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philosophy Beauty products from pounds 8 to pounds 10.50

Forget Hard Candy, Vamp and Urban Decay - the most desirable beauty products of the moment are all made by philosophy.

Philosophy is so hip it hurts. First, there's the concept: the products are "a way of life for the thinking mind and feeling heart in search of simplicity and balance" - which is New Age as in cool slacker movies not righteous Body Shop sermons.

The company is big on integrity: no mascara "because we believe in a no-clump look", no toners "because they are non-functional", no animal testing and inspirational messages on every product. At the same time, it avoids preaching, says "there's no such thing" as natural cosmetics and is full of the joys of AHA's, antioxidants, bioregulators, et al. Best of all, philosophy believes "Beauty shouldn't be taken too seriously, it should be whimsical, lighthearted, and most of all, affordable and fun."

Which all adds up to gorgeous, witty products that make you feel good, whether they are "the naked truth" (for bodies); "it's all in your head" (for hair); "real purity" (for basic skin care); "the damage is done" ( for sun damaged skin); "on a clear day" ( for problem skin); or "the colouring book" (for make-up), and "the common man" (for men).

Having had the original bad hair (frizzy, dry, terrible crop), I dipped into the range whose philosophy ("even though you can't always have exactly the hair you want, you can have hair you love") immediately made me feel better. "It's all in your head" everyday shampoo (pounds 9) was gentle enough not to make my hair feel sucked dry of valuable oils but effective enough to leave it squeaky clean. "Head trip" deep conditioner (pounds 10.50) turned my brillo pad into silk. Best of all, "curly head" hair serum (pounds 8) left my hair shiny yet non-crispy for the first time ever. As philosophy might say: fabn

Philosophy is available from Liberty, Regent Street, London W1; inquiries and mail order 0171-734 1234, x 2443. Space NK, 41 Earlham Street, London WC2.

Ruth Picardie

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