beauty-200.jpgMarisa Peer must be a magician. Since attending one of her seminars, I have found myself reaching past the PG for the peppermint tea and banishing the bagels I used to rely on to feel full.

Most shocking of all for a carb-crazed, choc hogging, cheese nibbler, I've caught myself sighing with delight while eating chicken salad - the kind of satisfaction only previously achieved with a bag of Percy Pigs from M&S.

I haven't touched a piece of pasta or bread and rice now only passes my lips attached to sushi. Diet cola, tea, coffee, saturated fats, ready meals and, most miraculous of all, bags of Haribo and penny sweets from the corner shop have been replaced with herbal tea, salad, fruit, nuts and lots of protein. I've even swapped daily milk for soya - and dropped cheese and butter altogether.

OK, I need to work on getting a bit more fibre in there (although I still have porridge for brekkie), certainly more root veg and probably extra carbs, too. But it's a great start for a former carboholic.

And all Marisa does is share her impressive knowledge about the unhealthiness of the western diet, the toxins in our foods and the by-products of intensive farming.

Hearing about the puss and mucus allowed into dairy milk by EU law, the animal hooves contained within gelatine found in many sweets and the calcium sapping phosphoric acid in certain drinks, you can feel your tastebuds going into hiding.

And with a spot of hypnotherapy at the end of the session to cement everything you've learned into your unconscious, it's enough to send you screaming to the salad bar (although, unfortunately, I was the one person in the room who didn't succumb).

Marisa is best-known as the weight-loss therapist who found fame on TV's Celebrity Fit Club and Supersize vs Superskinny, but you can benefit from her wisdom through her books, including You Can Be Thin, which is also the title of her seminars.

Find more info at www.marisapeer.com.
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joani-200.jpgAt last, I know what I want to do when I grow up. Become a plus one, attending fabulous functions as a guest of someone far more important who has to do all the hard work as I swan around sipping champagne and occasionally holding their glass while they sign autographs or pose for pictures.

Which is exactly what happened at the Mum of the Year awards when I went with Laila Rouass who bravely kept the Press occupied (I don't count) leaving me to chat to Fay Ripley, Patsy Palmer, Jessie Wallace and Linda Robson and wondering if it's socially acceptable to ask the Prime Minister and his wife for a pic (probably not).

Fay was preparing to go into rehearsal for the second series of Reggie Perrin with Martin Clunes and will be spending Mother's Day away from her children filming a scene for the series in her swimming costume. And she was so petrified of stripping off, she said she was going to demand an 18-year-old body double with a tidy tush.

Fortunately, Fay was momentarily distracted by my nail polish, Revlon's Plum Night, a dark berry shade she'd already spotted in and ripped out from a magazine. Perhaps she was wondering if a couple of coats on her toes would distract the crew from filming any further north than her ankles...

Linda Robson is still on her nasal nicotine spray having given up smoking for a channel Five TV show earlier in the year. She's managed to keep in shape, too, after losing two stone at the same time using DEcarb carb-blocking supplements.

And Jessie Wallace, looking very tanned, is now so trim and toned, her belt kept falling off as she told us she's looking forward to doing nothing with her time off this Mother's Day before she heads back to EastEnders in the early summer with Shane Richie. Looks like it's going to be a mother of a reunion.

  

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joani.mariah.jpgWith a reputation as one of showbusiness's greatest divas, Mariah Carey sure doesn't disappoint.

She still managed to turn up more than an hour late for a meeting with the Press to launch her new perfume - after the original time had already been delayed anyway.

And the sexy songstress headed off to the new Jalouse nightclub afterwards for a party to celebrate the launch of her album, Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel, for which she was apparently three hours late.

Anyway, those rumours you've heard about her having an assistant for everything, from carrying her handbags to pampering her pooches...

Well, she came unencumbered by accessories, apart from a beefy boy toy who didn't just escort her to and from her seat in an opulent back room at the Dorchester on London's Park Lane, but practically held her up while she tottered along.

When Mariah finally did manage to make it to her seat opposite T4 host Rick Edwards, she talked for a grand total of six minutes. And this is what we learned:

*Mariah and her team went to her bathroom for inspiration for the flacons encasing the new perfume, because that's where she houses her collection of perfume bottles in her "old Hollywood" home with a "Deco vibe" in LA.

