Beauty briefs: Just bitten

It's the skin secret the Duchess of Cambridge reportedly used in the lead-up to her wedding in April and now a version of bee venom mask is on sale in New Zealand.

The company behind the Abeeco Bee Venom Mask is marketing the product online, where it features media reports, including one from the New Zealand Herald, about Kate Middleton apparently being put on to New Zealand-sourced bee venom by the Duchess of Cornwall after it was credited last year with making Camilla, aged 63, look younger.

When Viva asked the Auckland-based natural health supplier if its mask was the one referred to in the reports it said no, but that its mask had been under development for about six months. An Abeeco spokeswoman said the company had been using bee venom for some time in other products, including its arthritis remedies for which she claimed the substance offered pain relief benefits.

The facial mask, which is actually a cream for twice daily use, is said to work by fooling skin into thinking it has been lightly stung, with claims that this stimulates the production of collagen and elastin to tighten and smooth skin over time.

Viva has tried out the Abeeco Bee Venom Mask and while we did not experience the tingling sensation that is said to be a normal reaction, it did have a slight tautening effect upon application.

We can't attest to any long term benefits, but the ingredient list, aside from bee venom, is a fairly standard moisturising mix and includes manuka honey and shea butter, both recognised skin soothers.

Abeeco said it sourced its venom from Christchurch and that the venom comprised about 2g of the 50g content of an $89.95 jar of the mask.

The bee venom used in Britain by Shropshire therapist Deborah Mitchell on her celebrity clientele was reportedly sourced from the Nelson region. Mitchell said it was diluted to 1 per cent in a cream she sold for the equivalent of $112. In its pure form it was worth much more, but would be too painful to apply, she said.

Abeeco says its cream is suitable for all skin types, except people who have an allergy to bee stings. A patch test is, however, recommended.

The venom is harvested seasonally, with a pane of glass placed alongside the hive and a small electrical current applied through it to encourage the bees to sting the surface and release the elixir.

* If you want to make more like Kate, other items she reportedly used for her wedding which are available in New Zealand include Lancome's Teint Miracle foundation and Hypnose mascara and Bobbi Brown products (blush and eyeliner, we presume). Her manicurist confirmed that she used an Essie nail polish for the big day, a pale pink shade called Allure. (The company says this can be substituted locally for the similarly coloured Sugar Daddy).

Do good

To recognise 20 years of work in New Zealand by women's cancer charity Look Good Feel Better, next week has been declared Dream Week. From Monday, you can learn more about the charity at hubs in selected Westfield Malls and for a $3 donation you will receive a little pen that looks like a lipstick and lights up when you write.

Farmers has joined Dream Week activities and from July 4-10 will sell Look Good Feel Better merchandise from its beauty counters and donate $1 from every mascara sold at 40 of its stores.

The charity holds free confidence-boosting workshops at which professional consultants provide hair, skin and beauty tips.

Nail news

Revlon has launched Top Speed, a new range of fast-drying nail enamels in 32 colours. Viva has road-tested them and likes both the results and the price at $17.50 a bottle. The enamel includes a built-in top coat. We show the shade Royal.

DIY nail arts fans might like to try the new Sally Hansen Nail Art Pen. The precision tip pen allows you to draw patterns without stencils or do a French manicure. The water-based formula wipes off if you make a mistake and once satisfied you can seal it with a top coat. The pen comes in eight colours and costs $15.99 from selected Farmers and pharmacies.

O.P.I has extended its Shatter topcoat from black and silver, with versions now available in blue, navy, turquoise, red and white. These cost $24.90. Look out for the retail displays which feature a quick response code, readable on smart phones, which allows shoppers to take a scan to link with a demonstration video for foolproof application.

The range of salon-applied stick-on nail surfaces is also expanding, with celebrity favourite coating Minx being joined by Sheekee. This lasts well and is a thin vinyl film applied with heat and pressure which comes in more than 150 designs. An early stockist is Verdo Nails in Parnell.

Inked up

A decade or so ago Jean Paul Gaultier caused a fuss by painting moko on his runway models. His fascination with ink art remains, but this time he's borrowing from all over, judging by the symbolism on his new Tattoo Stories fragrance bottles. Among Aztec-style sun symbols and Celtic twining there's the odd koru-style swirl and a Samoan-look border, in a pastiche that reflects the globalisation of tattooing. Each limited edition bottle of Le Male and Classique comes in a decorated tin for $122 from selected department stores and Life pharmacies.

M.A.C attack

A third standalone M.A.C store is opening in Auckland, scheduled for October as part of a big refurbishment at the Botany Town Centre. As with the St Lukes and Chancery stores (but not its department store counters), M.A.C has partnered with Red Honey Cosmetics, run by Auckland businesswoman Rowena Roberts.

Cheap and careful

Swisspers is known for making paraben-free face wipes, now the company has carried over its approach of being free of the preservatives, plus synthetic fragrances, mineral oil and sulphates to a simple new skincare range available in selected pharmacies. Australian botanical extracts, including tea tree, are included in the products which are priced from $13.99 to $19.99 and aimed at younger women wanting to avoid unnecessary chemicals.

Made for models

Wella's Pro Series hair care range is getting a model launch, being chosen as the official hair care of New Zealand's Next Top Model contestants. The new range of shampoos, conditioners and styling products is available in supermarkets and pharmacies and will be used in the model house on the reality television show.

Good deal

Moisture Mist is offering a handy mini brush set to customers who spend $40 or more on its products, while stocks last. Brushes are also a bonus with two purchases from budget brand Australis at Farmers stores.

- NZ Herald

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