retweet this story and you could! What’s your desert island beauty product? Send or tweet us a pic!

Karena Callen is an award-winning beauty editor, art director and stylist who has worked in the magazine industry for over 20 years creating the beauty pages of glossies magazines including Marie Claire, Glamour, British ELLE, and was the launch beauty director of Red. Karena is also Brand Director of The Session School London’s leading hair and make-up school. Follow Karena on Twitter @karenacallen and find her on Facebook 

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