* Mariah went "back and forth" trying to choose a name for the new scent until Elizabeth Arden announced it had been saving the trademark 'Forever'.

* She "doesn't like the back seat" and said she was told she was the most involved in the creation of her fragrance with Elizabeth Arden, out of other celebrity and designers names.

* The pop princess describes the new fragrance as "breezy, light, feminine - delicate, darling!". And it is definitely not overwhelming, which was very important to the star.

* Despite Boots being the perfume's exclusive retailer currently - it's available in just three London stores and online until February - Mariah does not have a Boots Advantage Card. But she would like one.

And then, back came the beefy boy toy to help the undoubted diva teeter back out to her suite, stopping for just a few photographs on the way.

Spying my broken foot, Mariah whispered to me behind her hand that it must help get me into nightclubs. Not if I have to wait three hours for the star turn, it doesn't.

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Laila-Rouass.jpgI'd like to say that being so gorgeous and with such a fantastic figure, Laila Rouass isn't perfect - that she's deeply unpleasant or dull perhaps. But I'm afraid that she's as lovely as she looks.

I was chatting to Laila recently about how she managed to achieve such a dancefloor-friendly figure and she said it took a week's worth of sacrifice to smooth out the bumps: she followed Jason Vale's Juice Master diet - and lost 9lbs in a week.

'You don't chew anything for a week,' she told me. 'But the concoctions are so thick, it feels like you've eaten a meal.' Avocados are used to bulk out the juices - and for their omega 3 content, too - and apples add sweetness. You can follow the plan from Jason's book, 7lbs in 7 Days Super Juice Diet (Thorsons, £6.99 or from www.juicemaster.com).

Laila's hoping her Strictly schedule - five and six hours of training every day - will see off the last of her love handles. 'I've been enjoying it and Anton is so lovely,' she says. 'But you could never have realised how tough it was going to be - and how absolutely petrified you are of forgetting your routine.'

Laila came top of the leaderboard last weekend. But she has a surprising prediction for who may yet beat her to the crown, as she gave her own views on her co-stars...

Laila on the Leaderboard

'Jo Wood is the lovable one whom everyone adores. If her personality comes through, the public will keep her in. I think she'll struggle, but she'll put the work in.'

'Natalie Cassidy has so much enthusiasm that she's a real joy. She's competitive and she wants to win so she's going to take the criticism and work on it.'

'Ricky Whittle is sexy, gorgeous, has a body to die for and the guy can move. His chances are great.'

'Ricky Groves puts so much in, but he's so nervous backstage. I think he'll be great at the Latin because he's good at bringing the fun into a dance.'

'Joe Calzaghe was struggling the first week because he was the most nervous. I don't think he's got natural rhythm, but he's improved so much you don't know how far he could go - and he's got the public vote.'

'Jade Johnson's got a natural rhythm. She's an athlete who's used to being number one and that's what she's going to go out to get. Plus she's got Ian, a brilliant choreographer who knows how to make a tall girl look good.'

'Chris Hollins is a dark horse. I think he could win. When he came out and did the tango, I was like, 'Blimey, where did that come from?' Ola's brought out his personality. He's a quiet little one but, trust me, he's going to get the job done.'

'Craig Kelly is taking it very seriously. That guy can work under pressure. And Flavia's great at pushing her partners to do better than even they might expect.'

'Ali Bastian looks beautiful, graceful and she's got the leg work - that leg extension in the rumba... Wow! She's sweet and friendly, but she's not an extrovert so the public may feel they don't know her.'

'Zoe Lucker is gracious - and hot! That rumba was sex on legs. She has great chemistry with James and they really get on so she has a brilliant chance of getting through to the later stages.'

'Phil Tuffnell. Without Phil, this competition wouldn't be half as fun. He's going to go really far - his footwork on Friday was brilliant. He's surprising people already.'

Strictly Come Dancing is on every Saturday on BBC1
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joani-hair-b.jpgIt's obvious that if you write about beauty, you have to test a lot of products - most of which don't really make that much difference. But having already listed the most superlative make-up marvels I've ever tried - as in EVER! - it's time to take a look at beautifiers for the barnet...

For Superstar Shine  The John Frieda Collection. I use the Brilliant Brunettes range (because I'm, er, brunette) and it just makes hair shine like no other shampoo and conditioner I've used, enhancing hair's natural highlights, too. As does the Luxurious Volume Thickening Shampoo and Conditioner, if you need a little va-va-voom, too. Faultless.

For Hot Hair In A Hurry  Paul Labrecque Volume Shampoo Bodifying Hair Wash. It comes with a separate leave-in conditioner which saves the second rinse, but the shampoo's so good at detangling, you really don't need a conditioner at all, cutting washing time by half. And it adds body to my hair, which is so thin it probably qualifies as having an eating disorder. It's not cheap at £18ish, but it lasts ages.

For Style Resuscitation  Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Moisture Mist. Keep a small one of these in your bag and spritz it ever-so lightly over your mop if it needs a kickstart betwixt desk and disco. It's like the kiss of life for fading hairdos.

For Added Oomph  John Frieda Collection Luxurious Volume Thickening Blow Dry Lotion and Nicky Clarke Great Body Plump It Up Hair Raising Spray. So they're a mouthful... but both these products really do give hair more substance and help hold your style without affecting natural movement or making hair feel stiff.

For Carefree Curls L'Oreal Professionel Gelee Cashmere Anti-Frizz Gelee. Helps shape curls without crispiness

For When You Just Can't Be Bothered  Batiste Dry Shampoo. It's a classic that has re-emerged with added street cred now everyone seems to spend the summer at festivals, but when you can't get near a shower (or, more likely in normal life, you've overslept), it does a stellar job at absorbing oiliness and lingering whiffiness. So hair looks a little duller afterwards - you can't always have it all, ladies (and gents).

For Colour Confidence  Clairol Evershine Conditioning Gloss. Clairol used to include these tubes of conditioner only with its at-home colour kits, but realised they were so good, they deserved their own moment in the spolight. So you can buy them separately now and so you should, because they do help maintain vibrancy when used for the first few washes after a colouring treatment.

For Super Smoothness John Frieda Collection Brilliant Brunette Shine Shock Glosser. Don't worry about the colour of your hair as just the tiniest dab smoothes and shines all colours. And it's great if you've overdone the blowdrying and ended up more bouffant than boho; rub a teeny tiny amount all over the hands and pat gently over the hair to extinguish some of that over-excitement.

For Tree Huggers Tara Smith Feed The Root Shampoo and Conditioner. We'd probably all be a lot more environmentally conscious if we could do so without compromising our vanity - and the problem with a lot of truly natural ranges is that without all the chemicals that help them lather up, they never really feel as though they get your hair that clean. Until Tara Smith came along. And her products are all around a fiver so you aren't paying for the privilege, either.

For Stay-There Hair  Style Wella Silvikrin Hairspray. Does what it says on the tin. Keeps hair in place without creating the dreaded Helmet Head.

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bryan-lindsay.jpgDespite appearing practically petrified when approached by the Press, Bryan Adams must be a friendly fellow because his celebrity friends turned out en masse to support the opening of his new exhibition.

All of Bryan's photographs feature celebrity ambassadors of the Hear The World initiative, cupping their hands behind their ears to highlight the problems faced by more than 16% of the world's population with hearing loss.

The initiative was developed by Phonak, which manufactures hearing systems - and you'd need one to hear anything poor Bryan had to say on the matter because he was almost dumbstruck when asked to comment, telling me his "head was all over the place" being the centre of attention and he wanted to look after his mother, who had accompanied him to the launch party and is currently living with Bryan in London, which is now his home.

Fortunately, Bryan's celebrity fans were more than happy to make up for the musician-turned-photographer's chronic shyness. A bronzed Gareth Gates, who claims Bryan as a good friend, has just come back from holiday in Spain with his 14-week-old daughter and is looking forward to starring in Les Miserables in London's West End. Talking of his decision to put his recording career on hold, he said: "It was my decision not to record another album - yet. The industry's in a really funny place at the moment and the last thing I want to do is record an album that, because of the market, is not accepted. But I'm really happy now, in musical theatre.'

Fresh from her role as Ken Barlow's maybe-mistress, Martha, in Coronation Street, Stephanie Beacham appeared wearing her own Phonak hearing system - she told us she's 40 per cent deaf. Stephanie is appearing in a new BBC/NBC show called Fashion in the autumn, playing "a bitch as always. But I played a nice woman in Coronation Street and look what happened to her - she got nothing!" 

Stephanie reckons the secret to her success is "because I'm not chasing after younger roles. I'm not trying to look 40 or think 40; I'd rather be a fabulous 60-year-old". But she's peeved at the loss of Arlene Philips on Strictly Come Dancing, on which Stephanie appeared two years ago. "As a middle-aged woman - or whatever I am - I've got to say I disapprove," she said.

Martine McCutcheon sighed and coo-ed about her love life - "I'm very in love, very happy, very content," with musician boyfriend of the past two years Jack McManus, she said - before explaining that her next project is a novel about mistresses, based on three of her friends.

And chatting to Gail Porter on the way out, she told me she was out on the pull, looking for a "wee snog". Let's hope someone was listening...

The Hear The World exhibition is at the London Saatchi Gallery from July 22-26; visit www.hear-the-world.com/exhibition for information.

 

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OK, when I say revolutionary, I don't mean that it's going to extend research into the human genome or topple the monarchy. But motorised make-up is a new direction for the beauty industry and has created a real buzz, literally, for beauty addicts.

It started at the end of last year with a race between Estee Lauder and Lancome as to which could be the first to market with this new concept, both launching vibrating mascaras around the same time. And gimmicky as it may sound, the female equivalent of a power tool was an instant winner, with both brands reporting massive demand for their new cosmetic hot rods.

Prices however, were slightly eye-watering for a cosmetic from which, if used daily, we're probably only going to get about three months' use - rrps are £27-28 for Lancome's Oscillation and Lauder's TurboLash.

But now Maybelline has launched the first mass-market version, Pulse Perfection, at almost half the price, £14.99, which launches in August 2009. And having seen it in action at a presentation by Maybelline's brilliant celebrity make-up artist, Fiona Jolly (pictured below left), it certainly does the job, lengthening lashes as it draws them out and up - the cosmetic equivalent of a push-up bra for the eyes.

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The motor inside the handle generates 100 micro-pulsations every second which, combined with a spiky-headed, flexible wand that reacts and moves to the pulses, coats lashes from root to tip, building volume as it goes. Make sure you zig-zag the wand through the lashes for best results.

There is one problem: you have to keep your finger on the activating button on the handle, which does make it a bit fiddly to use. But it's worth it, because results are spectacular.  

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dornan.jpg

There are plenty of models and actors who lend their names and images to fragrances, but rarely are they as down to earth, funny and utterly charming as Keira Knightley's ex- beau, Jamie Dornan, the face of ckfree for men, which launches on 26 August, from £27. And to prove it, here's what he had to say at the launch of the new fragrance...

What does freedom mean to you?

Freedom to me means being able to do what you want when you want - with whom you want! On a global scale... I come from Ireland, obviously, and we've been fighting for freedom for 40 years. It's a state that everyone wants to get to and it's very hard to find. But on a very trivial personal level, it's getting out of London for a weekend.

 

Do you have a place in the world that makes you feel completely carefree?

I like my bed a lot. Otherwise, it's Christmas at home in Belfast when all my mates are back from wherever they are in the the world and all my family are there. I don't have to worry about anything. There's noone judging me. That's as close as I get.

 

What kind of films make you happy?

This is awful, but I instantly want to say The Sound Of Music. Actually, no, I just said that more for effect. I'm obviously more of a Terminator or Die Hard With A Vengeance kind of guy! There are a lot of films that you know so well that you're comfortable with that you don't have to think about any more because you did all your thinking the first time you saw them, such as Amelie, which is creatively perfect. 

 

What kind of music do you like to relax to?

Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash. This morning, my car had a flat battery and I thought, the only thing you can do in a moment like this - apart from phone a mechanic, which I did - is go home and listen to music. So I put on Nick Drake. And then felt really depressed.

 

Do you have a grooming routine?

I don't groom at all. I don't really understand girls who are into guys who look a little like girls. I just shower, comb my hair and put on a bit of CK Free.

 

You've been dubbed the male Kate Moss. How do you feel about that?

I've had the pleasure of working with her and she's an amazing person and an amazing model. Even watching her work is incredible. She makes everything look sexy. I've been mucking around doing this for seven years, she's been doing it for 18 and she's still at the top of her game. It's a nice compliment; I'll take it.

 
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If you thoujoani-b.jpgght Britain's Got Talent made for great television, get down to the nationwide tour because it makes for even better live entertainment. Julian Smith duets with Sean Smith. The kids from Diversity join Aidan as backing dancers for a Shaheen solo. Stavros Flatley dress as Star Wars stormtroopers for a dance-off against Darth Jackson. And, of course, Diversity and Flawless reprise their breathtakingly imaginative dance routines, which are even more jaw-dropping seen up close.

And despite the almost continuous standing ovations, a cavalcade of stamping feet and endless roars of approval from a sell-out audience, there was not one ounce of diva-ish behaviour when we met the stars of the show the afterwards. Every single one of the acts was impeccably well-mannered and friendly as they posed for photos and signed autographs backstage amongst each other's family and friends, none more so than the members of Diversity who are a genuinely modest, lovely group. If these are the best of British, we've got reason to be proud.

The only act not to make it backstage was Susan Boyle, despite having sung beautifully and looking remarkably pretty onstage, thanks to the skill of make-up artist Sally O'Neill, working with Bourjois which provides all the backstage make-up for the shows. Sally, who's also worked on the Strictly... and Dancing On Ice tours, told us the backstage crew avoided powder formulations to give Susan a dewy complexion that instantly softens the whole face - and it really worked because she looked the best we've ever seen her. Susan wore liquid eyeshadow (Bourjois Shimmering Shine in Rose Electron pink with Blanc Chrome white as a highlighter, which took on a pretty lilac hue under the spotlights) and Effet 3D Max Lipgloss in matching Rose Eclat.

The only powder was a little down the T-zone to mop up oiliness while allowing the stage lights to reflect off the natural texture of her cheekbones and brown blusher used to contour under the cheekbones.

Sally's team also added clip-in hairpieces at the top and bottom of Susan's hairstyle to give her a softer, slightly longer look with more movement. 'Everything has to be a bit bigger, especially with arena shows, just so the acts can be seen by the audience,' Sally points out. Susan's natural hair was lightly curled with large tongs and fingered through to blend with the hairpieces. And she looked a real star. Let's hope she stays that way.
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So it's all true. Women love red lipstick because it makes them feel more confident, not to say sexy. And, according to a survey from VIE cosmetics (which used to be Virgin Vie) more than half of women reckon wearing lipstick cheers them up. OK, so it's not exactly groundbreaking news to those of us who can't face the day without a slather of slap. But you only have to look at the pictures of Angelina Jolie at Cannes cosying up to Brad as they determined to quash rumours about their apparently shaky relationship to realise that the statement-making power of red lipstick is as enduring as ever. And so is the problem of trying to find one that actually suits.

 

If you ask the majority of make-up artists for help, they go into techno-speak about orange, yellow and even blue tones of red. Talk to celeb make-up artist Chase Aston, however - who's been out in New York shooting with Claudia Schiffer, another red-lipped lovely - and his advice is simple: The Body Shop's Garnet shade is the perfect red for everyone, apparently. And it certainly works for me. A dark, almost browny shade of red, it's ideal for those of us who like the impact and sexiness of red, but who find the traditional, bright, pillarbox red too brash. And it works beautifully with blue eyes, in particular, making them look super-bright.

 

Chase says the best way to apply red lipstick for natural-looking, even coverage that's not too in-your-face is to use a lipbrush and concentrate on the lower lip first, working from the outer corners in and meeting in the middle. Then "pucker down" so the colour transfers to the top lip and finish by filling in round the edges with what's left on the brush. Finally, stand next to Brad Pitt and see if he notices the difference...

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